Ben Braun had originally drawn his inspiration to study architecture from his tenure as an English Instructor working in Japan. This evolution came as a result of the combination of being exposed to Japan's fascinating culture, its architecture and a growing self-confidence. After a decade as a practicing architect, Braun went solo; Braun Architects was founded in 2010 as a result of the fallout of the "Great Recession". However, since those dark days, the firm is finally coming into its own and discovering its core values; good design can enhance livability and quality of the built environment for EVERYONE and ought to be available to everyone, not just the elite and those in the top echelons of our society. This means the firm is willing to take on smaller projects that are not typically within the architect's purview but are often left to contractors to resolve on their own. Additionally, we strive to set out fee structure to enable clients to hire us for a fraction of the cost of hiring a more traditional firm. We achieve this by empowering our clients to take on some of the work of selecting materials and finishes, breaking the project down into smaller, more manageable phases, or simply providing schematic designs to be developed at a later date. Finally, the fee structures also give clients an option of paying for hours worked as opposed to paying on a percentage basis. Smaller projects and projects in which the client is interested in investing more of their own time and effort, the hourly strategy can be cost effective whereas larger projects and ones in which the scope of work being provided is greater, the percentage basis can be more worthwhile.
Unlike the more established firms in the Twin Cities, Braun Architects does not have an "aesthetic", or style to call its own. That's partly due to the relative newness of the firm and partly by intentional choice. The firm believes in studying context and looking to existing buildings and neighborhoods for inspiration. It doesn't mean that the addition, remodel, or new construction that comes out of this process must look like the buildings around it; rather we look to the subtle interplay of scale, texture, color, form and shapes to enhance the identity of an existing structure, or enable a new one to resonate with its surroundings while still being fresh and new.
Its been a long, convoluted road from the philosophy classrooms of Drake University through a wide range of jobs, careers and a series of architecture firms, but the Braun Architects practice is finally giving voice to what really began over 20 years ago in Japan; the desire to make not only make the world a more beautiful place, but a more functional one and make those services accessible to a wider range of people.
You will notice sprinkled throughout this web site various photos of places throughout Europe; many originate in Italy. These are photos that I have take myself. Their purpose in this site is not simply to serve as "eye candy", though I must admit there are some beautiful landscapes as well as great architecture depicted in these photos. The more subtle purpose served by these images is to illustrate the value of our heritage, our collective history and the value of reusing, redefining and rejuvenating the built environment as opposed to replacing it.
In my travels through Europe and Japan the value of these cultural asset are more apparent; and nowhere is it more so than in Italy where centuries-old structures are imbued with new life when they are infused with modern features and amenities while simultaneously maintaining the ancient charm. Here in the United States our built environment is much newer than these buildings that we see around the world that have these rich histories of their own; we are at the starting point and therefore have a lot of opportunity to start that process of integration of old and new that is so elegantly and timelessly expressed in buildings and city-scapes around the world.