How a Sound Engineer for the Rolling Stones Became a Green Architect

After 30 years of architectural practice, half of which was with the most renowned masters of Architecture in US; Edward Larrabee Barnes, Philip Johnson, James Polshek and Steven Holl, it took my late wife Judith Feder’s eight and a half year battle with stage 4 cancer to bring home the true meaning of GREEN and its ability to bring comfort and security.

Last year with winter temperatures hovering around 20 to 25 degrees Fahrenheit, we had a seven day power blackout due to a severe snow and wind storm in White Plains, NY and my wife was 4 weeks from her passing. She needed the temperature to be exactly 72 degrees to feel comfortable, not more and not less, as she had lost all her body mass at that stage. And we were able to do this due to our Green Insulation, high efficiency windows and one wood burning fire place in the basement. Otherwise she would have had to go to a hospital or hospice, which she detested. All of our neighbors had left the first day to hotels or distant towns with power and relatives.

So I was absolutely a happy architect to have achieved this improvement in our house mostly during her eight and a half year battle with stage 4 breast cancer. During these years I had also helped a few willing clients (some with solar and geothermal heat and cooling too) to have this remarkable security of being able to live whatever the world throws at us and to do it at our own premises. In the next few blogs I will elaborate on these unique individual clients and projects.

But Green thinking started 40 years ago with the Rolling Stones! I was working as a sound engineer with them and with their ‘The Rolling Stones Mobile’, and staying at Keith Richard’s house at Cheyne Walk in London when the 1973 oil embargo hit. There was no hot water, no heat, so I flew back to Finland to my childhood home in order to see through the end of the year in normal comfort with showers and heat.

After travelling two years recording (and photographing) the Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, The Traffic, Led Zeppelin, Bad Company, I felt that I needed to go back to my original goal of Architecture. I had seen so much of Europe; cities, hotels, houses and a huge amount of Art Museums at that point, that I felt I needed to help the world with my observations of town planning and Architecture.

I was accepted to North East London Polytechnic Department of Architecture, and they had the MOST advanced Green Program in the world at the time (and that particular program would rate as such probably still). For the next 3 years I studied Architecture and still worked with The Rolling Stones mobile around Europe, refining my views and knowledge in architecture and town planning.

In the next blogs I will create the whole picture of creating ‘a Green architect’ in full –as becoming an architect and artist sort of started 10 years earlier– and has continued ever since.

I will also comment on the fact that building codes for all building types are one generation behind instead of AHEAD of what is needed for ours and the world’s security. We have already used all the available economical resources, and the rest is something that each nation has to fight for with HARD WORK, discomfort and sacrifices — all those things that none of the people born after World War 2 have ever really experienced or know what to do with it.

So see you all with 29 more blogs and thank you!


Tapani Talo, AIA


NY Super Studio Architects