Growing up working class in Detroit, I learned to do whatever it took to get by. ‘Bootstrapping’ became second nature, and I had worked my way out of some pretty adverse situations just to become an architect. This aspect of my life and the flexibility it required seemed to merge perfectly with the concept of an architecture that was ‘adaptive’ – an architecture that could fit any condition, no matter how hostile. While working a day job at KMD and other firms, I began to develop architectural systems that could adjust to their surroundings.
My research led to an AIA award for an adaptable robotic structure. In order to continue developing the concept, I decided to resign my project architect position and return to UC Berkeley for a post-professional Master’s Degree. Upon graduation in 2008, the profession was in collapse. But there was another opportunity – I found a way to purchase inexpensive property on the industrial periphery of Oakland, and I was in the process of completing my own design / build development. It was time to put my ideas into practice.
The resultant project, the ‘folded house’, launched my studio. 5 years later, we have projects throughout the San Francisco bay area, particularly in urban districts of Oakland (which has some aspects in common with Detroit). In keeping with a ‘something from nothing’ ethos, the neighborhoods we specialize in tend to center around industrial zones, with freeways and infrastructure cutting up much of the landscape. Our adaptive methods turn what might be seen by some as a disadvantage into an asset. Our process takes specific elements of a project, and ‘extrudes’ them through space. We work with an existing quality, give it a voice, and allow it to be modified and transformed by various micro-contexts as they pass through. This process lends itself to sustainable solutions, but moreover it allows integration of manifold environmental and performative aspects.
Currently we have a large volume of houses and apartments, as well as several commercial projects including a large warehouse to office conversion for ‘automattic’, who is the parent company of WordPress (the blogging and website creation company). We continue our research on adaptive systems through competitions and teaching projects.