We’re optimists. We know that ingenuity creates new possibilities.

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.

Andrea Detweiler

Andrea Detweiler

Staff Architect
CPHC
206.494.9732

Andrea earned her Master of Architecture degree from University of Oregon and turned her focus early on to high performance building design. While practicing multifamily residential architecture at another firm in Seattle she trained for and became a certified Passive House consultant. She then joined NK to design Passive House projects.

Andrea is dedicated to creating high quality urban housing, bringing to bear both her experience in residential design and high performance building. When not tackling architectural challenges, she loves spending time with her three young nephews, playing music, sailing, and cooking.

Alec Gardner

Alec Gardner

Staff Architect
CPHC, Pending LEED Green Assoc.

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.

Alyssa Swisher

Alyssa Swisher

Staff Architect
CPHC
412.872.2675

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.

Benjamin Wolk

Benjamin Wolk

Project Manager
RA, CPHC, LEED Green Associate, Sustainable Housing Professional
206.494.9774

Benjamin joins NK with over 10 years of architectural experience, most of it focused on Passive House design, detailing, and construction methods. While running his own Passive House architecture practice he designed and helped build the first Passive House project for Habitat Humanity in Oregon. He also developed the Revit components, templates, and guidelines for the Build Smart panelized wall system that is now being applied to Passive House projects throughout North America. Those projects, as well as his other Passive House work (a winery, a vet clinic, single family homes) helped inform a five-year effort to develop and refine a set of Passive House details and construction methods to reduce costs, complexity, and increase adaptability to varying skill and knowledge levels. He is dedicated to using software tools like Revit to improve design studio systems, implementing best practices to eliminate inefficiencies, reduce errors, and increase production.

Born and raised in New Jersey, Ben was always interested in functional design, knowing from an early age that he wanted to be an architect. This passion lead him to earn his B.FA and B.Arch at the Rhode Island School of Design in 2009. He can circular breathe when playing the didgeridoo and hopes to participate in rally racing in his Subaru WRX sometime soon. When not otherwise occupied, you will find Benjamin walking on the beach with his wife and their big black lab.

Brandon Nicholson

Brandon Nicholson

Founding Principal
AIA, CPHD, LEED AP BD+C
206.494.9792

Founding Principal of NK, Brandon is dedicated to reducing the impact of buildings on global climate change. A developer in his own right, he uses his own projects to research and develop best practices for cost-effective delivery of zero carbon buildings. He serves as president of Passive House Western Pennsylvania and board member of North American Passive House Network.

Under Brandon’s leadership, NK Architects has emerged as a national leader in high performance building, designing and modeling over 30 major Passive House buildings in multiple regions across the country. NK employs more Certified Passive House Designers (CPHDs) and Consultants (CPHCs) than any firm in the western hemisphere.

Brandon and NK have won numerous awards for management and design, including the 2014 AIA Housing Award for Park Passive, the first certified Passive House in Seattle; the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency’s 2017 Innovation and Design Award, in partnership with Thoughtful Balance, for Morningside Crossing, a large scale Passive House retrofit of an abandoned Pittsburgh school building into affordable housing for seniors; and PSMJ’s 2013 Circle of Excellence Top National Architecture Firm award. 

Brandon was also the recipient of the AIA’s 2011 Community Service Award for his policy advocacy to improve Seattle City building and land use codes by incorporating green building systems as criteria for development (FAR) bonuses.

Briana Peretti

Briana Peretti

Staff Architect II
CPHC
206.519.5255

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 Porter

Brittany Porter

Project Architect
CPHC, LEED Green Associate
206.494.9782

Brittany's work at NK focuses on high-performance urban infill design, including Pax Futura, Seattle’s first multifamily Passive House building. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a master’s degree in architecture and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in architecture from the Georgia Institute of Technology. 

Brittany is a regular speaker on Passive House design, most recently sharing NK’s approach to PH mechanical design at Passive House Northwest’s regional conference in Olympia. Brittany helped spearhead PHnw's recent Seattle exhibit of the Ice Box Challenge, a public science experiment developed in Brussels, Belgium and Vancouver, BC to demonstrate the benefits of Passive House design and construction. She now serves on PHnw's Board of Directors.

