We are a collective of designers, urbanists, and energy geeks working together to design a sustainable future. We believe that the built environment can accelerate the clean energy transition and help stop carbon emissions. The key is to create healthy, zero-carbon buildings at scale, and Passivhaus design provides a science-proven way to do it. That is why we train our entire staff in Passivhaus design. We now have more certified Passivhaus designers and consultants than any firm in the western hemisphere.
Alec joined NK with two years of architecture experience. His work focuses on sustainable, community-based participatory design, and open source architecture.
He graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a master’s degree in architecture and earned a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Asian studies from the University of Puget Sound. His graduate thesis on open source architecture was recognized with the university’s Distinguished Research Award.
Outside of the office, Alec volunteers his time to Sawhorse Revolution assisting local high school students in the design and building of microhouses for the homeless encampments of Seattle. He also volunteers with Plan Común developing urban strategies that challenge established norms.
Alex joined NK in 2015 to design living environments that achieve the highest design standards for occupant health and comfort, while reducing the environmental impact of new construction. His expertise includes both architecture and interior design for multifamily residential, retail and hospitality projects.
Alex graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio with a bachelor’s degree in architecture. In his free time he designed and is constructing an off-the-grid tiny house from salvaged materials near the Olympic National Forest.
Alyse joined NK with five years of experience in high-performance architecture and interior design. Her primary interests involve promoting sustainable communities and the nature of Seattle’s land use code to embrace changing density requirements. Drawing inspiration from Seattle’s architectural variety, her infill design work was recognized in the 2014 and 2015 Professional Builder Magazine Design Awards.
Alyse attended Washington State University where she earned her bachelor and master’s degrees in interior design. She is an avid athlete and enjoys playing volleyball, soccer, and tennis.
Alyssa joined NK’s Pittsburgh office in 2016 with a passion for sustainable urban renewal and self-sustaining buildings. She brings 4 years of experience in designing multi-family, hospitality and commercial projects, including working as the interior designer on several renovation projects.
Alyssa received her Bachelors of Science from Ohio State University and is an active volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, as well as Pittsburgh’s Future City competitions, where she works with middle school students who reimagine an alternate city focused on sustainability.
Outside of work she enjoys graphic design, making crafts (Pysanky eggs and greeting cards), training her dog and hiking.
Brandon Nicholson is a founding principal of Nicholson Kovalchick (NK) Architects. He is passionate about reducing the impact of buildings on global climate change, utilizing his research and development projects to establish a cost effective method to deliver net-zero energy buildings now.
Under Brandon’s leadership, NK Architects has evolved to become a top firm in the region focused on high-performance, multifamily projects designed to zero energy and Passive House building standards. He leads a team charged with establishing an innovative development proforma that incorporates Passive House design techniques, tax credits, utility charges, and energy and maintenance cost savings to create a better building with a better return.
Brandon was instrumental in Seattle’s acceptance of Passive House as a green building incentive and currently serves as a board member of the North American Passive House Network and the president of Passive House Western Pennsylvania.
He and his team have been honored with the 2014 AIA Housing Award for its design of the city of Seattle’s first certified Passive House; showcased in GreenBuilder Media for its design of “Home of the Year” award-winner, Stream Belmont; and named a Circle of Excellence member for its exceptional, forward-thinking approach to management and design.
Brandon was also the recipient of the AIA’s 2011 Community Service Award for his diligent policy work to improve Seattle City building codes by incorporating green building systems as criteria for development (FAR) bonuses.
Briana joins NK with 2 years of experience designing high-end single-family residences and 5 years of experience assisting the development of single-family and townhome communities.
She is committed to creating low-energy, healthy living environments which have a positive impact on the vitality of the surrounding community, and was drawn to NK for its emphasis on Passive House design.
Briana earned her Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Oregon with minors in Business Administration and Architectural History. She holds a certification as a Construction Documents Technologist from the Construction Specifications Institute and also studied architecture abroad at Academic Horizons Abroad in Macerata, Italy.
In her spare time Briana volunteers with Girls on the Run and the AIA Women in Design committee. When not at work, she enjoys working in her garden, cooking her homegrown vegetables, reading and hiking.
