Tom Kundig was born on October 9, 1954 in Merced, California and raised in Spokane, Washington. As a teenager, he found early influences in his work at sawmills, his surroundings and his time spent hiking, skiing and climbing. "I experienced being relatively humble in the landscape," Kundig says about his childhood. "Mountaineering and architecture have many parallels—they're about solving the problem in as clear and economic means as possible—it's not about getting to the top." He also took inspiration from the sculptor Harold Balazs, who taught him that building a project is the most important part of the design process as well as how tough it is to be an artist. In college, Kundig originally trained as a geophysicist before switching to architecture, his father's profession. In an interview with the National Building Museum, he says: When I left for college, I was more interested in the hard sciences—physics and especially geophysics. I was fascinated by the movement of Earth tectonics and geology. The idea of these large forces that shape our Earth is still a really fascinating sidebar interest. In fact, I’d almost say it is a focus; I’m often as interested in that as I am in architecture. Ultimately, I came to understand pretty early that I did not have a natural propensity for the larger geophysics requirements and I really missed what architecture is: the intersection between the rational and the poetic. I was just in the rational world of physics and I missed the poetic. Architecture lets me have both. After working for other firms around the world, Kundig joined Olson Kundig Architects in 1986. He first came to national attention with Studio House, a private residence that he completed in 1998. In 2002, he completed Chicken Point Cabin, a private residence that remains one of his most "iconic and poetic" designs that includes one of his most recognized gizmos: a 20-foot by 30-foot window-wall that opens with a hand crank. Kundig regularly serves on design juries and lectures around the world on architecture and design. He has been a university studio critic throughout the United States and in Japan, including at Harvard University and the University of Oregon, and has served as the John G. Williams Distinguished Professor at the University of Arkansas School of Architecture and the D. Kenneth Sargent Visiting Design Critic at Syracuse University’s College of Architecture. Recent lectures include presentations at the Royal Academy of Arts in London and the New York Public Library. His award-winning work has been exhibited at the American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York City, Syracuse University, and at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.. In the winter of 2010/2011, he was the sole North American architect chosen to represent the continent in an exhibit at TOTO GALLERY MA in Tokyo, Japan.