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Member of the week: Michael Johnstone, forensic architect

Our member of the week is Michael Johnstone. A member of the American Institute of Architects, Michael has been a licensed architect for over 30 years, designing shopping centers, restaurants, custom homes, and, most notably, golf courses. Michael studied golf course architecture at Harvard's Graduate School of Design. Attorneys utilize Michael's expertise as a forensic architect. He has often been an expert witness in construction disputes and personal injury cases. To see photos and learn more about specific projects that Michael has worked on, check out his website. Learn more about Michael’s experiences as a freelancer in his profile and in our brief interview with him below.


1. What has been your most interesting project?

Of all the work I have done, the most interesting was the design and installation of precious paintings on rice paper from the people's republic of China in a hotel conference space in San Francisco. We converted one big room into a series of display alleys that were the same scale as the tombs that the paintings came from. We handled all the art, built frames for their display and created a moving look into the past.

2. Why did you decide to go freelance?

I need to work for myself, I tend to bridle under some one else's command.

3. What tip would you give to a new freelancer or someone who is considering going freelance?

The biggest tip I would give concerns learning how to run a business. Think of your contracts, finances and marketing as a design problem.

4. What is your favorite spot in the city in which you live?

I am fortunate to live in a small city in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is now very much like Berkeley, CA in the 60’s. Lot’s of high quality local art and music. My favorite place is a 5-block area downtown.

5. What is your inspiration?

My inspiration is the intellectual challenge of defining a problem, solving the puzzle and carrying it to completion. There is something very basic and deeply gratifying about that journey.

Below, a design for a golf course by Michael Johnstone. michael-johnstone-3.jpg

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