BLOK Architecture, PLLC, was founded by Sasha in January of 2010. Sasha’s path to becoming an architect was circuitous but enriching. After losing sight of his boyhood dream to become an architect, Sasha majored in physics and history at Duke. Upon graduation Sasha sought to apply his physics degree to his fascination with airplanes, completing a M.S. in aerospace engineering at NCSU. While pursuing his M.S., he spent two summers conducting computer simulation of Mars atmospheric reentry at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia. Although being a “rocket scientist” has made for some rather unoriginal party jokes, it did not satisfactorily integrate Sasha’s love of things both technical and artistic, so he wised up and returned to his boyhood dream; he finished a Master of Architecture at the University of Texas while renovating a small house just two blocks from campus.
In 2001 he returned to Durham with his wife (a librarian at Duke) and son, where they bought and renovated a Trinity Park bungalow. Since then he has added two daughters and a dog to his family and become a licensed architect as well as a LEED Accredited Professional. He and his family currently reside in a 1919 four-square on Club Boulevard made of salvaged material from Washington Duke’s 1888 Fairview Mansion. The complete rehabilitation of his Club Blvd. home received a NC state historic tax credit, has been featured in the News and Observer, was on the 2008 Preservation Durham home tour of Watts-Hillandale, received a Pyne Preservation Award in 2005, and has been designated a Local Historic Landmark by City Council.
Sasha’s architecture education began at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he was one of a handful of 25,000 students school-wide to receive a prestigious University Fellowship (full tuition and a stipend). But after one year, dissatisfied by the disarray of the architecture program there, he decided to make the most of Chicago by suspending his studies and immersing himself in the rich Chicago architectural scene. Sasha first worked in the offices of Wheeler Kearns Architects during the summer in which the firm compiled past projects for a Ten Houses monograph devoted exclusively to Wheeler Kearns. After exposure to high-end custom residential design at Wheeler Kearns, Sasha wanted to experience a larger firm and different clientele before departing the big city. He worked on institutional and developer projects for VOA, a firm with 140 architects. Sasha moved to Austin in 1998 to resume his education at the University of Texas. In addition to coursework he interned at Moore/Andersson Architects, now known as Andersson-Wise Architects, the last firm started by renowned educator and architect Charles Moore before his untimely death. He was also part of a seven-member team to create an award-winning set of measured drawings to Historic American Building Survey (HABS) standards of the 1856 Governor Pease Mansion. When Sasha graduated from UT-Austin in 2001 he returned to Durham and began working with Ellen Cassilly Architect. It was at Ellen’s that Sasha progressed from Intern Architect, to Project Designer, to Project Architect. He was the lead designer and project manager on numerous projects from start to finish, including historic renovations and additions, new residential construction, commercial projects, and institutional buildings. He contributed significantly to projects that have won recognition from the AIA Triangle, Preservation Durham, and the Durham Appearance Commission.
Sasha believes the beauty of architecture is that it is a profession that rewards a breadth of knowledge and experience. He’s not certain how his varied academic degrees, performance on viola, travels, running, racecar driving or motorcycle riding inform his work. But he believes everything he has studied, seen, and done impacts his design in small to profound ways, helping to build design intuition. Architecture is the only profession he can imagine that can successfully blend all his interests, both technical and artistic. Sasha is fulfilled practicing architecture and finds joy in the work every day. He will bring this joy to your project. Sasha will also listen to you diligently and treat your desires with integrity, enlisting you as a collaborative partner in the design process. He also recognizes that providing sound advice and unwavering guidance throughout the project is essential. Sasha has confidence in his design abilities and wants you to develop complete confidence in his ability to be a wise curator of your significant time and financial investment in your project.
You are always welcome to visit Sasha at his studio to discuss your project free-of-charge. “House calls” in the Durham/Chapel Hill area are billed at $300 per visit (call to discuss rates for Raleigh and beyond). As part of the on-site consultation fee Sasha will return to the office to write a proposal for architectural services for the entire project, if appropriate.
It depends (oh, gee, that’s helpful!). Are you completing a commercial project or a residential project? As a general rule of thumb BLOK’s commercial architectural design fees vary from 6% to 8% of the construction costs. Residential projects often require greater levels of detail and therefore usually cost 10% to 12% of construction costs. No matter the project type or scale, Sasha’s expertise can greatly reduce headaches, actually save money, and result in a superior outcome.
One enduring interest of Sasha’s since his young teenage years has been cars. Do not prompt him to discuss anything with an engine and wheels unless you’ve got substantial free time (and perhaps some snacks). Sasha participated in Car and Driver’s 2005 Cannonball Run/One Lap of America with his father in a silver 1998 BMW M3 Sedan, racing at nine tracks on the Eastern Seaboard and traveling over 5,000 miles in one week. More recently he converted a street-worthy 1987 BMW 325is into a dedicated SpecE30 racecar and campaigned it in 2007 and 2008 as a licensed competition racer in the National Auto Sport Association’s Mid-Atlantic region. During this racecar build he designed a garage at his house complete with an automotive lift. He also specified a hot and cold hose bibb to be installed during his home renovation so he can wash vehicles comfortably even if it’s cold. Sasha has owned motorcycles (which hurt him, as bikes tend to do) and presently enjoys a second, white 1998 BMW M3 sedan, a 2005 Porsche 911 C4S, and a 2004 Honda S2000, which belonged to his late father. The age of all his vehicles requires frequent wrenching (and a patient wife!), which gives Sasha an appreciation for methodical trouble-shooting and for the way things are put together.
Sasha’s love of architecture began unwittingly at the age of one when he played with homemade blocks a family friend crafted of 2 x 4’s. He cried when his large dump truck repeatedly failed to fit through the narrow archway he built, knocking the structure to pieces again and again. Nearly five decades later he is still playing with blocks (with greater success), although he has graduated to concrete blocks and city blocks, reveling in both small and large-scale creativity. In addition to a life filled with blocks, “Blok” resonates in other ways. Sasha’s wife Sara has a Master’s in Russian Literature and one of her favorite Russian poets shares his first name, Aleksandr Blok. Blok was intrigued by the shape of printed words on a page, as interested in their aesthetic as he was in their sound and meaning. Under the pre-revolutionary Russian calendar Blok was even born on November 16, the same day as Sasha.