Author and Architect Donald MacDonald Offers a New Edition of "Democratic Architecture"

Jun 25, 2015

We offer a chat with Donald MacDonald, a San Francisco-based architect with 40+ years of experience in architecture, planning, contract documents, and construction management. He was the major architect of the Bay Bridge's Eastern span, redesigned elements of the Golden Gate Bridge, and has designed bridges across the U.S. as well as internationally -- and he also, way back when, studied with famed architect Bruce Goff at the University of Oklahoma. MacDonald joins us to talk about his influential book, "Democratic Architecture: Practical Solutions to Housing Crises," which is now appearing in its third edition. In this book, he argues that -- given America's troubled housing market and the growing divide between rich and poor -- we as a nation need thought-out, well-planned solutions to such problems. Thus MacDonald aims to offer viable and affordable solutions in this regard and raises questions not just about housing policy, but about larger political and ethical issues. In a work containing more than 100 photos and drawings, he carefully critiques post-WWII housing nationwide, and then puts forth innovative designs for low- and lower-middle-income housing, emphasizing all the while increased opportunities for home ownership, detached homes and multi-unit buildings, and alternative types of housing for people of various lifestyles. As MacDonald notes in this book: "As we work toward creating a more just and humane society, embracing and celebrating the diversity of our shared experience, our design and architecture must similarly embody the best aspects that define our democracy. To do anything less would, at the least, squander a tremendous opportunity and, perhaps more significantly, diminish the potential of our contributions as citizens and professionals."