Principal Jamie Slagel’s design approach is all about the pivot points: moments where the experience of a space shifts and becomes surprising. In her architectural practice, this manifests in quiet details felt by the touch of a hand, and in more dramatic moments with the power to influence one’s perception of space. Since joining Olson Kundig in 2011, Jamie has focused on these points of intersection where the natural meets the built, old meets new, public meets private, and where small scale meets the grand. Her designs offer users a greater understanding of how people relate to their built and natural environments. “Good design is attainable in any location and at any scale,” Jamie asserts. “It’s possible in the large spaces we inhabit, and in the finer, more human-scale details. It happens in moments you can’t plan for, but that reveal themselves in situ. Moments like this allow us to see and experience our surroundings a little differently and more intimately. This is when design has the ability to better the way we see the world.”
Hailing from Lewistown, Montana where vernacular structures like barns and grain silos emerge alongside rugged mountain peaks in a vast landscape, Jamie has long been interested in transitional junctures between built and natural forms. Jamie credits this rural background for her keen sensitivity to the landscape, which she brings to projects ranging from private residences, to large commercial, mixed-use and cultural projects. Having spent time working at a design-build firm in Montana, Jamie understands the importance of teamwork across trades. For her, the most successful and rewarding projects result from a strong collaboration between client, architect and builder.
While earning her Master of Architecture at Montana State University, Jamie also became inspired by the power of materials and the art of making. Her deep appreciation for craft began with a class where she learned to work with steel, concrete, glass and wood. Now, Jamie contributes regularly to product design at Olson Kundig, and was the winner of the firm’s inaugural Design-Build It Competition for her Jib Light. In addition to her design work, Jamie is active on the firm’s staff enrichment, mentorship, and creative exchange fellowship initiatives. She has also been an adjunct professor at Montana State University.