History & Philosophy
Hands On. It’s an apt description. Hands on a pencil, sketching out the image of a building that doesn’t exist yet. Hands on a chisel, a plane, a clamp. A welding rod. Old school. No 3D printing, no maker-bots. I like to see the fingerprints of the sculptor in the finished piece, the smudges and eraser shavings on a pencil drawing.
What motivated me to become an architect was watching my cabinetmaker father in his study, drawing up the next kitchen he was going to build, then working in the shop and seeing that image turn into a physical reality. I thought it was fascinating to be a part of that process. I just took that experience to the next level: designing whole structures.
I liken the various parts of a building to those of the human body. Bones, skin, muscles, organs and circulatory systems. I like to expose all of the pieces and express the logic behind how they’re put together. I don’t design anything without knowing how it’s going to be built. It’s in my genes. Look through our portfolio of projects and you'll see many of the same themes repeated; the justaposition of different geometries, articulation of multiple roof forms, and a straighforward expression of the structure supporting it all.
Our work can be seen all over Teton County, perhaps where you’d least expect it. Public restrooms. HandsOn Design is responsible for the public restrooms built by the Parks and Recreation Department throughout the county, as well as the Housing Trust affordable homes on East Kelley Avenue. We’ve also designed corporate headquarters buildings in neighboring counties, historic ranch renovations and art galleries in the Town of Jackson, in addition to numerous private homes. We also design and fabricate more intimate items like furniture, fireplaces, doors and hardware. Scroll around and check out our work.
Paul Duncker, AIA
I received my architecture degree in New York City in 1985, my license in 1988. Jackson Hole became home in 1995, and I established HandsOn Design in 1999. The size of the firm has ranged between one and five staff members, depending on our workload. The Great Recession dealt a siginificant blow to everyone in the construction industry, and we were no exception. We're still here, but staying purposely small. We take on one project at a time for the most part, and the principle of the firm does all of the design and project management, along with most of the drafting. There's 30 years of experience in every pencil line and every keystroke.
In addition to my professional practice, I've served as a Teton County Planning Commissioner for 10 years while the county rewrote and implemented its Comprehensive Plan. Not every aspect of the final product is exactly the way I might have liked, but it's a well though out consensus based plan and I'm proud to have been a part of it's creation.
Click on the link below to access some of the writings related to the process and my personal vision of the potential future development landscape of Teton County Wyoming (if you're so inclined.)
Awards and Publications
Wyoming AIA Award of Honor Red House 1999
AIA Center for Communities by Design
Certificate of Recognition for Design Excellence In Affordable Green Housing 2005
- East Kelly Avenue Housing
Environmental Design and Construction Magazine- Excellence in Design 2007
- Alta House, Alta, WY
Architectural Record, "All in the Family" Sept. 1994
- custom cabinetry, Flatiron Residence, New York, NY
Fine Homebuilding, "Red House," Summer 2002
- annual "Houses" issue
Fine Homebuilding, "Factory Built Houses" July 2004
- construction technologies
Builder, "Beyond the Box" Fall 2004
- SIPs panel construction
Building Products, "Panel Power" Jan/ Feb 2005
- SIPs panel construction
Residential Architect, "Mindful Choices" March 2005 - sustainable design
Homestead, "In With the Old, Out With the New" Spring 2004 - renovation and remodeling
Homestead, "Elegant and Industrious" Spring 2005 - kitchen renovation
Homestead, "It's Easy Being Green" Spring 2006
- sustainable design
JH Style, "Mountain Dreaming" Fall 2015 - personal profile
Taunton Press, Built-In Furniture by Jim Tolpin 1997 - stair cabinet/loft bed
Taunton Press, Small Homes 2003
"Design Ideas for Great American Homes" series
The Farmhouse, New Inspiration for the Classic American Home 2004
- Jean Rehcamp Larson, Taunton Press,