Union Studio (formerly Donald Powers Architects) was founded in 2001 with one overriding goal: to use our skills as architects and urban designers to make a civic contribution to communities of all types. Since then our practice has grown, but we remain a mission-based firm committed to designing sustainable places that will be loved for generations. As dedicated New Urbanists and perpetual students of history, we believe that traditional town planning and architecture have resulted in our most vibrant and beautiful spaces in the past and can help to enrich our communal and civic life. Put simply, Union Studio is committed to saving the world from sprawl.
This passionate belief is reflected in our firm’s incremental evolution. Donald Powers founded Union Studio in direct response to what he saw as the general disengagement of the profession from the challenges of urban sprawl and a preoccupation with architect as celebrity (see Don’s blog post on this topic). With a single employee and a willingness to confront entrenched perceptions, the firm earned instant recognition and a well-deserved reputation for traditionally inspired planning and architecture, repairing fragmented communities in and around Providence, Rhode Island.
In 2003, Donald was joined by fellow Harvard alum Douglas Kallfelz and the firm grew to include projects throughout the northeast and across the country. Together they envisioned a studio of designers working to improve communities using an integrated approach to architecture and urban design – who view architecture as a professional commitment to the civic realm, transcending the trappings of artistic self-expression. This perspective, combined with philosophical alignment with The New Urbanism, a place-making movement which promotes the planning of compact, walkable, mixed-use cities and towns, has shaped the growth of Union Studio and continues to influence the projects that we pursue today.
Over the past decade the firm has grown to 23 talented designers who have all contributed to furthering our mission. In 2011 we changed our firm name from Donald Powers Architects to Union Studio, reflecting our belief that exceptional work is achieved through the combined talents of many, and that the memorable places we design bring people together.
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