Walter Chapman

Having grown up in San Jose in the 1960's, I often joke that I grew up in the countryside. For that was what San Jose still was, the remnants of the "Valley of Heart's Delight". Housing sub-divisions and concrete drainage swales were quickly replacing the fruit orchards and creeks we played in as children and I was fascinated by the construction of the new homes popping up all around us. I did not know then the influence that both of these memories would have on my life and future career.

I benefitted from those simpler times by the fact that high schools still offered diverse courses of skill oriented classes, one of which was architectural drafting. Those two years of classes, still using T-bars and triangles established the fundamental skills I would need and still use to this day. The very first home to be constructed from one of my designs was when I was seventeen and still in high school. The home was for my parents, and it still stands today near the Santa Cruz yacht harbor.

With these remedial skills, I was able to land a drafting job at a residential design firm in Los Altos when I was eighteen. Two years later, after having realized my potential, I went to West Valley College to pursue a degree in architecture. While supporting myself by preparing designs and plans for a local developer, it became apparent that the degree was only one means to an end, that I could pursue and realize my dream of designing homes simply by learning and applying the trade.

As circumstances would have it, people recognized my talent. Soon I was on my way to establishing the practice that I have now enjoyed for thirty years.