Home & Design September 26, 2017
Architect Profile: Michael Doty
Bringing a vision to life

The team behind Michael Doty Associates has been creating innovative and inspired design solutions since 1993, and for AIA and principal architect Michael Doty, the work is just as inspiring and intriguing today as it was over two decades ago.

Doty grew up in a farming and ranching community in eastern Oregon. From an early age, he recalls a fascination with how things are put together and an intrigue with each piece that makes up the puzzle.

Michael Doty

Michael Doty in his office. Photo by Dev Khalsa

“When you are young, you may not really know what something is, but you start to notice that each part is a piece that’s needed,” he explained in a recent interview. “When you build things, it takes many individual pieces of art to construct it. Architecture appealed to me because of the broad spectrum of things that come together to make a finished product.”

Doty and his team, which comprises architects Nicole Ramey and Brenda Moczygemba, produce a wide spectrum of projects that covers the gamut of design, from commercial projects, like the Zions Bank branch in Ketchum and the Swiftsure Ranch Therapeutic Equestrian Center, to mountain-modern homes and mixed-use apartment complexes. For each project, Doty welcomes the fresh task.

The process begins by working with key individuals and collaborating to reach the desired outcome.

“We work with people closely, trying to bring their vision to fruition, and we work with consultants. There is a lot of collaboration that I find to be rewarding and interesting,” he said.

But when it comes to the nitty-gritty structural aspect, Doty’s novel spirit ignites.

“The number of things that go into making a project is myriad,” he explained. “Pulling all of that together is a challenge that doesn’t get old for me. If you look at it all at one time, it can be overwhelming. But as an architect, you are trained to break it down into parts, so you can solve it in an orderly manner.”

Doty’s firm thrives, he says, in the constant challenge of diving into a new project, while finding ways to incorporate different components from one project to another.

“We like the cross pollination of the different building types,” he said. “You are able to drag ideas from one project to another that you wouldn’t do otherwise, allowing for fun ‘ah-ha’ moments where you see something really work. If you weren’t working in both realms, you wouldn’t have tried that or come up with something of that nature.”

For instance, when Doty works on an office building, his goal is to make the people inside it feel better at the end of the day, which sometimes means incorporating components from an open floor plan inside a home or a particularly welcoming design.

“We would do it in a way that you feel better in that building, and you truly want to go there,” Doty said. “At the end of the project, we want it to be an enjoyable place to be that is healthy and allows you to get more done. There is a benefit for the employees and the employers.”

And while each project brings its own set of challenges, Doty says the biggest task his firm faces is keeping up with the ever-changing technology. Some changes, like a new building code, are expected. But technology brings a flood of information that may not always hold true.

“It is so important to be able to tell what is good and what is bad information,” Doty said. “You always have information overload, and you can get good info that looks just as good as bad information. How do you solve it? Many times, that falls on us. We have to figure out what is the right way to move forward.”

This summer, Doty and his firm have just broken ground on the Argyros Performing Arts Center, a 25,0000-square-foot theater on Main Street that is slated to have 450 seats, a café, and a 2,000-square-foot plaza.

“Since I’ve lived here, the arts have really blossomed,” Doty said. “The new center we are working on will change the performing arts opportunities in town,”

For Doty, one of the biggest rewards is knowing a project like the theater or a new home will contribute to people’s lives and change many for the better.

“We want to take a person’s mind’s eye and their vision, and bring it to fruition in a way that exceeds their expectations,” he said. “When it actually happens, at the end of a project, and people are thrilled with the outcome, that is super gratifying. You have actually changed someone’s life for the better.”

This article appears in the Fall 2017 Issue of Sun Valley Magazine.