Accessory Dwelling Unit, About Propel Studio

A Northwest Modern Accessory Dwelling Unit.

Propel Studio is a community oriented architecture and design firm looking to work with creative, inspiring people and organizations. We look to the triple bottom line – environment, economics, and people – to create unique and inspiring solutions for each design challenge.

We are a collaboration of multi-disciplinary, creative designers who are passionate about creating sustainable and beautiful spaces and buildings. Our designs respond to the context in which we build, integrating our architecture into each unique community, responding to climate, culture, and local materials. We work closely with our clients – listening to your needs, expectations and goals – to develop solutions that address program, context and budget.

Propel Studio was founded with the idea that we could give back to our community by providing creative solutions to the built environment. We believe in creating socially responsible architecture that improves the built environment for all people. With each project our studio explores the intricacies of the program, the unique aspects of each site, and local climate to develop a strong concept that we follow through the project’s completion. We work at all scales from small pavilions and homes, to neighborhood planning and commercial developments.

We are passionate about what we do. We believe architecture holds immense power to make our world a better place and our mission is to carefully wield our skills to deliver amazing projects for our clients and the community. Learn more about Propel Studio’s work here: http://www.propelstudio.com/work/ 

Project Types: Custom Modern Homes, Commercial Interiors, Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), Public Interest Design, Street Seat/Parklet Design, Creative Office, Retail, Installations, Custom Furniture Design, Graphic Design

propel profile - Nick

Nick Mira, Registered Architect, LEED AP BD+C

Nick believes in providing excellent service to our clients and brings a dedication to design exploration and technical expertise to each project. He is an Oregon licensed architect with 12 years of experience working on technically challenging projects across the United States and internationally. His portfolio consists of high performance buildings for offices, research, healthcare, commercial, mixed-use and residential. Nick’s leadership and technical abilities allow him to guide our practice through the complexities of any project with a focus on sustainable design strategies and an acute attention to detail. Nick participates in all phases from pre-design through construction administration and his expertise in 3D design software and construction systems make him a valuable asset to every project team.

Nick facilitates a collaborative approach to design through interactive visualization and Building Information Modeling. He holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, is a LEED accredited professional and is an active explorer in our design studio. Nick listens closely and is driven by the unique challenges of each project – focused on providing social equity by meeting the needs of the client, occupants and communities of today as well as tomorrow. Outside the office he enjoys spending time with family and friends and staying active through snowboarding, soccer, hiking, and gardening.

LEED Accredited Professional Building Design and Construction

Propel Studio

Lucas Gray, Associate AIA, LEED AP BD+C

Lucas brings passion for design excellence and years of international work experience designing projects in Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia and North America. His innovative, competition winning design ideas blend sustainable building strategies and timeless architectural forms with a particular focus on materiality and manipulating daylight. He brings expertise working with diverse communities throughout the world, offering his services to community groups and nonprofits to create positive change through architecture.

Lucas’s experience with marketing, communication and social media offers a unique skill set to our studio helping us communicate our ideas with clients and the public. Lucas has a Bachelor of Architecture from McGill University in Montreal, Canada, a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Oregon and is a LEED accredited professional. He currently sits on the Alberta Main Street design committee, is the Regional Associate Director of the American Institute of Architects Northwest and Pacific Region, serves on the board of directors for AIA Oregon, has volunteered for Architecture for Humanity, and is the founder of the architecture blog Talkitect.com. He is also an adjunct professor at Portland State University and a guest design critic at the University of Oregon. Along with Lucas’s focus on architecture, design and the built environment he enjoys exploring the natural wonder of the Pacific Northwest, is a regular supporter of the Portland Timbers and is actively involved in his Neighborhood Association.

LEED Accredited Professional Building Design and Construction

Propel Studio

Tuan Vu, Associate AIA, LEED AP BD+C

Tuan Vu is an innovative designer who leads Propel Studio’s creative approach to each project. He is passionate about collaboration throughout the design process and he fosters a strong team environment within the studio. His project experience includes noteworthy buildings in Portland, Oregon and outside of the US, with several award winning projects and competition entries among them. Tuan plays a leading role in international business development for Propel Studio with a particular focus on projects in Vietnam and Southeast Asia. He also brings expertise in sustainable design with a focus on large-scale projects and master plans – providing a comprehensive strategy for sustainable practices.


LEED Accredited Professional Building Design and Construction

Propel Studio

Sam Sudy, Associate AIA

Sam is the newest addition to our design team, graduating from the University of Oregon here in Portland in 2014. Her enthusiasm for adaptive reuse and the embodied energy in existing buildings sparked inspiration for her graduate research project, which delved into the reuse potential of Detroit’s Central Station, a currently derelict yet monumental historic structure. She investigated the urban fabric and culture of Detroit to conceive of an award-winning proposal that resulted in her nomination as one of the AIA’s Emerging Professionals of 2015. As a result of her research Sam utilizes design strategies that are oriented toward community needs, which drive her participation in non-profit work and public interest design. Beyond the studio, Sam engages the community through volunteer work with Architects In Schools, where she teaches about the built environment to elementary school students.

