David Baker Architects


Mr. + Mrs. Bernard W. Baker

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Emilie and Bernard when they were first together in 1943.

My dad in 1940 with his Leica.

My parents at the commercial strip mall my dad designed and built in the 1960s in Muskegon, Michigan.

My mom and dad were married in the mid 1940s. Together, they reinvented their lives, moving from a Colonial-style house in Marne, Michigan, to a pair of solar houses they designed and built, one in Spring Lake, Michigan, and one in Tucson, Arizona. These houses were inspired by the "Usonian" houses of Frank Lloyd Wright, featured in the famous architect's autobiography that my dad read in the late 1940s.

The houses had large expanses of south-facing glass shaded by deep overhangs. They were high thermal mass designs, with radiant heated concrete floors and masonry walls (a brick and concrete insulated double wall in Michigan, and rammed earth in Arizona). My parents would leave tightly capped glass jars of water in the unheated Michigan house in the winter, which my dad felt proved that it never froze—something he was very proud of. Arts and Architecture Magazine agreed to publish the Arizona House, but the editor, Peter Blake, cancelled after finding out that Bernard Baker was not a licensed architect.

Emilie and Bernard at Christmas in Tucson in the 1950s.

Emilie and Bernard and Jolie in the 1970s.

Emilie and Bernard in Nogales in 1949.

Bernard with me at Bernard W. Baker Sanctuary in Michigan.