Steve Wiser of Wiser Designs is an architect, historian, and author. He has worked more than 40 years in healthcare facility planning, construction, and design and has written 12 books about the architecture of Louisville. You may have attended one of his entertaining walking tours through Cave Hill Cemetery or a presentation on the historic houses and neighborhoods of the city.
He is president of the Louisville Historical League and has worked to preserve much of Louisville’s architectural history.
What was a turning point for you?
Getting accepted by the University of Cincinnati. It had a co-op program that enabled me to work for architectural firms while still in school. That way I got experience and made some contacts. I have no family members who were in the architecture profession so I had no connections.
What skills did you have that got you into the profession?
At St. X High School the drafting teacher told me I had a talent in that area, and I also had drawing skills. Architecture seemed to rely on both.
What is a lesson you’ve learned?
There are going to be roadblocks, but if one thing doesn’t work out just grit your teeth and keep on going.
What inspires you now?
On a weekly basis I get an email from someone asking me if I know anything about their house. I do the research which has led to documenting 2500 homes with information about the year they were built, the original owner, the location, and the architect. I share this with The Filson Historical Society, University of Louisville, and the public library because they get a lot of inquiries from people doing research as well.
What about your life as a writer?
In 2002, I wrote a guidebook to notable sites in Louisville and since then I’ve written 12 more books. I have 30 years of research and articles I have written on Louisville architecture. (Books are available at wiserdesigns.com)
What does the average person not understand about architects?
They might think architects just draw pretty pictures, but they are actually the conductor of a building project and work with the engineering and construction firms and make sure that all operates smoothly.
What would you like to change in Louisville?
It would be nice to have back parts of Broadway. Historic buildings contribute more to the streetscape. Louisville had some spectacular buildings back in the day and some beautiful theaters on 4th Street that are no longer with us.
By Lucy M. Pritchett | Illustration by Dan Kisner