Outside of the office Brittany enjoys exploring the Northwest’s great outdoors.

Chie Yokoyama

Chie Yokoyama

Project Manager
LEED AP BD+C, AIA
206.494.9723

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.

Edgardo Arroyo

Edgardo Arroyo

Project Architect
206.494.9711

Edgardo received his Master in History and Urban Studies from Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya in Barcelona and his Master of Architecture from Universidad de Puerto Rico in San Juan. He brings a decade of international design experience to his work at NK, including multi-purpose buildings, urban design projects, industrial design work, and international competitions. His projects at firms in New York and Puerto Rico won numerous awards from the American Institute of Architects. 

Edgardo was drawn to art at an early age, attending a middle and high school that specialized in art instruction. This early training gave him the opportunity to take his study of sculpture and relate it to the practice of architecture. He cites the exploration and development of modern architecture in Brazil as his primary, lasting influence. This serve as the foundation for his work both as a designer and as an architectural educator. A self-described city person, Edgardo’s interest in the intersection between habitability and sustainability drew him to NK and the firm’s emphasis on high performance building design for multifamily projects. 

One of Edgardo’s life goals is to visit 100 countries. (Today he’s at 39 countries and counting.) While abroad, his sketch pad and water colors are never far from reach. Above all, he loves spending time with his hip five-year-old daughter. 

Emily Evenson

Emily Evenson

Project Architect
CPHD
206.494.9731

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.

Jill Burdeen

Jill Burdeen

Principal
206.494.9790

With over 15 years of design experience involving dozens of major multifamily projects, Jill is among a short list of Seattle architects that has fundamentally shaped the infill and design of the city’s urban neighborhoods in the new millennium. She is expert in all facets of residential architecture (from inception to construction), with thorough knowledge of city processes and code minutiae. Jill loves engaging in good and thoughtful building design that reflects the client’s vision and adds color and vibrancy to the neighborhoods they’re built in. In her role as principal, she focuses on the human relationships and processes that drive performance on a day-to-day basis. NK’s lifestyle-friendly culture and talented colleagues keep her coming back for more.

Jill earned a Master’s Degree in Architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology and a Bachelor of Arts degree, with a focus in Business and Telecommunications, from Indiana University. In her spare time, she throws themed parties with her hand-crafted candies, spends time with her two girls, and volunteers with groups like Architects Without Borders, Food Lifeline, Noel House and Marra Farms.

Jim Bischoff

Jim Bischoff

Project Architect II
AIA, CPHD, LEED AP BD+C
412.872.2678


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.

Joe Giampietro

Joe Giampietro

AIA, CPHD
206-494-9717

Joe joined NK in 2012 with more than 30 years of experience in real estate development, land use planning, and architecture.  In his role, Joe oversees all projects during the production of construction documents and throughout the construction phase, helping project managers provide high-quality design services to NK’s clients.  He has a passion for designing high-performance, low-energy buildings. He designed and built one of the first Seattle Passive House projects, the Mini-B Passive House, as a demonstration project.

Joe earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the Catholic University of America and dual master’s degrees in architecture and landscape architecture from the University of Pennsylvania.  He is also a Certified Passive House Consultant.

Joe is a founding member of Passive House NW and an active member of the Sunset Hill Community Association and the Seattle chapter of the Northwest EcoBuilding Guild.  Aside from his professional interests, he enjoys sailing small sailboats, playing basketball, and woodworking.

Justin Lawless

Justin Lawless

Staff Architect
206.519.5256

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.

Nick Baxter

Nick Baxter

Project Manager
CPHD, LEED GA
206.494.9716

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. 

Rebecca Griffith

Rebecca Griffith

Project Architect
AIA, CPHD, LEED AP BD+C, CDT, SEED
412.872.2674

With 8 years of architecture under her belt, Rebecca brings a passion for sustainable and public interest design to her work at NK. She especially enjoys seeing old buildings find a new use and place in the community through adaptive reuse. To that end, Rebecca recently tackled one of the most complex Passive House projects around–the retrofit and expansion of an abandoned elementary school into affordable senior housing–and emerged with well-earned Passive House expertise.

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 loves to explore the local nooks and crannies of Pittsburgh and to travel abroad, broadening her design horizons.

