Design Experience

Residential Design:  As a Design/Build firm, we started designing houses in the mid 1970's in Southwestern Montana.  Our emphasis has always been on providing well thought-out, efficient plans that result in appealing, comfortable homes.  Because we worked intimately with our clients one house at a time, we learned a lot of valuable lessons about building in the landscape, containing costs and satisfying our new friends.  One early insight that we continue to value is that the design and construction process is much more about the dreams and values of our clients than about skilled assembly of components into a structure.  It is about you, not us.

In the early years, we typically would provide clients with 5 or 6 pages of drawings so that they could visualize, evaluate and approve our ideas and that would suffice for permitting and financing.  We greatly enjoyed the opportunity to refine details as we progressed through the construction phases.  As the shell of a house was completed, we could begin to see how views are framed, how light traveled across the room during the day and how daily living patterns could be enhanced.

The Seattle years:  I worked in Seattle for about five years, first as a lead finish carpenter for one of the top remodeling contractors and then, after graduation, as Intern Architect for a very fine designer.  The Seattle experience exposed me to a very sophisticated palate of materials, a wider range of projects and the skills necessary to satisfy the most demanding clients.  

Graduate School at the Unversity of Washington brought me in contact with talented students from across the country, access to the whole history of architecture and a vibrant faculty.  UW regularly brought in practicing architects from the community and I was able to work with leading designers from Miller-Hull, Jones & Jones, Mithun and other firms.  The urban setting, with its broad range of buildings was equally valuable as practical examples of our studio work. 

Recent Montana Experience:  Since returning home, I've worked on a range of fine houses, a bank, some commercial projects, and agricultural buildings.  The architectural detailing of these, more complicated buildings was specific to each project.

Currently, our work feels like a return to our roots.  We are again focusing on the building as mediator between the human experience and the natural environment.  We are designing with a much wider range of experience and knowledge and a developing sense of architectural expression that speaks to our long Montana adventure.

Please look around our Web Site for photos, sketches and descriptions of our work.


Chinese style Solar Greenhouse

 Imagine, as a market gardener, growing fresh, organic food all year in Montana without any fossil fuels. Tomatoes into November and December, new greens starting in February. These off season crops offer higher profit margins because the alternative for consumers is the tired produce in the grocery stores.

The Chinese started developing solar greenhouses in the 1970's and now have over 3 million acres of them.  Their mature design grows vegetables year-round and is energy self sufficient up to the 42nd parallel.

We are currently working with a Montana market gardener to build a commercial solar greenhouse next year. Our goals are to use the Chinese model and proportions but adapt to our local materials and building practices.  We know that the building will have to perform well, but also be inexpensive enough to make the economics work.

Please call or write if you have interest in a similar project.



Jim Baerg Montana Energy+Design
223 S. 5th St.
Livingston, MT 59047