Structure Fits Architecture in Custom Homes
Residential Studio Background
Our residential studio was founded in 2006 by Principal Denny Kwan. Over the years, Denny and the residential team have grown our practice through client referrals and close relationships forged with architects, contractors, and developers. As residential structural engineers, we service custom homes along the West Coast across cities and terrains—throughout the Western US from Seattle to San Francisco Bay Area, Wine Country, the Sierras, the Pacific Coast, the Greater Los Angeles Area, and beyond.
It’s no secret that custom homes require custom engineering. Holmes’ dedicated Residential Studio goes above and beyond in providing this service. Through collaborative, open communication we fold the engineering into the architecture, ever guided by the client’s goals as our true north. Our approach is never stock standard, not even for relatively conventional challenges: we honor each dwelling’s unique context and conditions. In tune with the project team, we realize homes that are as nuanced as their owners. Holmes provides thoughtful structural engineering solutions. Additionally, for some remote residences, we provide mitigating strategies to protect residences in Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) which may include site planning, design and detailing and even maintenance or evacuation strategies.
A Reputation for Cost-Effectiveness
We put a high degree of thoughtfulness and creativity into devising cost-efficient solutions. We strive to limit construction costs through structural designs that take construction sequencing and materials into account in lieu of providing a pedestrian or over-engineered product. For example, rather than weigh down plans and budgets with cumbersome and expensive steel moment frames, we often look for opportunities to redistribute loads by methodically locating structure within the architectural program. Outside of our own residential portfolio, numerous architects and contractors approach us for second opinions on cost reduction strategies.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
Through close communication with our project teams, we accomplish stunning feats tailored to each home’s goals. Together with our partners we’ve achieved incomparable cantilevers; elegant butterfly roofs; beautifully exposed and deftly concealed structures; seamless transitions between indoor and outdoor spaces; sculptural feature stairs; steep hillside excavations; expansive floor-to-ceiling windows with sliding doors; operable glazing and framing; radiant floor heating; mass timber applications new to the United States; a Net Zero Home; and so much more—all across highly seismic regions.
Setting Performance Objectives to Minimize Risk
Protecting one’s assets from risk, especially as they relate to earthquakes, is an early conversation we have with all of our clients. Equipped with our deep knowledge of code and breadth of experience, we keep clients informed and aware of options for better performing homes. Some clients opt to take precautions to design a higher performing building than code requires to increase the likelihood that they will remain in the house with minimal damage after an earthquake. We have conversations with both the client and the architect to understand the risks and rewards of different design options and structural systems. Upon the client’s selection, we achieve the targeted performance objectives through effective construction within budget.
Select images courtesy of our partners.
We know we’re onto something when the engineering becomes a thing of beauty.