Gene DeSmidt was born at the end of World War II, the son of a carpenter and musician. He spent his early childhood with his father on job sites, learning the smell and taste of the trades. For over forty years, he has been immersed in the various arenas of building and construction. It wasn't until around 1965 that DeSmidt started joining his construction and remodeling skills with Japanese joinery, Victorian finish work, European and western timber framing, and Native American architecture. Located in Oakland, Ca., he has managed to surround himself with a guild like group of great talent: people of exceptional skills, willing to work together on specific projects in vastly different locations.
DeSmidt Design Build has completed an impressive array of interesting projects over the years. In the early seventies, on the last leg of a hot springs trek in Esalen, near Big Sur, DeSmidt journeyed into Tassajara Hot Springs and Zen monastery late one spring night. After complaining to the head priest about the condition of the temporary arched bridge to the mineral baths, he was asked in a calm Zen way, "could you fix it?" Over the next thirty years his company has not only constructed a brand new arched bridge across the river, but they have built two new hot spring bath houses and steam rooms, a Japanese style courtyard cabin complex, decks, gates, trellises and most recently, a historical renovation of the 110 year old dining room & monks residence. All this work was done over the fall and winter monastic practice periods, with DeSmidt and crew living and eating with the monks and priests.
Gene DeSmidt, like his father, is a carpenter and musician. While building a complex cedar pyramid wing to the residence of Marty Balin of the Jefferson Airplane, DeSmidt wrote four songs that were recorded by Marty. While rebuilding the 'Love Center' Baptist church, in Oakland, DeSmidt recorded vocally with the 'Hawkins Family' who had gained great renown for their song "Oh Happy Day". DeSmidt has also designed and built a number of residential recording studios. (He wrote a technical article for Fine Home Building called "Practical Solutions to Noise Pollution").
Over the years, DeSmidt has created many incredible structures. He designed and built a timber-framed barn for the California Lumber Baron. He built a yellow cedar koi pond deck, with redwood and teak hand-joined entries designed by Paul Discoe at the Ellison residence in Atherton. DeSmidt worked with architect Warren Callister in the construction of the Tree House residence in the Oakland hills. Fernau & Hartman designed the Buckley Barn and Schoolhouse that DeSmidt built from all recycled redwood and fir lumber high up on Mt. Tamalpais.
DeSmidt has worked with many architects and designers including: Chuck Davis (Architect of the Monterey Bay Aquarium), Bennett Christopherson, Sim Van Der Ryn (the former State Architect), Helen Degenhardt (Architect of Spirit Rock Meditation Center), Mui Ho, Ron Herman, Jeff Morse, Bob Murase, Jacobsen-Silverstein & Winslow. DeSmidt has collaborated with these and other professionals. The result has been a highly respected and award winning resume of work that continues to unfold.
DeSmidt Design Build is a small, dedicated company capable of large creative endeavors as well as more modest and simple projects. Known for fine custom home construction and re-modeling, DeSmidt also builds Japanese spas, meditation rooms, bridges, gates, decks, fences, trellises, and occasionally, custom shelves, desks and benches. With a knack for beautiful woodwork of all kinds, DeSmidt has made it a specialty as well as a priority to find and use salvaged and recycled timbers from local sources.
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