A Life in Architecture – Dennis Thompson

In 805conversations by Mark Sylvester

Designing for the Environment

They have to build what’s on the paper, except when they don’t.” -Dennis on working with builders.
Dennis Thompson, Principal at Thompson-Naylor Architects in Santa Barbara, sat with Mark and Patrick to talk about his love of design and the environment. These two passions have driven him to become one of the most influential architects in the region. Dennis loves teaching and has been sharing his talents and mentoring for his entire career, most recently at the UCSB Bren School of Environmental Science and Management.

This wide-ranging conversation covered a lot of ground including:

  • Why he’s so fond of working with residential projects
  • The Role of Visualization in his field
  • Why constraints are so important
  • Mark talked about his favorite book, The Universal Traveler, as it was written by two Cal Poly Architecture professors in the 70’s
  • His most fun house? One he designed after the devasting Tea Fire in Santa Barbara
  • Why planning for the environment is powerful and how he’s been recognized for this focus by his peers with a Fellowship in the AIA for Green Building
  • Using natural light – taking advantage of south-facing windows and summer shade
  • His thread of work extends to religious and non-profit buildings and residential projects
  • Why a personal connection is so important when he embarks on a project
  • He’s got an interesting take on the two types of clients he has. Listen to learn more
  • His favorite films that feature architects, including; It’s Complicated with Santa Barbara’s Steve Martin and his favorite Youtube from Seinfeld’s George Costanza, “I want to be an Architect.”
  • He explains what a charette is and why it’s vital to the process
  • What’s LEED?
  • His future vision suggests that Homes will produce more energy than they use – Net Zero Energy as part of the California Progressive movement.
I confess to loving conversations with Architects. We had several in the early days of Wavefront, all from the Cornell School of Architecture. Fascinating people. If you’d like to hear another local architect’s story, listen to Brian Cearnal’s episode on 805conversations.