The Eleventh Annual Berkeley Undergraduate Prize for Architectual Design Excellence 2009
Berkeley Prize 2009



Gail Brager is a Professor in the Building Science Program of the Dept. of Architecture, at UC Berkeley, and is the Associate Director of the Center for the Built Environment, an industry/university collaborative research center focused on improving the design, operation, and environmental quality of buildings. She is also the Chair of the USGBC Research Committee.

Brager received her Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the Unversity of California, Berkeley, and has been a member of the architecture faculty for over 24 years, addressing a range of sustainability issues. She teaches in the areas of energy and environmental management, sustainable design, natural cooling, mechanical systems and architectural space-making, and architectural research methods.

Brager’s research activities focus on the healthy workplace, with a particular interest in promoting operable windows and natural ventilation in office buildings, and post-occupancy evaluation methods combining both physical measurements of the indoor environment with surveys of occupant response.   She has received numerous awards for her research and service from both architecture and engineering organizations.


Hired as a designer and draftsman by Joseph Esherick in 1962 and now Senior Principal at EHDD Architecture, Chuck Davis has been a key contributor to the firm’s design philosophy, practice, and body of work. As a young Berkeley grad, serving as a construction supervisor for the Army Corps of Engineers, Chuck gained first-hand knowledge of heavy construction and respect for those who build. His progressive mastery of construction technology has earned EHDD a reputation for technical excellence.

Chuck’s expertise in laboratories and research facilities spans the disciplines of marine biology, physics, chemistry, life sciences, environmental sciences, neuroscience, earth sciences, computer sciences, and robotics. His integrative, thoroughgoing process for the design of the Monterey Bay Aquarium—forming a harmonious union of marine science, habitat understanding, materials research, visitor experience, and aquarium exhibitry—transformed the field of aquarium design.

Chuck’s approach is quintessentially Californian—inclusive rather than exclusive, inventive and spontaneous rather than formal or pedantic. What results are structures extremely diverse in their form and articulation, yet exceedingly well suited to their sites, their programs, and the needs of users. In 2003, in recognition of his outstanding achievement in architectural design, the AIA California Council awarded Chuck its highest honor, the Maybeck Award. Chuck holds an A.B. in Architecture from the University of California, Berkeley and has pursued graduate studies in architecture and business administration also at the University of California, Berkeley.


During his long career as an American architectural journalist and historian, Thomas Fisher has served as the Editorial Director of PROGRESSIVE ARCHITECTURE magazine (now defunct), and BUILDING RENOVATIONmagazine; as the Historical Architect for the Connecticut State Historic Preservation Office; as the Regional Preservation Officer at the Western Reserve Historical Society; and as an historian with the Historic American Engineering Record.??

Fisher’s major research revolves around the relationship between the history of ideas and the design and production of architecture. A recent focus has been on the ethical, economic, and cultural ideas that drive unsustainable building practices in the United States, and on the development of new design tools and conceptual structures that would allow us to create a more environmentally sustainable built world.

He has lectured or juried at over 30 different schools of architecture and over 60 professional societies, and has published two books, numerous chapters in various books on architecture, and over 200 major articles in various magazines and journals.

He also remains active as an architectural critic, writing frequently for professional and newsstand magazines.

Fisher’s two books are a study of the work and ideas of Duluth, Minnesota architect David Salmela entitled, Salmela, Architect; and a collection of essays on architectural practice entitled, In the Scheme of Things, Alternative Thinking on the Practice of Architecture, both published by the University of Minnesota Press.

Read his article on public-interest architecture.


Following studies at Cairo University's Faculty of Architectural Engineering, Ahmad Hamid began his professional career with Hassan Fathy, a pioneer architect in the international community. In 1984 he founded Ahmad Hamid Architects, a Cairo-based private interdisciplinary design office providing architectural services for residential and commercial projects, and public spaces, as well as product and furniture design. Furthering his own personal research into the indigenous art and architectural traditions of the Muslim World he then went on to pursue post-graduate studies in architectural history at the American University in Cairo, graduating with a Master’s Degree in Islamic Art and Architecture.

Hamid worked with Skidmore Owings and Merrill on the “World Trade Center Cairo,” and several international consultants designing “Sadat City,” and has also consulted in Germany, England, Switzerland, Malaysia, Syria and Saudi Arabia. He has dealt with urban and rural projects alike, focusing on the development of context-appropriate, economically-sustainable solutions. He has designed several lines of contemporary furniture, objects, textiles and accessories, and uses photography to document his sources of inspiration, periodically exhibiting his photographs and architectural and design drawings, most recently, "The Architecture Shop: Character Studies; Works of Ahmad Hamid," ( Cairo, 2008).

Hamid has maintained an active teaching career alongside his practice, and has lectured at many universities and institutes around the world on selected topics in art, industrial design, architecture, culture, sustainability, and Islam's art & architecture. He seeks to bring out the brilliance in each and every one of his students, educating them through the visual world instilling a critical appreciation of design as well as promoting intelligent, socially-responsible spaces and objects; his work has been featured in some sixty articles, television and radio programs in five languages.


John Ochsendorf is a structural engineer and architectural historian who works to preserve historic structures and to reinterpret ancient technologies for contemporary use. In a discipline whose practitioners rarely venture into comparative cultural and historical studies, Ochsendorf is a pioneer in exploring alternative engineering traditions. His early studies investigated the construction of hand-woven, fiber suspension bridges that spanned the deep ravines and connected the territories of the Inca Empire. In addition to conducting fieldwork in Peru and analyzing historical accounts of these bridges, he developed a method for testing the strength of the ancient rope-weaving technique to produce the first data on its performance. His cross-cultural interest in bridges also led him to in-depth studies of suspension and cable-stayed bridges in Japan.

More recently, Ochsendorf has turned his attention to identifying the causes of vault and buttress failures in French and Spanish Romanesque churches. Applying his understanding of structural mechanics to problems of masonry construction, his detailed analyses of barrel-vaulted churches are helping to evaluate the safety and condition of particular buildings and to develop practical strategies to address their vulnerabilities, stabilization, and restoration. For another recent project, Ochsendorf led his students in the design of England’s Pines Calyx dome, a robust, energy-efficient structure built from local resources using a tile vaulting system patented in the 19th century by Spanish architect Rafael Guastavino. While conducting structural assessments of historic monuments around the world, Ochsendorf develops new methods for establishing the stability of ancient buildings and draws important lessons from them that will guide the construction of more efficient architecture in the future.

John Ochsendorf received a B.Sc. (1996) from Cornell University, an M.Sc. (1998) from Princeton University, and a Ph.D. (2002) from Cambridge University. He is currently an associate professor in the Department of Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His work was recognized this year by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which selected him as a 2008 MacArthur Fellow.

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Angkor, Cambodia; UNESCO World Heritage Site 1992 ©Alonzo Addison, as published in Disappearing World ©2007
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