Bull Stockwell Allen
For nearly 50 years, San Francisco-based Bull Stockwell Allen has built its practice on innovative design solutions in concert with the natural environment. The Bay Area design tradition reinforces indoor-outdoor environments and the concept of building “light on the land.”
These values continue to inform the firm’s work given increasing concerns for the planet and an international lifestyle increasingly dedicated to health and wellness. The Bay Area’s current focus on technology and innovative work environments, moreover, adds another layer for architectural inspiration. Moving forward, BSA combines its professional heritage with the cutting edge in order to create innovative environments for life.
A Portfolio Driven by Change
Technology has increasingly upended the status quo. Companies rise and fall, people are interconnected like never before. Lines are blurred between work-time and personal time. New paradigms are being tested that will determine how individuals choose to live, work and play. Bull Stockwell Allen’s staff of 25 full-time employees addresses these demands regardless of project type.
According to Sarah Mergy, an Associate Principal in the firm, “BSA uses its extensive resort, hospitality, workplace and community experience to inform all of our work, whether we are designing a creative office space or envisioning the needs of a four season resort project. We recognize and embrace this dynamic overlap.”
Principal John Ashworth adds, “We no longer specialize in single use building types, we’ve been lucky enough to work with developers who think in progressive terms; who think about flexibility, shared spaces, seasonality and new ways of doing things.”
With a satellite office in Northern Vermont, the firm has been busy working with Spruce Peak Realty at Stowe Mountain Resort to imagine a new $60 million Adventure Center, Alpine Club and Club Residences. According to Ashworth, the mixed-use building “represents a new way of thinking about developing a ski resort.”
The owner and BSA benchmarked the industry only to find that most resorts were still building single-use buildings primarily geared toward the winter season. The owner was looking to combine the resort’s winter children’s programs with the operation’s needs for summer use, a membership-only club for adults and additional resort residential property.
To make all of the components pencil, the owner figured out how to combine multiple needs into a single facility. In addition to Stowe’s Alpine Club and ski school, the building contains 19 luxury residences, two restaurants, rock climbing and bouldering, two restaurants, flexible play and screening rooms, candlepin bowling, day care and ski school. Outside, the complex uses several smaller structures to define a multiuse “village green” during the summertime and a skating rink for the winter season.
Mergy describes the Stowe project as one of her current favorites. “It really presents an opportunity for a lot of creative thinking,” says Mergy. “It’s also represents a full circle for our firm and one of its founders, Henrik Bull.” She explains that when Mr. Bull was studying architecture at MIT in the 1950s, he based his design thesis on the very site where the firm’s building is currently under construction. “It’s very exciting that decades later, BSA is actually planning and steadily realizing Spruce Peak Village.”
In Northern California, BSA is working on other innovative projects ranging from startup office environments to several lifestyle-driven projects in Sonoma County. The firm’s Hotel Barlow project, designed in conjunction with ArchiLOGIX, envisions a boutique hospitality project integrated into a marketplace concept combining new and historic structures once used in apple processing.
The hotel showcases local food producers, wine makers, brewers, distillers and artists. The Barlow is a pioneer business community in the United States connecting customers with local with products, as well as the production process and the people who make them. As Mergy puts it, “the Barlow is a perfect place where work becomes play and play becomes work, it represents how most people would like to live today if given the chance “The goal for the Hotel Barlow is to create an authentic, artisanal live-in experience for the visitor,” she says. “We’re converting four buildings originally planned for retail into the lodging component.”
Word of BSA’s quality work extends overseas, the firm having worked in Croatia, Norway, South Korea and Japan. The company is currently preparing floor plans and building elevations for a brand new ski resort in China where both leisure and the environment are increasing priorities.
The project is located in China’s pristine Changbaishan region near the country’s boarder with North Korea. Working with the recognized landscape and planning firm, Dunn + Kiley, BSA has been “… part of the team envisioning the resort from the ground up,” explains Mergy. “We’re bringing our knowledge of snow country design while assisting in the development of the resort’s signature architecture.”
As a firm that provides services related to architecture, planning and interior. Bull Stockwell Allen is further able to adapt when a project calls for diversification. “There are times when we will be working with a planner or where our role is strictly architecture,” notes Mergy. “Diversity is part of our modern world and is built into the way we do business.”
While BSA has an established network of resources, the firm is always anticipating new concepts and ways to add value to its clients through fresh ideas and synergistic relationships. “We are always looking for opportunities to gain new partnerships,” says Mergy. “It’s very important to us to maintain great relationships. We all work as a team.”
Environments for Life
As firm that takes the health of the environment seriously, Bull Stockwell Allen believes in creating design solutions that stand the test of time. “Our concept is very different from the ideal of the Parthenon in Greece that stands ‘as-is’ forever,” states Ashworth. “For us, timelessness means the ability of a building to evolve over its life span. That means a building changes as it moves from adolescence into adulthood, and may even be recycled at the end of its useful life.” He believes whether resort, residence or a community-based project, new developments need to be smart, adaptive and respectful additions to the environment.
BSA believes the future is an exciting place where new solutions will necessarily result from new technologies and several factors ranging from an aging demographic on one end to the increasingly articulate needs of millennials. “We will continue to focus on our core strengths within the resort, recreation and workplace sectors” says Mergy. “But we are also making strides where these sectors overlap. We are really looking to grow the company in areas requiring a diverse point of view.”
As the design and construction industry continues to evolve, Bull Stockwell Allen will continue to base its practice on relationships with its clients and work associates. “The means change, but our mission stays the same,” according to Mergy. In concert with endless change, Bull Stockwell Allen will continue to build on enduring ideas and design exceptional living environments.
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