For Bryan, architecture begins at the intersection of program and place. Program includes not only space requirements, functional relationships, financial parameters, and business realities, but also the project’s cultural underpinnings and place-making potential. Place is at once a built reality, a cultural undertaking, a layered history, and a crucible for the future.
Bryan’s work is grounded in the phenomenological understanding of place advanced by such authors as Christian Norberg-Schulz and Aldo Rossi, an understanding that looks beyond obvious motifs to the cultural and spatial patterns and events that stoke our memories. Of particular importance is the experience of distance, be it the compression of a San Francisco street or the expanse of the Utah desert. In the studio teaching that he has maintained in parallel with his design practice for over 25 years, Bryan has guided students in the skills of perception and analysis that enable them to deftly situate a project in its unique context.
Bryan has transferred the learning experience from the university setting into practice and back again, linking education and practice in the advancement of architectural excellence. WRNS Studio is called “studio” for a reason: through open, in-house critiques and in his role as roving tutor, Bryan leads an ongoing critical discussion about how the firm’s buildings can most powerfully evoke place, while avoiding the trivializing effects of mimicry. The result of Bryan’s critical practice is two-fold: a vigorous culture of education, linking the academy and practice; and a distinguished portfolio of buildings spanning a broad range of programmatic type, fundamentally rooted in mission, place, time, culture and human aspiration.
Bryan’s teaching engagements include design studios at Ohio State, California College of the Arts, UC Berkeley, and Stanford University. He earned his Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Tennessee, and achieved his Master of Architecture from Harvard University. Bryan and his family have lived in San Francisco for over 20 years.