From the Desert to the City: An Interview with Wendell Burnette

© Bill Timmerman

Since childhood, growing up on a farm outside of Nashville, Wendell Burnette has been inspired by nature; indeed, the amplification of the natural site has highlighted his body of work. In the following question and answer by Guy Horton of Metropolis Magazine, the -based architect speaks about memories, inspiration and experience. 

Wendell Burnette’s journey through architecture has taken him from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin to some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world, where he has designed a type of architecture that resonates with the power of natural surroundings. It has also taken him to one of the world’s fastest growing cities, Phoenix, Arizona, where his practice, Wendell Burnette Architects, is based and where he calls home. More recently it has brought him to Los Angeles where he is the current Nancy M. & Edward D. Fox Urban Design Critic at the USC School of Architecture. He is also Professor of Practice at The Design School at State University’s Herberger Institute of Design and the Arts.

I spoke with Burnette about his approach to architecture, the importance of direct experience, and the meaning behind his current USC studio, “Earth Curvature”.

AD Classics: United States Courthouse / Richard Meier & Partners Architects

Courtesy of Richard Meier & Partners Architects, ©Scott Frances ESTO

As an interruption of Phoenix’s Jeffersonian grid and “downtown” of glass box and faux adobe, the new federal building is a gravitational point of interest and anchor for the sprawling city of Phoenix. The 500,000 square-foot building with six stories and underground parking is sited on two central city blocks between the governmental and business districts.

More on the United States Courthouse in , by Richard Meier & Partners Architects after the break.