David Baker Architects


David Baker: 2017 Distinguished Alumnus

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The CED Distinguished Alumni Award is given annually to alumni of the departments of Architecture, City & Regional Planning, Decorative Art/Design, and Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning in recognition of outstanding achievement. Candidates have made outstanding and significant contributions in professional, social, academic, artistic, or other areas appropriate for recognition. 

This year's Distinguished Alumni cross boundaries from ethical design to environmental restoration to large building management.

Learn more about David Baker (M.Arch '82), Douglas Abbey (M.C.P. '79), Austin Allen (B.L.A. '82) and Diane Jones Allen (M.L.A. '84) and the significant work that they do.

2017 CED Distinguished Alumni Austin Allen, Diane Allen Jones, David Baker, and Douglas Abbey, with CED Dean Jennifer Wolch (center).

There are few other environmental design colleges whose alumni have gone out into the world and created as positive an impact in as many areas as those from UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design. More than designing structures, landscapes, and urban plans, CED alumni have changed lives, nourished communities, healed and enhanced environments, and enriched the human experience. By their actions and accomplishments, CED alumni have proven that an education focused on environmental and social justice, innovation, and creativity can lead to remarkable outcomes.

For the 20th year in a row, the CED community honored a group of distinguished alumni whose achievements in sustainable design, affordable community development, real estate and planning make them stand apart from the rest. On March 4th, at the 7th Annual Berkeley Circus Soirée at the California Memorial Stadium University Club, Dean Jennifer Wolch presented CED Distinguished Alumni Awards to Douglas Abbey; Diane Jones Allen, D. Eng., MLA, ASLA, RLA; Austin Allen, Ph.D., ASLA; and David Baker, FAIA, LEED AP.

“We’re indebted to the work that these four distinguished alumni have done in helping to create affordable housing and build resilient, sustainable communities,” remarked Dean Wolch. “They embody the best of CED, bringing its vision and purpose to concrete reality in working to improve lives through thoughtful and innovative design, planning, and real estate development. It’s with great pleasure that we celebrate them with this award.”


David Baker did not wait for graduation before becoming a pioneer in innovative architecture. While at Berkeley, he and two fellow students formed Sol-Arc, a consulting firm dedicated to energy-efficient architecture. At the same time, he was winning awards for Spaghetti House, built for his Master of Architecture thesis.

“When I arrived at Berkeley in 1974, entering the three-year Masters program for students without architecture backgrounds, I felt like I’d come home, found my vocation. The openness and opportunity of Berkeley — combined with the intense experience of the 200 Studio — was transformative,” he explained.

In 1982, Baker founded David Baker Architects (DBA), based in San Francisco and Oakland. Known for exceptional urban housing and integrating new construction into the public realm, DBA has a passion for the power of humane and respectful environments to transform neighborhoods and elevate the lives of individuals and families.

Baker continues to value the CED experience. “One-third of my staff are CED graduates. We prize and rely on their exceptional talent, creativity, and ability to work collaboratively.”

DBA has designed and built more than 10,000 affordable homes for the Bay Area and received more than 300 local and national architectural design awards and honors, including six national AIA awards and two ULI Global Awards for Excellence.

In 1996, Baker was selected as Fellow of the American Institute of Architects. He has been honored as a Visionary Leader in Design (Non-Profit Housing Association, 2014) and a Livability Innovator in Architecture and Urbanism (Livable City, 2014). He was selected as the AIA California Council’s 2012 Distinguished Practice. In 2010 he was given Hearthstone Builder Humanitarian Award, which honors the housing industry’s 30 most influential and innovative people of the past 30 years.

He is a co-founder of StoreFrontLab, an ongoing interactive exploration of urban issues and of the storefront as a place of community, creativity, and local industry.


Pacific Pointe Apartments. Image: Bruce Damonte