Jesse Elliott

Architecture has always been an interest of mine, and while my childhood swayed me in the direction of sports, I gradually worked back toward what I believed at a very early age I wanted to be: an architect.

3 years of middle school "memories" journal entries

During high school I focused on playing tennis, academics at times, and was an exchange student for one year to Thailand. The cultural shock of Asia helped me understand more ways of living, and inspired me to travel after high school with stints living in Australia, Thailand, and Mexico. The travels were funded by working at my father's construction company, which specialized in commercial and industrial structures, including metal fabrication, millwrighting, steel and metal building erection, and some carpentry. 

With my friend Jeremiah Hess after a long summer workday on a sawmill shutdown. 

With my sister Leah exploring the wonders of Monte Albán, Oaxaca--a place I was glad to know later during architectural history studies

During one break after a stint on a job in wintery Alaska, I ordained as a Buddhist monk in Thailand for three months to partake in the traditional rite of passage for men there--albeit a tradition not so many participate in for the full term nowadays. I like deep experiences however, and spending months in the forested part of a semi-rural monastery grounds--living without any possessions or need for money even--suited me well.

This was my shelter by choice. There was a main housing complex with cozy rooms, but a few of us stayed in various huts on the wooded side of the temple grounds--this pond underneath had mosquito-eating fish, and I didn't need a net.

Sitting with the abbot who was wonderful to converse with. We spent long hours doing just that on a wide range of topics. While we look official here, conversation was always light-hearted, and it was special to hear his views.

After these gap years and moving on from community college to the university, I started working on residential projects with my step-father who was a small, artisinal contractor. This opened my eyes to a new world with craftsmen and owners who were passionate about design and set on having positive project experiences from start to finish. It was a gentler world, and I quickly came to feel at home in it, but I kept taking ever-larger residential projects, and soon enough had employees and began taking on commercial projects too. The largest of these was the WaterShed Building in Eugene, Oregon, which I ultimately brought to a well-established employee-owned construction company (2G Construction) to collaborate with, enabling me to focus on project management without the need to do much business management. The project went well and I spent a decade or so as a partner and working at 2G where I managed a wide variety of projects, and continued to grow with the many people I collaborated with. 

Between the constant flow of projects and family life I managed to visit around 40 countries on 5 continents. I prefer longer trips, and like to visit less touristy places, where I might learn something about daily life for local people, and have some interesting conversations too. All the while I gather architectural ideas from many sources--I find that everyone appreciates good architecture and craftsmanship, no matter their political or educational background. 

The rooftops of Lubeck Germany

I.M. Pei's little-known masterpiece in Taiwan: 

The Luce Memorial Chapel at Tunghai University

For my architectural history thesis, studying the work of Eladio Dieste in Uruguay was a graduate school highlight. It was great to get my feet on the ground and see much of the work he did, to meet his family and coworkers, and to experience the culture of a unique South American country. I continue to work on Dieste research when the opportunity arises, and my complete thesis is available at this link (there are many images at the end which offer some quick insight into my research).

For an overview of the breadth of Dieste's work in brick I also have a folder of photos here:

Eladio Dieste's Church of Christ the Worker

Atlántida, Uruguay (1960)

Eladio Dieste's Church of San Pedro 

Durazno, Uruguay (1971)

I am also especially thankful for my wonderful family. We have experienced a lot together, and support each other in our dreams. I think living in different places together has been one of the most powerful experiences for us. We have called both Eugene and Springfield, Oregon our homes for many years, and lived in rural eastern Oregon for almost two years. We also lived in each Taiwan and Spain for a year, and home is now the wonderful community of Lexington, Massachusetts.  

During our year in Taiwan, where we were bicycle commuters in a small town

We finally made it to the Swiss Alps (via train)