When did you know you wanted to be an architect?
Growing up in the late 30's
and 40's , we were at war. It is very hard to
reconstruct what that was like. Every boy in school knew he was going
be in the army or the navy so we weren't thinking about careers when we
went into the service, but when we got out of the service we were all
of a sudden
really thinking about what we were going to do.
It was during the war that
I decided I wanted to go into architecture. My
Parents never influenced me directly.
I did know that the old order
in architecture wasn't working anymore in
terms of what it meant to be modern. That was reinforced by the philosophy
of teaching. That was, what really mattered in architecture was what is
now called the "International Style" although I don't think
the term was
Who were your heroes?
Our heroes were Walter Gropius, Mies , Le Corbusier. Those were the people
we were paying attention to. Neo-classicism and the eclectic styles that
imitated older styles were a dead end. That's what was going on in architecture
I began to become increasingly
aware of what was happening to the growth in the city and that became
a preoccupation of mine later on in regard to trying not to reproduce
How important is the client to good architecture?
Unfortunately, architects have to have a client. If you do nothing but
paper architecture, you don't have to worry about what your client thinks,
or the size of the client's pocketbook. All of a sudden you realize that
in the real world, great architecture is the marriage between a great
client and a great architect. You have to have the two.
A lot of people got hooked
on Ayn Rand's thing, which is of course bunk.Let's face it, it's fascist
supremacist philosophy, the heroic architect killing himself because his
dream is not being realized. I haven't met very many architects who immolated
themselves because some detail of their design didn't get approved.
In the execution of a project
there are always things that have to be toned down or modified in some
way to please some interest other than your own thought. The important
thing is to have a client who is as enthusiastic about the project as
you are. Without that, you are nowhere.
some buildings that work or don't work for you?
I can't speak for the whole state, but in the Boise area there are some
buildings that don't make it real well. One that just doesn't make it
at all is the Grove Hotel. Somebody said about the color, "well,
we've got the primer coat on, what are we going to do about the rest of
the painting?". The building is a visual insult to the city. It's
inept. It violated the well-known standard for Capital Boulevard development.
The city fathers allowed that to happen.
I hesitate to say this about
another building, but the new Ada County Courthouse doesn't make it. If
you need to be dropped off and picked up for a quick trip, to file something,
there is no way to do that. You can't have someone drop you off in front
if you are handicapped; or if you need to catch a bus, there is no bus
lane or a taxi driveway to let you off. And now you see people taking
their lives into their hands running across the street because the parking
arrangements are inadequate.
One building I've always admired is the Supreme Court building. Designed
by Dick Hosford, it's a building in a particular style that was very much
in mode in the 60's. It's just an elegant building, and the state should
be proud to have it.
The Wells Fargo Bank building
I like a lot. The pointy corner, they could have done without that. That
was a Houston, Texas, architect who did that building. It's an Oppenheimer
Development Company building. It's very interesting, the triangular plan
and that wonderful garden. I did the underground parking garage. We had
to collaborate, of course, with the Houston architects and structural
engineers because the parking garage and the building are integrated in
some ways. It had to be designed to support this garden and all that landscaping
on the top.
you think of Idaho architects as a whole?
In terms of architecture in
general, we're in the same position as
architects everywhere. Architects ceased to be the king pins long ago.
I am skeptical where architecture is going in general, but not necessarily
The University of Idaho in
recent years has not seen fit to award contracts to Idaho architects.
That hasn't sat well with Idaho architects, many of whom were trained
at the U of I.
The big projects always attract
the stars. It's also a function of the financing. If a project in Idaho
requires major out of state financing, the financing institutions are
not about to entrust a major investment to a firm they don't know anything
about. They tend to want to use the firms they are used to. The Grove
Hotel is an example.
American Institute of Architects
Idaho chapter tries real hard to elevate the design ability of Idaho architecture
with the bi-ennial awards program that is juried by out of state people.
We find a lot of really innovative, neat things going around the state.
I think in that sense the design ability of Idaho architects is improving,
and the profession is consciously trying
to elevate that.
Architects are not vocal enough.
I think architects have a duty to bring to people's attention what ought
to be done to preserve the urban fabric. Architects generally accept the
commission, do the job, collect the fee and move on to the next job and
don't necessarily tell the city fathers what's good for them.
Since the Renaissance, architects
became very much identified with their buildings. That's gradually disappeared.
The architect had a certain glamour. The profession still has a certain
prestige, maybe undeserved, today.