Practice

MNichols Design is a full-service Architectural Practice specializing in Single Family Residential, Mixed Use Multifamily Residential, and Commercial Projects. MNichols Design pursues a Client-first approach and defines project success by how well each design achieves what the Client is envisioning. MNichols Design focuses on projects in California and Washington State with an expertise in the Southern Californian Region.
Let our Design Services elevate your project and bring your design vision to life!
Single family multi family commercial.
MNichols Design Provides the following services:
  • Site Analysis and Selection
  • Feasibility Studies
  • TOC Incentive & Affordable Housing
  • Analysis
  • SB9 Lot Splits, Duplexes, & Two Unit Developments
  • By-Right Lot Splits & Lot Mergers
  • Single Family & Multi-family ADUs
  • Spacing Planning & Programming
  • Concept Design
  • Traditional Schematic Design thru Constrution Documents & Admin
  • Remodels, Additions, Tenant Improvements, and New Construction
  • Interior Design
  • Landscape Concept Design

People

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Mark Nichols, AIA, LEED AP BD+C

Mark Nichols brings over 15 years of experience and passion for design as an Architect committed to crafting uplifting spaces. He is licensed in the States of California and Washington and is a LEED Accredited Professional (LEED AP BD+C). Originally from the scenic Northwest, Mark carries a respect and admiration for the natural world that informs his world view and that is reflected by his educational background of Undergraduate Studies at Whitman College and a Masters of Architecture from the University of Oregon with a focus on Sustainability.

Mark honed his Architectural knowledge, skills, and sensibilities at high-end firms such as GGLO, Baylis Architects, LARGE Architecture, and KAA Design – all top tier practices focused on delivering exceptional Residential Projects at all scales, from Custom Homes to large Mixed-Use Multi-family Developments.

This background provides Mark with a diverse understanding of Commercial and Residential projects, which engrains a well-rounded design approach that can adapt to a variety of Clients – from Developers to Homeowners. Mark views communication and listening closely to the Client as the key to a project’s success; bolstered by his unwavering drive to “Get it Right”.

When Mark isn’t engaged in the static world of building design, he is often found enjoying the kinetic world – keeping himself moving through hiking, skiing, or chasing his two sons. Mark has a love for life and believes that buildings should enable the meaningful and exceptional moments spent with one another that define a life well-lived.

Kristine Ter Arsenyan, AIA, NCARB

Kristine Ter Arsenyan is a California licensed Architect based in Woodland Hills, CA, with a rich background in architectural design and project management. Kristine holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree achieved with Magna Cum Laude honors from Woodbury University School of Architecture and demonstrates a strong commitment to the field of architecture at a young age.

Throughout Kristine’s career, she has made substantial contributions to prominent firms like RBB Architects Inc. and Honles + Zepeda Architects, playing a crucial role in designing, drafting, and coordinating projects across healthcare, senior housing, multifamily, and single-family residential sectors. In her current role as a Project Manager at MNichols Design, Kristine continues to lead and manage diverse projects, combining her architectural expertise with comprehensive skills in construction documentation, BIM modeling, and client coordination, thereby contributing to the dynamic landscape of architectural innovation and excellence.

Kristine holds the belief that her contributions in the field of architecture are significant, emphasizing the responsibility to enhance the quality of life through innovation and design. She advocates for creating well-considered space planning and designs tailored to each client’s unique needs, recognizing the crucial role architects play in improving living environments.

A woman in a black turtleneck sitting at a desk with blueprints and an engineering textbook, looking at the camera.

Principles

Nature function client logo.

