As Architects, we should derive our creative inspirations from people, instead of abstruse theories of beauty or romantic notions about the spirit of the time. The inspiration comes from responding to unfulfilled needs, which requires a willingness to view people as individuals, not types, and things as they really area, not as we would like them to be. Designs are thus rooted in the variety of human experience. Reflecting heterogeneity, continuous change, and the dignity of the individual, they express the spirit of democracy. -- Designer/Builder, August 1996
Democratic Architecture offers viable and affordable solutions to our country's housing problem. It raises questions not just about housing policy, but about larger political and ethical issues such as, How should we live? And What does a country owe its citizens? -- Thomas Fisher, Dean, University of Minnesota, College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture
Donald MacDonald is the most imaginative and inventive housing architect in this part of the world, and perhaps in the whole world. -- Allan Temko, Pulitzer-prize winner, San Francisco Chronicle
Donald MacDonald thrives on dealing with tough urban problems. He has an innovative mind that pushes for answers to social and political problems and an assertive passion for accomplishing solutions. -- Beth Crawford Vincent, Design LA
It is all about giving the people the home they want to enjoy and giving them the fantasy of wanting to expand. Whether they actually do it or not is really unimportant. -- Planningweek, January 30, 1997
It's about time that a respected member of the architectural community faced up to social responsibilities. Democratic Architecture will hopefully recreate a public interest in housing for real people. -- James Stewart Polshek, F.A.I.A.
MacDonald challenges our traditional notions of how to house the people who live on the streets and can't seem to find a place in conventional homes, apartments and shelters. His book lays out a challenge for everyone involved in housing including architects, builders and city officials. He confronts those who say that ignoring the homeless is the only solution, but he also challenges those who say we can build enough conventional housing for all of the homeless. MacDonald also confronts homeowner and community groups who oppose housing projects. -- San Francisco Examiner, November 17, 1996
MacDonald's book presents a critique of post-war planning policy in the States, typified by schemes such as the now-demolished Pruitt-Igoe project in St. Louis, plus condemnation of new towns such as Seaside, Florida, which the author describes as an "architectural abomination," demonstrating a "contempt for democracy." He proposes new models of development based on community participation and the principle of defensible space. -- Building Design, March 7, 1997
About the Author
DONALD MACDONALD, FAIA is an internationally recognized architect and principal of MacDonald Architects in San Francisco. He is known as a visionary, an iconoclast, someone who believes passionately in the concept of "home," and of every human being's right to a home -- not just a shelter, but in fact a beautifully designed functional space. He cares deeply about making housing affordable, finding ways to turn homeless people and families with marginal incomes into homeowners, combating NIMBYism, putting housing and offices on top of shopping center parking lots to fight suburban sprawl and automobile gridlock, designing living spaces that provide the crucial element of privacy, and working with community groups. MacDonald studied architecture at Columbia University. His work has ranged from designing luxury homes in Napa Valley and Marin County, to a mixed use residential community for Asian immigrants in Oakland, modern condominiums in San Francisco, day care centers, and small functional shelters for homeless (known as "City Sleepers"). He received the 1989 Community Assistance Award from the California Council of the AIA. His Frank G. Mar Community Housing Mixed Use Project has received the 1990 World Habitat Award awarded by the Building and Social Housing Foundation (England) at the United Nations 1991 World Habitat Day and the National Endowment for the Arts' 1991 Federal Design Achievement Award. MacDonald has also been honored with the 1996 and 1997 HUD Award for Building Innovation in Home Ownership, as well as the City of Vision Award from the International Making Cities Livable organization. His work has been widely published in national and international publications. He is a passionate speaker and has lectured all over the world on the complex realities of the housing crisis in the United States.