Dwight Long

When you were young, did you know you wanted to be an architect?

I began drawing pictures seriously by the time I was 8 or 9. By the time I was 13, that’s all I did. I only wanted to take art class. Luckily enough, in those days, most public high schools — I grew up in the Central Valley in Fresno — had an architecture department. By happenstance, my neighbor, who lived across the street, worked for a local architect who had apprenticed with Frank Lloyd Wright in the late 1950s. When I was 16 or 17, my neighbor asked me to come in and draw, because his firm was overloaded with work. I started working there. It was a great experience because it was fun, and the guy did interesting designs, and it was so different from everything else I dealt with in high school.

Is there a favorite building that inspired you?

Wurster Hall at UC Berkeley. It was designed as a tool for experimentation. It wasn’t designed as a pretty place, as a pristine hall of architecture. And not everyone appreciates it. But it’s really there to serve the occupants rather than to serve the viewers who look at it. It had a lot of influence on me and other people at the time, that it was really there to be used and experimented with, on, and in.

What are you up to outside of work?

Recently, I’ve been working on my house. It involves a lot of physical labor. I like to paint. My wife has to pull me to get me to go for a walk or go on a vacation. I’m one of those people who generally would prefer to be working than relaxing.

If you weren’t an architect, what would you be?

I’d probably be an automotive designer. I almost applied to the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena to do automotive design. I had a whole portfolio ready, then I decided, “I need to do architecture.”

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