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From Philadelphia Magazine, March 2003
A Perfect Match
An intimate look at Philadelphia's leading design pros

By Kathleen Nicholson Webber, Amy Donohue and Meg Cohen Ragas
Schade and Bolender Architects, LLP

Before architects Rachel Schade and Kiki Bolender will take on a new project, they ask prospective clients that deal-making-or-breaking question: "When do you need it?"

"In general, people don't realize how long the process takes," says Bolender who joined forces with Schade, a Penn architecture graduate, in '96. The two women are hands-on on all of their 10 to 15 current projects, from the documentation and designing stages right through construction and interiors. With 70 percent of their business residential, they've carved out a niche for themselves as "one-stop" shopping when it comes to design. "In residential, the line is pretty blurry between architecture and interiors," says Schade. "Even when you're designing the shell of a building, the window treatments come into consideration. More and more, we find we're doing both." To get into their clients' heads, they've become good listeners, probing to discover likes and dislikes in terms of colors, textures, patterns and materials. "We ask them, 'What do you really love? What moves you?'"explains Bolender, who has her master's in architecture from Columbia University. "Sometimes we have to draw it out of them. Often we have to piece together a picture, if they can't put it into words."

Influenced by a variety of architectural movements, including the vernacular tradition, Arts and Crafts, and modernism, Schade and Bolender work in a range of styles, as is shown by a slew of recent projects, including the restoration of an 1830's townhouse on 3rd Street; an addition - master bedroom suite, two new wings and a three-car garage - to a 1940's Pennsylvania stone house in Bryn Mawr, the total renovation of a 4,000-square-foot Rittenhouse Square apartment; and the building of a new house in New Hampshire.

"Designing houses from the ground up is the scariest, but the most rewarding," says Schade. But whatever the project, adds Bolender, "We like to design spaces for people that make them feel good."


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