Since my first trip to San Francisco I was intrigued by the local architecture scene. The empowered citizens and city regulations have been able to keep the traditional architectural style of the city, and apart from a few buildings by international practices (de Young Museum by Herzog & de Meuron, California Acadmy of Science by Renzo Piano and the Federal Building by Morphosis) I couldn´t find any local works that stand out from the rest of homogeneous fabric.
But when I started to meet local architects, they all pointed me to Stanley Saitowitz, design principal at Natoma Architects. Teacher at UC Berkeley for 30 years, he influenced over many of the local architects that went to that school and that´s why I got all the recommendations. He has also taught at Harvard GSD, UCLA, Rice, Cornell, SCIARC, U Texas at Austin, and more.
When we visited his office for the interview, we could see an incredible amount of works over the years, more than a hundred on the greater Bay Area and in other locations of the US (such as the Tampa Museum of Art, currently under construction).
There is something on the simplicity of the details and the material use that give a continuity to his works, as you can see on his previous projects that we have featured on ArchDaily.
Back to his office, it took my attention that the models used for the projects were always in a small scale (1:200 or similar), almost as crafted objects, related to the detail importance I mentioned previously.
His expertise on the residential area is not only recognized by the vast amount of publications that have featured his work, but also by inhabitants of his buildings and by his peers, who I heard this from.
But enough of my talk, just watch the interview and stay tuned for more projects to be featured in AD in the next days.
Some photos from our visit after the break.
For those of you that already following @archdaily on Twitter, this is no news: During April, at Postopolis! LA, we interviewed Joseph Grima, current director of the Storefront for Art and Architecture.
The Storefront Gallery is a nonprofit exhibition and events space in New York City committed to the advancement of innovative positions in architecture, art and design. The SFG has organized interesting architecture related events lately, such as the White House Redux Competition (2008), Postopolis! (2007), Postopolis! LA (2009), Spacebuster (2009), among others. The SFG also published the book “49 Cities” by Work AC (review will be posted shortly on AD, great book!).
Back to Joseph, he is a graduate from the Architectural Association and former editor and advisor for Domus Magazine. Currently, he is a PhD candidate at Goldsmith College, London. He recently published the book “Instant Asia: Fast Forward through the Architecture of a Changing Continent” with Skira, a guide to emerging asian architects in collaboration with photographer Gaia Cambiaggi. You can see other publications in which Joseph participated at Amazon.
I think this is one of the interviews with the best background: downtown LA from the rooftop of The Standard Hotel.
A few weeks ago we were in LA for Postopolis!, and we toured around the city visiting interesting practices. One of our biggest surprises was Yazdani Studio. We started to see this firm because of their buildings for the Ordos project, so we decided to visit their offices and interview the principal, Mehrdad Yazdani.
Mehrdad Yazdani (BA Arch U Texas at Austin, M Arch at Harvard GSD) is a principal at Cannon Design, an international firm with several offices in the US and abroad. A big corporate office, with all the pros and cons it has. Given this, Mehrdad started Yazdani Studio as a small laboratory that benefits from the reach and resources of a large international practice, with the flexibility of a smaller design studio. This in-between position has allowed Yazdani Studio to work on several scales. Something I really liked when i visited their office was the large amount of test models I saw laying around for every project, a proof of the amount of experimentation at the practice.
Some of Yazdani Studio projects include the recent renovation of the Museum of Tolerance (and a 2nd phase that will be completed next), the UCSD Price Center, a new campus for Tata Motors and several institutional buildings. Yazdani Studio was also one of the first practices to start working in Ordos -before the Ordos 100 project- with a Villa currently under construction. Also, Yazdani Studio is developing a restaurant and a concert hall, as supporting programs for the cultural district envisioned for this emerging city on the Mongolian desert.
Well, enough with my intro. Just watch the interview.
Some pictures of our visit to the practice after the break.
whY Architecture (Workshop Hakomori Yantrasast) is a LA based architecture practice, directed by partners Kulapat Yantrasast, Yo-ichiro Hakomori and Richard Stoner. Kulapat received his Master of Architecture degree and Ph.D. from the University of Tokyo. Yo-ichiro received his Master of Architecture degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, and his Doctorate from the University of Tokyo. Richard received his Bachelor of Arts from Rhode Island School of Design and Master of Architecture from the University of California, Los Angeles.
