Architecture of the Great Plains


Earthlodge Designs provides architectural services on a sliding scale basis. Initial consultation is always free.


Our team is composed of architects, designers, ecologists and horticulturalists working in concert with our clients to create beautiful, enduring, responsible and sacred dwellings. Earthlodges are designed for living ecologically, conservatively, organically and spiritually. We provide a full range of professional architectural design services including but not limited to:

Site Selection

We help our clients analyze potential building sites and understand the unique characteristics of those sites as well as the resources and hazards that may be present. » Solar orientation and optimization » Slope and aspect analysis » Soil and geological analysis » Vegetation surveys » Available energy sources » Water resources » Risks assessment for flood, fire, wind, snow loading, and other environmental factors Earthlodge Designs optimizes the often abundant solar resource by incorporating passive solar heating and evaporative cooling.  We recommend that our clients utilize solar arrays and solar hot water collectors as well as other renewable energy sources. We also incorporate passive cooling strategies such as vegetative screens, sun sails, and earthen berms to reduce heat loads in the summer months.  Our solar shading strategy often extends into our landscape where we develop the landscape design in concert with the architecture and the natural ecosystems. We believe that design inspired by indigenous cultures in concert with native plant materials can provide guidance to create responsible, durable, resilient dwelling, garden, landscape and ecosystem as one.

Development Approvals

We can assist our clients and work with their local jurisdiction to obtain necessary approvals and permits. We engage local code and building officials in a dialogue to ensure confidence and support of our client's project.

Design Services

We listen to our clients to understand their goals and needs.  We present concepts and ideas with hand sketches, 3 dimensional models and computer simulations for our client's review. We develop detailed drawings and models in response to our client's input and thereby jointly create appropriate solutions.

Material Selection

As the design evolves,  material choices are made with owner input.  We source local, natural building materials and sustainable resources with multiple beneficial attributes.  We often suggest strawbale for perimeter walls because of its high insulation value, superior sound dampening, excellent fire resistance and positive environmental properties.  Other materials may include beetle killed, lodgepole pine as a structural timber frame and natural plasters made of native soils for wall finishes.

Landscape Design

With input from our clients, we assess the local ecosystem and native plant communities and provide guidance for integrating the architecture into the landscape.  We strive to assist our client in the process of becoming part of those natural communities.

Contract Documentation (Plans, Specifications and Project Manuals)

Our services include the preparation of drawings (plans), specifications (the specific products and materials to be used) and the project manual (how the construction is to be executed) which become the basis for a construction contract.

Cost Estimating and Contract Negotiation

We work with contractors to instill the greatest level of confidence in cost estimates provided for the owner. We assist our clients in negotiating with their chosen contractors to establish a fee basis (including lump sum, fixed fee, and percentage) and total contract amount.

Construction Reviews and Approvals

Our on-site field reviews of the construction process ensure that the work is executed in keeping with the contract. We make sure that the contractor's applications for payment are reasonable, correct and appropriate. Our experience and diligence during the construction process minimizes errors, call backs and warranty claims.

Design/Build Collaboration

Earthlodge Designs is uniquely qualified to participate in a design-build relationship with many contractors.  We have extensive hands-on experience in design and construction.  We understand the details, have knowledge of erection sequencing and know techniques that can save time and money in the construction process.


Earthlodge Designs seeks to create dwellings that are safe, environmentally compatible, energy efficient, resource conserving and constructed with appropriate local resources. Each home is a collaboration with the owner and the land.  We utilize patterns found in nature including fractal geometry and self similarity to arrange and create space.  Earthlodge Designs strives to create dwellings which honor and respect the Earth and the natural world.  We seek your partnership in creating responsible shelter.