Joel Solkoff

Architectural critic 
State College, PA, United States  |  Architecture and Planning
1K views  |  1 contact  |  3 posts

About Joel
Status: Renzo Piano's Whitney and Zaha Haddid in the Meatpacking District


In addition to my multi-year column for, I am also adjunct research assistant at the Department of Architectural Engineering at Penn State. As a paraplegic for the past 20 years, I am applying my specialized perspective to the architectural and construction community

Resumé / Bio

State College, PA

Special Because I am a paraplegic, I get around in a power chair or scooter. I can drive a car.

Can work at home with broadband Internet; my computer uses up-to-date relevant applications.

However, since my work is writing about something, I prefer spending at least some time in an office environment where the nature of my work is real rather than merely virtual.


Prefer work requiring my completing specified projects or assignments; Can work on rush assignments when necessary.



From 2008 to present, Adjunct Research Assistant, Department of Architectural Engineering, Penn State, University Park, PA

From 2003 to 2008, I have been a journalist and as well as graduate student at Penn State's Rehabilitation Counseling Program:

As a journalist, I have been writing primarily for Voices of Central Pennsylvania on such subjects as: Medicare reductions for durable medical equipment, including oxygen and power chairs, and on voting procedures and strategy to make sure individuals who are aged and disabled register and vote.


Wrote a paper on encouraging students who are blind and otherwise visually impaired to pursue careers in science and education. As a universal design enthusiast, I have completed two courses at the Engineering Department developing photo-journalism-style essays, defining design problems and recommending solutions.

I have been increasing my knowledge of Medicare as a way of paying for assistive technology.

The Voice of America said, "Solkoff believes that if enough old and disabled people vote, it could help ensure that candidates favorable to the Social Security and Medicare benefits they depend on will be elected, both locally and nationally."

From 2001 to 2003, I have worked for:

Amaryllis Theatre/VSA Arts of Pennsylvania, on grant proposals and disability access.
SchlumbergerSema, Moorestown, NJ, documenting point-of-sale terminals using smart cards.
Pennsylvania's Montgomery County Community College, teaching basic and intermediate courses on how to write English clearly and correctly (as adjunct professor of English).

From 1990 to 2001, Senior Technical Writer both in California's Silicon Valley and in North Carolina's Research Triangle Park.

At the Silicon Valley:

For IP Unity, produced documentation for engineers writing Internet telephony applications to help them make it possible, for example, for company regional offices to simultaneously link conference calls with Power Point presentations located on their laptops.
At Resonant Commerce, developed data warehouse mining documentation.
At Star Vox, provided voice over IP documentation on installing hardware and software.
At KLA-Tencor, worked with designers to document wafer analysis software, writing documentation where none existed before, working closely with software quality assurance team.
At Cabeltron/ZeitNet, worked on beta version of a reference manual for small digital telephony switch. Completed console commands section (e.g. show configuration, modify port configuration). Wrote command parameter and descriptions, worked on TCP/IP and other protocols after talking to engineers and testing each of the 22 commands.
At Genentech Pharmaceuticals, worked on an Interleaf 6 Relationship Data Base Management system (Oracle-based) to end documentation logjam.

At Research Triangle Park:

At IBM's Netfinity Server Group, wrote procedures for installing network operating systems in servers. Migrated BookMaster documents to FrameMaker with SGML. Produced Technical Updates concerning modifications to servers about to be released.
At ABB Metering Systems, managed research, production of detailed engineering drawings, and dissemination of a technical manual for circuit boards purchased after a meter is already installed, giving that meter the ability to communicate with the utility office by modem and cellular communication. Coordinated high-level design review of project software to troubleshoot problems with two-way conversations between a meter at a customer's residence and the company's central office. One goal was to have the meter to tell the electric company to shut off the electricity if the customer's residence is on fire.
At Glaxo-Wellcome, worked with Visual Basic designers in a commercial IT group, producing documentation for a custom-designed Oracle-based software program used to keep track of conventions, budgets, and contracts. Audience was not sophisticated with computers and the software itself did not yet have its code frozen. Writing about software in a continual state of change requires considerable organizational ability.
At MCI, wrote manual for call center. Used extensive screen captures of the center's GUIs.
At Nortel Networks(Northern Telecom), my work included:
Writing descriptions of new telecommunications software
Preparing documentation for SGML compatibility
Coordinating with software engineers, working with product developers, and supervising other documentation work on such telephony products and issues as ACD, the OSI model, X.25, ISDN, SS7, systems integration, LANs, fiber optics including SONET, and high bandwidth, low-delay, multiplexed packet switching.

From 1969 to 1990, worked as speechwriter, public affairs consultant, report writer, grant writer, journalist, and author in Washington, D.C. and New York City. My experience included:

Senior speechwriter and public affairs professional managing a variety of Communications Department projects and activities at the U.S. Postal Service, receiving commendation from the assistant postmaster general in charge of technology for my exhaustive work on postal automation, including bar coding and optical scanning.
Speechwriter for Ted Brophy, CEO of GTE, and other corporate officials, as well as doing public relations and grant proposal writing.
Report writer at the Congressional General Accounting Office (as it was then called) and Congress's Office of Technology Assessment.
Special assistant to the Under Secretary of Labor, a Presidential-appointee position requiring Senate confirmation and a complete security clearance. Wrote speeches and developed and implemented public affairs policy for the Department's second most powerful official. Other speechwriting for public officials included work for both Democratic and Republican Chairs of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Reporter for The New York Times, The New Republic, Newsday and The Village Voice.
Newsletter editor, MLAP Monthly Report (a publication of the Migrant Legal Action Program.
Editor/Researcher for Scanlan's Monthly, a New York-based general-interest magazine:

Previous professional affiliations: Authors Guild, National Press Club, Society of Professional Journalists, and Washington Speechwriters Roundtable. Recipient of a grant from the Fund for Investigative Journalism.

Publications: I am the author of the following 3 books:

Learning to Live Again; My Triumph Over Cancer, published by Holt, Rinehart & Winston
The Politics of Food, published by Sierra Club Books and distributed by Random House
Handbook for Commissioners, Housing and Redevelopment Officials, published by the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials
I have published dozens of articles in my own name for such publications as The New York Times, The New Republic, The International Herald Tribune, and Information Week ( and have contributed to the Time-Life Books series

Education: BA, Columbia College, Columbia University, graduate work at The Pennsylvania State University's Department of Rehabilitation Counseling.

Work Experience


Columbia College
BA, Medieval European History


Interests: Patrick Geddes, Lewis Mumford, Hellen Keller, James Branch Cabell, James Joyce
Honors / Awards: Recipient of a grant for investigative journalism, D.C.
Joel has been liked by 0 people.
This profile was last updated on 11/15/2015 3:04:11 AM

 Contacts (1)
You are connected to...
Log in to see if you're connected
They are connected to...
Joel Solkoff