On ArchDaily we have featured some of their recent works, such as the Grand Rapids Art Museum (first new art museum in the world to receive LEED certification), the Royal/T project (an art gallery/cafe/retail shop in Culver City, highly recommended), Casa Wasaka (concrete patio house in Osaka, Japan) and their project for Hollywood House (a folded strip generating different open/enclosed spaces).
As of now, they are also working on the design for the new Tyler Museum of Art, Texas, and in the process of renovating the galleries at the Art Institute of Chicago (Kulapat has also served on the Artist Committee for American for the Arts, the nation’s oldest organization for the support of art in society). Community projects include the renovation of the historic Venice Jail into the Social & Public Art Resource Center in Venice, California and the Art Bridge at the Los Angeles River. Recent projects also include Private residences, Art Galleries, Boutique retail, and Day Spas.
whY Architecture was also selected as one of the 13 young practices that presented their work at the closing session (Focus on Contemporary Architecture: Critical and New Opinions) at the AIA Convention 2009.
Architecture for Humanity is a a charitable organization that seeks architectural solutions to humanitarian crises and brings professional design services to communities in need. A few years ago they adopted an open source model to let architects share designs with a Creative Commons license, resulting on Open Architecture Network, an open collaborative tool that allows people around the world to implement these architectural solutions.
AFH also edited the book Design Like You Give a Damn, a compendium of innovative projects from around the world that demonstrate the power of design to improve people’s lives. A second part is currently on the works.
Cameron was included on the list of the 13 young architects that presented their work on the closing session at the AIA Convention this year. He is also a Green Giant and a World Changing contributor, and has presented the work of AFH on TED (in my opinion, a highly motivational presentation).
I have decided to split this interview in two, leaving the regular set of questions in one part, and other specific questions on the other. This part focuses on how AFH works, delivering architectural solutions to the ones who can’t afford it in an innovative way, and also on the current economical crisis as an opportunity and Katrina.
During the AIA Convention 2009 we had the chance to talk to different AEC software companies, to learn how they are helping architects. We decided to keep the conversation on the same interview format we have been using, so you can hear it straight from the developers.
Our first interview was with John Bacus, Product Manager for Google Sketchup. We focused our interview on how SketchUp is helping architects by providing a cost efficient tool, both in price and time, that is also extendable via powerful plugins.
Stay tuned for more interviews.
While in LA we had the chance to visit Standard, a small firm doing residential and retail projects. We visited their Tree House, featured earlier on AD, where i was able to see for myself the minimalism found in their works. A simple work, but with lots of well executed details and spaces designed to benefit from the views and the shadow of the tree.
The practice was founded in 1996 by Jeffrey Allsbrook (M Arch USC, studies at the at the Städelschule in Frankurt, Germany and at the Berlage Institute in Amsterdam) and Silvia Kuhle (Architect Technische Universität Darmstadt, Germany, M Arch Columbia University).
Completed projects include residential, retail, educational, office and manufacturing spaces for a diverse clientele of artists, writers, filmmakers, clothing designers, educators and entrepreneurs in California, New York, Las Vegas, Paris and Mexico. While Standard continues to grow, its partners insist upon maintaining a practice that is rigorous and attentive. Direct accessibility and sustained dialogue between clients and the firm’s partners are viewed as essential to project success.
It was a very good talk, and i really liked their point of view on an central aspect of the profession: the clients.
A few weeks ago we had the chance to visit L.O.H.A. and interview Lorcan O’Herlihy in Los Angeles.
We visited Lorcan because we were very interested on his recent housing projects, which offer rich public spaces bringing back the “neighborhood” to central areas of Los Angeles, away from the suburbs.
It was interesting to hear his answer on the role of architects on contemporary society, and see a new contemporary lifestyle is materialized, addressing location, densities, materials, green strategies and community concepts, an architects response to current society issues.
