William Edward Summers new article content ...William Edward Summers is an African-American architect who was born circa 1954 in Missouri. He is known professionally as a luxury residential designer in the West Coast of North America.


After studying architecture at the University of California, Summers began his career in the San Francisco area during the building boom of the mid nineteen seventies. He completed a wide variety of primarily residential projects at a rapid pace up until the recession of the early nineteen eighties temporarily halted the market for building. The range of his projects during his first ten years included, a custom home on a 2000 acre ranch in Napa Valley, prototypes for a log building company, custom houses in Palm Springs, Lake Tahoe, and many renovations, and new construction projects in the San Francisco area

As the recession ended around nineteen eighty three, Summers personal life experienced turbulence as he, and his first wife divorced. Summers worked for a time at Carrasco & Smith, a well respected Silicon Valley architectural firm in Palo Alto, California. As his time at Carrasco & Smith ended, Summers moved into a shared office space with socialite interior designer Donna Gleckler in the Showplace Design Center, South of Market in San Francisco, and began to ramp up his business again. He had been involved with minor real estate investing since the beginning of his career, and how expanded his small collection of houses and apartment buildings to include apartment buildings in San Francisco. Real estate investments provided him a way to avoid the effect of fluctuations in the economy, as he pursued his career. During the rest of the eighties he completed a large number of projects, primarily in the San Francisco area, and became very active in Contra Costa County, a area with wealthy suburbs, East of San Francisco. Among the well known houses he completed in Contra Costa County during this time are the "Cubist Tudor" on Blackhawk Road, and "The House with Two Turrets" in the hills overlooking Alamo, California.

He remarried, at the end of the nineteen eighties, and moved with his new wife to British Columbia. In Vancouver, he became involved with the rich, offshore Chinese, who were investing heavily in Vancouver then, and designed what at the time were called "monster houses". Although he received a good amount of attention in the media, business was never as good in British Columbia as it had been in California, so he commuted via air for a number of years, often traveling between Vancouver and San Francisco every ten to fourteen days.

It was during this time that he completed the widely acclaimed three houses in Miyazaki, Japan, with western exteriors, and Japanese interiors, along with a less well known fourth house in Kobe Japan. He also created a well received ten thousand square foot mansion for Dale Gorszak, a retired championship skater, in suburban Vancouver, and redesigned a large house near the West Point Grey waterfront for a Vancouver heiress, and her husband.

Summers took his growing family to live in the country on South Vancouver Island during the mid nineties. The location was beautiful, but it was not the best location for an architectural career. Summers continued frequent commuting back to San Francisco for the majority of his projects. After 9/11 made air travel less tolerable, Summers began to seek more projects locally. During this time he provided design consulting for some of the most wealthy, and prominent BC personalities, such as timber baron Herb Doman, and oil entrepreneur Al Vanderkerkove. It was also during this time that he completed the high profile Ma villa, on Marina, back in San Francisco, the one hundred thousand square foot modernist warehouse in Napa Valley, California, a hotel in Tonga, and the cubist, Golden gate view house in Kensington.

he enjoyed his greatest, extremely substantial success in the period between 9/11 until the beginning of the subprime recession in 2005. As the recession progressed, he entered a period of semi-retirement. It was during this period that he completed design consulting for a residential project in Sudan, Africa, and three new restaurants for Cafe Fresh.


His family history was rare for an African American. His ancestors had attained freedom, and a measure of prosperity around 1850, setting the stage for Summers to grow up in a mortgage free, antique stuffed house with many opportunities for cultural enrichment.

Summers father was a career member of the US Air Force, and served during WWII. He became a chef, and a foodie getting involved in hotel and restaurant management after retiring from the military. His mother, Amy Summers, a housewife who enjoyed inheritances, and didn't work, was a life long academic who spent fourteen years at universities, earning advanced degrees, spoke five languages fluently, in addition to Latin, sign language, and Morse code. His mother was a brilliant, but difficult woman who was unable to fully use her abilities. Her lifelong expectation was for young William to become a professor, and was never fully satisfied by his decision to go into business.

Summers early years were spent in Europe, and he returned to his hometown, Lawrence, Kansas, for first grade, with a German accent. Lawrence was a beautiful, peaceful, settled college town where his family had owned two houses, both of which they occupied, a few blocks apart, since the turn of the previous century. He grew up in what was then, and now, considered the best neighbourhood in town, Old West Lawrence, a place with brick streets and sidewalks, and large, gracious, post civil war houses.

He moved to California in his early twenties, and met his first wife, Kayla, who was a beautiful twenty year old third generation California blonde, and the daughter of a research physicist, and investor. They settled into an historic four story John Hudson Thomas designed house in the Berkeley Hills. Although they enjoyed each others company they were perhaps too young, and their marriage lasted only six years.

After his first marriage ended, Summers became what can best be described as a bon vivant, for a number of years, frequenting restaurants, and night clubs in San Francisco. His income was such that he was able to enjoy fine cars, and buy California real estate, in addition to spending a small fortune on nightlife.

As the nineties began, Summers met and married his second wife, Shelley, who was the daughter of a very successful Canadian businessman, and moved to British Columbia. He and his wife had three children, spending the early years in Vancouver, and later moving to the country, on Vancouver Island.

[edit] References

" San Francisco Chronicle" Newspaper Remodeling -- a pastime for the idle rich San Francisco August 2006

SF Gate "Online News" Residential Affluenza: How remodeling has become the obsessive labor of the ultra-rich San Francisco August 2006

“Metropolis” Magazine “Insites” New York November 1995

“Nob Hill Gazette,” page 36 San Francisco May 2000

Victoria Times-Colonist March 18, 2000 Section F, page 2 Victoria, British Columbia

“Nob Hill Gazette” page 30 San Francisco February 2000

“Acumen” magazine, page 10, “Home, Home on the Ginza” Toronto, Ont., 1-604-962-9184, December 1994

“Canada Japan Business Journal,” page 6, article at top half of page, in Japanese. Vancouver, B.C., 1-604-688-2468 November 1994

“Kerrisdale Good Morning News” newspaper, page 2 Vancouver, B.C. October 18, 1994

“Saturday Review” The Weekend Sun, “The Happening” page D10 Vancouver, B.C. August 13, 1994

“The Vancouver Sun” newspaper, Vancouver, B.C. July 30, 1994, section G, page 1 June 20, 1992, sections C, page 1, “Look Up”

“The Kitsilano News” newspaper, page 4, Vancouver, B.C. August 11, 1993

“The Georgia Straight” newspaper, page 27, “Arts Notes” Vancouver, B.C. August 6-13, 1993

“Profile” magazine, page 42 Vancouver, B.C. Spring 1993

Homes & Builder’s Magazine 1950s to 1990s In Four Easy Steps Victoria, B.C. June 1998

Homes & Builder’s Magazine 5 Considerations for Your New Retirement Home Victoria, B.C. July 1998

“Victoria Times-Colonist” newspaper, “homes” Magazine section, page 15 Victoria, B.C. July 19, 1992

“The Facts” newspaper, page 11 Seattle, WA July 14, 1992 [edit] External links

   [1] Official website


San Francisco Chronicle; ole-house-renovation


A California Designer in Canada

Profile Magazine

Architectural Ephemera Blog

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