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John Lund Kriken (b.1938)

Dates of Interview:

January-February, 2008

Location of Interview:

Kriken's office in San Francisco


Suzanne Riess

Length of Transcript:

255 pages
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Biographical Summary

John Lund Kriken was born in 1938 and grew up in the San Francisco, California area. In 1961 he received the B. Arch. from the University of California Berkeley, College of Environmental Design and completed the M. Arch. in Urban Design at Harvard University Graduate School of Design. He began work at Skidmore, Owing & Merrill's San Francisco office in 1970 and now continues his association with SOM as a consulting partner. He established the Planning and Design Studio of SOM's San Francisco office.

Kriken has served as planner or design advisor to many cities around the world, including Shanghai, Ho Chi Minh, São Paulo, San Francisco, San Antonio, and Hong Kong. He developed the master plan for the new University of California Merced. He currently teaches at the College of Environmental Design, University of California Berkeley. Kriken is co-author of the forthcoming book, City Building: Nine Planning Principles for the Twenty-First Century, to be published May 2010 by Princeton Architectural Press.

Interview Highlights

Kriken discussed some of his major projects: HemisFair, California Tomorrow, SOM projects in Iran, China and Vietnam; the design for the new campus for University of California Merced; the business aspects of getting and educating clients at SOM; his colleagues at SOM.

Phase I, Saigon South, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, 1993; Courtesy, SOM

City of Islands, Saigon South, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, 1978
Photo by Phu My Hung Corporation; Copyright, Phu My Hung Corporation; Courtesy, SOM

Interview Excerpt

"It turned out I loved cities, but first I loved architecture. The problem of design was more compelling when it was the design of groups of buildings rather than an individual building. I could always find more social and environmental consequences. It just seemed like a more interesting and complex problem." (p. 9)

Master Plan, University of California, Merced, 2001
Photo by Chris Grubbs; Copyright, Chris Grubbs; Courtesy, SOM

Funding for this oral history was provided by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, LLP.