About

Firm

As architects our goal is to create spaces that evoke a quiet, emotional response. We believe that the use of elemental forms and minimal means can result in architecture that has nuance, depth and richness.

Suyama Peterson Deguchi (SPD), founded by George Suyama FAIA in 1971, is an architecture firm based in Seattle, Washington. Ric Peterson, FAIA, joined George as partner in 1983, Jay Deguchi became a partner in 2002, and Chris Haddad became a partner in 2014. The firm specializes in northwest contemporary design and offers a comprehensive range of services from architecture to interiors and furniture design.

Our South Park studio houses architectural offices for our professional staff, and 3x10 [Three by Ten], our furniture and accessory showroom.

Partners

George Suyama, FAIA Principal

George loves to collect beautiful objects, from antiques and handcrafted artifacts to driftwood and rocks. His appreciation of craftsmanship, simplicity and nature informs all of his designs whether they are for private residences, art galleries or theatre renovations. “Our goal is to create an ambiance of place,” says George. In recognition of his design excellence and contributions to the profession, he received the AIA/Seattle Medal of Honor and is a member of the American Institute of Architects’ College of Fellows.

Ric Peterson, FAIA Partner

Ric enjoys the precision and rigor of architecture. He brings the same attention to detail to building relationships with clients as he does to the process of design and construction. “We have a reputation for listening to and addressing our clients’ needs,” he says. He began working with George in 1978 and became a partner in 1983. His experience ranges from custom residences and houseboats to multi-family housing and resorts. Ric was elected to the American Institute of Architects’ College of Fellows in 2013.

Jay Deguchi, AIA Partner

Jay’s design focus is on the spatial experience of architecture. “We put a lot of credence in a client’s state of mind when they reach the front door,” says Jay. “We believe in creating transitions that help people decompress.” After graduate school at UCLA and practicing in California, Jay joined Suyama Architects in 1992 and became a partner in 2002. In addition to modern houses, Jay’s work includes retail and office spaces as well as art galleries and civic projects.

Chris Haddad, AIA Partner

We are proud to announce the promotion of Chris Haddad to partner. Chris joined the firm in 1997 after re-locating from New England. Chris draws from his background as an artist to inform architecture. He enjoys the process of articulating spatial ideas through the rigor of details. “In all of our projects we strive to make places that are respectful of their context, timeless, and beautiful.” His experience includes custom residences, office spaces, restaurants, and multi-family housing projects.

Design Philosophy

As architects our goal is to create spaces that evoke a quiet, emotional response. We believe that the use of elemental forms and minimal means can result in architecture that has nuance, depth and richness. Through a process of editing and refining we reduce distractions and decrease the visual noise of everyday life. As a result, our designs have an ambiance that resonates whether they are for prized private residences, art galleries or experimental retail boutiques.

To understand our approach to design it helps to understand our history. In 1942 George was an infant when his family was shipped to a Japanese American internment camp in Idaho. He spent the first three years of his life in barracks surrounded by barbed wire. The starkness of the camp and its primitive housing are a likely source for his predilection for elemental simplicity. The lack of personal possessions at the camp may have also contributed to his love of collections. Over the years he collected many objects - antiques, pottery, even branches and rocks - drawn by a sense of history, craftsmanship and the beauty of the natural world.

After graduating from the University of Washington's architecture program, George worked in the offices of Seattle architects Gene Zema and Ralph Anderson. Both were well known for their articulated wood structures and contributions to the development of Northwest Contemporary architecture. Zema was also a collector of Japanese antiquities and George traveled with him to Japan. He returned with an appreciation for the culture's reverence for nature, its emphasis on craft and the integration of building and landscape.

George started his own architecture practice in 1971 and Ric joined him in 1978. Ric has an analytical way of thinking that balances George's intuitive approach. The firm's work brought together earlier influences including expressive wood detailing and a strong connection between inside and outside. There was also an emphasis on decoration and the placement of curated objects to add ambience to spaces. At this time, we began our collaboration with artists, craftsmen and designers such as steel fabricator David Gulassa, furniture maker Kurt Beardslee and landscape architect Bruce Hinkley in the design of cabins, condominiums and houses.

A watershed moment for the firm was when the office moved from Eastlake Avenue to an 1890's stable-turned-garage in Belltown. This was a few years after Jay Deguchi joined the firm in 1992 bringing his talent for developing spatial sequences and experiences to our practice. Drawn by the garage's raw industrial materials and historic layers, we decided to leave as much of its patina intact as possible. Additions and interventions were limited to humble materials: drywall, plywood and steel.

The design of the new office raised questions for the rest of our work and we sought ways to imbue new construction with a sense of authenticity. One answer was to design architecture with elemental simplicity. We began to evaluate every aspect of a design for its ability to create a sense of place and eliminated anything that did not. We found that by using a limited palate of materials, the logic of construction became more evident adding to a sense of structural integrity and clarity. As the designs became more simple and spare, connecting to nature became more important. We looked to the Japanese idea of "borrowed landscape" and by dissolving the boundaries between inside and outside nature took the place of decoration.

This simplicity, the flow of spaces and the way we use materials makes our work modern, but it is a modernism full of warmth and nuance. We capture the ambiance of the objects that George collected for so long and create architecture that resonates with clients and all those that encounter it. We continue to approach each new project with these ideas and goals in mind.

Process

We believe that the practice of architecture is a craft. Just as with handmade objects, each of our projects is inherently different and bears the imprint of those involved in its creation. While a similar vocabulary may be used - steel, concrete and wood - each design is a specific response to a site and to our client's needs.

We use hand drawings, sketches and models to explore ideas with our clients and we continue to do this, along with computer drawings, until the project's completion. We believe that drawing by hand helps us stay connected to the human elements of architecture - scale, proportion and detail - that make our designs resonate.

For us, design is a process of editing and refining ideas down to their essence. This distillation creates a quiet architecture. In its simplicity, it reflects our client's needs and allows them to engage with a design to make it their own.

Communication is key to this process. To establish and maintain a strong working relationship, a partner is intimately involved in each project from the beginning of design through the end of construction. We found that this continuity and consistency is not only more efficient, it is also essential to developing thoughtful and fully realized designs.

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Awards

  • AIA/Seattle Merit Award, The Junsei House 2015
  • AIA Northwest & Pacific Region Honor Award, Urban Cabin 2015
  • University of Washington Bestows Alum George Suyama with the George Suyama Gallery at Gould Pavilion 2015
  • Residential Architect, Hall of Fame Award, George Suyama 2013
  • International Interior Design Association, Concept Design Award, Fire Tool Set 2009
  • International Interior Design Association, Concept Design Award, Stanchion Floor Lamp 2009
  • International Interior Design Association, Honorable Mention, Schuchart Residence 2009
  • Seattle Homes + Lifestyles, Design Achievement Award in Architecture 2009
  • AIA/Seattle Medal of Honor, George Suyama 2009
  • University of Washington Libraries, Artist of the Year, George Suyama 2005
  • AIA/Seattle Honor Award, Broadmoor Residence 2005
  • AIA/Northwest Honor Award, Broadmoor Residence 2005
  • Excellence in Concrete Construction Award, WA Concrete Association, American Camp 2004
  • AIA/Seattle Honor Award, Fauntleroy Residence 2003
  • AIA/Northwest Honor Award, Fauntleroy Residence 2003
  • AIA/Seattle Honor Award, SPD Belltown Office/Gallery 1997
  • Wood Council National Design Award, Kemper Cabin 1996
  • AIA/Seattle Commendation, “Completed” category, Hornall Residence 1995
  • AIA/Seattle Citation Award, “Future” category, Martin Residence 1990