Tag Archives: brandon pass

Lucid Dreaming

Tight collaboration between architect and homeowner/designer is clearly brilliant. by Melanie McGee BianchiBrandon-Pass-Portrait-ALPHA-9eebfc54

Check out the recent article in Carolina Home & Garden magazine on two of our favorite local designers who are collaborating together — Architect Brandon Pass and Designer Charlton Bradsher. Cheers to you both!

Modern Home meets Mother Earth

BPA-Poster FINAL-1Our good friend and architect Brandon Pass sent me these digital posters recently to showcase his most recent project. I still love the mix of the rustic blended with modern for these clients who live closely with mother earth and their animals. For more on this home and his other projects click here.BPA-Poster FINAL-2

Architect Brandon Pass on Asheville Modern Architecture

Brandon-Pass-Architect-Office-folkMy good friends, architect Brandon Pass and his wife Libby, are two of my favorite people to sit and discuss regional craft and design with over beer and wine. Not only are they both talented – they are just good people who are both passionate about their individual craft. I wanted to take a moment and share Brandon’s words on modern architecture here in the mountains. Enjoy!

An Asheville Modern Architecture that merges Modern Sensibilities and Design with the Vernacular Influences of Materiality, Geography & Culture specific to the Western North Carolina Mountains

Throughout my career I’ve maintained a focus to reconcile the ideals and simplicity of Modern Architecture with the vernacular influences of place, materiality and culture to now establish a clear and true Asheville modern architecture. I believe it is not the primary mission of architecture to change the course of culture nor to produce stylistic replicas of times past, but rather to synthesize the social realities and cultural expressions with the physical experiences of site, geography, materials and local skill.06-bar-3

It was emphasized early in my education in at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia that architecture is an expressive art with the capacity to move us emotionally, spiritually and must enhance the context in which it is sited establishing an identity independent of fashionable styles. Utilitarian structures took the place of iconic traditional or modern buildings as objects for contemplation and influence. The result became an effort to synthesize vernacular tradition with a modern language to create architecture firmly rooted in place and time. In contrast, the techno-rationally biased and economy-obsessed buildings that have become familiar everywhere impair our sense of locality and identity and hastens the urgency for an elevated level of quality and craftsmanship through design. The standard of building today has accelerated estrangement and alienation through homogenatiy instead of integrating our worldview and sense of self through expressive regional character and craft.

Strapped with boundless idealism and a sense of purpose I headed to Chicago and then to New York City to hone my skills and development as a designer. Over 16 years, as the scope and budget of projects increased to exponentially when compared with my modest existence, I began to question the absolute dogma of a Screen Shot 2014-02-28 at 7.10.51 PMuniversal utopian modernism versus a simplified contextual hand-crafted modern. What were the so-called fruits of my labor? Specifying  rare exotic stone from the depths of China, endangered timbers from South America or synthetic forms devoid of the hand seemed best suited for the glossy pages of popular magazines and less to do with our current collective reality rife with environmental depletion, economic uncertainty, exportation of traditional skill and cultural identity. I asked myself, why must progressive architectural innovation of the highest order remain the privilege of so few? Was I practicing what I had preached? I began to realize that the true challenge of a skilled architect is to do more with less, not excess with more.


One-to-one in architectural terms typically means to work at full-scale; one inch equals one inch. The underlying philosophy for my practice, this relation has also come to mean having empathy for and relating to my clients. Returning to Appalachia, the region that has continuously influenced my work and core philosophy over the years, seems to complete the circle and fulfill a desire to define a new architectural language specific to our shared time and place. While remaining independent of stylistic replication, commercial influence and remaining true to the ideals of modern architecture I am proud to call Asheville my home and hope to create thoughts, works of art and architecture that encourage the community to think about style, function, and the true purpose of our shared creative and architectural identity; an Asheville modern architecture that celebrates as opposed to replicates and stands firmly and independent.

For more on Brandon’s work visit his website.



The Modern Frontier of Leicester

Yesterday, I walked around in the drizzle with friend and local architect Brandon Pass at his latest project under construction — way, way out in Leicester — where soft, gentle pastures brush up against steep, rugged hills. It’s been a long year since we last connected and I remembered our past conversation like it was yesterday. I had contacted him after browsing his website and came across the “Leicester House”. There were only a couple of 1204-Perspective Southeast cornerrough renderings at the time, but I was caught the quiet, modern aesthetic that seemed well matched with the rustic context.

Brandon’s clients live out there on 70 acres (and several mules) of beautiful farm land in Sandy Mush. They are charging their land to raise flowers in the dramatic rural landscape. The lower level of the house will be a functional, IMG_0014shed for their flower business and open to the fields below. The upper level will be a modern and flowing living space that captures specific views of both natural and manmade features in the landscape. The house will be anchored by a concrete, passive solar core.

In spirit, both the client and Brandon were struck by the existing, domestic and functional vernacular distinct to this site and locality. It was a jumping off point for the architectural inspiration for both building form and materials. Leicester Comp

Once Brandon had locked down the plan and construction drawings the clients and their friends took over creating a natural, organic process where various  crafts people and found materials began to further influence and embellish the outcome. Brandon had to generously let go of Material Compcontrol and let the hands-on spirit of the clients take over in building their home on the new frontier. The result will be an obvious, modern construction, but with earthy, regionally materials that will weather to blend in with the rural structures of this specific site. It is a marriage of sophisticated design thought blending with the pioneering spirit of our Asheville mountain community. It’s an evolving process that is still being hammered out today.

Thank you for the tour Brandon. Next time — beer!


Architect Brandon Pass

Modern Sensibilities within a Local Context

Local Architect Brandon Pass and I had the chance to sit down over coffee at City Bakery last week and enjoy a mutual, academic exchange on architecture in Asheville and the incredible potential that exists here for a new vocabulary of building that combines modern design thought with the rich natural and social landscape of our region. We both noted instances where that has successfully surfaced, but recognized that most construction stems from what is known or copied without further thought or context involved. However, I easily got sidetracked from my intention here, which is to simply introduce you to Brandon today. You will hear more from him in the future as I have asked him to become a regular contributor to Modern Asheville. Below is content from his website and a link.

Brandon Pass is a graduate of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Universities College of Architecture and Urban Studies where he received his Bachelor of Architecture in 1997. Since, he has worked in top-level design firms in locations such as South Carolina, Chicago, and New York City and holds licenses to practice architecture in Illinois, New York and North Carolina.

Brandon creates an architecture practice striving to merge modern sensibilities and detailing with the vernacular influences of the region.  His small, multidisciplinary practice pursues an architecture that recognizes the responsibilities of the built form where environmental, social and contextual factors shape each insertion into a given landscape. Architecture should seek to express a given function through a strong clarity of space and form where the details become expressive and exploratory, respecting the hand of the maker while expressing a connection to a greater whole.  The responsibility of the architect, in part, is to be aware of all factors of a given context that may inform the design process. It requires an extensive knowledge of and desire to learn new methodologies creating architecture of the highest quality respectful of both time and place.

You’ll be hearing more about Brandon Pass in the future, but in the meantime feel free to browse his website.