Brittany joined NK with two years of architecture experience after completing three internships. Her work focuses on high-performance, urban infill design.
She graduated from the University of Oregon with a master’s degree in architecture and earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in architecture from the Georgia Institute of Technology. She is part of a design team whose proposal for a Mexico City contemporary design museum recently placed in an international competition hosted by Arch Triumph.
Outside of the office Brittany enjoys exploring the Northwest’s great outdoors and practicing guitar, painting and photography.
Chie joined NK in 2012, with nine years of experience in architecture and design in both Boston and Tokyo. Most of her experience is in medium- and large-scale projects, including student housing, performing arts venues, hangars, and mixed-use projects. Her primary interests involve using new systems and materials to promote energy efficiency and sustainability in the design of residential, commercial, and civic buildings.
Chie graduated from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design with a master’s degree in architecture, and she also earned a Master of Arts with Architecture from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.
Chie speaks four languages fluently, including Indonesian, Japanese, and Portuguese. She also enjoys designing websites.
Christine joined NK in 2013 with five years of professional experience in architecture. An area of great interest to her is sustainability in multifamily housing.
Christine attended the University of Kansas where she received her master’s degree in architecture.
When not in the office, Christine enjoys reading, drawing, and painting.
Christy has more than 20 years of experience in architectural design. Her areas of interest include historic preservation, aging-in-place design, and sustainability. At NK, her focus is on multifamily and single-family design.
Christy graduated from the University of Wyoming with a bachelor’s degree in architectural engineering and a minor in fine art. She is a Certified Professional Building Designer and has a certificate in Energy Accounting and Benchmarking.
Outside of work, Christy is a past president and current member of the board of directors for the American Institute of Building Design (AIBD) Washington Society, and she volunteers weekly at the Bread of Life Mission. Her hobbies include drawing and painting, running marathons, and refereeing soccer.
Cory joined NK in 2016 as a Staff Architect with 2.5 years of experience in energy efficient single-family residences. He was drawn to NK for its pursuit of Passivhaus Design.
In his work, Cory focuses on designing the built environment with the future in mind, producing sustainable architecture through thoughtful awareness of all inhabitants impacted by the design. He believes in reflecting deeply on human interaction, and designing built forms that are expressions of the people and communities they serve.
Cory graduated from Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston with Master of Architecture and Bachelor of Science in Architecture degrees.
In his spare time Cory enjoys spending time outdoors hiking, running, and biking.
Curtis joins NK with over 18 years of professional experience in architecture. His work focuses on historic preservation, urban infill and energy efficient, sustainable design.
He attended Washington State University where he earned two bachelor’s degrees in architectural science and architecture. Curtis also attended the prestigious Århus School of Architecture in Århus Denmark.
He is an active member of the Washington State Historical Society, Washington Trust for Historical Preservation, and Greater Seattle Business Association. Curtis also serves on the Design Review Board for the City of Seattle.
In addition to his work as an architect, Curtis owns The Lobby Bar in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. Outside of his professional pursuits, Curtis enjoys rehabilitating his home, a Capitol Hill 1931 Tudor Revival.
Diane Koch joined NK in 2016 as the office coordinator in our Pittsburgh office. With a background in library science, project management and historical research, Diane brings a unique blend of experience to her supporting role. As coordinator, she joins the NK administrative team in supporting NK’s leadership and day-to-day administrative, marketing and event planning needs.
Diane earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Horticulture, a Master of Arts in History, and a Master of Library Science from the University of Maryland. She is delighted to bring her passion for historic preservation, restoration, sustainability, and healthy environments to her role at NK.
Outside of the office, Diane volunteers for the Carnegie Public Library and spends her time gardening, travelling, walking Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods, renovating her home, and photographing her family, her travels, and anything that catches her eye.
Emily joined NK in 2015 with 5 years of architecture and historic preservation experience. The breadth of her work has focused on mid-rise mixed-use residential projects, including the award-winning 12th Avenue Arts building in Capitol Hill.
Her primary interests involve creating healthy living environments and preserving distinct urban neighborhood character.
