After many years of teaching sustainable building techniques in Africa, Asia, Europe, the United States and South America, he now teaches architecture at the NewSchool of Architecture + Design in San Diego, California.
Joe applied to the Master’s in International Peace Studies program at Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute after practicing architecture in California for several years. In 1986, he attended a lecture on nuclear disarmament delivered by the Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C. in San Diego. The lecture had a “profound personal impact,” Joe says. Several years later Joe began corresponding with Fr. Ted about his interest in peace and justice issues, and Fr. Ted encouraged him to apply to the Kroc Institute.
“My background was unusual compared to the other peace studies students,” says Joe, who also holds a Master of Architecture degree from the Southern California Institute of Architecture. “But I was able to use architecture as a subtext for all of my papers and projects, and I welcomed the chance to view architecture through the lens of peace studies. My time at the Kroc Institute transformed my interest in peace into a commitment.”
After graduating from Notre Dame, Joe went on to co-found the organization Builders without Borders, an international network of ecological builders who advocate the use of local, affordable materials in construction. He also co-edited The Art of Natural Building and edited Building without Borders.
“Billions of people live in inadequate conditions that also contribute to ecological destruction,” Joe says. “Since the environmental crisis is largely a human crisis, architects are uniquely suited to mediate between human beings and the environment.
“Shelter is a basic human right — that’s my starting point,” Joe adds. “As an architect and educator, I work hard to implement new ways of learning and practice that support that right.”
— Renée LaReau, March 2014