Exploring New Heights - Women Owned Adventure Companies

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

BUILD - A Refined Niche

A Refined Niche

Carlos Delgado blends sustainability, balance, and relationships

Story by Paula Bandy


Drawn to the Pacific Northwest’s aesthetic aspects of warm woods and sleek modern styling, for Carlos Delgado the interplay of balance, sustainability, and relationships is what brought him to the Rogue Valley in particular.

A native of the Bay Area, he found the “Rogue Valley has a good value of life, family, and outdoors. Underneath all is a common value system.” He feels it is more relationship oriented than the Bay area. “The relationships have been a lot more fun and there is more respect for things other than just work. People here are advocates for good projects and having a good life while you're doing it. It’s more about the whole picture and what is beyond the work.” 

After college in Pennsylvania, where he relished in the centuries worth of design and architecture, Delgado returned to the Bay area. He spent time traveling as an interior designer for retail spaces in malls before he found himself working on a remote B & B in Costa Rica. This he says is where he found much inspiration for his profession and personal life. "I've always loved being informed by the natural messengers," says Delgado. “Our palette, materials, and methods were so limited. We used the tools available and didn't look for more. I loved that—when all the choices got stripped away—I loved the minimal aspect of that. This is just the way it was done. We weren't looking for the next thing.”

Delgado’s striking style is a blend of the traditional with contemporary finesse and modern restraint. His designs have an understated grounding and quiet elegance to them, and feature strong, expanding lines, layered angles, linear open spaces, relaxed interiors, lots of natural light, and, of course, a focus on wood. His work is about creating functional relationships—humans with each other, humans with nature—and the dynamics of the living/working space with both. Pulling from modern aesthetic sensibilities he also takes into consideration the aspect of community design as a family and/or group work space. “We’re constantly thinking of how they’re living, the patterns of their lives and how all the systems contribute to the health and wellbeing of the inhabitants.”

Numerous awards, accolades, and the first LEED Platinum home in Southern Oregon are in the stable of Carlos Delgado Architect LLC. He reiterates, “It takes a team to make it happen.” Along with the clients, it’s all about the process of getting where and what they want and having a good time doing it. Delgado affectionately jokes that he and Tom Sager, Senior Designer & Project Captain with the firm since 2003, are “When playing off each other sorta like Click and Clack. Carlos is the gas and Tom is the brake.” Together, they constitute a grounded creative core. They agree the core is “that you come back to what works—what makes practical sense.”

Delgado is clear on this when he reiterates about his time in Costa Rica. “To use what you have. I love this way of thinking about our own designs because we hardly introduce new things to clients; we just use what we know works and lasts. It comes back to do we continuously jump onto the ‘new thing’ bandwagon or sit back and observe how it goes. Sometimes we do need to think of things in a new way. It’s a creative process, but when we really know something is working we choose to perfect this piece before we go on to something else.”

These elements came together in the Upper Oak residence of Rob Sweeney and Shannon Clery. Although early on there was deep attachment to a very contemporary design, Delgado says, “Sometimes there must be reading between the lines to come up with ideas that will solve the issues.” The house nestles between Oak Street and a small power plant, above Bear Creek and the flood plain surrounding it. A country feel just minutes from downtown Ashland with open space for their “boys will be boys” to play and experience nature in ways that are rare within city living.

Upper Oak is a refined niche of Delgado’s creativity, practice of nurturing relationships, looking at the whole picture, visionary perspective, and sustainable directive. The contractor, Jovick Construction, received LEED Gold certification for the home. After taking a break from the project, Delgado says, “We knew it needed sheltering from the road and shielded from the close power station, but I realized what they needed as a family with young boys was a place that was more traditional in terms of anchoring the family. So, I got anchored. You can see that it’s not traditional, but elements of it are. I wanted to introduce a contemporary feel by the integrated modern shed roof intersecting with the traditional gable form.” The end result is a customized urban farmhouse that is highly efficient and functional for the family, but unpretentious in both design and size.

The upstairs belongs to the boys, with lofts in each bedroom, their own bath, and a lofty, open common area for play. The downstairs is an open family oriented space with an upright piano in the kitchen, doors that open wide to the patio, and a highly efficient mudroom. “The mudroom is actually our favorite room,” says Sweeney, “No, really it is. We each have our own cubby.”

The mudroom is a lovely room in and of itself. Sweeney, who is the owner of Anthology Woods, a local company specializing in reclaimed wood, used a variety of woods in the space. The back wall or ‘truth window’ as he calls it, is made from reclaimed gym bleachers. The sitting bench is a beautiful mix of wood reclaimed from shipping dunnage from Asia, mostly tropical hardwoods. There is also a sink for cleaning up and gardening purposes and birch plywood cabinetry for storage.

Bamboo was used throughout the house as cabinets because of its durability. But the rest of the woods are a mix and finished using only a no VOC European oil. “Pine siding came out of a local remodel probably from trees cut in the 1800’s”, says Sweeney, “There’s cedar from British Columbia bridge timbers. The gym bleachers are Douglas Fir with plugs where the boltholes used to be. There’s salvaged pine from the Timber Rock fire. Floors are reclaimed teak, stair landing wall is weathered gray decking, and the barn beams in the boys loft are from the old Ashland Greenhouses.”

And then there is the master bath ceiling. Metaphorically it’s the centerpiece of the house that conceptually brings the innovative design pieces together like a puzzle. Sweeney had many leftover pieces of wood in a variety of sizes and depths. As an experiment, he glued them in mosaic fashion to pieces of plywood and then mounted them on the ceiling. It’s striking and as Delgado explains, also healthy. “Unfinished wood is absorptive of moisture, but what most people don't know is when it absorbs the moisture it also slowly releases it which helps with thermal aspects of the house.”

The beauty of this home comes not only from the design, the use of passive solar energy, or its views of the surrounding mountains, but also from its use and the expression of the building materials. “Beauty is how you feel,” Delgado explains, “how you sense things, the things that keep you connected to the way the house is functioning, living and breathing.”


Anthology Woods

655 Washington St., Ashland




Carlos Delgado Architect LLC

217 4th St., Ashland



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