Emily earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture with specialized coursework in historic preservation from the University of Oregon. She volunteers with the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation and in her spare time she is an avid runner and Seahawks season ticket holder.
Jasmin joined NK in 2017 with 12 years of accounting experience. She loves working with numbers and has a knack for financial analysis and management, and she also prides herself on being the mom of a witty and smart 8-year-old.
At the age of 14, she graduated from high school and is currently working on a bachelor’s degree in accounting with the intention of becoming a CPA.
She moved to Seattle from Los Angeles 7 years ago and loves living in the Pacific Northwest. She enjoys spending time with her daughter and her two Australian Shepherds, and her favorite mathematical equation is the Quadratic Formula.
Jennifer joined NK with 17 years of experience in architecture and interior design, namely focused on multifamily and single-family residential and hospitality projects. She has an innate interest in project process, land use building codes and construction administration, and has served as Project Manager on many marquee projects including the Bellevue Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Bellevue, and a high-rise hotel in South Lake Union.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in interior design with an emphasis in architecture from Washington State University, and her work has been recognized with multiple industry awards from NAIOP and Golden Nugget.
Aside from architecture and design, Jennifer is enthusiastic about the outdoors, spending time with her family and working towards her pilot’s license.
Jill Burdeen joined NK in 2005 and has 14+ years of professional practice experience, encompassing all facets of residential architecture. She has taken numerous townhome, multifamily and mixed-use projects from inception through construction. Jill’s designs artfully reflect both the client and company vision.
Jill earned a master’s degree in architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology after earning a Bachelor of Arts degree, with a focus in Business and Telecommunications, from Indiana University.
Jill has volunteered for several years with the non-profit Seattle Works as well as Architects Without Borders and can often be found volunteering at Marra Farms and Food Lifeline on weekends. Her other hobbies include traveling and invitation design and ultimately has a dream of owning a candy store.
Jim joins NK’s Pittsburgh office with more than 10 years of experience in architecture and construction. His previous design experience includes a range of project types including healthcare, higher education and commercial clients, such as the Mayo Clinic and Banner – MD Anderson.
Inspired by Passive House design principles, the science of building and the opportunity to positively impact the built environment, Jim became involved in the Passive House of Western Pennsylvania where he gained insight into NK’s reputation of designing successful high-performance projects.
Jim began his career in construction, working as an assistant superintendent for Turner Construction Company. After obtaining his Masters of Architecture from Savannah College of Art and Design, he worked for a number of small design/build and large international architecture firms, including most recently as a Project Architect at AE Works LTD.
When he’s not working, Jim enjoys attending Pittsburgh Pirates baseball games at PNC Park and renovating his home.
Justin joined NK in 2016 as a Staff Architect with over 4 years’ experience in low-income multi-family projects and historic renovations.
In his role as staff architect, Justin brings expertise in multi-family adaptive re-use projects that transform the way that existing buildings serve inhabitants while also retaining and evolving the historic fabric of our cities. He enjoys the surprises inherent in working with old buildings and the opportunity those surprises create for developing fresh design solutions. He is passionate about combining his past experience with his Passive House training and applying this background to large scale projects.
Justin earned his Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies degree from Washington State University.
In his free time he enjoys travelling, writing music, obstacle course racing, and spending time in the outdoors.
Katie joined NK in 2013 after completing three architectural internships. In addition to drafting and refining project documents, Katie develops a variety of graphic materials for the firm’s use. Her interests include graphic design, sustainable design and health in architecture.
Katie graduated from Washington State University with a master’s degree in architecture and bachelor’s degrees in architectural studies and fine arts. She also holds a LEED Green Associate credential and is working towards her LEED AP BD+C.
Outside the office, she enjoys digital photography, being outdoors, travel, and running. She also volunteers at Seattle’s Bread of Life Mission.
Lauren joined NK in early 2011 with seven years of experience in institutional, single and multifamily architecture. She is passionate about the sustainability and social justice aspects of design, and has served as the project architect for design on a range of projects, including one of Seattle’s first passive house residences and a 70-unit apartment building in the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.
