Geoff Prentiss is just like his work – uncomplicated and elegant, with a clean-cut look and a broad vision. He has one of those unassuming smiles, the kind that’s both inviting and ready for the next adventure. A San Juan Island native, he’s been catching seaplane rides off Lake Union since before Kenmore Air even acquired our Lake Union terminal. (It was previously operated by Lake Union Air.)
To say he’s familiar with seaplane travel would be an understatement. Visiting San Juan every two weeks, he loves taking advantage of Kenmore’s quick flights and easy check-in. But Kenmore helps him with more than just moving people. Geoff said, “We also use Kenmore for shipping things like drawings. The pilots and the staff are incredibly helpful. We drop off whatever it is and they deliver it.”
(Geoff specifically gave a rave review of Andrew Otterness, Director of Stations, whom he reported is, “Fun, likeable, and takes a good deal of pride in working hard.”)
Geoff’s roots date back to the first San Juan Island homesteaders. After fleeing Ireland during the Great Potato Famine, his great-grandfather arrived on San Juan Island in 1860. He came by rowboat. What a trip that must have been!
The family took advantage of the fertile island land, planting fruit orchards. Though he and his relatives no longer grow fruit, a few trees can still be found. Over 300 relatives, spanning five generations, still live in the San Juan Islands. When they get together, it’s quite a crowd. “A family picnic of just one side of the family is about 120 people,” Geoff said.
Born to be an Architect
Geoff founded Prentiss Architects in 1989. However he’s been designing homes and planting gardens for much longer. At seven-years-old he was drawing house plans. By eight, he was growing his own plantings from seed, including a collection of rhododendrons he still cares for today. “Talk about having roots,” Geoff said, “I – have roots.”
After graduating from Washington University in Saint Louis, Geoff moved back to San Juan Island. He started his own business, a landscape design and contracting company where he focused on designing, installing, and caring for gardens.
While earning his Masters from the University of Washington, he was awarded a Monbusho Fellowship. From 1984 – 1986, he studied design and architecture in Kobe, Japan. While there, he devoured a plate (or two) of Japanese food.
Beyond Japan, Geoff’s love for travel has taken him to more than 48 countries including Jordan and Scotland. He and a good friend often sail to Canada. Dropping anchor in different ports, they use the sailboat as a vacation home and catch a ride with Kenmore Air back and forth.
Today, Geoff maintains residences in both Seattle and San Juan Island. If you visit either of his homes regularly, you can expect to see things change – a new set of chairs, a freshly painted wall, a completely re-designed floor. Geoff described homes:
To me, a home is a living thing. It constantly needs to be fed with big and little changes. They’re like nests.
He and his team approach each project with a commitment to defining space, creating harmony, and designing a place that brings joy. Like I said, Geoff is a lot like his work.