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Meet Duo

Graduating from Cornell in 1977, Duo Dickinson opened his own architectural practice in 1987. He is licensed in eight states, and has a staff of 10 working in his Madison, Conn. office. In over 30 years of professional practice he has built over 600 projects across the country, with budgets ranging from $3,000 to $5,000,000.

His work has received more than 30 awards, including Architectural Record Record House, Metropolitan Home Met Home Awards, and Connecticut and New York AIA design awards. He is the first non-member award-winner of the Society of America Registered Architects’ 2009 Special Service Award.

His design work has been published in more than 70 publications including The New York Times, Architectural Record, and House Beautiful.

Dickinson has written seven books, including The Small House and Expressive Details for McGraw Hill and The House You Build, published by The Taunton Press and as a paperback entitled House on a Budget. His latest book is Staying Put: Remodel Your House to Get the Home You Want, published by The Taunton Press in the November 2011.

He is the contributing writer for home design for Money Magazine, the architecture critic for the New Haven Register, and a contributing writer in home design for New Haven magazine. He has written articles for more than a dozen national publications including Residential Architect, House Beautiful, Home, Fine Homebuilding and This Old House.  He is co-host with Bruce Barber on a regional radio program “The Real Life Survival Guide,” which launched in 2011. He has appeared on a variety of national broadcast programs including CNN’s “Open House,” NPR’s “Studio 360” and Weekend “Marketplace.”

The co-founder of The Congress of Residential Architecture (CORA), Dickinson has taught at Yale College, Roger Williams University and at the Harvard Graduate School of Design Summer Program. Additionally he has lectured at dozens of universities, AIA associations and national conventions.
Dickinson sits on seven not for profit boards, including the New Haven Chapter of Habitat for Humanity, Katherine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, and Madison Cultural Arts.  Twenty to 30 percent of the ongoing work in his office is dedicated to pro bono or at-cost work for not-for-profits, totaling over 50 projects for over 30 organizations over the last 25 years.

Why I wrote Staying Put
Over the last three decades at every level of budget, I have created design solutions that answer the questions plaguing unhappy residents of misfit homes. Until recently, homeowners assumed their next house could fix the problems of their present house and that solution was just a just a simple transaction or two away. No more. The intellectually lazy, environmentally suspect and economically unsustainable mass delusion of an ever expanding American housing market is justifiably dead. In its place, comes a more nimble, nuanced and resourceful nation of homeowners.

Our cultural hubris has had a dramatic buzz kill, but the lessons learned point the way toward a reality based, value centered building ethic. Given the overbuilding and under thinking of the last decade, our moral, fiscal and practical compass points to an era of starting with what we have first. Renovation of the home you cannot leave may not be a “King of the World” peak experience of ego projection – but the empowerment of taking control is undeniable if there is a strategy based on knowledge and creativity.

Working with the hard-edged presence of any existing building requires more patience, knowledge and craftiness than the reordered tear-down mentality of unfettered expansion or building on a naked site. But the advantages of sober thinking and value conscious building are obvious and will be revealed, explained and expounded in this book.

“Staying Put” will take one of our most basic human characteristics – homesteading – and give that instinctively powerful mission a direction that has not been celebrated in recent American history – adapt, renew and revitalize our existing housing stock.

It is the value system of our ancestors who viewed their homes to be so central to their lives that they would often move them to wherever they wanted to live.

As a culture we have woken up from a building bender, the hangover is ebbing and we are able see a little more clearly than when we were drunk on a boom high or crushed in the wake of its implosion.
— Duo Dickinson

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