Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects


The gray skies of Seattle settle on the moody, chalk-like paintings of renowned artist Catherine Eaton Skinner in her second-floor studio overlooking the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. The studio is discreetly tucked into a vast former warehouse, with big northwest-facing apertures framing clouds above and neighborhood bustle below, and the building’s 100-year-old Arensberg Sons sign marching across the facade beneath her window. Although this soaring space alludes to an earlier industrial incarnation, it also features the hallmarks of its designer, Tom Kundig, FAIA, of Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects, whose devotion to detail, integration of reclaimed materials, and affinity for adaptive reuse converge here.

Photo © Benjamin Benschneider

The vision focused on accommodating multiple uses in a space that changes depending on the need. In response, Kundig divided the 3,750-square-foot studio into two bays by mounting 9x9-foot drywall panels that pivot and slide on a steel track; the track runs adjacent to a large, central wood beam, which suggested a natural compartmentalization. Now Skinner can halve the room to exhibit works, or block out daylight to maintain a particular range of light intensity while executing new projects.

The flexibility that Kundig imbues in his designs often involves mobility, specifically partitions that slide or rotate. “A lot of clients ask, ‘Do we get one of those moving thingies?’” Kundig says. “But it’s not something that I want to become a gimmick. It has to work in the space and make sense in the context of the design.” This is especially useful for Skinner, who also is an active art philanthropist and opens her studio to various organizations to hold events and retreats. “The partitions allow us to change the room for whatever is happening here,” she says. “They can be moved and it changes the entire space.” For fundraisers Skinner has opened the space up to accommodate larger crowds and for conferences, she has divided the room to create bays for separate meetings.

A “working wall” constructed of gypsum board runs the length of the east wall in the main studio space, and then pulls away from that brick surface to accommodate a utility room and bathroom. Nine-by-nine-foot sliding gypsum-board partitions at the south end create a storage area for art supplies and archived paintings.

Kundig’s pragmatic approach to Skinner’s program shaped the light plan, too. Simple conical downlights plug into ceiling outlets and hang from their own electrical cords, which loosely dangle from above. The informal design allows Skinner to move the luminaires simply by re-swagging the cords.


Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects
159 South Jackson Street, 6th Floor
Seattle, WA 98104 
206-624-5670 tel.
206-624-3730 fax

Principal designer:
Tom Kundig, FAIA

Project managers:
Kenny Wilson, Dan Wilson

KPFF Structural Engineers
1601 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1600 
Seattle, WA 98101 
206-622-5822 tel.
206-622-8130 fax

Jeff Albert

O- (Odash LLC), Veronika Batho-Demelius

General contractor
Riehl Construction
2366 Eastlake Avenue E, #437 
Seattle, WA 98102 
206-322-1144 tel.

Benjamin Benschneider




Exterior cladding
Metal/glass curtain wall: 
Cor-ten steel entry wall awnings, sign and door

Window steel:
A & S Steel Windows

Skylights: U.S. Aluminum

Custom by Site Welding Services

Metal doors
Site Welding Services

Wood doors

Sliding doors
Site Welding Services


Cabinet hardware

Cabinetwork and custom woodwork
Gordon Becker (custom casework) Futurelic, Todd Luff (custom cast-in-place concrete bathroom sink)

Paints and stains
Benjamin Moore

Special surfacing
Masonry and concrete walls and wood ceiling sandblasted by Colbeck & Company

Floor and wall tile
Corten B bathroom floor tile by Tau Ceramica

Custom Table designed by Tom Kundig and fabricated by Steve Marks, 12th Avenue Iron, Seattle

Interior ambient lighting: 
Lightolier tracks and fixtures

Down lights
Hanging Par 36 lamps

Columbia Industries sign fixture

Chicago Fixtures