Postopolis! LA has come to an end (at least for 2009). Postopolis! was discussion, debate and reflection around Architecture and a great variety of related topics: Art, City, Technology, Geography, Visualization, etc., which merged into a multidisciplinary conversation broadcasted live by seven different blogs. It’s impossible to resume in a couple of paragraphs what this days in LA were without thinking we suffered a big overdose of information that we need to take the proper time to digest.
Trying to sort out some ideas, I think at least five topics defined these days for us.
The event for itself, that concentrated expositions and discussions about some very interesting and diverse topics. From talks about the city and security with people from the LA Police Department to understand how some cities are reformulating the relation between cities and their citizens through technology, thanks to Ben Cerveny’s exposition. Complete list of everyone who participated can be found here.
In these five days we had the opportunity to interview some of the best exposers of Contemporary Architecture based in LA. Yo-Ichiro Hakomori (wHY Architecture), Dwayne Oyler & Jenny Wu (Oyler Wu Collaborative), Whitney Sander (Sander Architects), Sarah Johnston & Mark Lee (Johnston MarkLee) and Austin Kelly (XTEN Architecture), Eric Oweb Moss (Eric Owen Moss Architects), and some others we will introduce soon.
Of course, being in LA, we were forced to travel through the city and it’s renowned highways. We realized how hard it is to move without owning a vehicle. But we also got to know a friendly side of the city, with many interesting and different central places to visit.
Finally, a special mention for the place where Postopolis! was carried out: The Standard Hotel in Downtown LA, a great renovation of a 13 floor building by Konig Eizenberg Architecture, where it seems that everything was specially design for the hotel which has one of the most interesting rooftops of LA.
At the same time, Postopolis! was part of the LA Art Week, organized by the For Your Art foundation, so we were immersed in a great cultural environment. Finally, our most sincere thanks to everyone who made Postopolis! possible, specially to everyone who works at The Storefront for Art and Architecture (Joseph, Gaia, Cesar, José, Faris), For Your Art (Bettina, Devin, Julia, Melissa), to the folks at the Standard Hotel, each one of the curators: BLDGBLOG (Geoff), City of Sound (Dan), SubTopia (Bryan), Mudd Up! (Jayce a.k.a. dj/Rupture), We Make Money Not Art (Regina) and of course, every guest who gave life to the event. Thanks to all!
Images that try to resume these 5 days in LA, after the break. (more…)
A few months ago we interviewed Mark Wigley, Dean of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.
In 2005, Wigley founded Volume Magazine together with Rem Koolhaas and Ole Bouman, one of the most interesting architecture magazines addressing current society and cultural affairs.
So far, is one of the most passionate deans I´ve known when it comes to students, empowering them to go always further, which has resulted on a very innovative architecture school.
In recent years, the art world has played host to a number of lively explorations of architecture and the built environment. (In 2006, The New Yorker went so far as to snipe, “Painting about architecture has become popular to the point of excess, much the way seventies artists went overboard on the cube.”) By looking at architecture through the lenses of politics, psychology, humor, and more, artists have been helping to enrich the conversation about the field.
Last week I sat down with painter Sarah McKenzie, who was in New York for the opening of her new show, Building Code, to discuss her thoughts on art and architecture. McKenzie, who first came to public attention for her aerial views of suburban developments, currently uses images of construction sites as her source material.
The interview after the break.
We are back with our series of interviews. This time we had the chance to ask our usual set of questions to Joshua Prince-Ramus, founder of REX – Architecture PC. Previously, Prince-Ramus was the founding partner of OMA NY, where he was Partner in Charge of the Guggenheim-Hermitage Museum in Las Vegas and the Seattle Central Library.
As of now, he has been developing one of the most interesting mix-use projects I have ever seen: The Museum Plaza in Luisville, Kentucky. He has also two ongoing projects, the Vakko headquarters in Turkey and the Wyly Theatre in Dallas.
This has been one of the most interesting interviews we have ever had. Joshua talked a lot on his approach to design and how to collaborate on a project.
But enough talk, just watch the interview – sorry for the audio, we are working to improve our interviews in the future.
After the break, some images of his practice.
We got the chance to sit down with the tree partners at L.E.FT a few months ago, and chatted about their practice, ongoing projects and their thoughts on the state of architectural education, the role of architects in current society and more.
