Olson Kundig Architects began its creative existence with architect Jim Olson, whose work in the late 1960s explored the relationship between dwellings and the landscape they inhabit in the Northwest. Olson started the firm based on some simple ideas: that buildings can serve as a bridge between nature, culture and people, and that inspiring surroundings have a positive effect on people’s lives.
In 1996, Tom Kundig joined Olson as an owner, taking the firm to another level of creative exploration and helping it grow into an office with an international reputation. Alan Maskin and Kirsten Murray joined the owners group in 2008, continuing the evolution of the firm and furthering its commitment to the experience around architecture, articulated in exhibit design, interiors, and connections to urban and rural landscapes.
The firm now numbers over 90 employees. Olson Kundig Architects’ work, including museums, commercial design, academic buildings, exhibit design, interior design, places of worship and residences, often for art collectors, is now worldwide. The in-house interiors studio, founded in 2000, provides a full range of services including material selection, custom furniture design and purchasing capabilities. The interiors studio continues the long tradition of continuity between architecture and interiors. The office combines the capacity of a large firm with the intensity of a small one. The firm’s commitment to vigorous, critical design review sessions has infused its designers with a shared sense of commitment to every project.
Among the firm’s accolades are the 2009 National AIA Architecture Firm Award (as Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects), national and regional design awards from the American Institute of Architects, American Architecture Awards from the Chicago Athenaeum, Jim Olson’s 2007 Seattle Medal of Honor and Tom Kundig’s National Design Award from the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt and his Academy Award in Architecture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The owners lecture extensively on design, regularly serve as university studio critics, and are board members for civic institutions and jury awards programs. The firm’s award-winning work has been widely exhibited in North America, has been published extensively, including in The New York Times, Architectural Digest and Architectural Record, and has been featured numerous times on the covers of books and magazines.
Books on the firm’s work include Tom Kundig: Houses 2 (Princeton Architectural Press, 2011); Jim Olson Houses (The Monacelli Press, 2009); Tom Kundig: Houses (Princeton Architectural Press, 2006); Art + Architecture: The Ebsworth Collection + Residence (William Stout Publishers, 2006); The Frye Art Museum: Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects (Documentary Media, 2007); and a monograph of the firm’s work, Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects: Architecture, Art and Craft (The Monacelli Press, 2003).