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  • Website: http://layered.typepad.com/architecturevn
  • Location: Vietnam

One-Line Bio

American architect and architectural historian

Biography

Growing up in Montana, USA, I would never have made it my dream to live in Vietnam or anywhere else. I had no interest in places beyond Montana, except perhaps Scandinavia where most of my ancestors came from. My undergraduate architecture years were at Montana State University, and I would have been happy to begin my architecture practice in Montana. I definitely did not want to live in a large city.
But thanks to the U.S. Navy, I lived in Saigon for a year in 1971-72 managing construction contracts to Vietnamese construction contractors. It is the prime event of my life. I fell in love with Vietnam because of the people I worked with, and it is a very beautiful country. Saigon at that time, with 2 million people, had much of the same industrious energy that it has in abundance today with 13 million people. And I came to love the intensive life of the big city. So I vowed to return to Vietnam someday to participate in the building of the country.
In the interim, I settled into the architectural profession in San Francisco, accumulating good experience while growing a family. A Master of Architecture degree from the University of California at Berkeley was earned, and I managed the operations of a large architecture firm with offices in Asia, Mexico, and major U.S. cities. I never lost track of my dream to return to Vietnam, but it was definitely delayed by the needs of the family and house, and the value of my network and position in San Francisco.
The opportunity came in 2005 to join an American real estate development firm with the prospect of projects in Vietnam. This was a big change in itself, moving to the owner's side of the table. Since the firm's principal did not want to relocate to Vietnam himself, I offered to do so in order to anchor our operations in southern Vietnam.
We were not successful for the first couple of years in Vietnam, but I learned much about what it might take to succeed. After dissolving that firm's legal presence, I joined a real estate development firm that had succeeded in achieving an investment permit for a very large resort project on the south-central coast. We accomplished a detailed master plan and infrastructure plan for the site, but have not yet succeeded in funding the design and construction. Master plans for two new towns in the Cu Chi District of Ho Chi Minh City were also developed.
I will remain in Viet Nam indefinitely. I love the young energy of the people here, especially in Ho Chi Minh City. I love the modernist architecture for houses that Vietnamese architects have developed in southern Viet Nam over a 60-year period. It is exciting to be here in an emerging market country that has much work ahead to achieve its enormous potential. I am now recording Vietnamese modernist architecture in a forthcoming book, as well as research for a book on contemporary Vietnamese architecture, and the architecture of the information age beyond that.