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Meet Jeffrey Klug and Pamela Butz of BUTZ + KLUG Architecture in South End

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jeffrey Klug and Pamela Butz.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Jeffrey and Pamela. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
There are two aspects of our early professional life that have had a clear impact on who we are today.
We spent the majority of our early careers in Europe, in Switzerland and Italy. We had the privilege of traveling together quite a bit and this has given us an important point of reference. Living in Europe as an architect also taught us to build extraordinarily well and we have brought that expertise. In terms of products, we specify and in the level of intelligence and craft that we expect in construction, back with us.

Additionally, we both started teaching while in graduate school at Cornell. This opened the door to academia at the beginning of our professional careers. Teaching was wonderful; it is rewarding for a whole host of reasons but the most relevant one is that, when you teach design, you learn to ask questions and listen. The combination of listening to your students and providing well-timed guidance produced the most interesting student work. This gave us an appreciation for the art of collaboration and its role in creativity. We carry that attitude today, both with each other and with our clients; the more engaged our clients are in the process the richer work. It is what has drawn us to residential work or any work where the client uses the building.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
We have been in business for 20+ years and there have certainly been hills and plateaus. I think that running a small business based on something that you are passionate about is incredibly rewarding but has a steep learning curve. There was a moment when we were growing, we were about 10 people, I know for a lot of folks that is not growing but it was to us. As partners, we spent a great deal of time just going to meetings. We realized that as a design firm grows the creativity of the partners turns toward the business and the work is delegated. We both love the work so it was at that moment that we defined ourselves as ‘small’. This allows us to get deeply involved with the client, design and construction.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the BUTZ + KLUG Architecture story. Tell us more about the business.
We believe that the spaces we live in have the power to elevate our everyday life. The spaces that we design might look good but that is not where we begin. We begin by understanding what’s happening there; what are the habits and rituals of life that we are supporting and enhancing. It is, of course, wonderful to hear someone call our work beautiful and it may become beautiful because we are investing thought, imagination and creativity in the things that support the life we imagine there. When someone looks at one of our projects, we want them to see themselves living there. What is really rewarding is to visit a client and see them living the life we imagined and watch how the spaces they live in enrich their life.

I have to add that we love working in New England because the tradition of craft is still alive; there are so many incredibly creative and talented artisans around and over the last 20 years, we have developed a network of folks to whom we are indebted for a great deal of the work we do.

Where do you see your industry going over the next 5-10 years? Any big shifts, changes, trends, etc?
New England is definitely becoming more metropolitan and as a result, tastes are broadening. The other thing that we are happy to see is that clients are expecting their buildings to become part of the solution to energy consumption.

For us, that means first making the most of the gifts of nature or exploiting the ‘free’ passive potential of a building – for instance, how a building sits on its site and its solar orientation – before employing technological solutions. This approach, passive before active, not only makes practical sense, it recognizes that today’s active energy sources have a relatively short lifespan, it can also make wonderful spaces with a more profound and immediate connection to the natural world.

But, to answer the new question, this is probably more of a worldview answer. We are incredibly lucky to be able to do what we love every day. There is no doubt that there were decisions along the way that had beneficial consequences that we were certainly not wise enough to predict and cannot take credit for. It is important, personally, to accept that although, we work hard and we are good at what we do. There’s a lot of folks who work hard and are good at what they do that haven’t had the good fortune that we have had. Not to get too philosophical about it but, I am grateful for every day.

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Image Credit:

Eric Roth, Milicent Harvey

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