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A professor at the University of California, Berkeley and licensed
contractor as well as architect, Christopher Alexander is famous mostly for
his populism, and his theoretical contributions. With Sarah Ishikawa and
Murray Silverstein, he produced and validated an archtectural system, a
pattern language designed to empower any human being to design and build
quite well at any scale. He began the project because he believes that users
know more about the buildings they need than any architect could.
The Timeless Way of Building Described the perfection of use to which
buildings could aspire.
A Pattern Language : Towns, Buildings, Construction described the
architectural system in a form that theoretical mathematician or computer
scientist might call a generative grammar. It provides rules and forms, and
leaves decisions to be taken from the precise environment of the project.
This book's method was adopted by the University of Oregon, as described in
The Oregon Experiment, with only indifferent success, although it remains
the official building method.
The idea of a pattern language appears to apply to any complex engineering
task, and has been applied to some of them. It has been especially
influential in software engineering where patterns have been used to
document collective knowledge in the field.
The Nature of Order: An Essay on the Art of Building and the Nature of the
Universe (Book One: The Phenomenon of Life) is his latest work.
He also wrote Linz Cafe.
Alexander was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1936, and grew up in England. He
attended Cambridge University, where he earned a Bachelor's degree in
Architecture and a Master's degree in Mathematics. He earned a Ph.D. in
Architecture from Harvard University, and moved to Berkeley in 1963.