INSIGHT BEHIND DESIGN: KIRSTEN MURRAY
From Jack London to Luther Burbank, the beauty of Sonoma County has inspired many over the years. It also inspired the design of Mill District’s residences. We recently caught up with Kirsten Murray, an owner and principal at Olson Kundig and the lead architect of our residential design, to learn more about what drove her creative process.
How do you differentiate this project vs anything in Northern California?
The Mill District development complements the active, outdoors-focused lifestyle of Healdsburg. The arrangement of buildings supports an active, pedestrian- and bicycle-oriented community and extends access to existing pathways. Residences incorporate strong connections between interior and exterior spaces, maximizing flexibility and functional space. The development extends the walkable central core of downtown Healdsburg while adding a new public park for everyone to use and enjoy.
How are you creating timeless architecture that will stand the test of time in Healdsburg?
Mill District relates to the scale of other long-standing agricultural and light industrial buildings throughout Healdsburg. Articulated rooflines break down the massing of the buildings, offering a more dynamic silhouette to engage the sky overhead. The design palette features resilient and natural materials, some of which will patina over time, further integrating the built environment with its context.
What was your design inspiration behind the architecture for the Residences at Mill District?
The Mill District neighborhood retains the strong sense of nature, place and community that characterizes Healdsburg. Throughout the development, the architecture balances access to natural daylight with protection from the elements to foster four-season living. Covered outdoor areas remain functional even during inclement weather, while strategic glazing minimizes heat gain. Likewise, the buildings’ form and orientation are thoughtfully designed to connect to both social and natural contexts. On the street side of the development, active entries, gardens and terraces engage the surrounding community. Framed views on the park side, both near and distant, optimize everyone’s experience of the park and landscape.
What cues did you take from Healdsburg and its surroundings that you integrated into your design there?
Mill District’s scale, modulation and materials activate building masses and utilize different colors and tones to modulate the façade. Lower levels feature light stucco to reduce the building scale and engage with pedestrian activity. The lighter coloring also enhances the quality of reflected light and provides warmth to the street level. Inspired by the changing light in a tree canopy, higher building levels darken in color, embracing a natural sense of shading and protection. The combined palette of resilient, long-lasting materials ensures Mill District will remain a vibrant member of the Healdsburg community for years to come.