My path to architecture has wandered from New England to Pennsylvania, Arizona, London, New York, and now back to New England. This geography makes a surface but the path is a territory: a place with meaning and knowledge, space and movement, boundaries and openings.
I grew up in the town of Needham, Massachusetts, surrounded by clapboards and shingles, and college educated relatives that seemed to always be building something. I discovered when I went to college at Penn State that some of my fellow students had grown up in brick houses, and that nothing was inevitable.
Contradictions abound, of course. Penn State is located in and amongst the farms of Pennsylvania. The head of school there, Raniero Corbelletti, did not think architecture could be taught only in this farmland. Thus I was able to gain the varied experience of an urban planning workshop in Philadelphia assisting a community group that was engaged with the city in the redevelopment of their neighborhood, a semester abroad in Florence, Italy, and a thesis project embedded in the steel mill environment of Pittsburgh.
In addition to this varied experience in these different worlds, Corbelletti gave us a firm sense that architecture was tightly bound with society and that we had an obligation to serve society in the process of making architecture. I have subsequently refined this and would say today that architecture is social and society has form.
After Penn State I had the good sense to not immediately seek regular employment. I found my way first to Arizona where I spent 6 months in a workshop at Arcosanti, a visionary city being built by the architect Paolo Soleri. From there I found my way to graduate school in London. Though not employed, I was all the time working. I financed my graduate studies in London with work as a carpenter, a skill I had acquired from a grandfather and father who taught it to me.
In London, I initially studied at the Architectural Association but my interests evolved and I switched my studies to University College London. The course I joined, taught by Professor Bill Hiller, expanded my acuity and understanding of the morphology of built form. It engaged me in philosophy, archeology, anthropology, and architecture but the work remained firmly rooted in the premise that understanding spatial form is at the heart of making architecture. My thesis was about the discontinuities between what is said about urban form and what it actually is. Bill Hillier continued over the years to develop and grow his theory of ‘Space Syntax’ and I maintain a strong interest in this work. In June of 2009 I attended the 7thInternational Space Syntax Symposium in Stockholm I am looking forward to the next Space Syntax conference in Santiago, Chile in 2011.
After 5 years in London I addressed a long-standing interest to live in New York City, moving there in 1979. The luck of circumstances led me to work with a builder turned developer, Charlie Forestall, that I had worked for as a carpenter during my undergraduate university days. Charlie’s base of operations was in the Newburyport area north of Boston and thus my work in this time period remained embedded in the vernacular of residential New England architecture. Because Charlie took an interest and a lead in building passive-solar homes then, I had the good fortune to begin my long association with energy efficient and sustainable design. My other work in New York City included brownstone renovations, sound recording studios, and construction management.
Tiring, as I was then, of clapboards and shingles, I resolved in 1989 to move to Florida and build in stucco. I got as far as obtaining the necessary architectural license, but this move never happened as my daughter Katy came into the picture and a decision was made to move to the Berkshires in the western part of Massachusetts.
The work I show in this website mostly represents the diversity of work I have done in the last 16 years in the Berkshires. In addition to the primary work I have done in my own practice in this time period, I have also worked several years for other firms. This has greatly expanded the diversity, range, and size of project types that I have experience with. Recently my work has been predominantly focused on the design of new homes for individual clients. I have come to greatly appreciate and value the personal nature of this work.
In recent years I have become engaged in personal movement work. I was a student for five years at the Spacial Dynamics Institute where I received a certificate as as Spacial Dynamics practitioner. I am now a regular student of Dancemeditation, a movement practice centered on the premise that the body is spiritual intelligence.
The Japanese architect, Tadao Ando, has said, “Every wall has two lives.” Architecture is about how we make openings in the walls around us or between us. Openings give us the possibility of moving. Openings help us see. Openings connect the world on two sides of a wall. When we move through a wall, we know more because we know both sides. In moving through space, along a path that is created, I am grateful when movement and space find each other because of a wall and its openings and we have discovered the excitement of architecture.