About McKay Architecture

McKay Architecture, a boutique architecture practice, has been in business since 1990 providing architectural services to individuals, business owners, and developers. I am now based in Wellington and Martinborough, New Zealand and am working on projects throughout New Zealand. McKay Architecture is a registered New Zealand architecture practice.

My latest completed project is a restored 160-year-old villa in Greytown that has been getting national attention from Fairfax Media for its innovative reuse of original old-growth timber and period details married with 21st century design and building technology.

My first project in New Zealand, a new residence in Martinborough, was completed in 2008 and has been featured in a couple of publications, including the cover and accompanying article in Trends Magazine. Other projects include an energy efficient lifestyle residence in Northland, a green residence in Martinborough in the Wairarapa, and a nearly off the grid working farm-house for dry-stock farmers in the Wairarapa. I have also undertaking modern and traditional renovations to existing structures in Wellington and the Wairarapa and have participated in the design of a mixed-use apartment/commercial development in Christchurch and even spent a year ‘on the tools’, working with a local builder.

The majority of my completed projects have been located in California, primarily in the Silicon Valley and San Francisco Bay Area and also scattered all around greater California. In 2012, After 22 years of practice in California, I closed my Berkeley office and relocated to New Zealand. While I maintain my California architecture license and occasionally take on projects for clients in California, my focus is on interesting new design challenges in the Southern Hemisphere.

I obtained both my BA and MA in Architecture from U.C. Berkeley. After my BA degree, I worked for a year ‘on the tools’ as an apprentice in construction, learning everything I could about the way buildings are actually built and most importantly, how to get on with builders and clients. I then apprenticed with Jarvis Architects, a Berkeley firm specializing in custom and historic residential and commercial projects. After four years of architecture apprenticeship, I returned to University for two years, earning my Masters degree. Following graduation, I became a registered architect and practiced architecture for four years in partnership with another Berkeley architect before starting McKay architecture in 1995. I designed my first project in New Zealand in 2008 and made the permanent shift from California to New Zealand in 2012.

Michael’s CV

My Work

Most of my work in New Zealand is newly completed and hasn’t been photographed yet so I have far fewer New Zealand projects to show on this site. Most of the work featured here is the work I completed throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and greater California. The conditions (climate, seismicity, building materials and methods) in California and New Zealand are quite similar and cultural influences and histories almost parallel so much of my Californai work translates well to New Zealand. That said, my work is taking new direction in my new home.

My work ranges from new contemporary residences to new traditional residences, from complete makeovers to residential remodels working within the style of the original building. I also design a variety of landscapes and landscape structures , usually in association with my residential project work. These include structures such as pool houses, pergolas, decks, terraces, and swimming pools, spas, and water features.

Whilst most of my work is residential I have also completed more than a few commercial projects. These range from new office buildings to tenant improvements. I have designed a mixed use (residential/office) building, several small office buildings, an auto dealership, and an outdoor eating / performance space for an existing restaurant.

My designs encompass a range of traditional and modern styles. I work with existing historic buildings, restoring, remodeling or adding to them in their own style. I also design new buildings in older historic styles and continue to work in new and original contemporary directions.

What's New

2016 Project featured in Houzz
The ‘Country Retreat’ project was featured in the Houzz Ideabook titled “Picture Perfect: 25 Decks That Look Into the Wilderness. Perhaps it should have been titled ‘Decks that look into nature’ since only a few of the featured decks looked into wilderness and most, like our overlook pastoral scenes heavily shaped by human activity. But that’s …

2016 Project featured in Houzz Read More »

2012 Stylish Homes/Capital Ideas
Our Martinborough New Zealand home was featured as the cover story for  The Dominion Post 2012 Summer “Stylish Homes Capital ideas” section of the newspaper on 8 October 2012. The paper featured five full pages of dramatic photographs by Wellington photographer John Nicholson and story about our move to New Zealand by writer Philip Wakefield. …

2012 Stylish Homes/Capital Ideas Read More »

News and Events

2016 Project featured in Houzz

The ‘Country Retreat’ project was featured in the Houzz Ideabook titled “Picture Perfect: 25 Decks That Look Into the Wilderness. Perhaps it should have been titled

Read More »
Publications and Awards

2015 Sculpting Hillsides Book

I’m pleased to have my ‘Tuscan from Tudor‘ project featured in the Sculpting Hillsides with Decorative Concrete book written by Bay Area concrete guru Tom

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