MNichols Design is defined by these 3 Guiding Principles

Protective of, Reverence for, & Inspiration from Nature:
The Built Environment must work together with the Natural Environment, with the later capable of uplifting the former
Function-Based form finding:
Each design move is grounded in reason and the ultimate form is derived from meaningful considerations
Architect as agent of the client:
Design must be strongly rooted in the Client’s goals and aspirations so that it achieves the best version of the Client’s vision…not the Architect’s
Consequently, in following these Guiding Principles, the most appealing and effective design solutions will be those that draw inspiration from nature where each well-reasoned architectural choice maximizes the intended use of the design so that the Client’s goals can be met efficiently while minimizing negative impacts to the surrounding environment — both built and natural.

Process

Each design is honed over the course of the rigorous processed outlined below:

Concept / Schematic Design:

  • Feasibility Studies and Site Selection.
  • Understanding the Client’s vision, their aesthetic preferences, their functional needs.
  • Compiling inspiration imagery obtained through magazines, online sources (Pinterest, Houzz, social media, etc.), as well as other past work and synthesizing it into a design vocabulary – a cohesive design outline.
  • Information gathering and questionnaires to better understand the Client and what they want to accomplish with their project.
  • Adjacency Studies and Programming (the listing of desired spaces / features / equipment and their corresponding space requirements.
  • Initial Conceptual Budget Setting.
  • Processing all of the information gathered in this phase and balancing what can be built with what the Client Needs VS Wants VS Can Afford.
  • Analyzing different design options through an iterative process to see which best satisfies the Client’s needs and accomplishes their vision.
  • Decide on preferred iteration that will be further developed in subsequent Design Phases.
An illustration of a funnel with a house and a funnel.
A diagram showing the process of building a house.

Design Development:

  • Develop the preferred design and transform it from concept into a competent building design.
  • Overlay important Consultant information (i.e. drawings of the Civil Engineer and Structural Engineer) to create a fully coordinated design that can be successfully built.
  • Using visualization tools such as renderings and rendered video walkthroughs to find areas of the design that need more attention and refinement.
  • Decide on key building elements such as doors & windows, finishes, equipment, etc.

Concept / Schematic Design:

  • Finalize the design and design documentation so that the project intent is clear and easy to understand so that it can be permitted expeditiously as well as Bid & Built effectively by the General Contractor.

  • Further detailing of the project – construction detailing of challenging building conditions.

  • Identifying areas of the design that need more elaboration, i.e. unique conditions that may not be readily understood from just the plans, elevations, and sections.

  • Locking-in building product selection

  • In-depth review of interior finishes.

  • Highly developed renderings and rendered video walk-throughs to provide a clear picture of what the finished product will be – both for Client sign-off and for General Contractor reference.

  • The Construction Documents phase produces a thorough legal document – the “Construction Document Set” – that establishes the intent of the project as well as provides a Complete set of Drawings for the GC to build off of. It also is the point of reference for any questions that might come up during Construction.

     

A diagram showing the different stages of a project.
A diagram of a house and scales.

Bidding & Negotiation:

  • Finding preferred General Contractors
  • Facilitating the Bid process for GCs, answering questions and providing Bid Addenda
  • If Bids are high, value engineering to bring the Project back to Budget
  • GC Site Visitis and Interviews
  • Distributing and signing of Contracts
  • The Bidding & Negotiation phase seeks to find the right balance of Cost of GC with their respective skill and quality
  • Value Engineering in this phase is often essential for making the proper adjustments to the Design so that the appropriate GC for the job can fit their Bid to the Budget. etc.

Construction Process / Administration:

  • During Construction, the Architect acts as the Owner’s / Client’s agent , representing their interests and ensuring that the design is built according to intent i.e. per the Construction Documents
  • Works with the Design Team and Consultants to oversee Construction Process including Site Observations at key Construction Milestones
  • Reviews and responds to RFIs, Change Orders, Submittals, and other GC inquiries
  •  Ensures proper construction documentation and communication
  • Problem solves issues that might come up with the full Design Team including GC and the Owner in order to find solutions that either maintain or improve the design
  • Verifies that important Life Safety features of the Design are built per intent, i.e. compliant emergency egress & egress openings, guardrails, waterproofing, venting, etc.
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