MADWORKSHOP Featured on LA Curbed!
In the book you write that this is a personal project for you because you lost your brother, who was homeless and struggling with mental illness when he died. How did that affect your career trajectory and approach to architecture?
It completely changed my career trajectory because it became a lot harder to justify doing things without social value. It became harder to justify being a designer, designing for those who have money—or talking about design for the upper class and completely neglecting the fact that there are humans out on the streets who don’t have shelter.
Doctors take an oath to help anybody, and I think as architects, we should do the same. We have a very specific skill set—to provide shelter. And shelter should be a basic human right. We have to be accountable to the fact that there’s a whole group of people that needs shelter, and we’re not providing it.
You call the shelter concept in the book a draft. Are you expecting revisions?
There’s no ego here; there’s no stake in this being the only way or the right way. This is the way the city will support and get behind—and hopefully be able to do—but if you have a better idea, go for it. Let’s just do something. We all just need to do something. There’s people out there in the rain and the cold, and we’re not doing anything.
I’m all for all the ideas, all the revisions. But I hope that it makes people want to act, because I can’t do it alone. Nobody can. We have to strengthen our ties as a community and decide that this isn’t an acceptable way to live with tens of thousands of people outside suffering.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.