Our philosophy

In architectural design, the site presents the framework into which the building is woven.  For any given site, the effort must be made to determine its spirit and its sense of place.  

A sense of place results from a vast number of influences acting upon and within a piece of land.  These influences can be easily quantifiable such as zoning codes, or climatic conditions, or less so like cultural/historical precedents, and the clients’ desires.  The particular group of influences on a place is specific and unique to that place alone.

Our design process seeks to define these various influences through comprehensive analysis involving the client, municipalities, and consultant specialists.  We then set out, through artful consideration, to determine the most appropriate design response.

From the inception of the firm, Vandervort Architects has determined to focus on the following three Design Principles as the foundation of our philosophy:


Create Architecture that is carefully integrated with its surroundings:

•  We perform extensive analyses of a site’s natural features in order to respond to its native character – i.e. the way water flows through the site, the location of existing trees and vegetation, the presence of wildlife, the direction of the wind, the quality of light, and the quantity of sun.  

•  We seek to understand the historical and cultural context of a place and celebrate it within our design.

•  We strive to design in harmony with what is unique about a site – its built and natural character, forms and vistas.


Create Architecture that is derived from the client’s (user’s) needs:

•  We work closely with the client to determine and clarify needs.

•  We value and carefully listen to the input of every person involved in the project, so that we might better comprehend the full potential of the project.

•  We consider the client group to also include those impacted by the project – neighbors, users, and the community at large, and seek to understand their viewpoint.


Create Architecture that integrates materials, methods of building and ways of living that sustain our natural resources and enhance our communities:

•  We strive to create design that will be long lasting, durable, and adaptable to future use.

•  We continually research new products and methods to determine which products generate the least waste, make use of the most recycled material, require the least amount of energy to produce, and have the least impact on the ecosystems from which they are obtained.

•  We design with energy savings in mind – always striving to exceed the minimum standards set by the energy codes and work to integrate passive and active technologies for harnessing sustainable energy sources.


Through these principles we seek to create artful architecture that is uniquely appropriate and responsive to each project, client, and place.

"After a having a bad experience with another architecture firm, we hired Mark Wierenga at Vandervort Architects to remodel our house. Vandervort appealed to us because all of the architects have a team approach to projects, which allows for input from various perspectives. The project involved a remodel of the kitchen/dining room, addition of a bay window, and an upstairs addition of a bedroom and bathroom. Mark was great to work with--he had very creative ideas, took time to explain things, guided us through all of the processes, oversaw the contractors, and kept us on task and on budget! We have been happy with our remodel and all of the design elements every single day! He has continued to serve as a resource for us even eight years after completion of the project. I can't recommend Mark and Vandervort more highly!"

— Remodel Client —