Born in Pittsburgh, PA in 1958.
My folks had a five-year-old and two-year-old when I was born. As it turns out, I’m one of triplets. So, my folks had five kids under five years old. Dad was raised in a poor, socialist, orthodox Jewish family. He worked his whole life as a schmata salesman and a union organizer. My mom was raised in a middle class, fairly non-observant Jewish family. My Mom has been a prolific artist her entire life. We grew up in a lively, artistic family that was very culturally identified as Jewish but, with the exception of high holidays and bar mitzvahs, non-observant.
We moved to Southern California in 1970.
At 18, I left California and traveled for 18 months alone, including six months on kibbutz and moshav. Studied Fine Arts at Cal State Long Beach for two years. UC Berkeley. BA Architecture 1980. Harvard Graduate School of Design, Master of Architecture, 1985.
My Harvard design thesis was the design of a Jewish Community Center in Berkeley, California. Thesis Advisor: Moshe Safdie. Returned to the Bay Area and worked for various architects, builders, and developers for a couple of years. Started Trachtenberg Architects in 1991. Been running my own firm for 28 years. Our office has designed over two hundred buildings, the majority of which are in or around Berkeley.
Local projects include buildings for KPFA Radio, The Trust for Public Land, ACLU Headquarters, The Berkeley Bowl Marketplace, Saul’s Deli, Comal Restaurant, Backroads, MIG Headquarters, Jung Institute, Pathways Homeless Shelter, SYDA Meditation Temple, Acme Bread Company, Cody’s Books, Kermit Lynch offices, Peet’s Coffee Headquarters, and about fifty private residences. Most of our projects these days are large multi-family projects. We’ve built 300 units so far in Berkeley and have another 1,500 in the pipeline.
My wife, Beth, and I met as undergraduates at UCB and have two kids, Mia, 24, a student at CCA, and Sam, 18, who will be attending Brown University in Fall 2020. Sam and Mia are both graduates of Berkeley High School. Beth has a PhD in Genetics and was director of a Genetics Lab at Oakland Children’s Hospital for 25 years until her retirement last year. I am now, after 35 years in the architecture business, just starting to feel like I know what I’m doing and have no plans to retire.
Our family is a member of Chochmat HaLev, and outside of high holidays we participate infrequently. We’re there mostly because of our deep friendship with Julie Batz (cantor) and Jhos Singer (magid).
Thanks for inviting me to be part of Urban Adamah. It’s an institution which I think is important and meaningful.