Our Unique Approach

We believe the purpose of architecture is to facilitate human flourishing.

If we, as Oklahomans, made cultivating beauty and human flourishing our priority, what kind of city would we build?  What could your home, your neighborhood and your community look like—and be like?

The last time people made human flourishing and beauty their ideal it birthed the Renaissance, resulting in cities like Florence, home to some of the most beautiful and enduring architecture ever built.  As a society we spend billions to experience these places for a week—yet when we return home we simply accept modern America’s throwaway building culture, mumbling the oft-repeated line: "We don’t build things like we used to."

What's stopping us?

Today’s building industry has lost sight of you or any higher purpose.

It aimlessly pursues trends, increasingly serves industry over end-users, and puts more effort into creating the illusion of a good house than actually building one.

It's become a marketing game:

Highlight standard features as “upgrades” to create the illusion of quality!

Incorporate the most recent HGTV fad to make it #instagramable!

Brand it “luxury” to make you feel wealthy!

Label it energy efficient to make you feel virtuous!

Price it per square foot (while inflating footage with cheap space) to create the illusion you are getting a good deal!    

Most Homes today are designed by people who don’t know how to build, built by people who don’t know how to design, and constructed by people who don’t care.  

We are disrupting this trend.

At Building Culture, we are driven by a mission to create buildings and places for Oklahomans to flourish.  We won’t rest until we can build for a thousand years.

That means more than quality construction using durable materials.  To endure for centuries, buildings must stir the soul, inviting attention, love and affection.

When something is loved, it is cared for.  Over time, it takes on a life of its own, becoming part of a community’s heritage and identity.  This is how you build for  millennia.

We believe that we we build matters.
Beauty matters. You matter.

Building Culture is Different

Our holistic approach and breadth of experience enable us to build a home for you that nobody else can—while providing a streamlined process and a single point of responsibility.

Austin and Matt thoughtfully design each home from scratch and manage every aspect of the construction.   You’ll see us designing at our desks and up 40’ on scaffolding ensuring every detail is executed correctly.  We carry trowels, saws and hammer drills in our trucks—and know how to use them. This combination of skills and experience is exceedingly rare today.

We were trained by nationally renowned experts and are constantly researching, innovating and refining in pursuit of the best way to build.

Let's Build Next Century's Celebrated Buildings—Together.

Designer, Builder, Mason, Urbanist

Austin Tunnell

Founder and Owner

After a brief stint as a CPA at KPMG and 2 years in the Peace Corps, Austin’s path into building began in the jungles of Panama where he was first introduced to the idea that how we build shapes how we live.  Captured by the idea, he went on to apprentice for a master mason and timber framer.  He taught himself design along the way, his drawings informed by understanding of the mediums he was working with, and inspired by the simple act of studying buildings he found beautiful.  He sharpened his design and construction chops in Carlton Landing— winning 2 national awards in the process—before, in 2022, bringing Oklahoma City its first new structural brick masonry home in generations—with many more to come.

Austin is a relentless innovator, always experimenting with better ways of doing things.  He plans to expand Building Culture to include apprenticeship programs, R&D, manufacturing, education and resale of traditional materials and methods—aiming to build a culture that expresses its ideals in a multi-century architecture: a whole new Building Culture.  

The Team

Matt Hayes

Matt’s passion for the entire process of bringing a project to life is at home in Building Culture’s holistic design-build approach to creating beautiful things that enhance our lives.

Prior to joining Building Culture in 2022, Matt worked in Manhattan at G.P. Schafer Architect, on custom residences in areas including Arkansas, Virginia, Florida, and New York City. He brings the rigor and attention to detail of those $10 million+ projects to Building Culture’s work in Oklahoma.

A dedicated learner and teacher, Matt studied traditional architecture and urbanism at the University of Notre Dame and serves as instructor at the Institute for Classical Art and Architecture.

He is a licensed architect in Oklahoma and New York, is NCARB certified and a member of the AIA.

Graham Robertson

Graham is a strong believer in how the built environment shapes us. Motivated by his experience growing up in the suburbs of Dallas, his life's work is to provide future generations with what so many of us have never had: a sense of place, beauty, and connection to our neighborhoods and towns. With Building Culture, he uses his trade experience to realize this vision through traditional design and construction methods.

Prior to joining Building Culture in 2023, Graham served as a designer-builder on projects in the Lakota-Sioux Nation in South Dakota, Open Source Ecology in Missouri, and St. Arsenius Hermitage in Texas, in addition to starting his own organic farming business. Graham earned his B.S. in Architectural Engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2020.

Rigoberto Contreras

Rigo knew from a young age that he wanted to dedicate his life to building beautiful structures. After honing his masonry skills by studying design and working on houses and banks in Honduras, he sought out opportunities to test his masonry skills on a larger scale. He initially thought he would have to venture to Spain or Italy to do so but ended up finding what he was looking for right here in Oklahoma.

As an expert mason, Rigo not only excels in his craft, but also serves as a thoughtful teacher. He is passionate about setting forms and lines up for others, training the next generation of masons, and sharing instructional videos on constructing sound walls and beautiful details. Rigo sees himself living out his childhood dream, challenging himself while creating buildings that inspire delight in clients and will endure for centuries.

Structural Masonry: Continuing A Tradition

Structural masonry refers to the practice of using brick or stone in such mass that it becomes self-stabilizing, usually 12” thick or more.  This was the common building system for millennia until the advent of lumber mills and mass-produced nails.  Rather than light wood framing wrapped in a thin veneer of masonry, the brick itself is the structure.  

Civilizations throughout history have positioned themselves for multi-generational prosperity by progressing from temporary wood housing to permanent, masonry housing as soon as they were capable.  

Yet in the United States, the wealthiest and most technologically advanced society in history, we have taken a different path, prioritizing size, efficiency and extravagance over longevity.  We are housing modernity’s remarkable innovations and luxuries in wooden shells that often last, at best, 75 years.  

What if there was another way?  

Build a purposeful life and leave a lasting contribution.

At Building Culture, we believe that by fusing time-tested wisdom of the past with the best of modern practices, we can reclaim the path towards a more prosperous future by building enduring and endearing architecture—leaving behind generational assets for posterity to build upon, rather than liabilities to overcome.

A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. — Greek Proverb

The Bend
Carlton Landing
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