The G&C Questionnaire — Dennis Thompson, AIA

Inspired by his grandmother at a young age, Dennis Thompson took his love of design through UC Berkeley and Princeton University before landing in Santa Barbara. In 1985, he founded Thompson Naylor Architects with Susette Naylor. The firm’s mission is to create beautiful places while strengthening community and protecting nature. Thompson, a LEED Accredited Professional, has served on the board of directors of the Community Environmental Council, the Sustainability Project, and was the founding president of the Green Building Alliance.

Click here for a look at the firm’s portfolio. And for more on Thompson’s take on work, play, and other pursuits of the human endeavor, keep reading.


G&C: What drew you to architecture and design early on? 

Thompson: My grandmother! She was a frustrated interior designer, and she got me interested in design when I was seven.


What has been your favorite architectural field trip or vacation?

I love Barcelona for its architecture and art.


What is your favorite public building in Santa Barbara?

The courthouse, of course.


Where do you often find design inspiration outside of architecture?

From nature and from artists.


What do you most like about your job?

Helping people create something useful and beautiful.


What do you most dislike about your job?

Having to find work.


Go back in time and pick another profession. 

Graphic design.


What is your current state of mind?

Stimulated by new design challenges.


What is your idea of perfect happiness?

A perfect day is reading the Times, going for a bike ride with friends, and having an early alfresco dinner with my wife.


What is your greatest fear?

Losing my loved ones.


What is your greatest extravagance?

I once had a 15-year old car repainted.


What do you consider the most overrated virtue?



Which talent would you most like to have?

Playing a musical instrument.


If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

A certain amount of obsessiveness.


What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Creating a business that supports several talented people.


What is your most marked characteristic?


What is your most treasured possession?

My road bike.


Which living person do you most admire?

Barack Obama


Which living person do you most despise?

DJT in his current role.


What do you most value in your friends?



Who are your heroes?

People who persevere in spite of obstacles.



(By Keith Hamm. Photograph by Jim Bartsch.)


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