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CDG Firm History

A short history of Cushman Design Group

While the firm, Cushman Design Group, was officially established in January 1988, my driving interests and compelling curiosity about the ways people make conscious design decisions extend back to when I was an adolescent.

It was then, while sitting on the back seat of my parents' Packard, I peered out the windows to view the passing farm buildings, rural town structures and the cityscapes of New York and Philadelphia. There were also the entrancing, yearly family visits to a great camp in the southern Adirondacks, to the beaches along the eastern end of Long Island, and to the upper reaches of the Delaware River. Later, in my twenties and early thirties, artistic, academic and educational tenures in Sitka, Ames, St. Louis and Minneapolis energetically overlapped with extended wilderness canoe travel in Northern Maine, throughout several Canadian Provincial Parks and near Ely, Minnesota.

All along these many varied and diverse highways and waterways were all sorts of buildings. Someone had designed them. Someone had built them. This was, and continues to be, completely fascinating to me.

So, as a commitment to the craft of architecture, I combined the listening and teaching skills of my training as an educator, my years of studying the art, craft and styles of architecture, with my hands on experience building barns, outbuildings, homes, camps, furniture and cabinets with my years of observing how people make decisions about just about anything that matters to us.

The Cushman Design Group was founded as a way for me, and my colleagues, to be in relationship with people who are searching for truth, for beauty, for craftsmanship, for comfort, and for energy efficiency in the buildings where they chose to live and work. Our work displays many architectural styles, clearly a direct reflection of the diversity of the people we are privileged to call our clients. What is more true, and is the less obvious part of our work, is our signature ethos – listening to unique stories and helping to find and then evoke that which will help make life and relationships richer, healthier and more connected to the natural world.

The Cushman Design Group was also fundamentally founded on the principle of responsible collaboration. Within the design studio, I call this “jazz”. Within the construction world, collaboration empowers the men and women who manifest our buildings, to bring their very best skills, craftsmanship and vigorous thinking to each project. The result of this approach has been the establishment of trusting and enduring relationships with remarkable contractors, artisans and artists.

Over the years, the complexity of building science, the cost of energy, environmental politics and the worldwide diversity of available building materials has made our choice-making a more curvilinear process. Still, at the heart, most of us yearn for comfort, for beauty, for opportunities to express gratefulness and stewardship for that which is true in our lives now and for as far as we can see into the tomorrow.

Good, thoughtfully designed buildings reflect who we are and how we envision ourselves to be. They manifest the sacredness of everyday life and remind us of the necessary and balancing aspects of prospect and refuge. They inspire us and hold us. It matters not if the building is an estate or a camp, a working barn or an artist studio. I consider my job fulfilled and satisfied if our client, the building and the land are content.