The Architectural Harvest

Date: Nov 8, 2023 12:00:00 PM

By: Laura Meade

Autumn is a time for transformation and gratitude. We celebrate nature’s bounty, farmers’ hard work, and the cultural traditions connecting all of us to Mother Earth.

In our field as designers, the concept of harvest extends beyond agricultural connotations. Architects are cultivators, sowing the seeds of design, nurturing them through planning and labor, and ultimately reaping the fruits of creativity when a building comes to life. Our ideas should be rooted in their surroundings and responsive to the needs of their users. Many of our projects go through several iterations before we reach the final solution. As a plant's roots grow down to anchor and then nourish the plant's development, our projects grow in complexity and depth. We create detailed drawings and construction documents to ensure there is metaphorically and literally a solid foundation for the project's realization.


Sketch models produced in the office juxtaposed with final photographs of our Coastal Residence II project

Harvest also embodies sustainability for us, as a well-designed space is an enduring investment in the environment. Wood, stone and steel are harvested and transformed into buildings and spaces that shelter and inspire. Sustainability of our resources necessitates responsible practices, not just in their extraction but also in the utilization and eventual recycling of materials. Our firm makes an effort to use recycled materials in projects that reduce their environmental impact and minimize waste. 


Furniture designed for our Residential University Building project that were
made from a mix of storm-downed New Haven street trees

We consider the long-term impact of our creations, acknowledging the finite resources being spent on our project to minimize our footprint. It is a celebration of the synergy between our craftsmanship and the raw materials provided to us. Consider the indigenous architectural traditions that have thrived for centuries, where local materials are collected and transformed to create structures resonating with the culture and ecology of a place. Harvest is a tribute to the wisdom of adapting to local fabric conditions rather than imposing new forms. We try to form deeper connections with our environment. 


We selected sustainable and domestic Black Locust wood for the ramp and decking
of our Swift Factory Landscape Courtyard project


We reap inspiration from historical precedents. At Pirie Associates, we have a deep respect for our architectural heritage. An understanding of historical elements and techniques allows us to infuse our projects with the stories of buildings from the past. This is crucial to us, as it honors cultural heritage and offers lessons in design evolution. We encourage the integration of timeless elements into contemporary structures, because this enriches architectural diversity.

Guest Services from Historic House

Exposed beams in our Museum Visitors Service Center project tell the history of the original building structure and helped us locate certain boundaries of the building we were trying to uncover.

Autumn is a good time to consider the concept of energy efficiency. As a farmer carefully tends to his or her crops, architects carefully tend to the energy flow within our spaces, ensuring that it’s managed and conserved. We strive to maximize occupants' well-being and minimize our ecological footprint. We harness natural resources like sunlight and wind to reduce our clients’ reliance on energy-intensive systems.

coastalresidencediagramEnvironmental Forces diagram study for our Coastal Residence II project.


Harvest is a profound notion in the world of architecture. We follow the cycle of creation, preservation, and transformation, echoing the ancient and persistent rhythm of natural processes. Architects and farmers alike must be environmental stewards who cultivate meaningful spaces and take care of resources. We strive to create architecture that is sustainable, rich, and deeply rooted in its surroundings.


This Thanksgiving season we are reminded to nurture the world and reap our rewards of a thoughtful and responsible design approach.


Top Image Credit: East Rock from SSS Hall, 2008, by Sage Ross