An Architect Whose Partner Is Nature

This interview was first published in JWeekly.

Stan_portrait-01

Stan Field

Name: Stan Field
Age: 69
City: Palo Alto
Position: Principal, Field Architecture

J.: Sustainable architecture — that’s what you’re known for. What is that?

Stan Field: A holistic approach. Everything is connected. Climate, energy, water, air, wind and geology — all of these things are the forces that shape architecture and environment. I’m really talking about environments rather than specific buildings or structures. It’s more about shaping the environment that belongs to a bigger ecosystem and ecology.

J.: You were the chief architect of Jerusalem in the early 1980s, and later had your own firm there. And you’re a native of South Africa. So why did you relocate to Silicon Valley in 1990?

SF: America is a highly technological place. I wanted to be at the cutting of this new revolution that was unfolding. But to my amazement, Palo Alto was backward when it came to architecture, as compared to technology, where it was at the forefront. But it was almost as if it didn’t matter. People were in their garages discovering things … so the built environment was secondary. But it’s catching up now. I arrived here 23 years ago, and I like to feel that I’ve actually contributed to this awakening.

J.: You’re involved in some design projects in the Bay Area Jewish community?

SF: Yes, we have two synagogue projects here in Palo Alto — Chabad (of Greater South Bay) and Kol Emeth. We are now entering the design phase for Kol Emeth, and it’s very exciting. We’re proposing using rammed earth construction (a building technique that involves making walls by compressing a damp earth mixture of clay, gravel and sand into a mold). It’s an ancient technology that people have been using recently as a way of building sustainably, economically and responsibly. We’re using an ancient technique with new insight.

Click here to read the rest of the interview.

© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

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