Today we have a very special guest. James Heimler of James Heimler, Architect, Inc.(one of the leading architecture firms in California for environmentally sustainable design practices and spatial architectural planning) has an impressive experience as a general partner in both development and property management companies. He answered our interview challenge and here is the result:

  • Freshome: Can you tell us when it all started? What was your first architecture project?
  • James Heimler: I started designing in the first grade. It just came naturally for me. In first grade I designed a new home and I presented it as a floor plan – not like all the other students with their pitched roof with chimney and smoke.
  • Freshome: What is your favorite architecture project?
  • James Heimler: Many of Schiendler’s and Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs.
  • Freshome: How would you describe a common work day ?
  • James Heimler: It depends on what I am going to do that day. On a design day I am anxious, excited, nervous, and ready to get to work and resolve the issues in the design that I have been dreaming about for days.
  • Freshome: Tell us something unusual that happened in your career:
  • James Heimler: On meeting a prospective client I was told to design his custom office building, making it unique and under a $10m construction cost. This meeting lasted 10 minutes – I was given free reign.
  • Freshome: What is your favourite book/magazine on architecture?
  • James Heimler: Kindergarten Chats by Louis Sullivan.
  • Freshome: What do you find truly inspiring? 
  • James Heimler: Nature and the energy force and a site.
  • Freshome: What thrills you the most in your work?
  • James Heimler: Resolving a design and, later, when the project is completed, seeing the client’s excitement.
  • Freshome: Hypothetically. A crazy client approaches you with a business idea. He offers you a mind blowing amount of money if you create a two level building for his bonsai (a miniature tree which he grows in a pot). He offers you an enormous budget and no guidelines. Nor is he intending on visiting much. How would your project look like? 
  • James Heimler: It could be a garden cut into a hillside with interior cave like rooms accessed from within the hillside for viewing the Bonsai and meditating. This would be very organic maybe like a mixture of Japanese and Gaudi’s structures.
  • Freshome: What project would you like create if you had no limits ? 
  • James Heimler: A 2,500 person intergenerational sustainable (off the grid) community for young families and an educational center for their kids. It can then transform into an intergenerational retirement center with all the dreams I would have for my family to have when we retire including the possible health care I could need. I continue to work toward this idea now.
  • Freshome: Share something you would like the world to know about you or your ideas.  
  • James Heimler: I plan for the future using my or someone else’s dreams and then with my vision, passion, and reality checks I make it happen!
  • Freshome: Any advice for young designers or architects reading this interview?
  • James Heimler: Keep an open mind, explore, dream, know the rules of engagement in whatever endeavor you enter into. Be real!