December 01,2023

2010 AD100: Steven Ehrlich

by David Stewart

As a Peace Corps volunteer in the mid-1970s (he was that organization’s first architect in Marrakech), Steven Ehrlich designed his earliest eco-conscious building: a mud-and-thatch experimental theater in Zaria, Nigeria, where he taught architecture. Because of its cultural relevance, the structure is still maintained. Relevant to Ehrlich’s practice, founded in 1979, is the design innovation fused with sensitivity to the site that he demonstrated in Africa. His is a singular multicultural modernism: simple but powerful forms invested with the particulars of place and people. Steven Ehrlich Architects has earned seven national AIA awards and was named the 2003 Firm of the Year by the AIA California Council.

The firm’s work includes a recent biotech laboratory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as well as institutional and commercial facilities around the country. Residential projects have always been a mainstay of the practice. Of note is a new 35,000-square-foot house in the Persian Gulf that incorporates both Eastern and Western influences in a design that suggests a giant Bedouin tent. “Today’s technologies and a growing client awareness potentially allow us to be as environmentally responsible as I was with that first mud building,” Ehrlich says. The architect’s interest in global resources has him lately thinking beyond green to blue: He can envision a community that floats on and is completely sustained by the ocean.

Steven Ehrlich



  • David Stewart
  • December 01,2023

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