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Design Elements

An original oil painting by Rocky Hawkins graces the entryway.

Making a Statement: Miller Architects

A new palette and a new office in Bozeman’s historic Cannery District

Written by Seabring Davis  

Seabring Davis

Other Contributions

Hearth and Soul Building a Timeless Legacy An Uncommon Cabin in the Woods Timeless Fusion Mountain Tradition A Modern Vision Summer Camp Perfect Harmony Winter Getaway: Red Lodge, Montana Beyond the Cabin A Fine Balance Good Country Authentically Western A Home for the Ages Where the Living is Easy Music in the Mountains The Flight of the Hummingbird Living the Dream Integrating Nature Mountain Exposure Eclectic Parkitecture Uniting Color Historic Symmetry The Year Of The Horse A Yellowstone Club Retreat Dining Out: The Taste of Whitefish Letter from the Editor: How Big is Your Bucket Letter from the Editor: Falling Short Western Design: Rustic Allure Dining Out: Fish Food Western Design: In the Studio with Painter Hugh Wilson Western Design: Home Base From the Editor Dining Out: Tradition, with a Twist Letter from the Editor: I Know Where the Fish Are Letter from the Editor: Big Sky Country Letter from the Editor: Forging Ahead Dining Out: Barn Dance Letter from the Editor: Like an Open Road Letter from the Editor: The Language of Fishing Letter from the Editor: Cast Again Editor’s Letter: The Passing Season Dining Out: Saffron Table Dining Out: Lone Mountain Ranch Serves Up a Sense of Place Western Design: Uniquely Rustic Western Design: JLF & Associates Letter from the Editor: Season of Possibility Dining Out: A Montana Tradition, Chico Hot Springs Letter from the Editor: Design Trends Dining Out: The Ranch at Rock Creek Redefines Montana Cuisine Dining Out: Seasonal Bliss Western Design: Refined Rustic Letter from the Editor: Winter Wave Letter from the Editor: Blending Seasons Western Design: A New Mountain Lodge Western Design: Historic Haven Western Design: In the Studio with the Viers Western Focus: Classic Connection: Miller Architects Western Design: Reviving the Barn From the Editor: Seasons of Simplicity Dining Out: Innovation Meets Tradition at Bisl Letter from the Editor: What is art? Dining Out: Holland Lake Lodge, Rustic Wonderful Letter from the Editor: The Secret Weapon Letter from the Editor: Fly Fishing for the Greater Good Western Design: Mountain Zen Western Design: Creekside Contemporary Living Big Sky on HGTV The Spirit of the West in Jackson, Wyoming Letter from the Editor: First Snow Dining Out: The Old Hotel Letter from the Editor: Signs of Summer Letter from the Editor: The Angler’s Sojourn Dining Out: Simply Good Food From the Editor: Hit the Road Making a Statement: Miller Architects Letter from the Editor: Winter’s Toll Letter from the Editor: Evolving Home Dining Out: Comfort Food Western Design: Cowboy Modern Western Design: The Idaho Club Letter from the Editor: Talking Art Dining Out: Conserving Montana One Table at a Time Dining Out: Cosmopolitan Cuisine at TEN Dining Out: Ranch to Restaurant Letter from the Editor: Waiting for Summer Letter from the Editor: Arts Economy Letter from the Editor: First Frost Letter from the Editor: Why Art? Letter from the Editor: Up Close and Personal Letter from the Editor: A Tradition of Talent Letter from the Editor: Winter Reflection Letter from the Editor: Staying Power
Photography by Audrey Hall  
April 2016


When the principal partners of Miller Architects decided to relocate their firm from Livingston to Bozeman, Montana, they were seeking a building with historic roots but a fresh look. They found it in Bozeman’s Cannery District, where developers have repurposed a historic agricultural structure into a unique commercial hub on North Rouse Avenue and Oak Street.

“This new building is a continuation of our growth,” explained founding principal Candace Tillotson-Miller. “We outgrew our Livingston office because ultimately the work demanded more space, more employees, and a more efficient office environment.”

Since Candace Tillotson-Miller founded the firm in 1992, her team has designed hundreds of residences throughout the West. Her straightforward manner and elegant design sensibility with reclaimed and rustic materials have become hallmarks of Miller Architects. Just in the last decade, they’ve grown from four employees to 13, and the demands of their projects have expanded as well. The move to the Cannery District doubled their office space to 2,500 square feet.

