He was an eighth grader in his hometown of Pocatello, Idaho, and had been given an art class assignment to draw a house from a two-point perspective. He did just that, and the experience, along with the inspiration of watching his father practice his carpentry trade for most of his young life, convinced him that he wanted a career in designing buildings.
That lifelong professional pursuit came despite the fact that his house drawing was, in his own unambiguous terms, “Ugly.”
“It was a one-story house and the perspective that I picked was so extreme that the stairs were so huge that it looked like the Jolly Green Giant would have been comfortable on them,” he says with a chuckle.
Along with founder Brock Wagstaff, Rogers is a partner at Wagstaff + Rogers Architects, a Miller Avenue-based firm that long been at the forefront of green design across an array of custom residential and commercial projects in Marin County and well beyond.
Rogers joined Wagstaff in 2004, drawn to one another by their shared focus on “traditional craftsmanship with a passion for new technologies, materials and a strong philosophy about art in architecture,” as well as their shared love of the outdoors.
Rogers recalls that when he went to interview with Wagstaff those many years ago, he worried a bit about showing up on his motorcycle, his long-preferred method of travel. Wagstaff, an avid rock climber, didn’t flinch.
The pair also connected in terms of design aesthetic. “Brock designs buildings on a scale that you can feel how a family interacts with each other and the area,” says Rogers. “He’s mostly into craftsmen and cottage style design, which was different from the commercial work I had been doing. But he allowed me to bring my modern contemporary taste with me as well.”
“He’s kind of a father figure to me and he allowed me to experiment and focus on things I’m passionate about like green design,” adds Rogers, who became a partner in the firm in 2015. “And we’ve found clients over the years who are just as passionate about it.”
Born in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and raised in Pocatello, Rogers enlisted in the U.S. Navy, later returning home to build houses and go to architectural school, attending Idaho State University before getting his undergraduate and master’s degrees at University of Idaho. He did an internship at a firm in Baltimore, Md., working on the extension of the BWI Airport, and also did an internship with a commercial firm near the Ferry Building.
“I had a great experience seeing the city from that vantage point,” Rogers says. “That time out here established that I wanted to live and work in the Bay Area. It’s such a diverse culture and it’s very rare that you find that in other places in the country.”
He later took a job at that same firm, staying for more than three years before that fateful interview with Wagstaff. He commuted back and forth from the city for a while before moving to Mill Valley.
“The outdoors just won me over,” he says. ”For 95 percent of the year, I can go hiking and biking and ride my motorcycle – all in a place that is world renowned.”
Wagstaff and Rogers’ time together has been fruitful, to say the least. Some of the highlights include a sustainable design in St. Helena that Rogers says he’s most proud of, as well as the San Rafael Home in Belvedere, whose design was inspired by a trip to Indonesia a couple of years ago as well as the influence of Wagstaff, who is a partner in the Bali Beach House.
The duo’s Austin Ave. in San Anselmo was the first home GreenPoint Rated under the town’s new ordinance requirements and was featured in Flourish Magazine, while their “huge experiment in sustainable material” for the Marin Builders Association in San Rafael has stood the test of time and the firm has remodeled, added space and subdivided space it several times for over 10 years now.