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.
Amro Sallam helped start Architects for Society in 2015, gathering together a collective of international architects to focus their work on humanitarian and social-welfare projects. One of their first projects, Hex House, is a solar-powered, single-family unit designed for deployment in refugee camps and other displaced communities. Sallam shared with me the firm’s origin story, their mindset towards architecture’s involvement in humanitarian efforts, and his thoughts on Aravena's Biennale.
20 over 80: Conversations with Legends of Architecture and Design is the antidote to those breathless, over-hyped lists you’ve seen, trying to predict which baby-faced youngster will be the next big thing in their creative practice. A compilation of unique interviews with such greats as Milton Glaser, Michael Graves, Phyllis Lambert, Jens Risom, Denise Scott Brown and Deborah Sussman, 20 over 80 not only draws a thread through the last century of creative practice, but is also a testament to the talented people whose lifetime of experience came to define today’s design and architecture.
Editors Aileen Kwun and Bryn Smith joined Amelia Taylor-Hochberg to discuss how they approached the dream assignment of interviewing such "legends", and the surprising similarities and differences running through the interviewees' history.
Today's podcast guests are NBBJ Managing Partner Steve McConnell and John SanGiovanni, co-founder of Visual Vocal, a new company bringing virtual and augmented reality systems to the architecture industry. As an investor in Visual Vocal, NBBJ plans to foster the company in all of its design processes, using its collaborative platforms to communicate among designers, clients, and users, at all stages of project development. With a beta program launching this summer, Steve and John gave me a taste of how NBBJ plans to use the service, why it invested in the company in the first place, and how ubiquitous VR stands to dramatically change the architectural process.
In the late 1980s, Bernard Khoury came to the US from Lebanon to study architecture at RISD and Harvard, then returned to establish his practice in Beirut in the mid-1990s. His father was a prominent modernist architect during Beirut’s booming pre-civil war years, and much of Khoury’s work somehow engages with Lebanon’s post-war urbanity. We spoke about his time at Harvard, studying “war architecture” with Lebbeus Woods, and how his practice is a constant reevaluation of how architecture can reflect upon, and come to terms with, the traumas of war.
We last spoke with Amale Andraos for our Deans List series, a year after she succeeded Mark Wigley as dean of Columbia University's GSAPP.Since 2011 at GSAPP, before her deanship began, Andraos has ledvarious research studios and seminars around "Architecture andRepresentation: The Arab City"—the results from which she has nowedited, with Studio-X Amman director Nora Akawi, into a newbook, The Arab City.
Andraos spoke with Amelia Taylor-Hochberg about theperpetuated stereotypes and simplifications that plague discussionsof Arab cities—the desert v. the oasis, the traditional v. themodern, etc.—and how her own experiences in Beirut inspired herresearch.
Shortly after starting out in Frank Gehry's office in the early 1990s, Clive Wilkinson founded his own firm in Los Angeles, and has since designed far-reaching workspaces for such big-name clients as Google, the BBC, 20th Century Fox and Microsoft. I spoke with Clive about the evolution from cubicle farms to “serendipity machines” in office design, and his thoughts on co-working spaces. Also turns out he’s not a huge fan of Apple's "spaceship" campus.
If the name didn't tip you off, CockyBoys is a gay porn studio based in New York. Jake Jaxson has been running it, quite successfully, since 2010, starting with implementing a major shift in the aesthetic and overall quality of its videos – not only to up the production value, but to communicate what Jake refers to as a "nostalgia," and a sense of place. In an industry awash with graceless, utilitarian money-shots, readily available for free, how do you justify that extra investment in design, and getting your audience to pay for it?
Part of our special April focus on sex and sexuality in architecture, I spoke with Jake about the tandem inspiration between pornography and architecture, and how design-conscious porn can lead to a more sex-positive society. Jake also shares his dream house for a shoot – hint: it rhymes with "The Ass Mouse".
We visited Ray Kappe in his breathtaking home in Rustic Canyon, Los Angeles, to hear his thoughts on the shifting grounds of architecture education, and how architecture seems to always play catch-up to the historical zeitgeist. In a career spanning 60+ years and counting – including his roles as co-founder of Cal Poly Pomona's architecture department, and the founding-director of SCI-Arc – Kappe has not only been an impressive force of architectural practice (often referred to as an under-the-radar southern Californian modern master), but an educator constantly seeking to bring science and the world at large into architecture.
