Architect Designs a Better World — and Supports Researchers Trying To Do the Same
As an architect, Peter Thaler blends science and imagination to create better environments for his clients.
As a man living with secondary-progressive MS, he’s rooting for — and helping pay for — researchers to do the same for him.
“Talking about research is like talking about architecture: you discuss what has been done, and what more can be built based on today's needs,” he said.
Thaler admits to sadness and frustration that his disease has not responded well to the medications available today. He donates to research through the National MS Society and attends research conferences, such as one in January 2009 in New York City that brought together dozens of members of the Nervous System Repair & Protection Initiative, part of the Society’s Promise: 2010 campaign.
“I hope to pay the gifts of living forward to those with greater needs,” he said. “I try to educate myself as much as possible." He thinks stem cell research holds particular promise.
“Yay for Barack Obama, who is at least opening up the door to people who are doing research into stem cells,” he said. “There is a future being examined right now that wasn’t possible five years ago or two years ago. It’s not happening tomorrow, but hopefully soon. I’ve learned how to be patient — annoyingly so.”
Thaler runs an architectural studio in San Francisco with his wife and partner, Judith Mattingly. In 2008 he lent his expertise to a National MS Society conference attended by real estate developers hoping to find easy, itnelligent ways to make houses more accessible.
“I’ve certainly gone through that myself, and have made improvements such as stairlifts and ramps. With developers it was talking about how to make living situations more achievable for someone with disabilities,” he said.
Peter’s advice to others with MS: For each person, learning more about the disease and becoming an activist is a personal endeavor and shared commitment. He encourages people with MS to attend conferences and be active with the Society to bolster their own knowledge of the disease.
Interviewer Danielle English is a graduate student at the University of Denver and volunteers for the Society's Marketing and Development Department. She was diagnosed with MS in 2002.