Adam was born and raised near Ottawa, Ontario, and exposed to the practice of architecture from early childhood. He pursued numerous interests prior to a professional degree, including a BA in Liberal Arts at Oberlin College, work as a sailor and carpenter, and opportunities to travel and live abroad thanks to the Thomas J. Watson Foundation and Oberlin Shansi. These experiences included the documentation of rural temples and fortifications in Shanxi Province, China, and the documentation of rice architecture and practices in Phitsanulok Province, Northern Thailand. Early work experience in Thailand under both Nithi Sthapitanonda and Suriya Umpansiriratana cultivated an appreciation for Buddhist and tropical architecture and the relationship between architecture and landscape.
These experiences provided the opportunity to learn within a diverse range of cultural patterns, from boats to cities to rural shelters. In projects such as the Buddhist monastery or rural studio, both near Perth, Ontario, Adam has worked to counter the tendency for architecture to become object-like, remaining committed to the patterns, communities, and lived experiences that the objects of building exist to house. While it is a highly technical exercise, architecture’s aims remain cultural, embedded in time. Much like a tropical house dissolving into the landscape, Adam views architecture as striving to remain outside the focus of our attention, even while remaining a highly visible, material thing.
As a material thing, architecture is the product of making, and the crafts of making are themselves embedded in the culture of a place, its communities and traditions. Adam’s varied experiences working alongside traditional craftspersons; timber framers, drystone wallers, traditional plasterers, blacksmiths, and wooden boat-builders, among others, has underscored for him the significance of this connection between culture and real material. With a solid understanding of the benefits of various sustainable building strategies, from Passivhaus and Net Zero to LEED and Building Biology, it is the link, between the cultures of making and the carbon sequestering of natural materials, to which Adam is most drawn. It is here he sees the most promise in bringing together environmental benefits, technical aspects of construction, and the complex interwoven cultures of living and making.