Firm Profile

Ellen Fortin Design + Architecture is an architectural and interior design firm focused on custom crafted residential, select small commercial, artist studio, and co-housing projects.

We create. We view design as all encompassing, and believe good design creates value and improves our quality of life. Key to our creative process is a meaningful and interactive collaboration with our clients. Reading the needs of the client inspires responsive solutions. Each project has a distinctive context: functional requirements, site conditions, building code requirements, and budget parameters. The challenge is always how to envision something that doesn’t yet exist. Our firm, through strategic explorations, analyzes design options with the goal of achieving clarity and essential creative solutions. We are inspired and creatively obsessed with every detail of shaping space to realize our clients’ vision.

Our fundamental desire is to create meaningful experiential architecture – a rich alchemy of essential qualities. In exploring the potential of spatial definition; scale and proportion; the choreography of movement through space; light, view, materials and craft, we define our work. The poetry of architecture, for us, lies in rigorous yet simple, almost effortless design solutions with moments of delight.

Ellen Fortin grew up in Detroit, influenced by its art, architecture, soul music, and the boom of industry.

Following an early interest in art explored at Cranbrook Academy of Art and the Detroit College for Creative Studies, Ellen left Detroit to study design, receiving a Master of Architecture with Distinction from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, preceded by a Bachelor of Environmental Design with Honors from the University of Colorado. She has more than 30 years of experience as an architect, registered in the states of Massachusetts and Oregon.

In 2000, Ellen formed her own design studio: Ellen Fortin Design + Architecture, working on residences, commercial projects, art studios, co-housing, and furniture + industrial design projects. At this scale of work, she is able to focus on the craft of making, fully integrating the many disciplines of design: art, architecture, industrial, product, and landscape design into her projects. Ellen collaborates with contractors, craftsmen, and artists on her projects to create custom designed elements that define her work.

Prior to starting her own firm, Ellen worked in Portland, Oregon with BORA Architects, on educational, corporate and retail projects. As a consultant for Nike Inc., she was a designer for their emerging retail stores, product display and packaging. Earlier in her career, Ellen worked with the internationally recognized firm of Cambridge Seven Associates, on large cultural, museum and academic projects, fully integrating architecture, exhibit, and industrial design. Her design expertise and projects have been recognized with numerous local and national design awards and her work has been included in national and international publications such as Architecture, Architectural Record, Abitare and GA International.

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