Home 2.0 Blog Archive

Monday, January 5, 2015


Personal & Professional Influences

Over the past 10+ years, there have been many personal and professional events in my life that have helped lead up to the Starter Home 2.0 Project. Below are some of the key personal and professional influences that have guided me to where I am today with this project.

[2004: UC Habitat for Humanity] My very first experience as a University of Cincinnati architecture student took place weeks before I stepped foot in a dorm, studio or classroom, when I was among a group of freshman to launch UC's building partnership with Cincinnati Habitat for Humanity as part of a service-learning Honors English class where students worked side-by-side with the homeowner and construction leaders to help build a new single-family infill home near campus. As a result of this initial experience, I have always associated architecture with community service and recognized, as Architecture for Humanity puts it, "designing for the other 98% is much more rewarding than responding to the desires of the few." For this and many other reasons, the Starter Home 2.0 project is geared to the 98%.

[2007: Brad Pitt's Make It Right Project] As part of University of Cincinnati's Co-op program I had the opportunity to spend a year working for William McDonough + Partners in Charlottesville, Virginia where one of the projects I was involved with as an environmental consultant was Brad Pitt's Make It Right New Orleans development. It was through my involvement in this project that I developed my interest in green affordable housing, which carried over into the rest of my academic and professional career. At the same time, the Make It Right project also raised for me some concerns with regards to its execution that I make a point to avoid repeating in the Starter Home 2.0 project. 
[2009: Architect as Developer Thesis] One of the things I realized early on as a Co-op student working on developer-led housing projects is no matter how respected architects might be within their field, they ultimately have very little control over what ends up getting built. In the end the Golden Rule of 'he who has the gold, makes the rules' prevails, meaning architects need to take an ownership stake in their projects if they want the ultimate design authority. This was the focus of my graduate thesis project, titled 'Architect as Developer: A Model for Triple Top Line Development' and the Starter Home 2.0 project embraces this model.
[2010: Cincinnati Housing Partners] My first job after graduation was working as an Assistant Construction Manager for a local non-profit home builder named Cincinnati Housing Partners. While holding this position I had the chance to design, budget, schedule supervise, and perform the construction of several rehab and new construction housing projects, gaining a baseline understanding of the home building process, which was critical for me to have the confidence to undertake the Starter Home 2.0 project.