About Alan Ness

Architect and Principal, Ten Directions Design

I founded Ten Directions Design in Seattle in 1990. During the previous twelve years I worked with major architectural firms across the United States.


Registered in the State of Washington, #10449.


Boston Architectural College, Boston, MA. Bachelor of Architecture, 1982. 
Hampshire College, Amherst, MA. Bachelor of Arts, 1975.


  • NWEBG Green Home Tour, New House in Shoreline, April 2012

  • NW Eco-Building Guild 10x10x10 Green Design Alternate, September 2008.

  • PNA Home Tour, second-story addition and interior renovation, May 2008.

  • Parent Map, quoted in The Joy of Cozy by Fiona Cohen, July 2007. 

  • NW Eco-Building Guild 10x10x10 Green Design Award, September 2005.


Northwest Eco-Building Guild Member since 1994. 
United Way: MAP (Management Assistance Program)
Volunteer Projects: 

  • Food Bank, Tahoma Coordinating Council, Maple Valley, WA. 

  • Food Bank, Jewish Family Services, Seattle, WA. 

  • Design Consult, Multi-Faith Works, Seattle, WA. 

  • Design Consult, Habitat for Humanity, Seattle, WA. 


  • Phinney Ridge Well Home Program, Design and Remodel of Second Story  Additions, Dormers and Attic Conversions, since 2007. 

  • Phinney Ridge Well Home Program, Design and Remodel of Basements, since 2005.

  • Phinney Ridge Well Home Program, The Design Process, 1991 - 2005.

  • KUOW: Weekday, Not So Big House discussion, 2002.

  • UW Experimental College, Move or Remodel, (co-taught w/Realtor) 1995-1996. 

  • Home Business Network, Improving Your Home Office, 1991.

  • Retirement Housing Fair, Adapting Your Present Home, 1991. 


  • Continuing Education Units per State Requirements, since February 2012.

  • Sustainable Material Rating - PHAROS, August 2008.

  • Developments in Lighting Design, December 2007.

  • Grid-Tied Solar Electric Systems, September 2006.

  • Solutions for Wood in Green Building, March 2006.

  • Improving Indoor Air Quality, February 2006.

  • It's Not Easy Being Green: Green Building Retrofit, February 2006.

  • Build Green Conference, October 2003.

  • Mold and Moisture in Buildings, November 2002.

  • Green World Conference, May 2001.

  • Healthy House Training, American Lung Association, April 2000.

  • Sustainable Building NW Conference, October 1997.

  • Building with Value Workshop, October 1996.

  • Earthquake Hazards Class, Historic Seattle, October 1995.

  • Eco-Building Guild Topic Meetings, since 1995.

  • Lighting Design Lab Classes, since 1992.

  •  Indoor Air Quality Seminar, Healthy Building Associates, March 1992.

  •  Coordinating the Building Process, Harvard University Special Programs, 1983.

I have many sources of inspiration as a designer. My early studies in Environmental Psychology were an attempt to understand the relationship between people and their environment. This led to Architecture School, where I encountered fundamental lessons about working in space with three-dimensional reality. It was only after my initial professional training that I encountered the deeply-thought and yet practical advice of the "Pattern Language" approach. Finally, working with Contemplative Design taught me further harmonizing of the patterns and styles of our life.

“Alan is well-organized, an excellent listener, and cheerful about adjusting his ideas to suit the client’s requirements. He’s not given to over-designing and he is capable of finding smart and simple solutions to problems. Alan is also friendly and easy to work with.”
— Adam Woog, Karen Kent and Leah Woog, New Second Story Client, Seattle, WA