Richard Kim is a pretty busy guy – as the head designer at emerging electric vehicle company, Faraday Future, Kim is tasked with creating the company's very first EV for production, destined to compete with Tesla and, as he sees it, the airline industry. No public design is available yet, but Kim hopes to do the "impossible" and ready the car for production in 2017. We found some time in his tight schedule to discuss his role at Faraday Future and what's in store for car ownership and operation in the coming years, as automation and electric battery capabilities open up new paradigms for the humble automobile.
This week on One-to-One, we check in with the partners behind Family, Oana Stanescu (former top-notch Archinect School Blogger) and Dong-Ping Wong, to hear how the pop culture-bending firm grew from when Oana and Dong met at REX, to now designing for Kanye West and pitching their own projects in New York, including the innovative + Pool project. Also, why Oana's dog is all over their website.
One-to-One is taking a break this week – we've been super busy these last few weeks, getting together more interviews and doing some spring cleaning for the podcasts. We'll be back next week with a new One-to-One, featuring Oana Stanescu and Dong-Ping Wong of Family New York, the designers behind Kanye's volcano and the + Pool project.
Until then, we'd recommend checking out these recent interviews:
This week's One-to-One guest, the Los-Angeles based architect Michael Maltzan, may be best known for his multiple residential projects with the Skid Row Housing Trust, and the longer-than-the-Empire-State-Building-is-tall residential mixed user, One Santa Fe. But Maltzan’s office is also designing Los Angeles’ new Sixth Street Viaduct, a since-demolished infrastructural icon of the city that bridged the Los Angeles River between downtown and Boyle Heights. Michael shares his relationship with the growing identity of downtown Los Angeles, and his perspective on the style of urbanism arising on LA’s westside in the “Silicon Beach” neighborhood of Playa Vista. We also discuss the effect of China’s ban on “weird” architecture for LA-architects practicing there.
Architect and educator Tom Wiscombe has made major inroads as SCI-Arc's BArch chair to establish a stronger connection to the humanities and critical theory in architecture education, founding the school's Liberal Arts Program last year and bringing in contemporary philosophers and theorists to spark new dialogues. We discuss his role in the southern Californian architecture culture (particularly in regards to MOCA's 2013 New Sculpturalism show), how he prioritizes theory in architectural practice and education, and his ongoing Main Museum of Los Angeles project in the city's enlivened downtown.
Correction: this episode thanks SCI-Arc for helping coordinate the interview – while Tom is on faculty there, it was his alma mater of UCLA that assisted in scheduling the interview.
Writer, critical theorist and architecture academic Sylvia Lavin has been a fixture in the southern California art and architecture scene for the better part of the last 30 years. Currently serving as Director of the Critical Studies programs at UCLA's Architecture and Urban Design department, she also recently launched a summer curatorial program at SCI-Arc, called MEAT: Making Exhibitions in Architecture Today, and is widely published on issues of architecture and art practice.
Lavin spoke with me about growing up in an academic family, splitting her childhood between New York and Rome, and her perception of the art/architectural scene in southern California.
LA-based architect Frank Israel's obituary
UCLA urban planning professor Edward Soja's obituary
Pipilotti Rist's "Pour Your Body Out" (2008) installation at MoMA
As Deputy Director for Urban Design and Mobility in Glendale, CA, a teacher of urban design at Woodbury University, and one of the Mayor's appointees on the City of Pasadena's Design Commission, Alan Loomis has thoroughly installed himself in the shifting scene of southern Californian urbanism. After moving from Michigan to get his MArch at SCI-Arc in the late 1990s, Loomis has seen enough of Los Angeles' urbanism to be convinced that whatever post-sprawl paradigm gets adopted here will become the guidebook for many more cities in the US, particularly those ever-expanding desert cities in the southwest.
Loomis joined Amelia Taylor-Hochberg in Archinect's studio to talk about urban design in the public and private realms, pedagogical approaches to urban design vs. urban planning, and his earlier days in LA as an Archinect editor.
