What is the oldest thing you own?
A jar of redwood sawdust, the product of re-milling old water tower timbers in Chicago. The tree probably started growing 400 years ago.
What was your first job?
Distributing door-to-door advertising for my dad’s insurance agency. When I was about 11, he would fill me and my sister’s school backpacks with flyers and drop us off on a block of rowhomes. We’d paper the screen doors until we ran out, then walk home. Got a solid $5 an hour.
One place you’ve never been, but hope to go to someday?
I’ve always wanted to go to Japan, for the food, the architecture, and the traditional craftsmanship, but am totally intimidated by the length of the plane ride, the language, and the cost.
Who was your favorite artist when you were 15, 20, 25?
15: Jack Kerouac
20: Santiago Calatrava (architect)
25: The Bourellec brothers (furniture designers)
Favorite place to go in Baltimore?
Any abandoned building I can get into.
What is the most inspiring thing about Baltimore?
The opportunities — folks just go and do, forging on with leaky-roofed warehouse space or dilapidated row homes or creaky city government.
Was there an “A-HA” moment when you decided you wanted to be an architect?
Elementary school library, approximately 1993, the first time I checked out The Kid’s Whole Future Catalog by Paula Taylor. It was this weird, 70s-era Whole Earth Catalog for kids, a kind of pre-internet collection of inventions, buildings, projects, art pieces, and predictions. They had wild buildings in there, including Arcosanti, an experimental design/build “city-in-a-building” out in Arizona, a place I later lived and worked in my 20s.
The best part about living/working in Baltimore?
It’s small enough to get your hands around, meet people, and collaborate on things. Cost of living is low, close to other cool cities, close to my family.
The worst part about living/working in Baltimore?
Not that I’ve been directly personally affected so much by it, but the steady drumbeat of homicides is terribly depressing, terrible publicity, and is a terrible tragedy day in and day out for folks that have lost family members. I mean, more Americans died on the streets of Baltimore last year than in Afghanistan. It’s unconscionable.
Other Baltimoreans that inspire you?
Not sure I know enough Baltimoreans for that question haha.