Schwartz and Peoples Architects Home



Group meeting with Adat Shalom.  Group participation can  build a community as well as a building.

Group participation can build a community as well as a building

How we work

It is easy to work with us. We are experienced in helping clients take advantage of opportunities and avoid problems during all the steps that lead to a successful building, from public buildings to private residences

Clients discuss their program and goals with us. Then we develop an array of rough, schematic design options with construction cost estimates. Usually we offer clients three to five basic ideas depending on the project. These may include, for example: the least-cost scheme, the scheme that best takes advantage of view, the most energy-efficient scheme, and the most over-the-top scheme, etc.

We discuss such options with clients to help you decide which direction to pursue to achieve design goals. As the design develops, the ideas become clearer and the design and cost estimates become more refined. It usually takes three or four cycles to finalize a design. The process helps our clients control and understand the design, and helps us determine what our clients want. Clients often change some of their original ideas during this process. That’s normal…not a problem. From start to finish, we are in close touch with clients


Changing your mind is not a problem





Team Work

We are experienced team leaders. The best way to produce a great building is to have everyone involved working as a team. The owners, architects, contractors, and consultants are members of the team. On a recent residential project in Kalorama, DC, the team included the owners, architects and contractors, as well as a zoning attorney for a required variance, a kitchen designer, and a structural engineer to help us design a large roof deck on this historic structure. For large groups, an architectural project is as much an opportunity for building community, as it is a construction effort. We have years of experience generating group consensus and enthusiasm. Over time, we have built up a large pool of contractors and consultants whom we trust and who trust us.

La Clinica del Pueblo site meeting with the owner, contractor and architect
Architect, owner and contractor on the site, working as a team

Gate Street Clinic  - 1970







Schwartz and Peoples Architects (formerly Robert Schwartz Associates Architects) was founded in 1975. Robert Schwartz has been practicing architecture in Washington, DC as a principle since 1970. Keith Peoples joined the firm in 1988.

We have worked on many different project types from small-scale projects to multi-million dollar jobs. We have worked for the DC Public Housing Authority and have designed high-end custom homes and restaurants. We have designed complex adaptive reuse projects that require spatial, structural, and mechanical agility. We have worked with master craftsmen designing religious artifacts for religious buildings. We have built on difficult sites, and in historic districts.

We are a small firm, so Bob Schwartz and Keith Peoples work on every project. We bring our expertise and experience to bear on each job.

Grace Church Condominium -1989 - the interior at the start of construction
La Clinica del Pueblo -2003



Cost Control

We understand that cost estimates are an essential part of design decision-making. The accuracy of construction cost estimates increases as the design/construction documents process moves toward completion.

During the schematic design phase, we generally estimate costs on a square foot basis based on recent projects. We make adjustments for complexity and scope-of-work. We often work with contractors or cost-estimators to control costs. Because of our experience, we have seen which materials hold up under the toughest use. We can help you consider life cycle costs when making design decisions.


Hemeji Castle - Japan

Castle in Japan

Church inFinland

Church in Finland

R & D

We do some sort of research for every project, usually proportional to the projects size. This research falls into several categories: history of an existing building or building type; analysis of examples of similar project's; identification of cost-effective techniques and materials; evaluation of new products; developing new computer capabilities; traveling to see exceptional architecture around the world; attending lectures; and reading architecture–related books and articles.

For example, since we began working on synagogues, we have bought and read five books on the history of the building type and reviewed numerous articles. We have visited 35 noteworthy synagogues locally, nationally, and worldwide. We have interviewed administrators, rabbis, cantors, congregants, caterers, custodians, and teachers in many of these synagogues. We have calculated the direction of Jerusalem at 3°-50’ South of East from Washington. The Torah provided guidance for the Sanctuary (Exodus 35), and the ark (Genesis 3:7) at Adat Shalom. We bring the same focus on research to each of our jobs.

We have built up a good reference library to support our research. As a result, we can research many technical and architectural questions in-house.

We also travel to see first hand the great buildings of the world and see new work. Between us over the last few years, we have looked at significant buildings as far afield as Finland, Russia, Japan, Morocco, California, New York, San Diego, Milwaukee, Montreal, Paris, Berlin, and London.


Adat Shalom Social Hall

Green Design

We like to provide the best environmental solution possible. We subscribe to, and read, professional journals dedicated to environmental design. We also have resources, like "green" specification guides, to help us keep informed and able to use the most environmentally sound materials and techniques.

Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Synagogue’s social hall illustrates some of the ideas behind "green" architecture. It is a passive solar space. In winter, the sun comes in the high south windows and heats the space and it’s concrete floor slab, which stores the heat. In summer, the south sun is higher. A small overhang shades the windows to keep the sun out.

The social hall is on a separate heating and air conditioning zone. It is minimally conditioned when the space is not used.

The manufactured building materials have a high percentage of recycled material. The wood shingles are from abandoned cedar stumps from a previous harvest in a sustainable forest.

The lighting has controls that can respond to a wide range of uses. Occupants do not have to turn on more lighting than is needed. Light fixtures use fluorescent and halogen low-energy bulbs. The roof is light colored to reflect heat since air conditioning consumes more energy in Washington than heat. At Adat Shalom, we used operable high windows to create a good natural ventilation system for spring and fall. We try to "walk lightly on the land." On each job, we make sure that our clients are aware of opportunities to build in the most environmentally sensitive way.


Computer generated 3D sketch of a kitchen and breakfast area


Schwartz and Peoples has been working with CADD (computer aided design and drafting) systems since 1991. We e-mail plans back and forth with consultants. We produce all of our construction documents on the computer. We can generate 3-D models and walk-through presentations. While we use the computer on almost all our projects, we also continue to sketch and design with pencil and paper, and make study models.

We make full use of all available means to design our projects and give them the clearest presentation.



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