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Practice of Architecture | 2018/02/20

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George Calys: The Architect Critic

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Architects are not really known for being good writers, which makes George even more unique. Besides, who is better at telling the story of architecture to the public than another architect? If you are looking for someone to tell your design story, consider contacting this critic.

George’s Bio:
George is an architect turned critic/journalist who focuses on the built environment—architecture, urban planning, and infrastructure. He is the San Francisco Architecture and Design writer at as well as a contributor to The Architect’s Newspaper, Contract, Urban Land, California Home + Design, Handful of Salt and other publications.

Graduating from architecture school at the University of Kansas, George practiced for 25 years before taking up writing full time. He works and resides in San Francisco.

The Quick Details:
Name: George Calys
Location: San Francisco, CA
Occupation: Architect/critic
Title: SF Architecture & Design Examiner
Degree(s)/Education: Bach Environmental Design, University of Kansas
Your personal hero(s): My father, who left Greece during that country’s civil war immediately after WW2 and came to the United States. With little education, little money, and no family with him, he persevered and eventually prospered in America. His history has profoundly influenced my life.

Five Questions:
What first made you interested in architecture?
Going to downtown Kansas City as a child and seeing the tall buildings, I first experienced the “vibe” of a then thriving city. I entered architecture school on a whim and within a semester knew I was where I wanted to be.

What do you do now?
Today I write and comment on architecture and design in the Bay Area and occasionally in New York. I am currently writing a book on Bay Area architecture along with a companion documentary.

How do you apply your architecture background to your current job?
My knowledge of design and architectural practice informs everything I write. My viewpoint reflects that of an architect, but an architect who wishes to speak to an often design-illiterate audience.

What’s in store for the future of the architecture education, the profession, and/or the building industry?
The American economy has and continues to produce more architectural graduates than can be absorbed. Many graduates will never be licensed or practice architecture in the traditional sense. The profession has grown from the usual design services into other areas of concern to clients such as strategic planning, post occupancy services, and green design. These trends will continue although it is likely that other forms of practice will evolve as well.

Any additional thoughts/information?
Alone of the arts, architecture is the least understood by the American public. Music, cinema, and fashion, for example, receive widespread media and internet coverage, creating a knowledgeable public. Could architecture and design one day achieve that same status among the “average” American?