Profile People Martin Dreiling

Martin Dreiling


Architect, Builder, Planner, Activist

Martin Dreiling is President, CEO and overall Director of Design. He oversees project design and realization, large project strategies, and general philosophical direction of the firm. He is also the lead activist of the firm, strategizing key directions for community and environmental actions. Martin was raised in and around San Francisco, educated at the University of Oregon and has practiced throughout the west over more than 25 years. He has worked with notable local and international firms and he initiated his own practice in 1990.

He sees architecture as relatively boundless, involving not only the obvious making of buildings and cities, but the larger involvement in the making of community, the keeping of land and the ongoing assembly of culture. This key principal leads him from traditional architecture to town planning, environmental activism and overall participation in the larger decisions, both political and private, that shape the human habitat.

Thus watershed restoration and timber management constitute a version of architecture as well as buildings and town plans. He sees the human habitat as a subset of the larger environment, and thus sees the making and shaping of human places as a subset of a larger task of environmental stewardship.

His experience ranges from intense urban mixed use projects to small scale residences to large scale public school facility programs. He has built luxury hotels and prisons, world class restaurants and hot dog stands.






We are taught first to design, to build for narrow purposes but we learn very young that there is always something more, some other connection that informs what we do, that answers a few more questions, (and adds a few as well) The more we learn about a client, a place, a design, the better we know what to do, what to build (and often, what not to build).

This approach holds true for cities as well. The more we learn about how our cities are made, how our planet is made, also the better we know what to do.

I have always seen a close connection between the natural world that I engage as a "tree hugger" and the built world that I see as an architect and builder.

I come to urbanism as an environmentalist; from the point of view of protecting the larger world by perfecting the human habitats within that world.

I grew up in the legendary "Little Boxes on the Hillside" and learned about city life by questioning what was missing from suburban life. I grew up watching sprawl consume farms, consume wild places. At the same time I grew up feeling something was missing in the very sprawl I called home.

These two dots connect in the art of making cities, wonderful cities, and cities large and small.

Thus I see the work we do in making cities as a version of environmental protection, but not from the point of view of prohibition. Rather from the point of view of creating a diverse set of desirable, sustainable and dignified human habitats that simply attract settlement where it belongs and reduce the pressures that force settlement into otherwise wild and remote places.