Statements and Tributes in honor of John Paul Eberhard

John Paul Eberhard
A tribute by Frederick Marks, AIA

It had not been long after my graduation from architectural school that I was hired by National AIA to become an Assistant Director for Professional Interest Committees, known today as Knowledge Communities.  Nearly all of AIA staff worked on the third floor of its headquarters facility in Washington, DC.  Other tenants occupied the building, but the fourth floor was dedicated primarily to the AIA Research Corporation.  All I knew about this research group was that they were receiving federal grants to investigate energy efficiency models for design and construction and that it was headed by a ‘wizard’ who was part architect, academician, scientist and theologian.  His name, as I would later find out, was John Paul Eberhard.

John and I would eventually meet and as fate would have it, work side-by-side many years later in developing ANFA into a sustainable organization with an international following.  I have been blessed to have known John as a friend, colleague, and inspiring teacher.  He is to be sorely missed by me.

John Paul Eberhard
A tribute by Alison Whitelaw, FAIA

I first met John Paul Eberhard in 2002 when he was 75 years old and had already achieved a rich and varied professional career.   The day we met was typical for John: starting with an energetic game of tennis followed by meeting new people, investigating new information and concepts through research and intellectual discourse, and determining a plan of action.

The connections that we made that day led to an 18-year relationship based on mentorship, leadership and a deep emotional and intellectual bond.  Getting to know John while we worked to create and develop the Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture has been one of the greatest privileges of my career.  He was a man of deep intellect and curiosity, a futurist with the determination and canniness to make things happen.  Above all, his interest in people made him a great mentor, he was always looking for opportunities to advance the next generation, thereby assuring their success and inspiring them to continue his important work.

John Paul Eberhard
A tribute by Claire Gallagher

To put it simply, John changed my life.  He took a chance on me, hiring me right out of my MArch to teach studio at Carnegie Mellon University.  That was the first kind gesture toward me, but it was not his last.  John knew that I had been developing curricula in architecture and urban design for children, which others at the university saw as foolish and unnecessary.  He stopped me one day and casually said, “How would you like to put your money where your mouth is?  If you can find a way to make it break even, you can use the facilities of the Dept. of Arch to run a program for children on Saturdays.”  With that began the first program, quickly followed by a second one for at-risk, inner city children, which was followed by John’s encouragement to use the resultant data for research and my doctorate.  He then asked me to be a part of his process in examining the effects of space on learning.  When others saw something frivolous, John saw interdisciplinary connections and potential; he turned those connections into introductions to those he knew who may be willing to deepen your thoughts and perspective.  He was a champion for interdisciplinary thinking, which was unusual when we met in 1990, and most important of all, he was my mentor.

I am certain that others can tell similar stories and isn’t that his legacy?  How lucky we were.

John Paul Eberhard
A tribute by Gordon Chong, FAIA

As architects, most of us wear the same black clothing as “our” fashion, admire similar eye glasses, “read” the same (picture) books, and even use the same lingo that only we can understand. John Paul Eberhard was an enigma… never thinking about what the rest of us were thinking, engaged in a vocabulary new to most of us, and always where none of us were nor would be without his insistence and prodding.

Year after year, my wife and I enjoyed receiving these terrific architectural sketches that John had done and turned into the Eberhard Christmas card. I envied his extraordinary skill and assumed that he had cultivated this innate ability beginning as a young child as so many architects have. Instead, he told me a story about waking up one morning and to his amazement had “found” an immediate and high level of skill to sketch that he never had before; never having sketched as a young child, not as a student of architecture nor as a practitioner.  He was nearly 80 years old. He was mesmerized by this mystery and wanted to know what was happening to his aging brain. How did this happen?

Always searching, always thinking, always exploring-  he told me that he had researched the drawings of children from all cultures who were under the age of 4.  Whether Eskimos who lived in igloos, Africans who lived in rounded thatched huts, or American Indians who lived in Tepees when asked to draw a house, the children always provided the same Western school house version of a pitched roof, red door in the center of the house and a chimney with smoke coming out of the top. None of these children had been exposed to a western culture. What is it about the brain that causes this to happen? Later, John informed me that his favorite part of the brain was the hippocampus. I immediately googled “hippocampus.”

Of all the building types and issues to be addressed by an architect, why would anyone decide to research and patent a prefabricated chapel? How many Architects have filed patents? How many knew how to do serious research adequate to obtain a patent? Who was thinking about energy conservation in 1970?

At about 76 years old, he also announced his interest in Neuroscience and Architecture, I thought…. really?

Enigma, maverick, visionary, bold. I will miss him.

