Newsletter | Mar/Apr 2002

Member Interview - Helen Degenhardt
by Tricia Felber

Helen Degenhardt is principal of HDA Architects and also a partner of JSW/D (Jacobson Silverstein Winslow Degenhardt Architects). She has been an OWA member since 1992. Ms. Degenhardt was raised and educated in Germany where she taught at a University there for two years before coming to the United States. She was employed for a time at Esherick, Homsey, Dodge and Davis, where she worked on several large projects for the University of California, luxury condominiums, and a library renovation. She has also worked on a series of projects for the San Francisco Zen Center--the new Bath House and Dining Room at Tassajara, Green's Restaurant at Fort Mason and several buildings at Green Gulch. She was also the partner in charge for the Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre.

Most recently her focus has been on affordable housing and she is currently working on two such projects in the East Bay. In addition she is working with Slide Ranch, a small Environmental Education Center in Marin, helping them to evaluate the most appropriate alternative energy sources and conservation strategies for rebuilding their facilities. Ms. Degenhardt's view of sustainable architecture goes well beyond just using recycled building materials. Sustainable strategies, she believes, need to be very site specific and vary considerably from case to case. Form her perspective, creating smaller, high quality buildings that last, and minimize the amount of energy needed to operate them are some of the most crucial elements for sustainable architecture. Helen likes to work with her clients to help them to translate their vision into buildings.

Currently Helen is informally mentoring an architecture student from Malaysia who is attending UC Berkeley.

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