With a career that spans four decades, Kathryn Anthony (IH 1976-79) has risen to prominence in the field of architecture. She studied psychology as an undergraduate at UC Berkeley, later getting her Ph.D. in architecture where she focused on social and cultural factors in design. Her dissertation was on the architecture of International House at UC Berkeley, titled “Home Away from Home” where she analyzed the history of its foundation, part of which included the Spanish Moorish style it was influenced by. In August, Anthony was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Chicago Women in Architecture Foundation to honor her contributions to the field. I spoke with her through a Zoom interview to discuss what she’s been up to since she last spoke to I-House, and hear some of her favorite memories from her time as a resident in the ’70s. The interview is part of a series of “spotlights” where alumni and former executive directors are featured for an oral history discussion about their time at I-House. While the House will be closed for the 2020-2021 academic year, the oral history discussions are a way to help keep the alumni community connected virtually.
Kathryn Anthony with fellow I-House 1976-79 alumni during their mini reunion in 2019. Courtesy of Kathryn Anthony.
Born in New York City, Anthony moved to Southern California in her teen years, living in La Jolla. Her journey to I-House began with a longing to maintain her view of the Bay Area which she had the privilege of seeing from her dorm at Ida Sproul Hall during her undergraduate years at UC Berkeley. “I’m not sure if I really spent much time [at I-House] as an undergraduate,”she said during our I-House Alumni Spotlight interview. “My parents had come to visit at one point . . . and we took a look at I-House and we went inside the building . . . and I remember my parents said, ‘Oh, wouldn’t this be an interesting place for you to live?’” Although Anthony didn’t initially find the rooms of the residential floors appealing due to their “tiny rooms” as she called them, the view of the Bay Area from her window as well as the social activities drew her to the place.
“Realizing what else the building had to offer and all the programs that they had to offer, I said, ‘Okay . . . I’m going to make the best of it,’ and I moved in voluntarily [and] was very happy to do it,” she said.
After graduating, Anthony returned to I-House a few times to visit, even arranging a “mini-reunion” with old friends. Anthony recalled a special memory in 2019 when she got the opportunity to see her old room. “As part of the reunion, we got to go through tours of the I-House in smaller groups” she said. “So when I went to what was my floor . . . guess what? The door to 762 opened magically just near the time I was walking by [and] I saw this very nice looking tall fellow come out of the room and I asked him right away . . . ‘Is that your room?’ He said, ‘Yes.'” After telling him that was her old room, Anthony said he asked if she would like to see it again. “I said, ‘Yes!’ So he opened the door and I walked inside and I thought, ‘Oh, yeah.’ I mean, it just came back to me right like that.”
Visiting I-House invoked nostalgia from Anthony’s time there which she discussed in detail during the interview, ranging from her time as a Graduate Resident Assistant (GRA) to her wedding reception which was held in the Heller Patio. For Anthony, I-House is “a special experience” and she encourages those who have, or plan to live there, to connect with others. “They really enrich your [life] in so many ways when you make friends from all over the world,” she said. Like many alumni, Anthony represents the strong global community I-House Berkeley has, and she continues to be a leader in the field of architecture and academia.
You can watch the full interview here.
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