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C200: Acknowledgements

2011 April 7
by Rob Harrison

< The author, second from right, performing with the George Metesky Ensemble at Max's Kansas City, 1983: photo by Stephen Blos >

I grew up in a small town in northeast Ohio. It was an idyllic childhood, really, not unlike the one depicted in Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons. A Colonial house on a tree-lined street. A walk or bike ride to school. Sailing small boats, paddling canoes. Roaming the woods with good friends. However, something started to happen when I moved to the big city for architecture school. There was a lot of friction against my established view, shoulder-rubbing, boundary-stretching, and mind-expanding, bumping up against extraordinarily smart and passionate people who became friends, collaborators, mentors and sometimes clients. I’ll mention a few: In Toronto Peter Prangnell, Daniel Libeskind, Alberto Perez-Gomez, Tom O’Brien, and Philip Beesley. In New York City Isamu Noguchi, Alfredo De Vido, Christian Marclay, Sussan Deyhim, Glenn Branca, and Vincas Meilus. In Seattle Dan Bertolet, Joe Zajonc, David Rousseau, Norma Davidson, Kathryn True, Patty Borman, Chuck Pettis, Alan Durning, and Alex Steffen. Intensely values-based (rather than form-based) design. Phenomenological architecture. Noise, bricolage, and free improvisation. Ecological design, dowsing, carbon-neutrality and sustainable urbanism. Would any of this have crossed my path had I stayed in a small town? Unlikely. It took cities to do that. Coming face-to-face with these people and ideas changed my life for the better. For these cities therefore, I am truly indebted. Toronto, New York, Seattle, thank you.


Rob Harrison AIA, architect and Passivhaus consultant, played guitar in a punk-jazz band with Dan Bertolet before he was fashionable. He and his car-free family park their bicycles in a green-roof garage he designed. He aspires to do only multi-family Passivhaus projects in the city, but will be pleased to design your Passivhaus cabin in the woods in the meantime, while the world catches up.