Jim Graham is a founding partner of Seattle-based Graham Baba Architects. The firm is widely recognized for work that showcases the craft of building and that emphasizes the experience of space and place. Graham’s work, and that of the firm, encompasses a wide range of project typologies including commercial design, residences, workplaces, and cultural spaces. Graham, and co-founder Brett Baba, believe every project—from adaptive reuse of existing buildings to new construction—provides an opportunity to reveal and celebrate authentic materials in their natural state. Whether enlivening an urban community or creating a quiet refuge, the firm strives to design venues that resonate with memory and a sense of discovery.
In addition to a series of notable residences, the firm found early success transforming existing, underutilized buildings, as exemplified by Seattle projects Melrose Market and the Kolstrand Building. New, mixed-use infill buildings (including Building 115, which features retail and office space and a residence) were also part of the firm’s early work. Projects of this type continued with 325 Westlake/MadArt, an adaptive reuse project that merged an art-making studio with residences, and the MadArt foundation’s headquarters. Working with owners to redevelop their buildings led directly to working with the tenants who occupy them. The firm soon began creating signature spaces for some of the city’s top chefs, including restaurants for James Beard Award nominees and winners.
By 2010, the firm’s work had expanded to include office space and public markets. Pybus Market in Wenatchee, completed in 2013, further solidified the firm’s expertise in creating successful public venues. Cowiche Kitchen and Ice Bar received a Main Street Award for its impact in revitalizing downtown Yakima, while the Washington Fruit & Produce Co. headquarters project, also in Yakima, was recently recognized with a 2016 Northwest and Pacific Region Honor Award and a Seattle AIA Merit Award.
More recently, the firm has been sought out for its ability to provide experience design for large-scale development projects, which has enabled the firm to scale up its practice. Collaborations include work with ZGF, Kieran Timberlake, and LMN Architects (with whom it is working on the Washington State Convention Center Expansion and 4/C residential tower in Seattle). The firm’s recent project Chophouse Row, designed in collaboration with SKL Architects, was a finalist for Urban Land Institute’s Global Award for Excellence, which recognizes projects for their positive civic impact. Current and recent work includes public market halls in Wooster, Massachusetts, and Madison, Wisconsin, the Pratt Fine Art Center in Seattle, a gallery for world-renowned glass artist Lino Tagliapietra in Seattle, the Yakima Public Plaza in collaboration with GGN, and the adaptive reuse of an historic train station in Napa, California.