Bohlin Cywinski Jackson: Elegant and humanistic design

Patricia Abaroa

Best known for their modern designs of today's Apple Stores, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson also creates private residences that are in total harmony with the environment.

American architecture firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson always looks to infuse a serene sense of elegance into their organic designs. Originally founded in 1965 by Peter Bohlin and Richard Powell in Pennsylvania, the company merged with Philadelphia-based architect Bernard Cywinski in 1979. Today, they have five offices nationwide and an arsenal of award-winning buildings to their credit.Bohlin Cywinski Jackson                           Apple Store, Stanford. Photo: Courtesy
Their work is well rounded, and ranges from modest-sized houses to large academic, civic, cultural, community and corporate buildings. Early advocates of sustainable design, the company is proud of their deep environmental sensitivity and often introduces systems that optimize the natural resources available: looking to the sun for light and heat, using the land for insulation and taking to wind for ventilation.The firm remains true to its pro-environmental beliefs by sharing those principles with all their staff. Architects at Bohlin Cywinski Jackson often combine extravagant elements with classic materials, like cedar and fir. Arguably, the firm’s most famous creations are their modern glass covered Apple Stores, but they also seem to shine when creating privately commissioned residences. Their homes never compete with the land they occupy. In fact, they appear to be in harmony with their settings, absorbing their surroundings and placing as much emphasis on them as they do in the interior. More on architecture and interior design.
Bohlin Cywinski Jackson                           Edge HousePhotos: Courtesy Bohlin Cywinski Jackson.
In the mountains of northwestern Connecticut, above a stream in a sunny forest clearing, sits Edge House, the cozy home of two avid readers who, appropriately enough, approached the firm at a book signing. The crescent-shaped house seems to hang somewhere between the forest and the sky, offering spectacular views and a sense of movement. A cozy fireplace and walls lined with bookshelves add to the warm feeling of the house; operable windows and sliding doors provide ventilation while a red spine wall adds an element of surprise.Bohlin Cywinski Jackson                           Kicking Horse Ski ResortPhotos: Courtesy Bohlin Cywinski Jackson.In the Canadian Rocky Mountains, at the base of Kicking Horse Ski Resort, the aptly named Kicking Horse residence serves as a weekend getaway for a family of five. Surrounded by aspen and spruce trees, the home has a strong connection to its mountain setting. Showcasing respect for the outdoors, the footprint was designed to protect a grove of evergreens at the southern edge. Perhaps it is best described as a modern cabin, with exposed Douglas fir laminated beams and deep roof overhangs, faithful to a mountain cabin’s traditional esthetics. The owner is a former restaurant owner, so the firm cleverly placed the kitchen in the center of the home.

Bohlin Cywinski Jackson                           Farrar ResidencePhotos: Courtesy Bohlin Cywinski Jackson.

Blurring the line between interior and exterior spaces, the Farrar residence in the aspen covered mountainside overlooks the Wasatch Range. This home boasts all the finest amenities: a long lap pool, subterranean skylight wine cellar, greenhouse, and exercise area. Primarily built of wood and steel, the house’s lowest level overlooks a beautiful forest.

The firms’ knack for establishing a harmonious relationship between modern buildings and their exterior surroundings has earned Bohlin Cywinski Jackson more than 575 regional, national and international design awards since 1965. Furthermore, founder Peter Bohlin is a recipient of the esteemed gold medal awarded by the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

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