Lauren earned an undergraduate degree in art history from Occidental College and a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Washington. She also studied architecture at the graduate level at the University of Texas at Austin.
Aside from architecture and design, Lauren’s interests include photography and stop-motion animation.
Leah Libow joined NK in 2014 as the firm’s office coordinator. With over 20 years of experience as an administrative professional, Leah supports NK’s leadership and day-to-day administrative, HR, IT, marketing and event planning needs.
She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of California Santa Barbara and a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts from John F. Kennedy University in Berkley, California. She also holds a certificate in Diet Counseling from the Bauman School of Nutrition in northern California, and studied Wellness Coaching at Vera Whole Health in Seattle, WA.
Leah’s passion is deeply rooted in design as it relates to overall wellness. Outside of the office, Leah is a practicing artist and writer (she's writing a memoir) and enjoys making magic in the kitchen with organic foods, attending MOTH story telling events, participating in her weekly women's writers group and taking long walks in Seattle’s beautiful urban parks.
Loren returned to NK in 2013, after working in the Seattle office from 2005 to 2007. He brings 16 years of experience in architecture and building science to his work at NK, which includes quality control. His interests include urban multifamily housing, building codes, accessibility, and energy efficiency.
Loren graduated with a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Washington and a bachelor’s degree in physics from Harvard College. He is licensed in Washington, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
Aside from his work, Loren enjoys hiking and spending time with his daughter, who does not like hiking. His design influences include the many houses and apartments he has occupied over the years in cities such as Boston, Ithaca, Chapel Hill, Los Angeles, Berkeley, Mexico City, and Seattle.
Marie joined NK in 2008 as an administrative assistant before assuming the role of office manager in 2010. In 2012, she transitioned into a design role within NK. She provides critical support to project managers on a variety of tasks, including Revit drafting, conducting historical research, and preparing feasibility studies.
Marie obtained a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Washington. In her free time, she volunteers as the director of operations for Rhapsody Winterguard, a nonprofit youth performing arts organization in the Pacific Northwest.
Nick joined NK with nine years of experience in the field of architecture. With a background in both the Living Building Challenge and LEED certified projects, Nick brings an interest in building and accessibility codes and high performance buildings, and experience in large multi-family projects, townhouses, speculative commercial, and retail projects including brewery, distillery, and restaurant spaces.
In pursuing Living Building Challenge certification of his home, he has spent hundreds of hours studying and researching solutions for meeting the requirements, goals, and philosophy of the Living Building Challenge - this includes high performance building envelopes (including the Passivhaus standards), photovoltaics, water collection and re-use systems, waste and composting systems, materials use and recycling, permaculture techniques, and storm water management techniques.
Nick earned his Bachelors of Science in Architecture from Washington State University.
In his free time he enjoys cooking, camping, paddle boarding, building snowboards, designing and remodeling his home, and working on his six-year-old’s race car.
Paul joined NK with over 15 years of architecture and design experience, including over a decade designing multifamily affordable housing to assist non-profit developers in fulfilling their missions. He is passionate about shaping the environment by providing shelter to families at risk, homes for the homeless, and stabilization for exploited neighborhoods. Paul’s work on Capitol Hill’s 12th Avenue Arts building received the Vision 2040 Award, a program that showcases the work done to implement the region’s long range economic, housing and transportation growth plan.
He received his master’s degree in architecture from the University of Texas and a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design from Western Washington University.
Paul is active in the Housing Development Consortium and Washington Low Income Alliance, advocating for regulative and zoning policy that supports housing for all. He is the proprietor of Partly Cloudy, which produces hand-crafted ginger beer sold at several Seattle restaurants. He and his family are avid sailors, cruising and racing the Salish Sea.
Peggy joins NK with 10 years of architecture experience. Her previous design projects range in type including market rate and affordable cohousing, community, senior, and commercial projects for clients in the public and private sectors such as Sound Transit, King County Housing Authority, and the Salvation Army.
She believes deeply in Passive House as a viable solution to create healthy, energy-efficient living environments, having sought out NK for its commitment to the standard and pursuit of high-performance affordable housing.
