About

Design Durrie Build

With an architect’s education and 25 years of builder’s experience, we bring vision, creative solutions, and an efficient design/build process to every project.  Our projects include one of the busiest cafes in the United States, a techno superstar’s NYC loft/studio, a tiny strawbale building, and many kitchens for serious cooks.  At every phase we try to reduce waste, maximize reuse of demolition materials, and above all adapt what has already been built rather than simply add new space.   When new space is the answer, we make it tight, sound , and beautiful, using natural, healthy materials.

Dream Big Build Small.

About Nick Durrie

Nick Durrie

I’ve been building as long as I can remember; starting with driftwood structures on the beaches of northern California in the 1960’s- just a kid and a pile of driftwood. Being the hippy era we ended up at these massive driftwood creations being spiked together with huge nails and who knows what else was going on.  We moved to Rome, Italy when I was 6 and lived in part of a big old house on a farm outside of the city.  After 4 years we moved to Brasil, then to Australia, then back to Brasil where I graduated from High School.  We learned the languages, and understood that while the US remained “home” it was just one place amongst many, not the center of the universe.  Returning to the US to start university I got my first job as a carpenter through my uncle, Robin Hill who worked in the Bay Area as a contractor.  He helped me get my first set of tools and pushed me out of the nest.  All through university I kept working in the building field- on houses, stores, stage sets,  rental properties.  That day-to-day experience and the satisfaction that came with it was what steered me away from Art school and into Architecture.  I continued to work as a carpenter through undergraduate and graduate school at the University of Michigan where I started collaborating with professors who had projects that didn’t fit into predictable molds.  My time on the drawing board was well balanced by time in the field, trying to make the drawings into reality.  I found my own designs at school were naturally influenced by the practical realities I encountered while attempting to build some of the more experimental ideas of  my instructors.  I also realized that nothing lasts forever- every remodel involves demolishing the work of a previous era- and that I wanted to try to build for the cycles of decades, not fashion.  By doing both the design work and the building I could tweak things as the job progressed without having to call a big meeting.  While Ann Arbor has been my home base since 1984 I have had the opportunity to work in NYC, Princeton, Northern California, Montreal, Vermont, and the South West.

I now live in a 925 square foot house with my wife, Carisa, and two young daughters.