Shanna Kovalchick

Shanna Kovalchick

Founding Principal
CPHD

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

Steve Fischer

Principal
AIA, CPHD, NCARB
206.494.9783

Steve Fischer guides design at NK with a practiced eye and steady hand. Architecture involves lots of moving parts, and Steve brings the order and clarity of vision to the design process that enables NK’s designers to arrive at smart solutions for clients with efficiency. He has over 30 years of architecture and design experience, with projects spanning the West Coast, Europe, Asia, and Central America. Steve leads feasibility studies, early project analysis, and schematic design at NK, with a focus on midrise multifamily, townhomes, retail, and libraries.

Steve attributes his long tenure at NK to a smart and collaborative staff that cares about doing the right thing. A Certified Passive House Designer, he plays a central role in advancing NK’s high performance building design practice, including the recent design of the Carrick Library, soon to become North America’s first certified Passive House library. Steve earned his Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Idaho, where he also minored in Collage Art. He’s an avid fly fisherman and a practicing artist in oil painting, acrylics, and music.

Zack Semke

Zack Semke

Principal/CMO
CPHC, LEED AP, Climate Reality Leader
206.494.9719

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 zero carbon 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”), developing the organization, marketing national tours, and performing with the troupe. In 2007 he earned his graduate certificate in design from the Landscape Institute at Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum. After a short stint as a designer he returned to his marketing and sustainability roots, joining Passive House builder Hammer & Hand as Chief Evangelist. Zack joined NK in 2016.

A member of Al Gore's Climate Reality Leadership Corps, Zack is a regular keynote speaker at sustainability gatherings and high performance building conferences, emphasizing the role of high performance building in climate action. Zack serves on the Board of Directors of Passive House Northwest and co-chairs the Steering Committee of Shift Zero, the zero net carbon building alliance.

Zack lives in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood with his wife and their three kids.

Press & Awards

Sandy Keenan, New York Times 08.14.13

The Passive House: Sealed for Freshness

NEW YORK TIMES — When you visit Sloan and Jennifer Ritchie’s new passive house in the Madison Park neighborhood here, it takes a while to notice all the things you’re not hearing. Look out the ...
Sarah Anne Lloyd, Seattle Curbed 07.26.17

Take a first look inside energy-efficient Capitol Core in Capitol Hill

CURBED — There’s one Capitol Hill residential project down: An apartment building underway near Boylston Avenue East and East Olive Way dubbed Capitol Core was just completed. The building ...
Zack Semke, NK Architects, Builder & Developer Magazine 08.29.17

Bringing Passive House to Production Building

BUILDER & DEVELOPER — It's clear to me that if we want to avert catastrophic climate change we need to start viewing our buildings as clean energy power plants. As I'll show below, it'll be ...
Zack Semke, NK Architects, Archinect 07.21.17

How Passive House Design Can Propel the Clean Energy Transition in Architecture

ARCHINECT — With reversals in US climate policy underway and a US exit from the Paris Agreement announced for 2020, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that the clean energy transition is ...
More Press
2016
PHIUS Passive Projects Competition, Single Family Winner
2014
Green Builder Home of the Year
AIA National Housing Award for Architecture
Builder's Choice & Custom Home Design Award
2013
Circle of Excellence Top National Architecture Firm
2011
AIA Individual Community Service Award

Working at NK

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].

Medical

Medical

Vision

Vision

Paid Vacation

Paid Vacation

401k

401k

Flexible Schedules

Flexible Schedules

Transit Passes

Transit Passes

Passivhaus Training

Passivhaus Training

Open Positions

Seattle – 03.22.18

Project Manager

Company Overview Nicholson Kovalchick (NK) Architects is on a mission to fundamentally transform the way that high performing buildings are developed and built. With a creative and disruptive ... Read More »
Seattle – 03.22.18

Project Architect

Company Overview Nicholson Kovalchick (NK) Architects is on a mission to fundamentally transform the way that high performing buildings are developed and built. With a creative and disruptive ... Read More »
Seattle – 03.30.18

Staff Architect

Company Overview Nicholson Kovalchick (NK) Architects is on a mission to fundamentally transform the way that high performing buildings are developed and built. With a creative and disruptive ... Read More »