by Ron Bernthal
Like his large body of work, even the title of a new book celebrating the wide-ranging portfolio of American architect Tom Kundig – “Working Title” – is both smart and subtle.
Published in 2020 by Princeton Architectural Press (PAP), Working Title spans 29 recent projects from Mr. Kundig’s work in the U.S., Australia, Costa Rica, Brazil, South Korea, British Columbia, and in his home-base of Seattle.
Kundig’s work, which draws heavily on context and space, both urban and rural, displays his interest in the ways people interact with both built and natural environments. This awareness is present in his designing private residences, as well as his work for larger commercial and cultural structures.
The projects covered in this newest Kundig title by PAP includes residences, hospitality projects, cultural spaces and workplaces, and includes beautiful color photos, plans and sketches. There is great diversity in their locations, as well their purpose, from the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture (Seattle) to Martin’s Lane Winery (British Columbia), to a high-performance tower for the South Korean retailer Shinsegae Interational.
Kundig’s use of wood and glass as prominent materials often results in mesmerizing buildings whose purpose is often quite common, but the business function in each is elevated to the highest levels through design. Two examples of this in the book is the new Tillamock Creamery Visitor Centert on the Oregon coast.
Located adjacent to the company’s manufacturing plant, the new Visitor Center contains exhibits, a retail shop, restaurant, an ice cream counter and a lovely outdoor lawn with grasses and treets native to the Oregon coast.
The use of glass and wood is also seen in Kundig’s lovely and unique Wagner Education Center at the Center for Wooden Boats in Seattle, a perfectly designed building for the building’s purpose. It is indicative of most of the projects covered in this large, hardcover book showing how context and space are so important in Kundig’s work.
Restoration is also important to Kundig, as seen in a 1931 factory building in Long Island City, NY, which has been occupied since the 1960’s by MrSteam, a company that manufactures steam showers. Keeping many of the original elements of the interior, including original concrete columns, and adding modern touches, like retractable, overhead bifold doors to connnect office spaces, Kundig has transformed the working place into a magnificent display of historic preservation.
A Tom Kundig-designed Tree House in Costa Rica, is located within the lush vegetation of the site.
Be sure not to miss the smallest project in the book, Kundig’s 575 square-foot pop-up wine tasting venue for CheckMate Winery in Oliver, British Columbia. A clever prototype that is sized to fit atop a flatbed truck for easy transport.
Tom Kundig is a principal and owner of Seattle-based Olson Kundig, founded 54 years ago by Kundig’s fellow University of Washington graduate Jim Olson. Kundig is a member of the National Academy of Design, and received the AIA Seattle Gold Medal in 2018.
Tom Kundig – Working Title
ISBN: 978-1-61689-899-1 / 10″ x 12″ / 368 pp / 300 color & b+w photos / Publication Date 2020 / Princeton Architectural Press /
Other Tum Kundig titles: Tom Kundig: Houses (2006); Tom Kundig: Houses 2 (2011); Tom Kundig: Works (2015)