modus principle #4 | process.

Mar 31, 2021

guiding principle #4:


playful discovery, iterative improvement.

A rigorous curiosity for unexpected discovery. Pursuing the next, better version allows all good ideas to have a chance to be realized.


Playful - full of play (to move or function freely within prescribed limits).

Discovery - the act or process of discovering (to make known or visible).

Iterative - involving repetition such as utilizing the repetition of a sequence of operations or procedures.

Improvement - the act or process of improving (to enhance in value or quality: make better).

Process... we are known by our clients for this. When our clients come to us they expect to be taken on a rigorous journey of discovery with their project. The result is a proposal that was previously not known or visible at the beginning. For clients of modus, the journey is important and critical to the quality of the final outcome.

Process is such an important aspect of our studio. It involves every aspect of what we do. It applies to every design phase and every project scale. From sketches, models, and renderings all the way through construction documents and construction administration. Even the many heated discussions around when and how coffee is made in the office...process! Process is baked into the name of this firm, modus operandi - a particular way or method of doing something, especially one that is characteristic or well-established. We should always evaluate all aspects of our work, including how we work with the goal of making it better. A better way of working and a better end product.

The Evans Tree House is an excellent project of ours to look at because of the level of investigation that went into it over a long period of time. No other 600 square feet has been studied and iterated upon by us more than that of the treehouse. With our clients at Garvan Woodland Gardens fully on board with this intense investigation, we built three finish models and numerous other study models both to scale and at full scale. There were enough sketches for this project to cover the walls of our office like wallpaper. The design discovery, critique, and iteration are apparent in this project, but another important aspect of this project is the amount of time it took to complete. We were awarded this project in 2013, it was completed in 2018. Five years for 600 square feet! The point is, this project also involved a significant amount of rigor and dedication to evolve, question, and improve on the ideas over an extended and often grueling period of time. I think the finished product is better for it.

Process is a balance of two often polar responsibilities we have as architects. It is a constant balance of play and rigor, discovering and executing, and the creative process versus the technical process. There is a time to play in our work as we try new things, explore options, and do the things that we enjoy most. This must always be balanced by a time to make decisions and rigorously execute the proposed solution. This evolution can occur over the length of a project and many times on a micro scale within the hour during each day. This is why remembering the duality of process and the required balance makes this one of our guiding principles.

Michael Pope, AIA

associate architect | modus studio