Kathryn Langstaff, Principal
Kathryn Langstaff, M.Arch., Associate AIA
Kathryn's work as a designer emerges from understanding the inherent structure of a system and connecting it to the living fabric of our world. Kathryn is a deep listener able to facilitate processes that allow systems to see themselves. She has enjoyed working within a wide range of disciplines including building design, planning, development, education (Pre-K through graduate level), strategic planning, organizational learning, project management, research, photography, and play. Design Thinking, endogenous and collaborative design have also been at the root of her work, as well as a lifelong inquiry into generative design and beauty, see Making Wholeness Heals the Maker: A Generative Design Experiment for Personal Healing.
In 2015, Kathryn served as the Launch Director for the Living Product Challenge program of the International Living Futures Institute. Always searching for ways to design with local materials and harmony with living systems, Kathryn pioneered the use of leichlehmbau (light-straw clay) in North America in 2002, serving as sustainable designer and project manager for The Fruehauf House and Hai Shan Clinic in Corbett, Oregon. She was part of an innovative USDA RAC grant design team integrating leichlehmbau, roundwood, and other regional materials for the Klamath Siskiyou Arts Center in Happy Camp, California. She designed Niski Acupuncture Clinic and contributed design and sustainable strategies for the Left Bank Project. Kathryn has had a sustained interest in building with clay with research in North America, Peru, China, and Japan.
Her teaching includes the Pacific Northwest College of Art’s MFA in Collaborative Design program where she led a multidisciplinary cohort of students in an exploration of design thinking as a tool for civic collaboration and solving complex problems. At U.C. Berkeley, Sinte Gleska University, the San Francisco Institute of Architecture, Kathryn taught courses on Designing Sustainable Systems and The Nature of Order, Sacred Design Using Local Materials & Permaculture, and design studios on Autonomous Urban Villages and Ecological Design. While working with the Ecological Design Institute, she laid the groundwork for a Pre K-12 eco-literacy program at San Domenico School, in San Anselmo, CA which won the Green Ribbon Schools Award from the US Department of Education for excellence in sustainability practices in 2014.
With development experience beginning in the late 1980s in San Francisco, Kathryn worked as the Assistant Construction Manager for Mitsui Fudosan, USA and completed the base building contracts and managed the tenant improvements for 505 Montgomery, a $125 million Class A office building. She researched international loft projects and helped Mitsui Fudosan, USA to invest in the Clock Tower, the first loft conversion South of Market in San Francisco. In 1990, she worked on Phase I of the Shops at Fourth Street in Berkeley with Abrams/Millikan & Associates.
Kathryn has been fortunate to have many collaborators and mentors in her work, including Christopher Alexander, Center for Environmental Structure, Sim Van der Ryn, Grand Master Hui Liu, William McDonough AIA, John Todd ~ John Todd Ecological Design, and David Yarbrough, AIA. One of her greatest teachers was her father. His love of life, and the way he shared his gift with the world for the joy of others, has been a great inspiration to her. Jazz piano was his craft. Improvisation, play, creating together, being something more when working with others, sharing the emergence of being, transforming emotion, and helping others find their rhythm were the qualities he bestowed that Kathryn now employs when engaging with clients.
Kathryn received a Masters in Architecture from the University of California at Berkeley, where she was awarded the John K. Branner Traveling Fellowship in 1993-1994 to study ecological design and community development. She is a new Fountain Project Board Member, El Cerrito, CA and serves on the Advisory Board of Sinal do Vale, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She Co-Founded Wen Wu School Portland in 1999, which is the longest running qigong school in the region.