In the late 1950s, some of the world's most prominent architects gathered in Berkeley, California, to take part in a landmark psychological experiment on creativity and personality. Eero Saarinen, Philip Johnson, Richard Neutra, William Pereira and dozens of other architects were put through a barrage of tests and surveys, to gain a better understanding of what creativity is, and its place in architecture. They also rated one another, and in the process exposed not only exposed their egos honestly, but also their insecurities.
For the first time, the story behind the study (along with its data and results) have been made public, in The Creative Architect, by architect and author Pierluigi Serraino. I spoke with Serraino about the context of psychological research in the 1950s and the evolving personality behind being a “creative” architect.
Architecture writer and historian Hugh Howard has written many books on American architecture, telling stories that meld design and cultural history together in highly accessible and humanistic ways.
His latest book, "Architecture's Odd Couple: Frank Lloyd Wright and Philip Johnson", tracks the fruitful and contentious relationship between the two architectural frenemies—beginning with Wright’s role in Johnson’s pivotal “Modern Architecture” exhibition at MoMA in 1932, up until Wright’s death in 1959. Through their relationship, Howard provides an excellent overview of midcentury architecture's context in the United States, and personalizes the architectural giants in the process.
Elaine Molinar joined founding partner Craig Dykers at Snøhetta's very beginning, when they won their first competition for the Alexandria Library in 1989. Since then, the firm has grown true to its mountainous namesake, expanding to four offices worldwide and winning pivotal cultural projects in architecture and design, among them the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet, SFMOMA's expansion, the entrance pavilion at the National September 11 Memorial Museum, and Norway's new banknotes.
They both joined me on One-to-One to talk about their future hopes for the firm, Snøhetta's office culture, and their advice for working with your significant other (they've been a couple since the firm began).
Writer and BLDGBLOG founder Geoff Manaugh's latest book, A Burglar's Guide to the City, isn't just a set of case studies on bank vaults and getaway routes—it's a dialectic for public and private space. It’s definitely the first book I’ve come across classified jointly under “architecture” and “true crime”, and it's full of fascinating insights into how burglars exploit architecture to pull off the perfect crime, as well as the extent architects go to prevent that from happening.
Geoff spoke with me about the research behind the book, and how a personal experience with burglary changed his ideas about privacy in architecture. For more podcasting with Geoff, check out our conversation about autonomous vehicles on Archinect Sessions #43.