After earning her Masters of Architecture from the University of Washington, Peggy worked for firms in her native Minnesota and Seattle including Schemata Workshop as a Senior Architect. Outside of the office, Peggy enjoys playing tennis, downhill skiing, hiking, and backpacking.
Rachel joined NK in 2012 with seven years of experience in architecture. Her areas of interest include sustainability, energy efficiency, and urban agriculture. Her primary focus at NK is the design of multifamily housing. Rachel has experience in residential, commercial, senior housing and multifamily in the Midwest and Washington, and is currently focusing on multifamily projects in Seattle.
Rachel earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Minnesota and a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Oregon at Portland. She is a licensed architect in Washington.
Outside of work, Rachel has volunteered for Architects without Borders and Architecture for Humanity. She was also a volunteer on the construction team for the first rooftop P-Patch community garden in Seattle, and she now enjoys gardening there in a plot of her own.
Rebecca joins NK’s Pittsburgh office with over 6 years’ experience in architecture and a passion for sustainable and public interest design. She enjoys seeing old buildings find a new use and place in the community through adaptive reuse.
Rebecca graduated from Wake Forest University with a Bachelor of Arts in German with minors in Anthropology and Linguistics. She earned her Master of Architecture and Master of Construction Management from Washington University in St. Louis.
When not at the office, she enjoys being outdoors playing volleyball, biking, hiking, or taking in a game. She delights in exploring Pittsburgh and in travelling to different countries to broaden her design influence.
Sarah joined NK in 2012 as a staff architect assisting in the firm’s transition to Revit Software. Today, as an integral part of NK’s townhome and single-family studio, Sarah enjoys the challenge of incorporating projects of this scale on sites that promote outdoor amenities, urbanization, and walkability.
Sarah is interested in the challenge of making sustainability affordable, and proving that passive solutions should be a part of everyday design, not implemented as an afterthought.
She graduated from Washington State University with a bachelor of science in architectural studies. Outside of her professional pursuits, Sarah’s passion is music. She also enjoys fabric and fiber arts and various home and garden projects.
Shanna is a founding principal of Nicholson Kovalchick Architects and continues to oversee the management and direction of the firm by serving as Vice President of the board. She has been active in advocating for innovative and sustainable multi-family design projects, and she helped to establish the design aesthetic and philosophy of the firm. Shanna is a licensed architect in both Washington and Pennsylvania.
Her diverse educational background includes a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Washington, and Bachelor of Science degrees in Art & Design and Civil Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She also holds a Certificate in Commercial Real Estate Development from the University of Washington. Shanna and Brandon are currently pursuing several of their own development projects through Nic|Chick development company.
Steve Fischer has 25 years of architecture and design experience in Idaho, California and Washington. As a managing associate, Steve is responsible for business development, feasibility studies, early project analyses, and managing client relationships to create alignment between NK’s values and the client’s values. Steve is instrumental in establishing the design vision for every project.
Prior to NK, Steve worked locally with Mithun and GGLO. While with Mithun he designed marquee projects including The Summit at First Hill. At GGLO he worked extensively on Burien Town Square and various projects in the university Village shopping center, including H&M and Blue C Sushi. In addition to practicing locally, Steve has worked on projects nationwide as well as various projects internationally in Europe, Asia and Central America.
Shortly after joining NK in 2016 as an intern, Suzi transitioned into her staff architect role. She supports project teams with production work including graphic design, architectural drawing sets and floor plans. She also assists the marketing team with layout and graphics of promotional materials.
Suzi’s work is driven by a passion for sustainable design, especially how Passive House technology can be applied to multiple scales of projects. Her interest in affordable housing stems from her passion for the human factor of architecture, seeking a deeper understanding of the end user and their needs.
Suzi graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Architectural Design from the University of Washington in 2016. She serves as a board member for Red Vines in Kirkland, WA, a nonprofit organization that sponsors, owns and operates affordable housing for low-income households in East King County.
In her spare time, she paints florals and abstracts in watercolor and enjoys hiking all around the Pacific Northwest.