I found their work very interesting, and it was no surprise to see them invited to the P.S.1 competition for 2009 we featured earlier. I also selected them for our section AD Futures, as i think they have a promising future.
You can read more about them on the article AD Futures #2. Some pictures of their office after the break.
UPDATE: I´m currently uploading the video to Blip.tv in better quality
Alejandro Aravena is a chilean architect, recently awarded with the Silver Lion at the Venice Biennale (Promising Young Architect) and selected as a one of the 20 most promising young architects by Icon Magazine, magazine which also features him on the cover of the january issue.
Alejandro has a very strong line of buildings, on which finding solutions is the key: the Siamese Towers (Chile), Pirihueico House (Chile), the Mathematics School at UC (Chile) and ongoing projects such as ORDOS 100 (Inner Mongolia, China), the new facilities of St. Edward’s University in (Austin, TX, USA) and a new building for the Vitra Campus (Germany).
But what has made him achieve all this awards is something else. He is the Executive Director of Elemental Chile, a do-tank that “contributes to improve the quality of life in Chilean cities, providing state of the art architecture and engineering, understanding the city as an unlimited resource to build social equity”. This do-tank has made a huge impact in public policies, improving the quality of social housing not only in several cities in Chile, but also in Mexico.
We had the chance to interview him at his office in Elemental, on a very interesting conversation sharing his thoughts on architecture, the city, public policy and more.
SHoP Architects PC is a New York based practice we meet a few months ago. We knew a little about them, because of the PS1 Competition they won back in 2000, the Porter House condos in NY -a great example of urban renovation- and the East River Waterfront Renovation, currently in progress.
Something that interested me before getting to know them in person, was the fact that they stated “we believe in both ideas and profitability”, as a middle point between academia and service firms – something that some architects escape from.
During our conversation, they told us something very important for current practices: how to manage the growth of your office, how to work in a multidisciplinary environment and how to get the most out of computer aided design technologies, not just in terms of design, but in streamlining the construction process and create new efficiencies and cost-savings.
After the break, the office profile and some selected works from SHoP.
While in New York a few months ago, we interviewed several architects with a set of standard and specific questions, gathering different opinions on current state of practice in contemporary society.
This issues are also being addressed by the C-Lab, the Columbia Laboratory for Architectural Broadcasting, an experimental research unit devoted to the development of new forms of communication in architecture, set up as a semi-autonomous think and action tank at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation of Columbia University, and important collaborators on Volume Magazine.
So when we interviewed C-Lab´s director Jeffrey Inaba and Benedict Clouette, it was a great conversation since we shared some concerns about architecture and society.
I hope you guys enjoy watching this interview as much as we did doing it.
More interviews coming soon.
p.s.: We also reviewed Volume #16.
As I had previously mentioned we visited Work AC in New York a few months ago, where we interviewed Amale Andraos and Dan Wood. This turned out to be a great interview, where they shared their thoughts on the current state of architectural practice, the role of architects in current society, humor, networking, media and something that really interested me: the importance of knowing how to manage the growth of your office.
On their office we saw the amazing model for their Cadavre Exquis Lebanese, a proposal based on a series of interventions to re-create Downtown Beirut presented at the 2007 Rotterdam Biennale. We also got to see their on on going projects and a 1:1 prototype of their Public Farm 1 structure soon to be opened at the PS1. You can check the construction progress at the PF1 website.
Pictures of Work AC after the jump.
Gage / Clemenceau Architects is a NY based architectural firm that deals with a wide scale of projects, from product design, commercial & residential projects to exhibition design. Also runners for the Young Architects Program @ PS1 in 2007, Gage Clemenceau´s work is motivated by the premise that architecture transcends the practice of mere building- in favor of a new and vibrant alliance between progressive technologies, new materials, context and program.
We interviewed Mark Foster Gage (G/C partner, assistant professor at Yale), and discussed about education, media, networking role of architects in contemporary society, among other topics regarding the current state of architectural practice in our second issue of AD Interviews, in a very interesting and fluid talk.
More interviews each Sunday. Please leave your feedback at the comments for future issues.
Pictures of the Gage Clemenceau Studio after the break.