We are excited to welcome Alyssa Keating to the Whitten Architects team. Upon completion of her masters degree at Roger Williams University, Alyssa began her career working for Hutker Architects in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, specializing in custom high-end residential. After moving to Maine in 2011, Alyssa built a small “off-the-grid” timber-frame cabin, exploring construction techniques and resources. While away from her cabin, she worked with local architects and builders on the midcoast, studying Maine’s vernacular architecture. In 2014, she relocated to Portland to join the sustainably focused team at Briburn. In doing so, Alyssa found her stride in the more urban Portland architectural community. Most recently she worked with Barrett Made and had a view into the construction side of Portland’s built environment. Alyssa currently sits on the board of Architalx and is the President of the Portland Society for Architecture. She is passionate about interior and exterior architectural design, as well as exploring the relationship between spaces and its users.
Through her leadership of the Portland Society for Architecture, we’ve had the opportunity to get to know Alyssa over the last couple of years. We’ve especially appreciated her empathy for people, passion for design, and love of Maine. We’re excited to have her join our team and look forward to her contributing to what we do here at Whitten Architects. We asked Alyssa to share a bit more about her early influences and what she loves about Maine.
Q. What early childhood influences, if any, led you to design?
A. My early childhood definitely had a huge influence on me. My parents cultivated an upbringing based around appreciation and understanding of landscape and architecture as one. They are both artists, builders, and dreamers at heart, and designed and built our childhood home. Also a major influence was my hands-on Waldorf education. In fourth grade we learned how to timber frame, and the continual engagement of Waldorf education around understanding form and movement definitely helped shaped my perception of architecture without really knowing it. I think I was four when I first took my dad’s sketchbook and “added” to it. When I was in college we were looking back through his sketchbooks and found a drawing I did when I was five that had a classic square and triangle roof house with a fully designed drainage system from the roof all the way down through the yard and into a pond (with fish)!
Q. What about Whitten Architects speaks to you?
A. The approach to site and how it is reflected in their projects definitely speak to me. Growing up in northern Vermont I developed an appreciation and love for the agrarian vernacular—the classic “big house, little house, back house, barn”—a typology that grew from the necessity of the climate and its challenges. I’m drawn to the idea of embracing the simplicity and beauty of the landscape and letting the architecture speak to that. The classic and modern high-quality architecture—from design to material palette—speak for themselves.
Q. Do you have any particular design philosophy?
A. I would say that all architectural design begins with truly understanding a site. Architecture should directly relate to its environment and its users as one. My ambitions are based on continuing my knowledge in vernacular and socially responsive architecture.
Q. What do you love about living in Maine?
A. That you can spend time in the ocean and the mountains in the same day. It is never a far walk or drive to get completely submerged in nature. I find comfort in the landscape and the familiarity of its elements.