My name is Timothy Clark. I am the owner and principal designer at Home and Temple Design. Actually, I’m the only designer. I like to work closely with my clients and I find that the design yields the best results when I concentrate on it personally. I work with AutoCad draftsmen and engineers, when necessary, to provide a complete architectural and environmental building design service. My roots are in the coastal mountains of northern California but I’ve designed customs homes, temples and retreat centers in many places including Nepal, India, Taiwan, Myanmar, Hawaii and Costa Rica. I have 15 years of experience in home construction and I’ve designed more than 200 buildings over the 40 years of my career.

Career History

I love designing buildings!  Growing up in Santa Cruz and in the Bay Area, I was inspired at an early age by the local historic architecture and by the home designs of Bernard Maybeck and Julia Morgan. I graduated from the College of Environmental Design at the University of California at Berkeley in 1969.

With my new family I settled in a rural area of Humboldt County where, through necessity, I was forced to supplement my theoretical college education with practical hands on construction. At the height of the “back to the land” movement hundreds of people needed new homes. Most of the homesteads were on completely undeveloped land. We designed and built access roads, building sites, on-site water and sewage disposal systems. Without using subcontractors we built the custom houses from the foundation through the roof. We installed alternative (off-the-grid) energy systems. For 15 years I worked on the construction of many of the houses I designed, first as a carpenter and later as construction supervisor. Although I no longer swing a hammer my experience in actual construction has definitely made me a better designer.

Through the decades we experimented with variety of construction systems: wood and metal stud construction, wood post and beam, rammed earth, straw bale, ferro cement and insulated concrete forms (ICF). Because many of the building sites were on hillsides I developed a style of building on terraces using integrated retaining walls; fitting the home into the contours of the land, interconnecting the homes with the natural world. Since my early training at UC Berkeley the study of sustainable (Green) building techniques has been an ongoing part of my education.

In 2007 I moved back to the city to take enjoy the many conveniences, the cultural richness and educational opportunities.  I returned to college (at age 60) to study computer drafting (CAD) and 3D modeling (Vectorworks).  I still “think” better with a pencil in my hand but computers produce clean working drawings and beautiful 3-dimensional images that better communicate my ideas to my clients.

Architectural Philosophy

The ‘Form follows Function’ philosophy I received at the university provided an excellent foundation for the building design process.  Synthesizing the clients’ needs and desires with the inspirations of the site and the constraints of the planning and building codes requires an organized skillful approach. Bringing order to the complexity requires practical knowledge and experience.  The magic of imagination and creativity is based in inspiration and intuition.  Beauty is likely when spirit is aligned with logic. Turning something useful, practical and functional into something beautiful is architecture’s duty. Good works of architecture will speak to us of serenity, strength, elegance and grace.

During the early years of my career I drew my inspiration from the Bernard Maybeck, , Greene and Greene, Julia Morgan and Frank Lloyd Wright.   I especially liked Craftsman Style, Japanese and traditional Chinese architecture. My love of concrete as a building material introduced me to the works of Antoni Gaudi and Mario Botta. Later, my studies of Greek and Roman architecture led me to the Modern Classicism of Michael Graves and Robert A. Stern.  My interest in Buddhism took me to Nepal, India and Bhutan and I had several opportunities to design Buddhist temples and retreat centers in Asia and North America.

Now days anyone contemplating building a house is faced with an unprecedented array of choices regarding its appearance. I’m comfortable designing in almost any architectural style from historic to modern – whatever the client wants.

The Design Process

The architectural design process happens in 3 basic phases: collecting the parameters, preliminary design and construction drawings.

My first meeting with a potential client is free.  We discuss the aims of the project and get to know one another. Whether the project is a remodel or new construction I find that it’s worthwhile to do a little brainstorming to generate possibilities. We need to decide whether or not we want to work together.   We develop a list of the clients’ wants and needs – everything we can think of.   The beginning of the process is not the time to think of the solutions – only the desires.  I encourage clients to look in books and magazines for ideas (I have a good collection of architecture books).   I collect information about the building site and about the government agencies’ codes, covenants and restrictions. Sometimes it’s necessary to get geological reports.  If the site is on a hillside I like to get a topographic survey.   If the project is a remodel I need to accurately measure and draw the existing structure.  The more accurate and detailed this first phase is, the quicker and easier (cheaper) my work will be.

Once I know the “givens” and have a good idea what the client wants I work on the preliminary designs.   This is my favorite part of the project.   If we have a definite idea I’ll work out the design in detail.  If we’re not sure, I’ll do several preliminary sketches in order to explore the possibilities.  It’s a little tricky to decide  how much detail to put into a preliminary design.  Generating a 3D computer model is very helpful in communicating designs to the client but it requires making many design decisions and inputing quite a bit of information.  It’s difficult to do a partial design, as all the elements have to work together functionally, structurally and aesthetically.  In a tight, well-conceived design it’s often not possible to change one part without adversely affecting the whole.   The goal of this phase is to decide on a design about which the client and  I are excited.   At the same time the design must work structurally and be financially viable.

The last phase of the design process is to create the working drawings and other construction documents.   If  the client has already decided who the contractor will be it’s helpful to get contractor feedback at this point.   If  the contractor choice has not been made showing the preliminary plans to several candidates is a good way to find the right one with whom to work. Preliminary drawings must also be shown to building departments, design review boards, planning commissions, etc. before things get too far along.

Creating the construction drawings can take from a few days to several months depending on the complexities of the project. My plans are generally more detailed than most designers.   I figure the more I draw the less expensive head-scratching there will be in the physical construction phase. It’s cheaper to push pencil on paper (or move a mouse) than it is to tear out and rebuild something in the field.  At this time the plans are sent to consultants for the Energy Calculations, heating system design, etc. I usually do the preliminary structural engineering myself and then submit the drawings to an engineering firm for review, advice and the calculations to be submitted to building departments.

Submitting the construction documents to the various city, county and state agencies can be done by me, by the owner and/or by the contractor. Sometimes the plans are sent back for (hopefully) minor changes.  More and more the county building departments are outsourcing their plan checking to specialized private firms.  Building codes, especially in California, have become increasingly complex and, in my experience, the private plan checking firms are quick, clear and helpful in getting us through the permit approval process.

Depending on the project, the owner’s wishes and the contractor’s willingness I can make site visits.   I’m always available to answer questions about the drawings,  to redesign last minute changes, to hold nervous hands during construction and to bask in the beauty of the completed project.

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