This week's guest is Garrett Jacobs, executive director of the phoenix rising from Architecture for Humanity's ashes, known as the Chapter Network. When Architecture for Humanity went bankrupt last year and shut down its formal, executive functions, many affiliated chapters continued business as usual, that is, operating independently with volunteer coalitions. To rally those troops and continue AFH's mission of humanitarian and sustainable development, the Chapter Network was formed, and Jacobs, formerly an outreach coordinator for AFH, became its organizing leader.
As an architectural designer trained literally in the midst of Hurricane Katrina, and with past experience organizing for Code for America, Jacobs has big plans for the newfangled Network. We spoke about how to continue Architecture for Humanity’s legacy without making its same mistakes, and how to create a sustainable organization on a shoestring.
In line with this month's "Furniture" theme, Amelia Taylor-Hochberg speaks with Galen Cranz, an architecture professor at UC Berkeley specializing in body-conscious design. Cranz is trained in the "Alexander Technique" – a method for "correcting" the body's poor habits of movement, that can limit self-awareness in a space.
Before coming to Cal to teach architecture, Cranz received her PhD in sociology from the University of Chicago, influencing her pedagogy of architecture and furniture to primarily be about how humans occupy designs, and how social hierarchies emerge from those conventions.
Based in London, Elsie Owusu OBE runs her own firm (Elsie Owusu Architects), is a national council member at the Royal Institute of British Architects, and is vice chair at the London School of Architecture. But it’s likely that many Archinectors hadn’t heard of Owusu until December of last year, when we reported on claims of institutional racism and sexism she had made against RIBA, alleging that they had rigged an election she was up for in favor of another candidate, who wasn’t an elected RIBA council member.
In my correspondence with Owusu to arrange our interview, she analogized the issue this way (paraphrased here): an African-American or minority ethnic female actor (her) being nominated for an Oscar, only to have a white actor who hasn't even made a film "parachuted in" and given an award for Best Supporting Actor.
I wanted to speak with Owusu about her work alongside issues of diversity and exclusion in practice generally, and also at the institutional level of RIBA. We discuss the allegations, but Owusu is quick to point out that these conversations need to happen regardless of any publicized incidents – keeping these discussions going is vital if the profession is ever going to improve.
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.
Complaints about the state of architecture education are easy to come by, both in academia and practice. It's expensive, long, and arguably ineffective in preparing graduates for the realities of the field. So who's actually trying to fix it?
Will Hunter, former deputy editor of the Architectural Review, has one idea – start a whole new school altogether. Back in October, Hunter opened the brand new London School of Architecture, starting 30+ postgraduate architecture students on a 2-year course working with local firms on local projects. As the school's founder and director, Hunter wanted to form a "cost-neutral" model of architecture education, where students work part-time – for pay equal to the cost of tuition – while also attending courses. Give students a vested interest in their city and practice, narrow the gap between education and practice considerably, and make their training financially sustaining.
We spoke with Hunter in August, about the thought process behind the school and how he went about building it from the ground up. Our conversation has all the trappings of nervous excitement that you'd expect in anticipation of a school's opening, and we hope to check back in with Hunter after the LSA's first year is over.
Before coming to MIT to serve as dean of the School of Architecture + Planning in January 2014, Hashim Sarkis taught at Harvard's GSD as the Aga Khan professor of Landscape Architecture and Urbanism in Muslim Societies. He founded his own practice, Hashim Sarkis Studios, in Cambridge in 1998, and continues to lead the firm.
Sarkis’s experience working in two of the most highly-regarded architectural education institutions worldwide, while also managing his own firm, puts him in a unique position to approach theoretical questions of architecture from within the two, often discordant spheres of academia and practice. Our interview revolves around the same questions we ask in our Deans List series – how architecture education and practice are changing, how to address student needs, MIT’s particular take on how to cultivate exceptional architects, and the culture of the school in a global urban context.
Architect and educator Liam Young joins Paul Petrunia and Nicholas Korody in the Archinect studio for this week's One-to-One. Young, a kind of architect-non-architect (his definition of the role may vary), concerns his design and creative work with the anthropocentric futures of our globalized society, in architecture, energy, and technology.
Standard among his many roles are co-director of the AA's Unknown Fields Division, a nomadic research studio, and founder of the urbanism think tank, Tomorrow's Thoughts Today. Current projects include developing a new masters program at SCI-Arc in fiction and entertainment, and leading a studio at the AA. Special thanks to SCI-Arc for helping set up the interview.