Tim oversees the firm’s core business operations and strategic direction in the Mid-Atlantic and Pacific Northwest, bringing over 20 years of experience in high-performance architecture and practice management. His technical acumen and strategic approach to business and project execution, combined with his passion for demonstrating how Passive House building techniques can economically be used in market-rate, multifamily housing, makes him a distinguished leader. Under his direction, NK Architects is bringing together high-performance design strategies and code incentives to make net-zero-ready buildings financially feasible for its clients.
For Tim, great design means a balanced confluence of functional aesthetic, energy efficiency, and financial performance. His forte in logistics and organizing complicated projects enables him to effectively align stakeholder interests for positive outcomes. He has worked closely with public and private organizations to successfully deliver projects for his clients, including Microsoft, Boeing, Alaska Airlines, Starbucks, the Port of Seattle, the University of Washington, Kaiser, LAWA, Salt Lake City, Hawaii DOTA, and real estate development companies such as Stream Real Estate, Intracorp, Mack Urban, and Isola Homes.
Previously at HOK, Tim served as Managing Principal of the Seattle office, overseeing operations and business development, and expanding its practice within the commercial, transportation, science, and justice markets.
Tim is a sought after expert for his insight on proven strategies for implementing high performance and Passive House design on multifamily urban projects with minimal additional cost. He is an active member of the AIA, ULI, USGBC, and Board President of Passive House Northwest. Tim holds a master’s degree in architecture from Harvard University Graduate School of Design, and a bachelor’s degree in environmental design from the University of Colorado, Boulder. A Seattle native, he enjoys outdoor adventures and Seattle’s cultural events with family and friends.
“We’re in an exciting time where three distinct trends are shaping up: 1. Our new generation of consumers is showing a preference for sustainable, well-built places, 2. Architects and builders are coming together to find efficient ways to deliver superior buildings, and 3. Developers are seeing these superior buildings as better assets. It’s a win-win for everyone and the environment.”
Todd joined NK in 2017 and brings 19 years of experience with a focus on Building Codes, Multi-Family housing, K-12 Schools, and Hospitality. He is excited to match his interest in and passion for Historic Preservation, Sustainability and Urban Design with NK's mission to design zero carbon buildings.
He graduated with Bachelor degrees in both Science and Architecture from Kent State University, and is active in the community, volunteering for organizations such as the Community Design Center of Pittsburgh, the Young Preservationist Association, the Cub Scouts (as Den Leader), and his local church (as a choir member). In 2010 the City of Pittsburgh presented him with their 2010 Historic Preservation Award for an addition to a historic home in the Allegheny West neighborhood of Pittsburgh.
Outside of the office Todd enjoys playing piano, bicycling, camping and hiking. His favorite architectural works include those designed by Santiago Calatrava, Antoni Guadi, and Zaha Hadid and he has a great love for local vernacular architecture as well.
As Chief Marketing Officer, Zack develops and implements NK’s marketing and business development strategies to drive growth and support the firm’s mission. He oversees marketing, business development, PR, evangelism, and policy advocacy related to ultra-low-energy building design.
Zack earned his BA from Stanford University in 1993, majoring in Human Biology with a concentration in Human Ecology. He began his professional career as the first staffer of the Coalition for a Livable Future, a Portland-based coalition of environmental, affordable housing, transportation reform, and smart growth advocacy organizations. He then co-led the performing arts group, Portland Taiko (taiko is Japanese for “drum”), building a national following and serving as a lead performer for the troupe. In 2007 he earned his graduate certificate in design from the Landscape Institute at Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum. After a few years as a designer he joined Hammer & Hand as Chief Evangelist to broadcast the builder’s pioneering Passive House work.
A sought-after public speaker about climate change and the role of high performance building in climate action, Zack has delivered keynote addresses at the North American Passive House conference (in 2015 and 2016), Passive House Northwest, and other sustainable design gatherings. He was recently elected to the Board of Directors of Passive House Northwest and chairs its Policy Committee.
Zack lives in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood with his wife and their three kids.
We’re always on the lookout for talented, mission-driven professionals who aren’t afraid to shake things up. Want to help transform the built environment into one that that sustains people and the planet? Please join us. Submit resume and work samples to [email protected].