On Building

I've long ruminated about the creative process. I've read scads of books and articles on the subject and have profiled people in a variety of creative fields. I'm intrigued by the act of imagining something and bringing it into existence. Architectural creativity has particularly captured my interest.

After seeing the work of wildly creative architects, I've wondered how they free their minds enough to dispense with the status quo and dream up alternatives. What enables them to reshape the world in their imaginations? What motivates them to keep plugging away if they meet with a chilly reception? Ultimately, how do they think and create?

My explorations of architectural creativity have taken a few forms, as follows:

I've also published the following articles on Design Build Network, in the LEAF Review, in the San Francisco Chronicle, and in the East Bay Monthly. The links will take you to those websites:
  • An Elegant Tribute
    This feature story in the March 2009 East Bay Monthly is about the Ed Roberts Campus now being built in Berkeley. This project will provide services for people with disabilities in an integrated, unified way and features the best practices of Universal Design, all while serving as a beautiful tribute to Ed Roberts (a pioneer who fought for disability rights). Don't miss the sidebar about his life. The National Center on Physical Activity and Disability featured "An Elegant Tribute" in its February 2010 newsletter. The newsletter editor wrote, "This article covers all the important reasons that a building like this is hugely important to both people with and without disabilities.... I found myself nodding emphatically while reading this article and hope architects and designers are motivated by it as well."
  • "Landscape Is the Home: David Stark Wilson"
    Profile of Berkeley designer David Wilson, who finds inspiration in alpine landscapes and agrarian buildings when he designs houses. This article ran on the cover of the San Francisco Chronicle's "Home & Garden" section on December 20, 2008.
  • "David Trachtenberg: Refining that Berkeley Look"
    Profile of Berkeley architect David Trachtenberg, who has significantly shaped the look of Berkeley. This article ran on the cover of the San Francisco Chronicle's "Home & Garden" section on November 5, 2008.
  • "If You Go Down to the Woods Today…"
    This article about Heatherwick Studio's design for Aberystwyth Arts Centre at the University of Wales Aberystwyth appeared on Design Build Network.
  • "Low-Income Housing with Heart"
    This feature article about a Madrid housing project by architect Wiel Arets appeared in the summer 2008 issue of the Leaf Review.
  • "Arctic-Tecture"
    This feature article on building in Scandinavia appeared in the summer 2008 issue of the Leaf Review.
  • "Skin Deep"
    This feature article on innovative building exteriors appeared in the summer 2008 issue of the Leaf Review.
  • I wrote a series of articles for the "Home & Garden" section of the San Francisco Chronicle about the area of the Oakland/Berkeley hills burned in the 1991 fire. These came out over two days in July 2008.
  • "Wildfire: Oakland Hills, 17 Years Later," July 9. On the architecture that has emerged in that region. "Building, Buying and Living in a Fire Area," July 9. What's on the minds of the current residents of the fire area. "Innovative, Fire-Resistant Oakland Hills Homes," July 12. Photoessay with commentary about each house. "Planting for Fire Suppression," July 12. Landscaping in a fire-resistant way. "The Right Building Materials Can Foil Fires," July 12. How fire resistance and energy efficiency can go hand-in-hand.
  • "Architect Puts a Modern Spin on Classic Forms"
    My profile of Oakland architect Kirk Peterson appeared on the cover of the San Francisco Chronicle's "Home & Garden" section.
  • "Morimoto's Design of Yoshi's Evokes Stillness"
    My profile of Berkeley architect Hiro Morimoto appeared on the cover of the San Francisco Chronicle's "Home & Garden" section.
  • "Child's Play?"
    This feature story appeared in the LEAF Review. The article is about how leading European architects design for children—and how environmental psychologists disagree with some of their thinking.
  • "Innovations Come to Light"
    Design Build Network published this feature story about innovations in lighting. It includes discussions of how lighting affects our senses, our feelings, and even our unconscious minds.
  • "The Eco-Mansion—Seeing the Green Light"
    Design Build Network ran this feature article about maverick Florida developer Frank McKinney and his construction of an environmentally friendly 14,000-square-foot mansion in Manalapan, Florida.
  • "Towering Vision"
    This feature story ran in the East Bay Monthly. It describes visionary architect Eugene Tsui's proposal to build the world's tallest structure in downtown Oakland, California. Incidentally, Tsui drew the picture to the left—a design for a hotel in Kauai.
  • "Building Blocks: Coordinating Contractors and Other Disasters"
    This two-parter ran on the cover of the San Francisco Chronicle's "Home & Garden" section. Don't miss Part Two, which is posted on its own page.
  • "Life Ahead of the Curve"
    Profile of visionary architect Dan Liebermann, who creates houses that abound with curves and salvaged materials. This article ran on the cover of the San Francisco Chronicle's "Home & Garden" section. Don't miss the accompanying sidebar about a colony Liebermann has built.
  • "Follow the Sun"
    Profile of architect Craig Henritzy, who draws inspiration from Native American structures. This piece ran on the cover of the San Francisco Chronicle's "Home & Garden" section.
  • "Self-Reliance at Home"
    This cover story about green building ran in the San Francisco Chronicle's "Home & Garden" section.
  • "Tao House Reopens Door to O'Neill's Mind"
    This piece about Eugene O'Neill's house in Danville, California, ran in the regional section of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Finally, Design Build Network has published several of my write-ups of architectural projects. All appear without bylines: