The home of Wristen Paschich ’04 was recently featured in the Nov. 20 issue of SuCasa Magazine. Paschich, a designer and builder, designed the loft-style downtown Albuquerque home in which he and his wife Kelsey, and daughter Banning live.
According to the article, the home “cuts a rectilinear silhouette against the New Mexico sky, the lime-green slatted wall near the front entry a hint at the inventive use of color inside. Tucked behind a townhome Paschich Design Group built a couple of years ago, the new house illustrates an environmentally conscious approach and a fresh, modern aesthetic.”
It quotes Paschich, “We are cognizant of trying to build efficiently, and it’s a goal of ours to demonstrate that denser living can be achieved comfortably. You don’t have to live in the Hinterland or suburbia to have a nice space.”
Paschich earned a B.A. in architectural studies and minored in studio art. He went on to earn an architecture degree from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is a member of the Home Builders Association of Central New Mexico and, in 2007, he won the New Mexico Homes of Enchantment Bronze Award in the annual Parade of Homes within the Albuquerque area.
The full article about his home follows.
Designer Wristen Paschich’s loft-style downtown home is a showcase for his progressive style and vision.
Alicia Kellogg • November 20, 2011
Head down Mountain Road in Albuquerque, several blocks from the shops and historic structures of Old Town. Past Explora science center, the Little Red Hamburger Hut, and Golden Crown Panaderia, among the sunflower-laden gardens and shaded front porches, you’ll find an invigorating new perspective within this established city neighborhood.
The home of Wristen Paschich of Paschich Designer Group shares with his wife, Kelsey, and their two-year-old daughter, Banning, cuts a rectilinear silhouette against the New Mexico sky, the lime-green slatted wall near the front entry a hint at the inventive use of color inside. Tucked behind a townhome Paschich Design Group built a couple of years ago, the new house illustrates an environmentally conscious approach and a fresh, modern aesthetic. “We are cognizant of trying to build efficiently, and it’s a goal of ours to demonstrate that denser living can be achieved comfortably,” Paschich says. “You don’t have to live in the Hinterland or suburbia to have a nice space.”
The Paschich home makes a strong case. In the daytime, this urban abode is airy and bright, filled with natural light and the unadorned beauty of concrete and steel. In the evening, the space takes on an elegant atmosphere, with an intriguing play of light and shadow among exposed beams in the great room and the multidimensional wall inside the front door. The textured accent wall was designed to insulate the master suit from the rest of the main level, but Paschich was quick to explore the aesthetic possibilities. “I saw an opportunity there, with the double frame wall,” he says. “How can we make it a sound barrier, but how can we make it fun and unique?”
Paschich’s goal was openness when designing the living room, dining area, and kitchen. “I think we were able to fairly well capture an identity for these three spaces, but they are very much one,” he says, noting that he worked closely with Bob Maze of Dessert Sky Designs at his home and on other projects. Considering the dining room’s position just a few steps from the cooking area, Paschich increased the formality of the kitchen by using a marble backsplash and clean-lined cabinetry from Hanks House, and by concealing appliances behind the Caesarstone-topped island.
“Along with the open floor plan, I wanted to experiment with a two story loft space,” he continues. Exposed steel beams traverse the room about 10 feet beneath the room’s 20-foot ceiling, making the living space below feel more intimate. The design delineates a first-floor ceiling height to give the ground floor more of a human scale, he explains. The beam work also reinforces the home’s modernity. “For modern architecture, it’s very much about honesty in materials and celebrating the materials that you chose, so a lot of the steelwork you see we left raw,” Paschich points out. His work is influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright’s principles of organic design, which involve an emphasis on essential parts. “We chose materials that are beautiful or expressive and let them be their own ornamentation.”
The designer, who turns 30 in September, describes the architecture as progressive. “While it’s very modern, I think it does feel at home in the Southwest, which is very important to me,” he says. At a little more that 2,000 square feet, the house was designed with respect for the scale of the surrounding neighborhood, while the flat roof, parapet construction, and stucco exterior are all nods to the regional building style.
The home could be considered progressive in an environmental sense, as well. Paschich Design Group used cellulose insulation made of recycled newspaper, which offers significant R-values. An energy-recovery ventilator improves indoor air quality by continually bringing fresh air into the home while recapturing energy from the indoor air. A monitoring system allows Paschich to track the home’s energy consumption and assess the optimal time to operate certain appliances. The home’s location within the city also provides the opportunity to exert less impact on the infrastructure. “We’re not requiring that we run new power, new sewer, new gas lines, and you’re not having to drive everywhere,” Paschich says. “Maybe when you come home for the weekend, you don’t have to get in your car again. Wouldn’t that be nice?”
Aspects of this urban lifestyle- being able to walk to get coffee, walk to dinner- recall the designer’s time outside his hometown. Having grown up in Albuquerque, after high school Paschich sought a new experience in upstate New York. He graduated from Hobart and William Smith Colleges with a degree in architectural studies in 2004. Paschich next headed to Chicago. “The birthplace of modern architecture,” he says. “The birthplace of the skyscraper. It was just the right place to go.”
In the Windy City, Paschich studied architecture and art, with a focus on photography and furniture-making, at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Through one of his classes, he developed a new type of joinery that does not require metal hardware, a design for which he has since been issued a patent. A low table in his master bedroom incorporates the technique. “Basically, what you see here is what I call a plug joint,” Paschich says, gesturing to the carefully composed pieces of wood that form a system for collapsible furniture design. “The joinery is the decoration or the ornament for the table.”
In 2006, Paschich returned to Albuquerque and began working with his father, Ed Paschich, who has been building custom homes in New Mexico for more than 30 years. Wristen is now vice president of Paschich Design Group and heads the progressive design division of this family-operated company. The designer seems poised to continue challenging old perceptions. “I would like to help people reimagine what downtown living, or higher-density living, can be,” he says.
Wristen Paschich and his family have been enjoying this particular slice of city life since March. They find that they spend most of their time in the open living area and adjoining backyard, where young Banning can run around. A wall out back is brightened by a colorful, Chicago-themed mural, painted by local artist Heather Cronin, that features the city skyline and references to its history.
“We have Mrs. O’Leary’s cow kicking over the lantern and sort of giving birth to the new city,” Paschich says. “We just wanted to try something fresh. Not every block wall needs to be stucco, perhaps. We just saw a real opportunity there.”