There isn't a single one. It's about sustaining a legacy. It's about a standard of excellence for preservation and related projects.
What is the most fulfilling part of your job?
I love bringing buildings back to life. We find them in a dormant state, and then at opening day, I get to witness people enjoying them. I am part of a process that transforms places. It is fulfilling to see people move from thinking a project cannot be done to feeling amazed when it is full of people.
What are the biggest challenges facing designers today?
With historic buildings, it probably has to do with the speed of practice. The time it took to craft many historic landmarks was much longer than we have now.
What do you think are the biggest challenges that arise on a preservation project?
Finding the balance of how much to save and how much to change. There is the economic reality that most historic buildings have to find some current use. Some architects go too far, and a building is forever compromised. Yet sometimes, especially with private sector use, if you don't make some compromises, the project won't be financially feasible.
What is the best thing you've learned in the past 10 years?
It helps to maintain a sense of humor. Most preservation projects will go through a series of challenges. In this work, we are always dealing with the unknown to some degree. I am not afraid of it when it happens. It is a matter of keeping the entire team together and moving forward.
What advice would you give to design students or those just starting out in the field?
Architecture has so many aspects. Taste them. Don't get stuck in something you don't like. Find your passion. Better design comes out of passion. For me, it was historic buildings (see story on Alameda Theater by ARG). Architecture in school is very different from architecture in practice.
What do you consider to be the worst invention of the last 100 years?
Thin veneer brick.
What inspired your career choices?
I went into architecture because I loved old buildings. Back then, I wasn't aware of any program for historic preservation. It took me a while to get around to restoring buildings.
If you could have selected another career, what might you have been?
When I was thinking of abandoning my architecture program, I flirted with anthropology. But I was more interested in the history of the built environment.
What would you like to leave as your legacy?
That historic buildings stay with us. With preservation, you leave a legacy that few will know about. It has to be OK to leave behind a body of work without your name attached to it.
How do you foresee design for public spaces changing in the future?
People want places with integrity, places with roots. They don't want the same formula everywhere they go. This is good news for historic preservation.