“Every day for several years, women and men carried out seemingly ordinary work-related tasks to accomplish something extraordinary.” Jonathan A. Wright

Celebrating the champions addressing climate change, Living Building Makers: Creating Sustainable Buildings That Renew Our World is a handcrafted collection of stories about the remarkable people who bring the built environment to life. Each chapter captures the insights, creativity, humor, and discoveries of the often-unsung individuals – builders, tradespeople, designers, engineers, educators, tradespeople, operators and owners – who rolled up their sleeves to play a pivotal role in creating two of the greenest buildings in the world on the campus of Massachusetts’ renowned Hampshire College.

Veteran builder Jonathan A. Wright’s storied first-hand accounts share how these dedicated professionals transformed their corner of the world by the way they leaned into their work. In the process, the nature of their own work is changed forever.

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ISBN: 978-0-9972368-6-6


“If you have seen these remarkable structures, you will want to read the stories behind them. But even if you’ve never been to Hampshire College, the stories in Living Building Makers will bring the process of sustainable building alive – to call them “Living Buildings” is entirely appropriate, for they stem from real people with real hopes and dreams.”
Bill McKibben, author Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?
Schumann Distinguished Scholar, Middlebury College

“Architects, perhaps understandably, get the lion’s share of the public credit for exceptional buildings. But Living Building Makers introduces us to the engineers, electricians, carpenters, plumbers, and other unsung heroes who all perform at their peaks to achieve ultra-high-performance structures. This book is a powerful reminder that it takes a village to create Living Buildings.”
Denis Hayes, President, Bullitt Foundation
Principal national organizer of the first Earth Day

“Living Building Makers is an extraordinary book. It is as much about the people and what motivates them as it is about the buildings.”
Bruce Fowle, Founding Principal, FXCollaborative Architects

“Living Building Makers underscores what Antoine de Saint-Exupery allegedly said: “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” In the same spirit, this book teaches us to long for a more just, beautiful, and life-affirming world. Further, Jonathan A. Wright masterfully conveys the creativity and excitement that can go into building that “ship” – in this case, two Living Buildings in Massachusetts. With elegance, insight, and wit, Wright tells of builders and makers, and gives us a map, a compass, and a compelling invitation to join in tackling the challenge of creating a world in which all beings can thrive.”

The Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, Missioner for Creation Care, Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts, Mass. Conference, United Church of Christ. Author of Rooted & Rising: Voices of Courage in a Time of Climate Crisis, ed. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas and Leah D. Schade (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019).

“Living Building Makers is a life-restoring account of deep green and humane design and construction projects. It’s as if, after all these years, we’ve found “How I Built That Ark”, a book written by Noah to describe how he toiled… by hand, with boards close by, and with lots of inspired help.”
Christopher Lydon, Radio Open Source


About the Author Jonathan A. Wright is an accomplished maker with more than forty-five years’ experience as an expert builder specializing in the construction and design of sustainable, healthy, high-performance buildings. His penchant for craft is evidenced beyond the built environment as a published poet of several works including After the Rain (2014) and Season of Dreams (2018).

In 1970, Jonathan joined the first entering class at Hampshire College where he thrived in the non-traditional educational setting. He enjoyed the quality of life in the Connecticut River Valley of Massachusetts so much that he decided to stay, joined by his wife, pianist Meg Kelsey Wright, where they made their family home in Northampton. He founded Wright Builders, Inc. in 1974, and the firm has since achieved more than forty LEED certifications in addition to the R.W. Kern Center and the Hitchcock Center for the Environment Living Buildings.

Perhaps even greater than his passion for wood, water, food, notes, or words, Jonathan cares about people and the richness derived from learning their personal stories. His overarching compassion for the health of people and the planet is ingrained in everything he makes.


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