The Philosophy

At East Spruce, great care is taken to highlight and bring out the best in every project.  There are always multiple solutions to a design challenge.  We help you find the right solution – one that fits your taste, budget, schedule, and values.  We view sustainability as a way to SAVE: time, money, resources, energy … not an added feature.  We believe the most sustainable building is one that’s already standing, one that can be reused in some capacity, one that is loved.  We challenge the throw-away mentality of popular culture by first asking ‘What can be saved, repurposed, or adapted to fit the changing needs of the user?’ With that mindset, we approach a design that responsibly fits within its context and is honest and authentic in its use of materials.  In the case of new construction, we strive to bring quality design to every budget, to create a building that is useful and loved for the next 100 years. We use salvaged and repurposed items where possible, and responsibly-made eco-friendly materials when second-hand is not an option.


East Spruce design / build is an architecture, fabrication, and construction management studio located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Founded in 2018 by Elliot Nolter, ESDB brings resourceful, responsible design to every project and every budget.

Owner / Operator

Elliot Nolter

From a young age, Elliot has been immersed and trained in the arts, refining his craft under the late Myron Barnstone, a mentor and teacher of classical design. He graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Penn State University, and after working for a traditional architecture firm for 9 years, received his license to practice.

“I learned that I wanted more out of the profession and that the traditional approach did not align with my childhood desires to be in the field and actually get my hands in the building process where the design comes to life.  This is why I started East Spruce design / build – to explore my curiosities, and help others realize theirs!”

With extensive commercial architectural design and project management experience, Elliot brings the professionalism you’d expect from a larger firm, with the added curiosity, skills, and knowledge of a builder, artist, and craftsman.

“Architecture and design are the foundation of what I do.  It’s just that now I am able to merge my other interests and hobbies with my career.  The variety keeps my ideas fresh, and each unique experience informs what I do in other areas of my practice.”

Elliot is a Certified Passive House Consultant through PHIUS (The Passive House Institute of the US) and is passionate about the environment, striving to produce net-positive carbon buildings that will improve our environment rather than pollute it. He is a supporter of carbon neutrality by 2050.

“Resourcefulness, sustainability, and ingenuity are ingrained in my personal philosophy. As an Architect, this means being conscious of the design decisions I make – how they impact my client, the building occupants, the project budget, the site, or the neighborhood.  As an outdoor-enthusiast and citizen of Earth, this means doing right by the planet – reduce, reuse, recycle. I believe our #1 responsibility is to be stewards of the planet on which we live and to be respectful of others living here with us.”