Gordon Chong, FAIA
2002,  National AIA President
2007,  President of ANFA

John Paul Eberhard
A tribute by Steven Henriksen, PhD

My first interaction occurred with John Paul Eberhard at the Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) when he came to talk with me (which was such an honor!), to discuss neuroscience and architecture.You can imagine my trepidation at each word I would say. This led to a much appreciated understanding of our common visions of neuroscience and architecture and what a fantastic opportunity this could provide, as has occurred. Our conversations, that day were more than intellectually challenging, but led me to a better understanding of the potential critical nexus of the opportunity that ANFA represents. This was a person-to-person insight that sustained a light for us all, and led to the growing concept of ANFA that sustains today, as his legacy. John was like a neuroscientist….no B.S….”show me the data”. What a dear and thoughtful soul, who taught both we as “neuroscientists” and architects the value of introspection, vision, collaboration and humility!. God bless you, John!  SJH

John Paul Eberhard
A tribute by Professor Gilbert Cooke, FAIA

Working with, teaching with and the friendship with John is a most enduring memory. The first hint at what would become a thoughtful relationship was born at a NAAB visit, where he challenged a fledgling new program to seize the future by exploring relationships with other disciplines beyond the accepted norm. Then, and in future teaching, John urged multi-discipline partnering with science; and included measurable experimentation to expand and validate design. His endless contribution to bringing together seemingly unrelated ideas or constituencies were and will continue to be a major part of his legacy.

My most memorable experience with John was with his shared development of ANFA, and the development and teaching of courses in Neuroscience and Architecture at NSAD. It was and is most fulfilling to see the ideas learned and applied in work beyond those classes; in studios and in thesis projects; and realized in new design and construction.

The profession, and the future of the built environment will long benefit from John’s passion for the partnering of Architecture and Neuroscience; and beyond.

John Paul Eberhard
A tribute by Ken Kornberg

I am so very sad to lose John. He had that very rare gift of architectural talent combined with a deep understanding of science, it’s value and process. All of us at ANFA were lucky to have been able to learn so much from John. He was always kind, thoughtful and patient with those who had not caught up to his thoughts about pushing accepted boundaries. It will be very hard to replace the unique bridge he provided between architecture and neuroscience.

John Paul Eberhard
A tribute by Matthew Smith Architect, NCARB, LEED®AP, EDAC

There are individuals that think and act on a different plane than I, but struggle, for one reason or another, to communicate with those of us who can’t climb to their intellectual heights.  This was not John.  Any choose-your-own-adventure conversation that left my mind as an aspiration returned from John distilled and tangible.  I remember yapping like a giddy child, and he spoke with the warmth of a grandfather everyone hopes to have.  I wish I had more time with him, and relish the little I had.  What a beautiful impact he had in his lifetime, which may not be fully realized for years to come.

John Paul Eberhard
A tribute by Betsey Olenick Dougherty, FAIA, LEED AP

Celebrating John Eberhard

You have provoked us.
You have challenged us.
You have educated us.
You have mentored us.
You have inspired us.
You have left a legacy that we will continue to celebrate in your memory.

Betsey Olenick Dougherty, FAIA, LEED AP

John Paul Eberhard
A tribute by Eduardo Macagno

I met JPE in La Jolla in 2003, when Rusty Gage introduced him as someone with an unusual but fascinating interest: the application of neuroscience in human-centered design. When we met for coffee, I had no idea that John would have such a profound and lasting influence on my life and in my thinking. He asked to spend time talking with neuroscientists at UCSD and other institutions in the neighborhood, so I invited him to be a visiting scholar in my UCSD lab, with an office next to mine, a desk and computer, and access to the Internet and the library. Although most of John’s time was spent meeting new people, sometimes, to my delight, he stayed put and we discussed our ideas about experiments that could connect our two disciplines, buildings and brains. In return for the pied-à-terre, I asked John to teach a seminar for UCSD undergrads with me, the first of a series of Brains & Buildings seminars that I continued years later in collaborations with Eve Edelstein and Gil Cooke. It was a selfish request: I learned as much as any of the students from JPE’s broad knowledge of and infectious enthusiasm for the nexus of neuroscience and architecture. JPE was a thinker and builder, the “Johnny Appleseed” of Neuroscience for Architecture, of ANFA, and he will never be forgotten.

Eduardo Macagno, La Jolla, May 2020

John Paul Eberhard
A tribute by Rusty Gage, PhD

I met John in 1999. He visited my lab at the Salk, along with some colleagues of his from AIA headquarters in DC, who were visiting San Diego. He wanted to talk to me about a paper we published in 1998 on the effects of environmental enrichment on adult Neurogenesis in the Brain. I have to admit that, at first, I was unsure of the connection, but soon John convinced me that there was an important link between Architecture and Neuroscience. Eventually we came up with this simple proposition- The Brain is the organ that controls and directs behavior, the built environment can change the structure and function of the brains of individuals who experience homes, schools, businesses, churches and hospitals. Thus, architects are designing buildings that change our brain and our behavior. He concluded that Architects and Neuroscientists should work together to design more effective buildings. To facilitate this proposition, he envisioned the formation of the Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture, and with a few admiring friends and colleagues he actualized his vision.