Claire Guest

  • Associate

LEED AP, Sacramento Studio

Where did you go to school?

My first college experience was at the University of St. Thomas in Houston. As a child of the 1960s, I took my English study of existentialism to heart and decided to “live in the moment.” I went to the airport with a few hundred dollars in my pocket and flipped a coin for L.A. or New York City. I ended up in the Big Apple for a few months, where I worked for Benton & Bowles, one of the big advertising agencies at 555 Fifth Avenue. It was definitely a Mad Men experience. Then I took art and architecture classes at various California community colleges. While design was interesting, intuition is my passion. I completed several programs at Berkeley Psychic Institute and am continuing my study at Aesclepion in San Rafael.

What do you do at RMW?

I have developed a large resource library which has given us a marketing edge in terms of our efficiency in finish selection, and the work I do with designers in researching materials and selecting finishes helps us squeeze the most design out of our slim budgets.

What do you like about the firm?

Hands down, it’s the people.  Creative people are fun.

What is your favorite building or space and why?

There’s a special place in my heart for the Bradbury Building in Los Angeles, where I worked for an urban design firm for three years. Every day when I entered the building and saw an inspiring shaft of light, I felt as if I were entering a portal into another world. Built-in 1893, the Bradbury is a social building, and its plan encourages interaction. Office suites line the perimeter of the building and face a huge five-story atrium. You can see everyone who works on every floor. The building’s designer, George Wyman, was inspired by a description of a commercial building in Edward Bellamy’s science fiction book Looking Backward, published in 1887 about a utopian civilization in the year 2000.

What was your favorite recent vacation?

Hakka’s Round Houses in Fujian Province, China. These large round and square structures are up to 700 years old, and people are still living in them. As in the Bradbury Building, residents inhabit the perimeter of the structure, which overlooks a large open community space in the middle. According to our tour guide, the Chinese government was unaware of their existence until a U.S. government satellite mistook the round structures in aerial photos for nuclear reactors. If this is true, then the Hakka must have been protected from the Cultural Revolution.