"I ask my clients to at least respond and engage with me when discussing design. Thankfully, the demographic that is approaching me now is finally up to speed with what I want to do."
"Architects want to delight, challenge and serve their clients to get them somewhere they couldn’t get on their own."
Like many who have established themselves professionally in a creative industry, Clive Pohl is a man of numerous ambitions and abilities. With an undying commitment to creating healthy environments in support of cultural initiatives of equity and public art, Clive has become the owner of his own architecture firm, PRP Architects, through a journey marked by collaboration, family and music.
Growing up under two classically trained parents exposed Clive to the highest level of musicianship from a very young age. Finding talent of his own within the boundless realm of jazz was a natural development for Clive, who went on to study composition as an undergraduate at Western Washington University. To this day, Clive still composes and records original jazz pieces with his band, Uncle Sam’s Bait Shop.
“My mother was a top-notch concert pianist who attended the Royal College of Music for piano,” remembers Clive. “While my dad was an engineer by day, he was a classical violinist by night. I studied composition as an undergraduate at Western Washington University, and as I grew, I realized I wanted a healthy family life. This led me to choose architecture over music. Now that my kids are grown and I’ve been through family-raising mode, I’m able to get back into balancing music and design. Quite honestly, I think they’re very complimentary disciplines.”
Just as Clive’s beloved music form of jazz is a conversation between players that combines to form a transcendent groove, the collaborative nature of his work as an architect allows him to blend his talents and vision with that of his clients.
“In the world in which I design, it has to be a collaborative effort. There are times I have clients who want me to do what I want to do, but I am always intentional about bringing them into the creative process. If I indulge my own sensibility too far, problems can arise because the client doesn’t know what’s being delivered. I ask my clients to at least respond and engage with me when discussing design. Thankfully, the demographic that is approaching me now is finally up to speed with what I want to do. When I began my practice in Kentucky, I was pushing against provincial thinking and a prevalent neo-Colonial attitude when it comes to architectural design. What I do is green, contemporary design—not retrospective design.”
Though Clive maintains a deep appreciation and respect for history and the methods of the past, his architectural interest and passion lies most pointedly with forward-thinking green building, which he describes as “a multi-layered onion”.
“The first layer of green building is to make use of what already exists as much as possible. That’s remodeling buildings in such a way that creates an energy-efficient envelope so that our equipment minimizes petroleum-based fuel and uses renewable energy as much as possible (geothermal, solar panels, etc.). Once the building envelope is energy sufficient, it’s all about how to fit the interior in a way that is healthiest for the client. I help my clients navigate through all kinds of choices around daylight exposure, mitigating solar heat gain with shading devices and conscious sun exposure that keeps seasonal weather changes in mind. I want to help them understand the carbon and social justice footprint of their choices and support manufacturers who are in line with the values of myself and the client.
“Architects want to delight, challenge and serve their clients to get them somewhere they couldn’t get on their own,” explains Clive. “It takes a curious individual who recognizes their own limitations to hire a design professional and not everyone possesses this self-awareness. By doing so, the owner stands a better chance of arriving at an informed, high performance design solution that is also artistically inspired.”
While green building has grown in prevalence and people have become more acquainted with the methods behind green design and construction, Clive and his team at PRP Architects have done their part to seek out communities of prospective clients whose values already align with their own. This pursuit brought them to the spa industry, where kindred spirits who share Clive’s passion for sustainability and thoughtfully constructed spaces are in no short supply.
“As we enter 2021, it feels even more important to share our knowledge and expertise in this arena with the spa industry. While we are relatively new to the spa industry, we are not new to sustainable design and the creation of healthy and inviting environments. We want to work with individuals in the spa industry to meet the new and growing challenges of incorporating healthy solutions with peaceful and aesthetically welcoming spaces. A combination of natural light, air quality, reclaimed and recycled materials free of toxins and more lends to a space that not only feels tranquil and inviting, but promotes physical and mental health and wellbeing.”