Zarro Design Workshop Architects

Restoration, Renovation, Rehab

Place-Specific Design: Architecture for Visible Sustainability


“Valeriano C. Zarro has written an insightful polemic about place-specific design and why our survival depends upon it, as well as an inspiring compendium of place-specific projects in a wide range of different locations. This book deserves a place on the shelf of anyone who wonders where 21st century architecture needs to go and how we might get there, one place at a time.”
– Thomas Fisher, professor in the School of Architecture, the Dayton Hudson Chair in Urban Design, and director of the Metropolitan Design Center at the University of Minnesota

Book Review by F. Jeffrey Murray, FAIA of Cannon Design, AIA Pittsburgh Columns, January 2022


With a Preface by Juhani Pallasmaa

Place-Specific Design: Architecture for Visible Sustainability promotes a “visibly sustainable” architectural approach that is rooted in place. As a direct response to the sustainability crisis and homogenizing effect of globalization, visibly sustainable architecture seeks to reverse the ongoing loss of diversity in all senses of the word. As place-specific design, it identifies and restores the ecological and cultural characteristics that give places their unique character.

Examples drawn from prominent firms worldwide, including Renzo Piano Building Workshop, Steven Holl Architects, Glenn Murcutt Architects, Foster + Partners, Herzog & de Meuron, and Ateliers Jean Nouvel, demonstrate the diverse and highly innovative solutions that emerge from insightful consideration of local culture and ecology, enhanced by the appropriate use of modern technologies.

Place-Specific Design maps out a blueprint for how the socially-conscious architect can contribute to the promotion of a “non-autonomous” architecture; architecture that reunites nature and human nature in an interdependent and mutually beneficial relationship.

The book is available both in English and in Italian.

The book is available in print and as an e-book from CLEAN Edizioni and in print from Amazon.

Il libro è disponibile in formato cartaceo e come ebook da CLEAN Edizioni.


Place-Specific Design: Architecture for Visible Sustainability
, Preface by Juhani Pallasmaa, Clean Edizioni, 2020
Emergent Dialectics: Design for Sustainable Poetics, Create Space, 2008
Towards Achieving a Sense of Place: Extended Architecture and the Consideration of Historical, Participatorial and Climatological Factors as the Balance between their Universal and Particular Meanings, Doctoral Thesis, Stockholm, 1988

“Why Green Isn’t Enough”
AEC/O+M Solutions July 2013
“An Architect’s Response on the Collaborative Process”
 Columns June 2004
“Extended Architecture” Architectural Record June 2004
“Creating Home” Columns April 1997
“Social, Cultural and Ecological Sustainability” Columns July 1996
“Frankfurt Tower in Context” PA December 1993

Selected Mentions

“Restored classic South Side firehouse lauded” Jeremy Boren, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review May 2008
“Double Wide opens doors on the South Side” Jennifer Baron, Pop-City-Media Development News December 2006
“A Hot Deal 125-year-old South Side fire station finds new life as a commercial space” Gretchen McKay, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette November 2001
“Store remodeled in shades of shades of Pittsburgh’s Victorian past” Mandy Rosina Sirofchuck, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette November 1994


City of Pittsburgh Historic Preservation Awards
2009 – Calabria Italian Restaurant, 4911 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA
2008 – Engine Company No. 11 Interior, 900 Bingham Street, Pittsburgh, PA
2004 – Luxx, 1003 E. Carson Street, Pittsburgh, PA
2003 – Baum Boulevard Dodge, Baum Boulevard, Pittsburgh, PA
2002 – Engine Company No. 11 Facade, 900 Bingham Street, Pittsburgh, PA
2002 – Smiling Moose, 1306 E. Carson Street, Pittsburgh, PA
2000 – Grecian Land Café & Pastries 1500 East Carson Street Pittsburgh, PA
1999 – Hambones, Restaurant and Pub 4207 Butler Street Pittsburgh, PA
1997 – Rustica International Inc.1105 E. Carson Street Pittsburgh, PA
1997 – Cafe D’Jour, 1107 E. Carson Street, Pittsburgh, PA
1996 – 1103 E. Carson Street, Pittsburgh, PA

National Registry of Historical Places
2004 – Engine Company No. 11 Facade, 900 Bingham Street, Pittsburgh, PA

2000 South Side Annual House Tour of Renovated Historical Homes
W.M. Goetsch Residence, 2119 Sidney Street, Pittsburgh, PA

South Side Local Development Company Design Committee Award of Merit for Outstanding Signage
1995 – Rustica International Inc., 1105 E. Carson Street, Pittsburgh, PA