We can do much, much better in the design of our buildings . . .

Pete portrait Paris 4We learn things every day in the practice of architecture. On these pages we share new developments, discoveries pro and con about established ideas, whatever we think might interest you .

I started my career building a playground in a poor neighborhood in Troy, N.Y., after my senior year at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. As I watched local kids enact pop-star performances on a pyramidal platform at one end of the big sand box, I realized that the creation of formal objects is just a beginning.   They leave our hands and are inhabited by their users in ways we cannot possibly imagine.

Design should always start with big ideas, but, paradoxically, good big ideas can only occur in the synthesis of thousands of small details. That’s why you are going to see on this site a focus on very specific, material things, and only occasionally the philosophic comment.  And like the kids on the playground, I’m hoping our readers will surprise and amaze us with their comments.

Pete Retondo

Saving birds with collision-avoidance glazing

It’s pretty rare to pioneer the use of something, and have it actually work.  This is one of those stories, attested to by the first-hand experience of two inveterate bird lovers and technophiles with impeccable credentials.  Three years ago we completed a project on their Petaluma farm property that included the first West Coast application of Ornilux “Mikado” anti-bird strike glazing – here’s why that is significant.

According to the Audubon Society, a billion birds a year are killed by collisions with windows in the US alone.  A small portion of that billion have been victims of the picture window in my clients’ farmhouse retreat on the Petaluma River. Read more