Principal As an architect committed to sustaining a diverse practice, Kurt Melander, AIA draws upon his broad experience and creative interests to develop responsive solutions that are refined yet pragmatic in their approach to program, form, and materials. His more than 20-year career encompasses custom residences located throughout the United States as well as museums, interpretive exhibits, flagship stores, and corporate interiors. His love of art and history lends added depth and warmth to his modern aesthetic, and informs his design approach. This dynamic is evident in two of the firm’s recent award-winning projects, Filmcore’s San Francisco offices and the renovation of an historic townhouse in Greenwich Village, New York. Before founding Melander Architects in 1999, Kurt worked with Harry Weese & Associates in Chicago and The Pfister Partnership in San Francisco, among other firms. He received his BA in Architecture from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, and undertook additional studies in painting, architectural history, and furniture design at UC Berkeley. He is a registered architect in California and Washington. Kurt’s work has appeared in leading national and regional design journals including Interiors, Architectural Digest, Architectural Record, Sunset, and The San Francisco Chronicle Magazine. In 2007 he was recognized as an emerging talent by California Home & Design, San Francisco Business Times, and California Home.
Key Staff : Kelly Rittenhouse Kelly Rittenhouse is a Senior Designer and Project Manager who joined Melander Architects in early 2007 and brings over six years of experience in residential, commercial, and retail design. She received her Master of Architecture degree at the University of Texas at Austin in 2005 and was an AIA scholarship recipient. During graduate school, Kelly completed numerous residential and commercial interior freelance projects. Following graduation, she was a designer and project manager at Alterstudio Architects, working on multiple residential projects as well as conceptual design for a boutique hotel. Prior to graduate school, Kelly spent three years working in marketing, advertising, and public relations for an Austin-based high tech company. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Stanford University in 1998, including a semester abroad at the Ecole Superieure de Commerce in Paris. A variety of interests inform Kelly’s design work at Melander Architects, including watercoloring, plaster casting, and gardening. She is also a collector of mid-century glass and terrariums with tiny building replicas, and is fascinated by albino creatures preserved in taxidermy.
Key Staff : Peter Benoit Peter Benoit joined the firm in 2005 and is a Senior Designer and Project Manager. He has 10 years of work experience in residential, commercial, and large institutional projects. Along with a commitment to communication with clients and project consultants, Peter brings a love of drawing, travel sketching, watercoloring and photography to Melander Architects’ design process. He enjoys refining his technical and construction detailing experience with builders during the construction phase of each project. Peter works closely with clients, contractors, craftsmen, fabricators, and suppliers to execute design ideas under the constraints of budgets and schedules. He completed his Master of Architecture at UC Berkeley in 2005, receiving the Paul M. Braun Fellowship. He worked freelance over the Summer of 2004 designing an artist’s residency in Kauai, Hawaii. Prior to graduate school, Peter worked for two years in Boston at Kallmann McKinnell & Wood Architects, followed by three years in New York at Helfand Myerberg Guggenheimer Architects. He received his undergraduate B.S. Architecture from the University of Virginia in 1998, including a semester study in Copenhagen. Peter also teaches freehand drawing and a perspective design course at The Academy of Art University in San Francisco. He has been part of the faculty since Summer 2007.
Design Philosophy We approach our clients' design problems through a thoughtful understanding of the sites and contexts in which they exist. Sometimes our sites are as small as a single room, other times they are houses on open land, and other times they are buildings in urban blocks. Whatever the size and scale of our clients' sites, we develop design solutions by thinking about and respecting what already exists, what is intrinsically beautiful about a place, and appreciating what already works. We let old architecture and landscapes show their age and wear their imperfections with dignity. We are inspired by and delight in the poetry of building materials—wood, stone, steel, and concrete, as well as the building materials of the Earth—soil, water, light, and air. Lastly, we are students of construction and relish opportunities to design, detail, and innovate with both owners and craftspeople—always with the goal of executing design ideas into built soulful architecture.
How We Work We are a process-driven studio that balances our love of architecture, art, materials, and construction with the pragmatic needs of our clients. We take time to make beautiful and legible drawings, models and writings to help our clients understand the possibilities of their sites and projects. We believe in open communication and share our process with owners, builders, and other consultants. We deeply enjoy and respect the practice of architecture—a profession requiring many years of education, work experience, ongoing licensure and multi-disciplinary knowledge, as well as the cultivation of creativity, sensibility, and relevancy. We listen to our clients and offer our experience to help guide them towards making their own decisions about their own projects. We then make accurate drawings and documents that communicate our clients' decisions to contractors so projects may be priced and built.