In this 25-minute podcast interview, we meet Matthew Coates, the local architect of the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, and learn about the passion he developed for nature and green building from his early childhood.

Before “sustainable” was a buzzword; before anyone had thought of “building green,” a young Matthew Coates was growing up on a pristine lake in northern Michigan. Over time, as the lake became a popular vacation spot and more people built bigger and bigger houses and brought their motorboats, Matthew saw first-hand the devastating impact of development and pollution on the water and the surrounding woods. Intuitively understanding the fragility of the environment from an early age, he became passionate about protecting the beauty of nature, and embarked upon a career which would allow him to pursue that passion.

He has been winning awards for his sustainable designs since graduate school, achieving international acclaim in 2005 by winning the “Cradle to Cradle (C2C)” Home Design Competition for the most sustainable home design of the future.

In this interview, Matthew describes in moving terms what it was like growing up on Torch Lake and talks about his deliberate, thoughtful choice to make Bainbridge Island his home, his place of work, and his community. He then goes on to explain that sustainability is about balancing growth with sustaining a community and its culture: it’s not just what an architect designs, but where and how structures are placed, and how those structures perform in relation to the environment.

Whether designing public buildings or private homes, Matthew¹s commitment to the design of sustainable and responsible architecture in the context of a viable and productive community repeatedly informs his work — and we can hear his passion for responsible architecture in this podcast.

Credits: BCB host: Channie Peters; BCB audio editor: Barry Peters; BCB social media publishers: Diane Walker and Barry Peters.