MENTOR INTERVIEW: Charlie Berliner – Construction

Photo of Charlie Berliner mentoring WaterShed team members

One of the more familiar faces on the WaterShed construction site is Charlie Berliner, not just because he’s there a lot, but because he has one of those likeable, magnetic personalities that make him pretty easy to remember. All the students know and like Charlie, and a few can actually do a decent impression of him in a pinch, much to his amusement.

WaterShed is Charlie’s first decathlon experience, but he’s well suited for the job. He is a seasoned general contractor, master craftsperson, and master woodworker with 40 years of practice under his belt. He can think in terms of the building craft and construction while keeping time and sequence in the forefront, making him an ideal mentor for Team Maryland. Charlie also serves as a great motivator, cheerleader, and friend. With all he has taught the students on WaterShed, below Charlie talks about what he has learned from them.

What has been your favorite aspect of working on WaterShed?
CB: The intelligence, interest, humor and enthusiasm of the students.

What do you hope the students take away from working with you on WaterShed?
CB: Good detailing is an essential aspect of good design and good detailing requires knowledge of construction. 

What have you learned from working with the students this year?
CB: Their ability to use electronics for communication and accessing information has accelerated the pace of their learning enormously, without changing the equation of most effort equals most advancement. 

How important are competitions like the Solar Decathlon in respect to the future of architecture, building technology, and construction?
CB: The students who participate in the Solar Decathlon are exposed to every aspect of the practice of architecture, are challenged to create constructible design that they must build successfully and are exposed to the cutting edge of building technology. 

What do you hope people will take away from WaterShed when they visit it on the Mall in September?
CB: Thoughtful design trumps bigness.


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