Psychitecture? Dig it, baby!

John Lautner's Sheat's Goldstein's House, diagnosed with apostrovitis. (Rachel Medvald.)

John Lautner’s Sheat’s Goldstein’s House, diagnosed with apostrovitis. (Rachel Melvald.)

Psychitecture is one of those coinages enabled by the word architecture. The word psychotecture springs immediately to mind, and there’s a blog called Architorture, which is brilliant, except that it is by a coed, Celina, at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo who is bored to death by her experience at its school of architecture. Don’t go there. (I mean the blog, which is kaput, not the school; to avoid the latter goes without saying.) Members of TradArch will be toying with psychitecture for the next several decades.

Rachel Melvald and her couch. (

Rachel Melvald and her couch. (R. Melvald)

Architect magazine, mouthpiece of the AIA, ran a piece in 2011 called “How Common Is Your Type?” about the psychological traits of architects. The introductory text ran: “When a leadership consultant reviewed the Myers-Briggs tests of 100 architects, he discovered there really is an ‘architect type’—and it’s not always an easy one.”

But that’s not psychitecture. Psychitecture is the name of a firm that combines the practice of psychology and architecture. It was founded by Rachel Melvald last year in (do I need to reveal this secret?) Los Angeles. Here is her description of the services provided by Psychotec– oops! I mean Psychitecture:

Psychitecture … approaches art and design consultancy through the lens of psychology. Based in Los Angeles, the firm uses psychotherapy techniques to uncover clients’ most desirous aesthetics in order to create spaces that are natural extensions of their lifestyle.  Rachel’s years of experience guides clients beyond body and mind well-being into sound investments.

I would like to sic Freud and Jung on Big Pants, the CCTV headquarters in Beijing by Rem “Kookhaus” Koolhaas, which looks for all the world like it is stomping on the citizens of China. Maybe Rachel Melvald can install Rem on her couch – but I’ve got it bass ackwards. Rachel puts you on her couch and determines whether Rem might fashion you a house that strums with your own deepest psychic rhythms. Sounds like fun, and maybe there’s something to it. I wonder what her fee structure is, and what vibes can be elicited to give rise to the desire for a Belgian Tudor mix, or whatever it is I live in.

Hats off to Gary Brewer for throwing this grenade into the TradArch foxhole.

About David Brussat

This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. History Press asked me to write and in August 2017 published my first book, "Lost Providence." I am now writing my second book. My freelance writing on architecture and other topics addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to employ my writing and editing to improve your work, please email me at my consultancy,, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
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7 Responses to Psychitecture? Dig it, baby!

  1. I find your post really good! I used to be a B.S. Psychology student before I shifted to B.S. Architecture. I haven’t seen the correlation between the two disciplines. Now I realize that the things I learned in Psych will not be wasted!


  2. Erik Evens says:

    The shortcomings of Los Angeles I will not apologize for. However, Cal Poly SLO was the top undergrad school in the nation when I went there, and remains excellent. A modernist program, to be sure, but one focused on giving young architects to a well-rounded exposure to a broad profession, not an ideologically pure one. I got a terrific education there, and am grateful for it.


    • I’m glad to hear that, Erik. Sometimes the professors are such that even at a modernist school a useful education can be acquired. I’m glad that was the case for you at Cal Poly SLO, but my first take on any curriculum that is modernist is that it by definition does not offer a terrific education. I hope your experience was shared by others there, rather than you being the one-off exception that proves the rule!


  3. Erik Evens says:

    Nice post, David, as usual. But I must admit to being a tad irritated as you managed to take a swipe at both my hometown and my alma mater within the span of three paragraphs!


  4. Peter Van Erp says:

    The photo on her home page says it all: the client as manikin, to be placed by the Architect into the appropriate space.


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