By outgrowing the historic railroad building in Livingston that had housed the architectural firm for more than two decades, the Miller Architects principals were presented with an opportunity to make a statement. The need for a new location coincided with the team’s recently formalized partnership between Tillotson-Miller, Joe Roodell, and Matt Miller (no relation to Candace). While the three architects have worked together for roughly a decade on many residential projects, the partnership between them was formed just last year. Together they have evolved into a team unusual in its experience, creativity, and vision. 

“It’s exciting for us to become partners in this successful business that Candace has created,” said Roodell. “Now with our collaborative effort and the unique opportunity this fresh space offers the firm, we can expand our capabilities.”

The team settled into their new space in January of this year. Sitting in the conference room, where shelves are lined with three-ring binders from former projects, coffee-table books that feature homes designed by the firm, and samples of rustic wood, the partners discussed how the move invigorated their firm. A span of windows framed a view of the Story Hills and Bridger Mountains. A wall of glass connected the meeting area to the rest of the office, making a physical statement that spoke to the transparency of Miller Architects’ philosophy.

“This space resonated immediately with all of us,” said Miller. “The bigger vision of the development has a real sense of progression and that appealed to us, too. When we decided to make this move, we all agreed that the new space had to represent the firm.”

In the Cannery District development, they found the right elements to express the firm’s commitment to designing structures that are grounded in place, showcasing their hallmark application of reclaimed and recycled materials, and highlighting a new emphasis on contemporary yet timeless architecture. The long-term vision for this revived industrial section of town includes residential, business, and outdoor spaces, as well as a link to Bozeman’s Mountains to Main Street trail system.

Built in 1917 as the Bozeman Canning Company, the four-story, timber-frame structure originally accommodated more than 200 employees who spent their days canning peas. The company slogan was painted on the side of the building: “Peas that Please!” Thousands of cases of peas were packaged there over decades. Since the early 1960s, however, this iconic agricultural tower has stood empty and deteriorating on the edge of Bozeman’s industrial fringe, next to the railroad tracks and within earshot of Interstate 90’s steady hum.

Today, the first floor is anchored by a sushi restaurant, microbrewery, bike shop, rum distillery, and barbershop. Within minutes of historic downtown, the university, and skiing at Bridger Bowl, the Cannery District has the benefit of being centrally located even as it stands alone on the edge of an expanding Bozeman. Likewise, Miller Architects is soundly engaged in the community even while they’ve set themselves apart with a design vocabulary that tends to modify the Western vernacular with modern sensibilities.

“I think it’s a wonderful re-use of this area and buildings that are part of the fabric of the region’s original agricultural community,” said Tillostson-Miller. “For our needs, it was important that the building have a connection to place.”

Once the space was selected, the partners had the opportunity to start with an open canvas on the second floor. During the restoration, the building was taken down to its skeletal structure, leaving the studs, posts, and beams exposed. Over the course of a year, Candace, Joe, and Matt became their own clients. Timeline, budget, and layers of design decisions were all factors in the process. Ultimately, the team used the best of the building’s original features, mainly the exposed timbers, the wide-plank floors, and an industrial quality that inspired a contemporary design.

“We wanted to utilize lots of light, texture, and an open floor plan,” explained Matt. “Compared to the traditional, historic concept of our Livingston location, this space has a fresh palette, but what they both have in common is timeless design, and that’s what we strive for in every project.”

From “peas that please” to a cutting edge team of architects paying homage to the past by designing timeless buildings, the new Cannery District location has given Miller Architects a firm hold on the future.

Joe Roodell, far left, Candace Tillotson-Miller, and Matt Miller, stand proudly in the conference room of the new office. be

In the foyer, a blend of rustic and contemporary materials and furnishings greets visitors. oppos ite: An original oil painting by Rocky Hawkins graces the entryway.

The idea board in the open work area offers the opportunity to share projects between members of the team.

Reconfiguring a space that was once a pea cannery, Miller Architects preserved the industrial history of the building with open rafters, natural light, and high ceilings.

A central work space allows the Miller Architects team to collaborate on ongoing projects.

From the beginning, the pea cannery building was an open shell. As the firm moves into a new era, Miller Architects had the opportunity to create a vision that would speak to their new dynamic.

Bozeman’s Cannery District is a vibrant addition to the community. On the fringe of the industrial section of town, its businesses overlook the Bridger Mountains.