Christopher Alexander: Architecture Outsider, Humanist at Heart

In addition to our 12 game changers, we selected three design pioneers whose ideas have stood the ultimate test of time: going from revolutionary to mainstream.

Although he has designed over 200 buildings, taught for 38 years at the University of California, Berkeley, and written several key texts on design, Christopher Alexander has always been viewed as something of an outsider by the architectural establishment. This is hardly surprising; Alexander wrote that A Pattern Language “comes simply from the observation that most of the wonderful places of the world were not made by architects but by the people.” But he continues to touch our lives in the strangest ways. Design patterns, his classification of archetypal problems and solutions, has inspired new approaches to software programming. And while Alexander’s ideas about putting people at the heart of architecture might not have found much traction in the 1980s, they are at the core of today’s practice. ­

Research by Derrick Mead

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