Mental Health in Architecture

Archinect Sessions Episode 121
hosts: Paul Petrunia, Donna Sink, Ken Koense
May 12, 2018

“This week Ken, Donna and I are joined by architect and writer Esther Sperber to discuss the very real and serious issue of mental health in architecture. Esther owns Studio ST Architects, a small practice in New York City, and frequently writes about mental health, with a specific focus on psychoanalysis and it’s relationship to architecture.

Creative fields, especially those with long hours and high stress levels, are often rife with mental health issues. Anxiety, depression, sleeplessness more


No Place Like Home

Esther Sperber in exhibition catalog
Museu Coleção Berardo
Praça do Império
1449-003 Lisboa, Portugal

The English language has two distinct words that refer to the place of dwelling: “home” and “house”. The term “house” identifies a physical structure that enables domestic activities, but a home is also a mental state characterized by a sense of belonging, protection, love and shelter. A home is a place located between the physical reality and a conceptual idea, between past memories and future aspirations. Home straddles the threshold separating private intimacy and the public world of buildings and culture.”


Listening to Design

by: Andrew Levvit
April, 2018

“Levitt has a rare ability to integrate insights from the fields of architecture and psychology, revealing the internal processes that enable creative design. Using beautifully narrated vignettes drawn from his teaching and design practice, Listening to Design describes techniques for overcoming creative impasses and finding your own inner passion. It also provides valuable insights for art, design, and architecture educators as well as therapists working with creative clients.”
(Esther Sperber, founder of Studio ST Architects, New York)

Daphne Merkin


Getting Closer to Nearly Happy

Lilith Magazine
June, 2017

“What Freud called melancholia today we call depression, or in the words of Daphne Merkin, “being someone who is… pickled in the brine of self-hatred.” Merkin’s new memoir, This Close to Happy: A Reckoning with Depression (Farrar Straus Giroux, $26), is a project of remembering, repeating and working through a life-long struggle with the dark pull of depression and suicide wishes. For Merkin, depression is a chronic condition from which she is never completely free, but with the help of a hefty combination of medication and therapy she can be “this close to happy,” living a life centered on the love of writing, friendships and motherhood.”
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Ms. Magazine


Architecting Your Life: A Response to Ivanka Trump

Ms. Magazine Blog
June, 2017

“As an architect, I love the way architectural terms quietly sneak into everyday language. Perhaps because dwelling and shelter are among the most primal of human needs, buildings have come to symbolize all structures, both physical, mental and social. And I was troubled by Ivanka’s limited understanding of architecture and its complexities.”

Let’s make difference the new norm
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You Can’t Do It Alone — Architecture, Equity And Joint Creativity

The Huffington Post
May, 2017

“…But while we celebrate the prize committee’s new appreciation for joint creativity, they have yet again failed to acknowledge that did not arrive at this insight on their own. Not only have they continued to refuse to recognize Denise Scott Brown as a recipient of the prize awarded to Robert Venturi, they also deny her the credit she deserves for championing the idea of “joint creativity”, yet again, erasing her profound contribution to the field of architecture.”
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houzz award best 2017


Houzz Best of 2017 Award

February 2017

We are proud to receive the Best of Houzz award for 2017 based on our wonderful client’s five star reviews.


The Wings of Daedalus, towards a relational architecture

The Psychoanalytic Review
September, 2016

Psychoanalysis has long been interested in the creative process, and yet architecture has rarely been studied from a psychoanalytic perspective. This paper examines the creative process of architecture in which the space between an existing problem and a physical, occupiable building is bridged. I follow the story of Daedalus, the mythic first architect, and suggest that the architect’s creativity depends on the ability to utilize multiple modalities of the human mind and body and to allow them to converse with one another in what Philip Bromberg called a moment of “standing in the spaces.”


