Claude Stoller received his M.Arch degree from Harvard Graduate School of Design. Stoller continued his studies for a year at the University of Florence in Italy. In 1956, he formed a partnership, Marquis & Stoller Architects. In 1978 Stoller formed Stoller/Partners (later Stoller Knoerr Architects) in Berkeley. Projects included single homes, multiple dwellings, religious buildings, and institutional and commercial structures. Social issues such as housing and energy-efficient designs were a primary concern for Stoller as was historic preservation.
In 1968 he was elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects, and in 1991 he was awarded the Berkeley Citation by the University of California. Stoller served on city and county planning commissions, on an advisory panel for the federal General Services Administration and on several other public and professional committees. He was licensed to practice in several states and certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards.
In 1957 William Wurster invited Stoller to join the faculty in the Department of Architecture at the University of California. He was acting Chair in 1965-66 and Chair of Graduate Studies from the early 1980s until he retired Professor Emeritus in 1991.
To the extent possible within a conventional architectural curriculum, Stoller used real sites and exposed his students to the manufacturing process of materials through visits to factories. For one design class at Berkeley Stoller started the Wurster West Workshop, a studio in San Francisco where students could gain practical experience in planning, construction, and client relationships by working in poor neighborhoods. The major project for the workshop was the design in a redevelopment area of a square with both commercial space and housing.
In 1965 Stoller started a program in Continuing Education in Environmental Design in collaboration with the University of California Extension. Several courses were instituted for architecture, planning, landscape architecture and design professionals. In 1966-67, as the internship component of the program, Stoller founded the pioneering San Francisco Community Design Center, a response both to student concerns about inequities in housing and community concerns about redevelopment plans. The Center, located on Haight Street in San Francisco, was started with a Research and Development grant from the University. The Center became a prototype for other Community Design Centers which brought the skills of architectural interns to poor neighborhoods where buildings needed remodeling or new construction was possible and where interns worked with “real” clients. In addition to architects, the program drew on the expertise of other disciplines including psychology, economics, law, and engineering.