Designing for a Hierarchy of Needs

Hear how top American and Swiss influencers in the fields of architecture and design evaluate the theory of the “hierarchy of needs” and answer the question, must design fulfill fundamental requirements before it can wow us aesthetically?

Event Details


swissnex San Francisco
730 Montgomery St., San Francisco, 94111 United States


September 23, 2011 from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm America/Los Angeles (UTC-07:00)

The idea of an architectural “hierarchy of needs” rests on the assumption that in order to be successful, a design must meet basic needs before it is able to satisfy higher-level desires. In other words, before design can wow us aesthetically, it must fulfill fundamental requirements.

swissnex has partnered with LAUFEN to host a panel discussion exploring this idea with architect Cary Bernstein, founder and principal of Cary Bernstein Architect, Douglas Burnham, principal at envelope Architecture + Design, David Hacin, founder of Hacin + Associates Inc., and Swiss Designer and Head of the firm Process Design, Peter Wirz. Join us as the panel probes the crossroads of architectural planning and contemporary design and examines the meaning and emotion behind architecture, with the help of moderator Jaime Gross, Senior Editor at Dwell Magazine.


6:30 pm  doors open
7:00 pm  program starts
7:50 pm  audience Q&A
8:00 pm  reception and networking
9:30 pm  doors close


Cary Bernstein

Cary Bernstein graduated from Dartmouth College in 1984 with a B.A. in Philosophy and Russian Literature and received an M.Arch. from the Yale School of Architecture in 1988. She practiced in New York for six years prior to opening her San Francisco office in 1995. Her work includes residential, commercial, arts related, and health care commissions in California, New York, and Moscow, Russia. Her firm’s projects have won numerous design awards and have appeared in local, national, and international exhibitions and publications.
Bernstein has taught both the Russian language and jewelry fabrication at Dartmouth College, philosophy at Yale University, and architectural design at UC Berkeley. She is currently an Adjunct Professor of Architecture at the California College of the Arts and serves as Chair of the SFMOMA A + D Forum. She is a member of the 1% Solution, providing a minimum of 1% of her firm’s working hours to assist non-profit organizations with their design and planning needs.


Douglas Burnham

Douglas Burnham is founder and principal of envelope Architecture + Design (envelope A+D), an award-winning collaborative design firm that advances new models of public and private space anchored in compelling visions of the emerging urban condition. A practicing architect for over 20 years, Burnham is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Architecture, where he received the Charles Goodwin Sands Memorial Prize, awarded to one student in the graduating class for outstanding final thesis work.
Burnham’s range of experience includes residential, educational, commercial, civic and hospitality building and renovation projects, as well as exhibition design, product design, furniture, and custom lighting fixtures. He has been an Adjunct Professor at California College of the Arts since 2004. From 2007 to 2010, he led the SFMOMA’s Architecture + Design Forum as Chair, and now serves on the Forum’s Executive Committee. His work has been published in magazines and journals including Dwell, Architectural Record, Metropolitan Home, and Interior Design, among others.


David Hacin

David Hacin founded Hacin + Associates Inc. in Boston in 1993 after practicing architecture and urban design in well known firms including Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, the Manhattan Office of City Planning for New York City, Gwathmey Siegel Associates, CBT Architects, and Hacin et Associes in Geneva, Switzerland, his father’s firm.
Hacin received his bachelor’s degree in architecture from Princeton University and his master’s in architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of Design. He is a member of the Boston Civic Design Commission, a Fellow of The American Institute of Architects, and has served on the Board of Directors of the Boston Society of Architects (BSA) as Commissioner of Urban Design. He’s a Co-Chair of the Design Industry Group of Massachusetts, a design industry initiative that seeks to raise the profile of design as a key economic sector of the Massachusetts economy.


Jaime Gross

Moderator Jaime Gross is a Senior Editor at Dwell Magazine, where she writes and edits stories about architecture, design, culture, and travel. She also serves as Travel + Leisure‘s San Francisco Correspondent, keeping the publication abreast of news and trends in the Bay Area. Before starting at Dwell in July 2010, she worked as a freelance journalist for six years, contributing frequently to the New York Times, T: the New York Times Style Magazine, Interior Design, and Elle Decor, among others. Her writing is gathered here. Gross graduated from Wesleyan University in 2002 with degrees in English and Studio Art.


Peter Wirz

Peter Wirz studied mechanical engineering and product design and was a successful Olympic athlete before turning to industrial design. Since 1997, he has served customers from Switzerland, Europe, and Asia with his company Process Product Design. Process’s field of work ranges from branding to product design. Process has won more then 85 international design awards and has offices in Zurich, Lucerne, Taipei, and Shanghai, with a staff of over 45 designers. Since 2001, Process has developed several product lines for LAUFEN, the most recent being the international hit, “LAUFEN pro.” In line with its philosophy, Process was in close contact with the development and manufacturing team at Laufen Bathrooms during the development of “LAUFEN pro” to ensure that production costs were optimized whilst achieving a high-quality look.

More Info

Now in its 8th year, the Architecture and the City Festival in San Francisco is the largest architectural festival in the US, showcasing tours, films, exhibitions, lectures, and interactive workshops all over the city. Organized by AIA San Francisco and the Center for Architecture + Design, the 2011 theme, Architecture of Consequence, will demonstrate how progressive design and creative problem solving can address many of our most pressing urban issues, from decreased social cohesion to unsustainable food systems.


Photo: Myleen Hollero

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