Judging from Gregory Klosowski's lineage -- his father was a machinist; his grandfather, a mason -- it is not much of a stretch to imagine him leaning toward a career within a craft-oriented field. During his teenage years, Klosowski spent his summers gaining experience in construction and roofing. The native Midwesterner honed these skills and used them as an entrée into the study of architecture at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana.
After graduation, Klosowski moved to California for the temperate climate and abundance of work available in the mid-1990s' booming architecture market. Several years of working at firms provided what Klosowski describes as "a good mix of a lot of different architecture projects." In 2001, the architect decided to go solo and formed the Oakland-based ellipsis a+d.
Klosowski believes that an article in architectural record helped shape his collaborative work style. In it, the author explained how success in architecture can be achieved either by being a large firm that is able to be flexible with project types or a small practice that is willing to form collaborations as needed. Klosowski gladly subscribes to the latter solution.
One of his collaborations, called Coil Collaborative, is an ongoing alliance with architect Veronica Hinkley Reck. Most recently, they garnered an award for their 2005 San Francisco Prize Competition entry. In an interdisciplinary collaboration called Elevation 77, Klosowski has joined forces with a developer to work on plans for a mixed-use development in Oakland.
The architect believes his penchant for collaborations began his senior year at Ball State. "It just snaked into what I was doing," explains Klosowski. He and a classmate, Paul Benigno, often critiqued each other's projects. Even now, though geographically separated and with distinct careers, the pair have an online dialogue to assess projects and have even jointly entered competitions. Klosowski is happy this relationship has endured: "It's difficult to receive truly critical evaluations from your peers."
Klosowski readily admits that not all architectural alliances run smoothly. "Essentially, you have to get comfortable with one another to make things fruitful," he explains. "It's easy to make design the secondary concern. You can get sidetracked by concentrating on not offending one another rather than focusing on the evolving design." But he points out that while it may be difficult to temper signature styles within one project, it is the differing design aesthetics that make the end result more interesting.
Ellipsis a+d's upcoming projects find Klosowski holding true to the tenet of collaboration as well as working solo on residential and commercial projects. And not to veer too far from his construction roots, Klosowski finds the time to utilize the small shop in his garage for hands-on projects for his own residence or for grateful friends.