We recently had a client deliberating what to choose for their electrical switch and outlet trim. They had an aversion to contemporary paddle style light switches feeling that the look was stuck in the ’80s. We put together these thoughts and sketches to help them understand the choices available and some of the logic behind layout choices when multiple switches pile up in one location.

Which Style?
When considering switch styles (contemporary -vs- classic) it is helpful to think of the choice as less of a style and appearance selection and more of a functional choice.

Contemporary –
Architects and designers like contemporary style switch plates (Decora and similar) not because we love the look, but because they allow the highest level of design flexibility and the largest selection for trim styles and functions – there are literally thousands of switch, trim, function and layout options available.

Classic –
Classic style switches and outlets require use-specific switch plate covers and are more limiting when it comes to switch, trim, function and layout options. As a consequence they are less common in new construction. We typically only use classic style switches and outlets in remodels and renovations when we want to blend in with existing conditions.


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CAST crew celebrating Summer!

CAST crew celebrating Summer!

The siren’s call of Seattle’s summer has brought everyone back to town.  Last night, we celebrated our the solstice (a little late), the return of Holly from Sonoma and Forrest from Madrid, and had a little send off for Gunnar who is heading back to Norway’s midnight sun.

CAST has a few other reasons to celebrate:

We’re starting a two projects in Mazama (schematic design images upcoming).

Kenny’s house is nearing completion:


Our first modular home on Bainbridge Island for Michel and Chas just went on the market this morning:


And the Mazama Ranchero is going to be published in a few magazines this fall, as well as the Lichtenstein cottage in a feature about Small Spaces:


Plus, Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands is in permit, ready for construction this fall:


Happy summer, everyone!


For the second year in a row, CAST has been named as one of the best architects on Houzz.com, an excellent resource for anyone looking for design inspiration, with over 2 million searchable photos of residential architecture.  Here is a link to our portfolio over there. Enjoy!




Thanks to our wonderful clients for another great year!  In the office, we have a solid mix of intriguing work–a remodel of University Cooperative School, Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands, the completion of Canal Street Studio, a little coffee shop, a host of prefab modular houses on Bainbridge Island, a live-work studio, in addition to some really fun houses and remodels such as The RancheroOliner Residence and the Saratoga Residence.

This next year we’re looking forward to the completion of the Ho Residence on Lake Washington, a cabin in Roslyn, a house or two in Seattle, and more on Bainbridge.  We’ll also have a sweet townhouse project, a couple second story additions.

Happy New Year to all!

Matt, Stefan, Tim, Rebecca and Forrest



RBUFW Classroom building, view looking south from the entry path (architectural rendering)

RBUFW Classroom Building

We’ve been on an intense push the last few weeks to develop a schematic design for the new Classroom Building at the Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands (RBUFW). We’re incredibly excited that Seattle Parks and Seattle Tilth were able to compress a two-phase master plan into a single project, but the result has been a very aggressive schedule for the design phase!

For  inspiration, we’ve been looking at pragmatic agricultural structures, both the simple closed forms of storage sheds and more “prismatic” shapes of greenhouses and barns. Greenhouses are particularly intriguing in the way the inside reveals a complicated structure and interior volume that is barely suggested by their taut and simple exterior form.

Greenhouse interior & exterior images

Sited to preserve the maximum agricultural land, the Classroom Building is nestled into a hillside along the east edge of the property. Three closed “boxes” containing support functions are slotted into the hillside, with the open space between accommodating the classroom and a grove of existing trees.

RBUFW Classroom Building Floor Plan

Above the boxes, a pair of elevated canopies create the primary function spaces and extend out over the pathway to provide plenty of covered outdoor space.


RBUFW Classroom Building, view from the SW (architectural rendering)

From the outside, these canopies appear as simple translucent volumes, but the inside reveals vaulted space, filtered sunlight and expressive structure. We’ve taken inspiration from architects such as MW Works and VJAA who accept the construction techniques of industrial space-making, but turn around and use those conventional materials in a very refined and thoughtful manner.

RBUFW classroom building, view under main porch (architectural rendering)

RBUFW classroom building, interior view (architectural rendering)


More media about RBUFW:

Seattle Magazine “On the Urban Farm”

Seattle’s Child “Urban Farms Grow Healthy Eaters”

The Seattle Times “An Urban Farm Helps Immigrants from East Africa Settle in Seattle”


Hot off the presses! We’ve recently returned from a weekend retreat and photoshoot at “The Ranchero” in Mazama. Nestled at the edge of a subalpine meadow in the upper Methow Valley, the Ranchero is a base camp for year round outdoor adventure and a social hub for gatherings of friends and family.


The plan emphasizes simplicity, abundant natural light and a strong connection to the surrounding peaks and adjacent aspen grove. The public wing features an open floor plan with an expansive patio that sets the stage for relaxation and socializing.


A simple material pallet focuses on highly durable, low maintenance solutions such as Cor-ten steel siding, aluminum clad windows and a concrete skirt that protects the structure’s base during the winter snowpack and spring snowmelt cycle.


The deep veranda, oversized entry and ski wax room provide family and guests a functional landing zone between activities.


Built at a modest scale with super insulated walls and ceilings, energy efficient windows and systems, the home is intended to minimize energy consumption.


With a spine that is aligned along an east west axis, the home is designed to take advantage of passive solar heat gain in the winter while minimizing solar heat gain in the summer.


Mild steel and integrally colored fiber cement panels clad the interior walls for a durable, paint free finish.


The home features regionally crafted custom finish details, casework and furnishings throughout.


Crisp white aluminum ceiling panels reflect light into the home and help blur the line between the indoors and outdoors.


Low VOC finishes, concrete floors, and a heat recovery ventilator insure clean and healthy air.


The private wing offers a master suite with an extra day bed, a ship’s berth inspired bunkroom, and peaceful getaway nooks.


A balance of rugged materials, a simple plan and clean lines help focus this mountain retreat on the place, people and adventures.


 iss-high ext

This recently completed residence in the Issaquah Highlands, 20 miles east of Seattle, enjoys spectacular views. A big part of our role here was to know when to get out of the way!


iss-high bigview

A central circulation spine screens private zones while channeling visitors towards the open kitchen-living-dining area. With its subtle nods to Japanese traditions, the house is as much about choreography as building



iss-high smallview

More intimate framed views of the contemplative garden and the art collection provide contrast before the vista finally opens completely at the rear of the house.


iss-high ext2

Generous overhangs and deliberately engineered cross-ventilation provide effective passive cooling and weather protection for this mountaintop site.



CAST Architecture:  Stefan Hampden, Matt  Hutchins, Forrest Murphy

Add’l Design:  Eric Oliner

Calista Interiors:  Calista Munnell

Stoney Point Engineering (Structural): Dwayne Barnes

Core Design Inc. (Geotechnical & Civil): Glenn Sprague

BDR Custom Homes:  Steven Jewett




Here are some photos of the Saratoga House–just need some landscaping!



Outdoor dining room off the kitchen


View from the family room to the breakfast bar and kitchen beyondsaratoga-kitchen

The Big Island

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