Husband, wife combine skills in WINTER HOLBEN architecture + design

Wife and husband team combine their skills to create WINTER HOLBEN architecture + design, located at 7 Wallingford Square in Kittery, Maine's Foreside.

KITTERY, ME, February 26, 2017 — Brandon Holben and Elisa Winter are husband and wife. They are also the yin and yang of a business relationship with complementary skills as owners of Winter Holben architecture + design.

Holben is the architect and Winter is the designer. He seeks her designer’s eye on the building interiors and exteriors he draws. She seeks his architectural sense of space and shape on the areas she designs.

Up until December 2015, when they formed their company together, they applied their professional skills separately – Holben as an architect for firms in the Portsmouth area, Winter as a creative director, consulting to various companies.

In bringing their work experiences home, they would often trade ideas off each other, tap each other’s respective experience, which led to what-if discussions about working together some day.

“That was very appealing and we’d have conversations over the years,” said Holben.

But they were cautious: They had a growing family, currently a fourth-grader and a preschooler. But the prospect of having a business together became too appealing – both had professional contacts they could bring with them into the new studio.

“We were worried about the commitment of having our own business,” said Winter, “but we found that it’s been so positive for our family.”

“It’s so much better now having the partnership,” added Winter. Not only as business, partners, according to the couple, but as husband and wife and mom and dad. They can cover for each other at work if there are needs or appointments for the children.

Winter is a 1998 graduate of James Madison University with a degree in biology and a minor in fine art. She had actually combined the two loves, working with a professor at JMU to create the first ever illustrations and description of a water striding insect (Platyvelia brachialis) as her senior thesis.

Holben is a 1999 graduate in architecture from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He has several memberships in organizations related to architecture and Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design.

The New Hampshire chapter of the American Institute of Architects recognized the young studio for its work with a 2017 Excellence in Architecture Design Award.

It cited Winter and Holben for their work on the Great Rhythm Brewing Co. building at 105 Bartlett St. in Portsmouth. The citation stated they “created the entire design vision for the adaptive re-use of an underutilized waterfront industrial building to become a dynamic customer experience and state-of-the-art brewing facility. Key features of the design include; a striking presence visible from over 1,200 feet away, a welcoming entrance, a tasting room with views to the outdoor environment and brew house, and a visitor destination that compliments the revitalized West End neighborhood of Portsmouth.”

It was an example of the yin and yang at work at the studio. Holben took the shell of what was an industrial warehouse and worked with the brewery owners to map out not only the beer brewing infrastructure of the piping, tubing and electricity, but also opened the space up to a view of nearby North Mill Pond.

The design collaboration with Winter caught the judges’ attention, who said: “Reclaimed wood is brought into the interior judiciously, but also monumentally, communicating across space and celebrating the high-ceilinged volume.

“The light colored wood and the monochromatic dark gray ceilings and concrete block also complement each other in color and texture, and add a surprising intimacy to an otherwise open volume. Simple garage doors, when open, provide additional dramatic effect.”

Winter’s design specialty is what she calls “the customer experience.”

While Holben is thinking angles and curves, she’s looking at how best to make that space welcoming to the people who use it, something she’s been doing as a long-time contractor for Bank of America.

“I’m thinking about different things sometimes,” she said, noting the customer experience can include everything from signs to what she calls “branded pieces” that combine signage, displays and interior design. “I’m constantly asking him questions about how to use architectural space.”

They have their studio in the second floor co-working space of Thinkyard at 7 Wallingford Square in Kittery’s Foreside.

The space became available within a few weeks after they formed the business, and it’s been ideal, on a couple of levels. They can walk to work from their nearby Kittery home, and they enjoy the Thinkyard space and the camaraderie of the neighborhood.

“It was almost fate when Thinkyard opened up because we really wanted to stay in Kittery,” said Winter. “The space has been perfect for us.”

Together with two employees – a full-timer and an architectural student intern – Winter and Holben have more projects on the table, many of them related to restaurants and breweries. For instance, they are helping Stoneface Brewery in Newington with its expansion, not only in space, but from a tasting room to a full-service restaurant.

Holben has other breweries, as well, as part of his professional resume – Smuttynose in Hampton and Woodland Farms Brewery in Kittery, to name a couple. His name is getting around and that’s opening other doors in the hospitality industry.

They both like the space and pace of where they are and what they’re doing with a good, manageable mix of large and small clients.

“They like our style and the quality of our work,” said Winter. “We put everything we have into the design of every project.”

-Courtesy of Seacoast Online

-Article and Photo by Paul Briand