Sam likes to draw inspiration from design fields that extend beyond the realm of architecture, including aspects of branding, graphic design, industrial design and story telling. She believes in the strength of holistic creative problem solving, which she employs to tackle project hurdles with the client’s benefit in mind. A fresh perspective and dedication to community and clients make her an invaluable asset to our design team. When she is not burning the midnight oil, Sam is either training for the Portland Marathon, rock climbing, or painting pictures of old family photos.

– Like every business, success doesn’t come without the hard work and contributions of a team of people. Propel Studio has has made it this far thanks to a growing list of contributors and collaborators. As we continue to evolve we want to thank all of those who have worked with us along the way.

Annie Ledbury, Bryan Montanio, Carlos Saca, Kristin Slavin, Nick Morozov, Shauna Walker, John Paul Spearman, Britta Mack, Mark Steinhardt


EGWW WallPropel Studio has committed itself to making architecture that has a minimal impact on our environment. We have a holistic approach to sustainability, taking a wide range of economic, environmental and social factors into our designs.

We have a wide range of tools in our belt that help along the path to a sustainable built environment. Our projects have utilized various sustainable certifications and checklists including LEED, Living Building, Earth Advantage and others, when appropriate to guide the design process. All of the members of our team are LEED Accredited Professionals and have made the commitment to stay ahead of the curve through continuing education opportunities and research. As a firm we have signed onto the 2030 Challenge committing ourselves to adopt stringent design targets aimed at reducing fossil fuel, Greenhouse Gas emitting, energy consumption with a goal of building Carbon-neutral buildings by 2030. All of this leads to a long term approach to decision making as we take the lifecycle cost of each decision into consideration.

Even when certifications aren’t applicable or are cost prohibitive we incorporate sustainable strategies, both active and passive, into our designs. Careful orientation of each building takes advantage of the sun for both daylighting and heating while we control the sun when it is not needed through sun shades and store solar heat through the use of thermal mass. We work closely with our engineers and consultants to seamlessly integrate innovative cost saving systems like ground source heat pumps, radiant slabs, heat exchangers and others to minimize the need for expensive mechanical systems. Wall and Roof details include extra insulation and our designs encourage natural ventilation to further reduce reliance on energy intensive machinery to condition our spaces. We advise our clients to turn their roofs into productive space by installing solar hot water, PV panels and green roofs where appropriate. Our dedication to sustainability doesn’t stop at our building’s envelope. Interior spaces flow out into the landscape where native plants and site design reduces dependance on irrigation, while bio-swlaes and other elements work to filter grey water and reduce storm water runoff.

Along with our expertise in environmental sustainability, we find it extremely important to address social and economic issues as well. We pride ourselves in building strong relationships within our community and the communities in which we build. Building lasting partnerships and collaboration leads to places that are well used, loved, and maintained. Our goal is to build 100 year buildings, that become centers of their community, that are cared for by their users, that are beautiful and timeless. Throughout our careers we have donated our time and experience to community groups and non profits to help them grow and be successful. We have designed projects through Design Bridge at the University of Oregon, Architecture for Humanity, and for Vernon Elementary School a few blocks from where we live. We offer our services Pro-Bono or on a sliding scale to make sure that people and groups from all walks of life and economic conditions can have access to the transformative power of architecture and design.

c,elk_lodgeWe work in a collaborative environment where we share ideas, challenge our preconceptions and push our designs to be innovative and responsive.

Each projects starts with interviewing our clients, visiting the site and developing clear and achievable project goals. After gathering extensive information we organize data, do background research and hold studio design charrettes with our entire team to generate as many ideas as we can. From here we depart on an iterative design process, distilling the concepts down to a clear path forward and an optimal solution to the design challenge.

Throughout a project we strive to be as responsive to our clients as possible – carefully listening to their thoughts and incorporating their ideas and needs into our design solutions. Clear communication, both within our team and to our clients and various stakeholders is an integral part to our process. We are easy to reach and are always available to our clients to discuss the progress of their designs and talk though new ideas and changes that come up along the way. To this end we use a variety of communication techniques including social media, email and other digital communication channels. However, we also value the importance of personal connections and are always up for meeting in person or talking through ideas by phone.

Throughout our design process we use a wide variety of means to express our ideas and clearly communicate them to our clients. We start by hand sketching, quickly getting out thoughts and creative ideas down on paper. We find sketching with our clients is often the best way to collaborate on the early phases of a design. From here we move both into the digital realm, moving our sketches into the computer, as well as exploring design concepts through physical and digital models. We utilize Revit as a Building Information Modeling tool to collaborate with our consultants and ensure our engineers, contractors and others are all working collaboratively to deliver the best building possible.