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Profile: George H. Balsley AIA

Name: George H. Balsley AIA
Job title and company: Senior designer/architect, Steffian Bradley Architects (SBA)
Degree(s): BArch, Boston Architectural College, 1983
Professional interests: Co-chairman, Board of Trustees—Vermont Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing; Western Massachusetts AIA; Institute for Human Centered Design—Mentoring for Deaf Designers; Boston Architectural College—Mentoring for Deaf Designers; Working Group—World Deaf Architects (being created)!

George is presenting B85 DeafSpace: An Architectural Pattern Language For a More Sustainable and Livable World.

What are you working on now? 

A new addition to an existing New York hospital.

How do you explain to your mom what you do for a living? 

My mom knew how honorable the architectural profession is, and it was her who pushed me into it. Luckily for her, I grew to love it and am loving it more every day.

What inspired you today?

Just visited a new classroom building for the deaf in West Hartford, Connecticut.  

What industry buzzword would you kill? 

McMansions!

When you’re working, do you discuss or exchange ideas with your colleagues?  

Yes—in fact, I do mostly with emails or one to one with a colleague at work because of my hearing loss. If somehow my hearing loss is cured, I’d become a chatterbox nuisance in the office! My office publishes a monthly newsletter, and I do put in a few words about DeafSpace; and again [on the company’s] website, we have a blog, and I’ve put in a case study of one DeafSpace project. It’s a pretty good way of sharing ideas among my colleagues within our office.

What are you reading?  

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson.

Do you sketch by hand or digitally?  

Mostly digitally now. When I started, it was always by hand.

Has your career taken you anywhere you didn’t expect? 

Yes. After college with an American history degree, I thought I would become a museum curator.

Where is the field of architecture headed?

I’ve seen the transition from drafting to computers. Revit is an amazing CAD program, but I shudder what the future holds for us.  

Can design save the world? 

Population is rapidly increasing and the world is more crowded, so good design is even more critical. If you want a good design, you need to pool together ideas and create good communication with a wide variety of consultants.

What do you hope to contribute from your work? 

Introduce DeafSpace concepts into universal design. I’d like to see a global commitment to designing for all—