Scott Merrill, winner of this year’s Driehaus Prize for his work under his firm Merrill, Pastor & Colgan, studied economics before getting an MArch at Yale, and found inspiration early in his career from Vermont's vernacular architectures. He began practicing solo in Florida in 1990, and works at a range of scales, in a form true to what the Driehaus celebrates: traditional, classical architecture. The award, started in 2003 by the architecture school at Notre Dame, celebrates (and gives $200,000 to) an architect whose work “embodies the highest ideals of traditional and classical architecture in contemporary society, and creates a positive cultural, environmental, and artistic impact.”
Scott spoke with me about what the prize means to him, and his view of architecture as primarily about serving our human nature, not fulfilling a formal agenda.
Michael Kimmelman, architecture critic for the New York Times, joins me for our first One-to-One interview of 2016. I wanted to talk with Kimmelman specifically about a piece he had published just at the end of last year, called “Dear Architects: Sound Matters”. The piece considers how an architectural space’s unique audio atmosphere helps create its overall personality, invariably affecting us as we experience it. Alongside Kimmelman’s writing in the piece are looped videos of different spaces – the New York Times’ office, a restaurant, the High Line, Penn Station, a penthouse – meant to be viewed while wearing headphones, to get to know that space’s sonic portrait, of sorts.
Too often, says Kimmelman, architects don’t think of sound as a material like they would concrete, glass or wood, when it can have a profound effect on the design’s overall impact. In our interview, Kimmelman shares how the piece came to be, and how it fits into the Times’ overall push into more multimedia journalism. We also discuss how Kimmelman’s role as former chief art critic for the Times has influenced his architecture criticism, and how multimedia and VR may affect the discipline.