Propel Studio is a community oriented architecture, design, and development studio 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 architecture. Our designs respond to the context in which we build, integrating our buildings 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 places we live, work and play. 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.
Nick Mira, AIA, LEED BD+C
Nick believes in providing excellent service to our clients and brings a dedication to design exploration to each and every project. He is an Oregon licensed architect with over 10 years 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 each project.
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.
Lucas Gray, Associate AIA, LEED 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 is currently the communications chair of the Vernon Neighborhood Association, the Associate Director of the American Institute of Architects Portland, The Regional Associate Director for the Northwest and Pacific Region of the AIA, has volunteered for Architecture for Humanity, and is the founder of the architecture blog Talkitect.com. He is also a guest design critic at the University of Oregon and Portland State University. 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 an avid Ultimate player.
Propel 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.
We 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.