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Allison Interview

June 1, 2021

Join us this month for an interview with Allison Ross, Highline’s Project Architect! With her passion for design, attention to detail, and commitment to quality projects, Allison streamlines our design-build architecture process, connecting people with their dream designs in Bellingham and beyond. Read on below as we talk about sustainability, the design-build architecture process, and what it takes to be an architect.

Q: What is it about architecture that excites you?

All sorts of things! I’ve been excited about architecture for most of my life. I think one of the biggest things is the impact design has on our personal living spaces. It’s about how you celebrate things with your friends or find peaceful spaces. Our spaces inform the quality of our life. I guess that’s a pretty abstract answer to your question, a more concrete one would be sustainability. I think our housing stock as a country still has a long way to go but we’ve made a lot of progress in the last few years.

Would you say that we’re on track to mesh the design process with sustainability goals?

Yes! The state of Washington has a pretty rigid energy code that really drives this change. The state of Washington is really a national leader in that way. When buildings are meeting sustainability goals they’re healthier for the inhabitants as well. Better air, better heating, better cooling, all of these things impact the people living in those buildings.

Q: What is your favorite part of the job?

I think my favorite part is working with our clients to figure out what they need and then to synthesize that into a cohesive design that is both checking all of their boxes and working with the land that it’s on. I also love going out to job sites! I love the field crews we have and just seeing the design that was on paper come to life.

Q: What’s unique about the integration of your work with Highline?

The goal there is to make it easier on everyone involved because we do everything for a project in-house. However, the main benefit is, really, that it’s so much easier for the client. To know that everyone gets along really well and that we’re all working together towards the best interest of the client. We all have the same end goal. We’re able to ask each other questions, and we start the project from an integrated place. It’s unique in that most clients would start at an architectural firm and get a design that has little to no input from the people that will actually be building it. We start that dialogue early, with not only me but project managers and field crew as well.

Wow, that sounds efficient!

It is! It’s so much simpler for the client, and they can rest assured that what we’re planning is what they need. Plus, it’s a lot easier to stay on budget this way because most architects aren’t trained in cost assessment. What I design for a client goes through our estimating team to make sure that what I’m designing stays on budget. There’s nothing worse than getting a client excited about something and then realizing it’s $200,000 over budget. Everyone here at Highline has seen it happen without outside designers and we want to minimize the possibility of it happening here.

Q: What are some changes in architectural design over the years?

I feel like trends are always changing! It’s one of my goals to keep projects from being tied to trends. You don’t really want a house where you take one look at it and go, “oh that was clearly done in 2020.” It’s nice to have something a bit more timeless. One of the big changes I can think of has been in the rise of Design-Build. I think Highline is very timely in that we are offering that way more often.

Q: What are some questions you get all the time?

That’s a good one! I get a lot of questions about zoning, ordinances, and the municipal codes that say what we can and can’t do. I go over to someone’s house and they’ll ask me, “oh, what do you think about us adding a second story?” or “could we add a garage here?” I get a lot of those feasibility-type questions. Most of the questions are about navigating the world of building and construction.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time here in the Bellingham area?

Oooooo, all sorts of things. I spend a lot of time outside, trail running, mountain biking, skiing, mostly. Where do you like to go mountain biking? There’s so many places around here! The easiest option is to just go to Galbraith, but we love all of the little trails around town as well. *about a week after this interview, Allison and I ran into each other on Galbraith! Also, my fiance and I bought a fixer-upper house so we’ve been doing a lot of house projects recently. Which I love doing! My fiance, Tim, is also in the design industry so we’ve been doing a lot of little design things in our own house. I also do a fair bit of woodworking, we have our own woodshop.

Q: That’s so cool! Ok, last question, what is something someone might not know about your job?

Well, it’s a complicated process to become an architect. I have a Bachelor’s in Architecture and also a Master’s degree in Architecture. To be a licensed architect you have to go through this three-year long process after getting a Master’s degree. It includes internship hours and a series of board exams. It’s a lengthy process, but I loved design school, it was a ton of fun! It’s not something that people think about, but the job of an architect is to protect people in buildings.

That makes a lot of sense! I never would have thought about it like that. Thank you so much Allison!

No problem! Thank you, I’m glad I got to share all about the architectural process!

Allison has been working at Highline Construction as a Bellingham architect since August of 2020. If you have any questions about the design build process, check out our website! If you have any questions about an upcoming project, or want to get the conversation started, you can contact us here.

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“Communication was constant, honest and clear. Trevor and his crew were all friendly and professional.  They listened to our requests and delivered.

”We are thrilled with the quality of work! The project was on time and on budget. We will definitely be recommending Highline to our friends and family.”

– Matt Whitten, Bellingham, WA

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