Psychoanalysis and Architecture: The Inside and the Outside

By: Cosimo Schinaia
Foreword: Esther Sperber
Publisher: Karnac Books
May, 2016

“A foreword is a collection of words that come before, the first one encounters when opening the cover of a new book…an invitation to follow the author on a journey of insights and ideas…

But when traveling through the terrains of a new book, much as we learn from Dr. Schinaia about navigating unknown lands, the only truth the traveler can reference is his place of origin We relay on our point of departure to anchor us, allowing new experiences to deepen our understanding of worlds around and within us.

Like journeys there are different kinds of books. Some take us on a business like trip, efficient, productive and quick. Others, like a long vacation, allow the reader to meander in and out of adventures, letting the landscape suggest the path. Some follow a direct road from the point of departure to the destination, others happen upon encounters in an accidental manner. And like a voyage, a book will also come to an end and return home with what the traveler gathered; a photograph of a sunset, the favor of an exotic dish and the email address of the passenger that shared a train ride. Some of these memories will be cherished, perhaps even passed on to the next generation as an heirlooms, others will fade, adding a slight tint to the color of the voyage.


Kissing Disciplines – Relational Architecture

The Ethical Turn: Otherness and subjectivity in contemporary psychoanalysis
Edited: David Goodman and Eric Severson
Routledge, May 2016

… I am excited to envision a place in which the field of psychoanalysis, and its acceptance of the disorganized human mind, can kiss the thoughtful reasoning of philosophy, the wonderment of religion and perhaps even the concrete usefulness of architecture. Kissing, as Lavin writes, is “a union of bedazzling convergence and identification during which separation is inconceivable yet inevitable”



The Shadow of Zaha Hadid

Blog post in Lilith Magazine
April 7, 2015,

“But alongside my admiration, and slight envy of Zaha Hadid, I hear a small ugly voice whispering in my head. This voice says, “she was too big for life and so she died.” It is true, I admit, that she defied so many social norms, being ambitious, creative and successful, and choosing not to marry or have children. This, the ‎Trump-like-misogynist voice in my head says, was too much; the universe could not maintain this kind of female presence.”

160202 AIA NY


New York New Design

Exhibition at the AIANY Center for Architecutre
February 11- May 28, 2016

The AIA New York Chapter member show is returning home to the newly restored Center for Architecture! This year we opened the exhibition to AIA members from all five borough chapters. New York New Design will celebrate the work of members in the Center for Architecture’s main galleries, providing a snapshot of the work being produced in our city.

New York New Design includes works of all scales and types – small, large, commercial, residential, public, private, interiors, historic preservation, engineering, landscape, and urban design – presenting the scope and quality of work being done both at home and abroad. In addition to commissioned and built projects, we will display unbuilt competition entries, theoretical projects, and design research. Moving the member show from the walls of the subway tunnels has also provided the opportunity to include models and videos.



Historic New York Shul Considers, Then Rejects, ‘SynaCondo’ Plan.

by: John A. Oswald
January 18, 2016

“Sperber said the SynaCondo is a concept that other houses of worship may want to look at as they struggle to plan their next 100 years.
“I was very interested is studying the possibility of a mixed-use building since this is applicable to many religious institutions in the city. We therefore developed this scheme which we have shared with the congregation,” she said.
“The community seems to love this building and would like to preserve it, if that’s possible, realizing it’s not an easy building to renovate and make into a 21st Century Synagogue that would serve them into the next century,” said Sperber, founder of Studio ST Architects.”



SynaCondo in Curbed

by: Zoe Rosenberg
January 16, 2016, New York

“…In this plan, the sanctuary and three classrooms would be on the first lower level with a synagogue social hall with kitchen, plus a condo multi-purpose room on the second lower level. Meanwhile, dual lobbies, a chapel, and a “sukkah garden” would be on the ground floor and more classrooms and a library/lounge would be on the second floor. One- and two-bedroom residential units would run from the third floor on up, with duplexes on 16/17 and 18/19.”




Sokol Media
February 2, 2016, New York