The Loci Blog

My oldest son graduates from high school today and will attend college in the fall. There will be one less person in the house, lightening the laundry load, freeing up some wi-fi band width, and saving us a few bucks on food. After he leaves home, neither my wife nor I will be around each day to witness the events that will guide his transition to adult life. With our cultural chaos, I worry about the pressures on him to develop a mature set of values. With more years behind me than ones ahead, I spend a considerable amount of…

Photo courtesy of Kidz Engineering 101, Inc. I like to consider my life as a progression: continually learning how to be a better person, father, husband, friend, and architect. With the first four I engage with my family and social circle, learning from others who share their perspectives, opinions, and patience. Looking back over my shoulder, there were crossroads in my life where this prevented me from being directed down the dark path of ignorance and illegitimate inquiry. Growing up in the suburbs is not exactly a path towards enlightenment, but I was lucky enough to have good teachers, get…

Santorini is an ancient Greek Island at the southern end of the Dodecanese islands. Shaped into a crescent by a volcano that blew it apart in the second millennium BCE, it wraps its arms around the caldera that still steams offshore. The towns of Thera, Oia, and Akrotiri sit along the inside of the crescent where cliffs rise out of the water and white-washed buildings tumble down the slopes as far as they dare to go. At sunset in Oia, you can join the applauding throngs as they watch our star disappear over the earth’s edge. During my first visits…

Recent months have been a struggle for those who envision cities as centers of justice and civic virtue. With the raw emotions elicited by the shootings of unarmed men, wide ranging protests, and unprovoked attacks against police officers, it is hard to see how an architect and planner could initiate a conversation between balanced justice and creative inquiry, and consider the ways design might serve justice. But I will give it a try. A Profession in Design When I was 17, I expressed an interest in two careers: designing rocket ships and becoming an architect. This was a couple of…

The Missing 32% Equity by Design Symposium, held on October 18, 2014, at the San Francisco Art Institute, was an enlightening, fact-filled conversation about the underrepresentation of women in the architecture profession. Spearheaded by Rosa Sheng AIA, the symposium built on asurvey that the Missing 32% conducted from February to March 2014 to better understand our industry’s gender gap. The survey had three parts, which became the three main topics of the symposium: Hiring & Retention, Growth & Development, and Meaning & Influence. Conversation focused on the pertinent issues of job satisfaction, equal pay, and work-life flexibility. The “Missing 32%”…

Mumbai is India’s largest city and financial capital. What was once an archipelago of seven islands with only a few scattered fishing villages has become one of the most densely populated urban centers in the world, with a population of 12 million people. First colonized by the Portuguese in the early 1500’s and later by the British, the seven islands were eventually amalgamated into one landmass by a series of large-scale reclamation projects in the late 18th century. Mumbai became a major industrial and trading center due to its prime location on the West coast of India and the presence…

Cultivating Community in a School Garden In January of 2011 I co-founded Sprout Farms, an urban agriculture education nonprofit project. The idea for Sprout came from my aspiration to understand urban infrastructure and to develop means to make it sustainable. My partner, Katie Hope, a teacher with a master’s degree in early childhood education, brought expertise, both in the garden and the classroom. We shared a personal desire to expand our own gardening space beyond our apartment windowsills. Through Sprout we’ve learned how to mold public space into a catalyst for community connectivity. We’ve learned how to work with the…

The word “homeless” is based on a judgment that reflects on the lack of architecture, of shelter, a person has, which leads to a solution that fulfills just that. However, there is yet another deficiency that is often overlooked, ignored and left undone which is the relationship between the poor and those that are not poor. This large gap between the two parties, not in terms of societal structure, but rather in the space for interaction that is needed in order to effectively help someone in need, remains a void that is one of the loudest aspects of the city.…

Louis Sullivan’s mantra for the first three rules of architecture, “Get the work, get the work, get the work”1, underscores the primary importance of securing architectural commissions; for without clients, most architects cannot design to have buildings constructed, for they do not have the necessary financial resources. Little, if anything, is taught in architectural schools about how to obtain architectural commissions. Once one has successfully traversed the arduous route through formal education, internship, and professional exams, one is faced with the problem of how to obtain work if one chooses the path of independent practice. I once asked a principal…

Looking Beyond the American Folk Art Museum The controversy surrounding the Museum of Modern Art’s (MoMA’s) proposed expansion and the future of a neighboring building, the former American Folk Art Museum, has not ended despite MoMA’s decision to move ahead with its plans. Regardless of what side of the controversy you follow, the Folk Art Museum building is being demolished, with its cherished façade of copper and bronze saved from a scrap yard. Now this small plot of land on West 53rd Street is facing preparations for a greater, more powerful behemoth. At A Conversation on the Museum of Modern…