Architects in Monterey? Here’s Who Is Coming to Dinner

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Sure, we’re an architectural gathering but recently, as we perused the list of those already registered for this year’s design conference, a surfer’s creed that came to mind. “Know before you go”—meaning: get the general surf conditions before you load up the boards and drive to No Cal for the waves.

So what’s the relevancy for three days about design? MDC’s relaxed atmosphere means impromptu conversations with attendees. Interaction that might not happen in the highly scheduled, pressured, or sometimes stratified constraints of a convention.

Who will be there for them? We thought we’d put together a few blogs with sort of a ‘know before you go’ outlook.


Amanda Dameron, Executive Editor, Dwell
Low Down from her Dwell bio: “Amanda Dameron has been a design and architecture editor since the early aughts, working and writing for such publications as Dwell, Architectural Digest, Conde Nast Traveler, Los Angeles Magazine and Elle Decor UK. She is the Executive Editor of the magazine, and she is often found on the digital side of things as well.”

Kick off the conversation with:
first Dwell Executive Editor to ascend from Digital Content Editor position.

John King, Urban Design Critic, San Francisco Chronicle
Brief Bio:
“John King is the San Francisco Chronicle’s Urban Design Critic. He joined the paper in 1992 and has been in his current post since 2001. His work has been honored by groups including the the California Preservation Foundation, the Society of Professional Journalists, and the California chapters of the American Institute of Architects and the American Planning Association. An honorary member of the American Society of Landscape Architects, he was also the recipient in 2006 of the first Gene Burd Award for Urban Journalism by the Urban Communication Foundation.

“Some towers loom larger in the psyche than on the skyline.” From “An aqua-green box where Mad Men once lurked.”

Kick off the conversation with:
a two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Criticism.

Clifford Pearson, Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Architectural Record
For the record, here’s his bio: Clifford Pearson joined Architectural Record in 1989 after working for publications such as Builder magazine, Metropolis, and Corporate Design & Realty. He is the author of the book Indonesia: Design and Culture (Monacelli, 1998) and the editor of Modern American Houses: Four Decades of Award-Winning Design in Architectural Record (Harry N. Abrams, 1996). He holds a master’s degree in architectural history from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University.

Quotable? Try these opening lines:From “What Was… 2000-2010” “Wretched excess. Sustainability and the rise of LEED. Architecture as spectacle. Architecture for Humanity. Buildings as collectibles and architects as brands..”

Kick off the conversation with:Recent intelligence on the Asian architectural scene.


David Meckel, FAIA, Director of Research and Planning, California College of the Arts
Bio: Director of Research & Planning at California College of the Arts as well as principal of his own design consulting firm. His professional work focuses on campus planning, environmental design, and the design of public spaces. Prior to serving as founding dean of CCA’s architecture program, David co-founded, with Richard Saul Wurman, the Interior Architecture Program at Otis/Parsons in Los Angeles.

David began his career in the office of Charles & Ray Eames, where he designed exhibitions and print graphics. He later spent six years with the Jerde Partnership in Los Angeles, working on all aspects of multiple major urban design projects. While at the Jerde Partnership, he organized and managed the environmental design work for the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. From 1987-1997, David collaborated with graphic designer Michael Manwaring through their multidisciplinary design firm, Ei, to create public-realm projects in Rotterdam, Los Angeles, and Taipei.

What’s not in the bio: Self-deprecating humor that’s dryer than a Monterey martini.

Quotable (On the second MDC which was titled “California 101” and featured 101 speakers):
“Everybody who was a presenter walked around with a t-shirt on that had a number ‘one’ to ‘one-hundred-and-one’ on it, so you could match it up with the program and talk to them.”

Kick off the conversation with: Where do you start? May we suggest begin with Meckel’s days with Charles & Ray Eames and move forward through all his innovative decades.

Steve Wiesenthal, FAIA, Associate Vice President & University Architect,  University of Chicago
Steve Wiesenthal, FAIA, is the Associate Vice President for Facilities Services and University Architect for the University of Chicago. He oversees the planning, design, construction and facilities operations of the 211 acre, 13 million gsf campus during a time of unprecedented rate of growth. Steve initiated and implemented the University’s first campus wide Environmental Sustainability Program.

Steve came to Chicago in 2008 from the University of California San Francisco, where, as the Associate Vice Chancellor and Campus Architect for eight years, he led the design and development of the new 43 acre, 2.6 million gsf Mission Bay research and academic campus. He also managed the ongoing engineering, operations, maintenance and capital program of the 8 million gsf multi-site health sciences campus.

Included in Steve’s private practice experience is six years with the internationally renowned design firm of Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates.

Quotable (Excerpted from the Chicago Maroon): “On a campus with buildings by renowned architects such as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Frank Lloyd Wright, Wiesenthal said he admires the quadrangle’s neo-gothic aura, and also appreciates the Charles M. Harper Center of the Graduate School of Business (GSB), designed by Rafael Viñoly, and the Gerald Ratner Center, designed by César Pelli.”

Kick off the conversation with: Take your pick? His experience into integrating sustainability programs in institutional settings or life at the firm of Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates.


Gary S. Hasell, AIA, LEED AP, Executive Director, Concept Architect Principal, Walt Disney Imagineering
BIO: For the last 17 years Gary has been involved with the conceptual planning, architectural design, interior design, construction and opening of Disney’s Asian hotels (3 in Tokyo, 2 in Hong Kong). He is currently focused on the two new hotel projects being planned in conjunction with the proposed Shanghai Disneyland Resort. Prior to his involvement with Imagineering he was involved with master planning, urban design and architecture of large scale recreational, resort & residential communities, new towns and destination resorts on all seven continents (and under the sea).

Quotable: “An American political truism runs that: ‘all politics is local’. A worldwide design and development parallel is that: ‘all construction is local’! As designer, developer and owner/operator, we have found we must heed this in order for our designs to truly succeed over their lifecycle.”

Kick off the conversation with: What traits do permafrost and liquefaction have in common?

Check back here to meet other attendees.



The AIACC represents the interests of more than 11,000 architects and allied professionals in California. Founded in 1944, The AIACC's mission supports architects in their endeavors to improve the quality of life for all Californians by creating more livable communities, sustainable designs and quality work environments.

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