On the Boards

Site planning is the most important part of a successful project, and embracing the constraints and making them the centerpiece of the design is my passion.

For this 17 unit, 2-story apartment complex in Santa Rosa we're trying to preserve all of the existing trees, maximize density, privacy and southern orientation while also minimizing cost, square footage and asphalt... we're not quite there yet, but each successive plan gets us closer.

Ya can't rush planning!

Happy New Years!

I'd like to thank all of my friends, family and wonderful clients for making 2014 such a fantastic year. It was full of change and wondrous upheaval as we welcomed a daughter into our lives and completed construction on our new house and the office for MTP Architecture. We ran out of energy to do a traditional Christmas tree, but our Putnam rolling library ladder filled the roll nicely. Putnam has been in business since 1905, and still makes each custom ladder in Brooklyn, NY.

New Office

The new passive solar office for MTP Architecture and the home of the Perry family is now open for business. Please give me a call if you're in Glen Ellen and would like a tour of this contemporary mixed-use building designed to meet LEED Gold standards. We are very happy to be back in my hometown and look forward to making a positive impact on the community.

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Alanna Perry

I've been very negligent of this blog for the last year, but I've got a pretty good excuse that's the newest member of the Perry family.... meet our ukulele prodigy:

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Merry Christmas

Saint Nick was very kind to my family this year and allowed our new home and office to get framed and sheathed in plywood before any nasty winter storms arrived. I know we need the rain, but it feels really good to see our building wrapped up like a great big Christmas present. We owe our fantastic construction crew at R&B Custom Builders a huge THANK YOU. They've made our holiday season a magical and stress-free affair.

MTP Home & Office

Preservation Award

It's rare for those of us that aren't celebrities to get awards for a job well done, so it felt good to be recognized by the Sonoma League for Historic Preservation last night.

The Sonoma Community Center, along with MTP Architecture and some other committed Sonomans (Jack Lundgren, Les Peterson, Rotary and the Sonoma Theater Alliance) received the Group Award for our remodel of Andrews Hall.

I hope everyone around Sonoma gets a chance to attend a performance there sometime soon.... the lights are bright and waiting to shine for you.

Here's a link to a newspaper article describing all of the winners:


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Happy Halloween

Hello trick-or-treaters.... c'mon over to the scariest house on the block. We've got exposed walls, nails galore and shaky ladders to a second floor without railings. Plenty of stuff to make your knees shake!


Wood Floor Construction

The majority of new wood floor construction consists of TJI's instead of solid framing (2x10's, etc.) because these wooden I-beams are stronger, straighter, more resistant to shrinking and are made from wood scraps instead of old-growth trees. The cost difference is negligible considering the overall price of a well-built home.


Reinforced Concrete

I'd like to thank Joseph Monier, a Parisian gardener and unsung hero of modern construction that first thought to pour concrete around a steel mesh in 1849 and created reinforced concrete. It's pretty difficult to build anything here in California without the stuff.

Here's a picture of the newly poured stem walls for the future office of MTP Architecture. A concrete stem wall foundation with a raised wood floor slab is ideal in downhill locations where water intrusion may be an issue, and it helps to elevate the entire house a few feet above street level for visual privacy and sound isolation.

MTP Foundation

New Home & Office for MTP Architecture

I'm very excited to announce that construction has begun on the new passive-solar home and office for MTP Architecture in Glen Ellen, CA. I've combined them so I can work on my clients' projects at all hours of the day and night! It may not look like much right now, but we've used modular construction dimensions and a simple rectangular footprint to fast-track the building process. Once they finish pouring the concrete this week the process will really accelerate. We should be ready to move in next spring. 

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Sandcastle Competition

I don't let a vacation stop the design or construction process. This year my good friend William Carroll, owner of DYO flip-flops on the island of Kauai, invited me to help build team Space Cadet's entry for the 4th annual sandcastle competition. 

We thought that there's no way aliens would choose to land in the Nevada desert when they could crash their Hertz Rent-a-UFO onto the north shore of beautiful Hanalei Bay. The judges agreed, and awarded us the overall winner.


Building Sections - The Heart of a Design

There is a simple way for a client to find out if their architect is a truly sustainable thinker creating passive-solar designs. Ask them about their design methodology and request examples of  process drawings. Those guilty of green-washing rely almost exclusively on floor plans and building elevations while designing, then tack on green features (bamboo flooring, PV panels, etc.) after the major decisions have been made. Well thought-out building sections which analyze building orientation, sun angles and natural ventilation, however, are the heart of a successful green project. Here's some examples from MTP's portfolio:

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Trashion Fashion

I feel fortunate to have attended the grand re-opening of the historic Andrews Hall theater at the Sonoma Community Center. MTP has been working with the Center for the last 5 years on many projects to upgrade the building and the campus in downtown Sonoma. The Trashion Fashion Show kicked off the next generation of performances that will keep this space lively and filled with Sonomans.

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Contemporary Californian Mission-Style Residence

I just completed this 3d massing study for a major remodel and addition to an existing 1-story California mission-style ranch house. The owner's want to open up the interior to capture more daylight and add a 2nd-story loft and roof deck over the garage to access southern views neglected in the original design. I'm also proposing a new trellis to accentuate the entry pathway.

This contemporary interpretation of traditional Californian architecture will fade behind a thickly wooded site of existing oak trees which also help shade the building from harsh morning and afternoon sunlight.

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Bike Tours in Sonoma, CA

When friends come to town and request a tour of wine country I always suggest leaving the car behind and renting a bike for the day. Slowing down is a vital component to our lifestyle, and there are so many fantastic wineries within a short distance from the square. My favorite itinerary is to grab sandwiches at the Sonoma Cheese Factory and then head out past Sebastiani Vineyards to Ravenswood for a tasting, swing down to Bartholomew Park and picnic near their gazebo, then take the short ride over to Buena Vista to check out their newly restored and historic tasting room. If the group is still frisky after this tasting tri-fecta I'll wear them out with an uphill ride to Gundlach Bundschu via the back entrance off Thornsberry Road. From GunBun it's all downhill back to the square (literally and figuratively).


San Francisco, CA

I don't make it in as often as I should, but it always makes me feel good to know that the Golden Gate is just 45 minutes down the road when things seem a bit slow in Sonoma. This view is from the fishing pier underneath the bridge that's accessible from the Marina Green in San Francisco.

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Grand Canyon, Arizona

You can't tell from the rim, but life abounds in the cool pockets of air and water at the base of the Grand Canyon. If you've got two weeks to spare I highly recommend rafting down the Colorado River. Hidden springs, waterfalls and luscious landscapes are waiting to be discovered around every corner. I owe a big THANK YOU to Grand Canyon Expeditions for taking me through the canyon in style.

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Sonoma, California

It's a gorgeous Saturday afternoon here in wine country, so I'm going to flee from the computer and help the local economy by popping a cork on a robust Cab from Sonoma. Cheers!

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Southern Yosemite, California

If you want to experience the grandeur of Yosemite without the crowds head a little farther south and enter the Ansel Adams Wilderness in southern Yosemite. This hammock on the shore of Lady Lake quickly erased the strain of the 3-hour uphill trek. The serenity found in this undiscovered slice of the Sierra Nevada's wasn't even disturbed by an unusually bad mosquito season due to late spring snowstorms..... nothing like the sweet smell of DEET in the morning.

Yosemite Watercolor