Architecture do for a person?
For the initial user, architecture
should not only give you a comfortable, safe house, but it maybe needs to become more than that. It maybe needs
to give you an opportunity to uplift your spirit, that quality that fills
your spirit. It should change the way you live. It should be a beautiful
I don't believe an architecture
is really an architecture unless it has a spirit in it, a numinosity. Architecture should be more than just keeping the
rain out. It should uplift the soul and the spirit and take you to places
you wouldn't be normally. And great architecture has always done that.
an ideal architecture for Idaho?
An ideal architecture for Idaho would be one that is sympathetic to architecture
in the region. You have to look at the geography, geology, climate, history
but you do it in a non-literal sense. You don't recapitulate history.
History informs. We move forward from there. A non-literal translation
of history appropriate to its time and place.
Sun Valley architecture mean to you?
I think ostentation really
shouldn't have any place anywhere. The notion of "too much is not
enough" doesn't appeal to me.
The idea of building these
McMansions doesn't appeal to me. If they need the space, fine, but I would
rather have a more respectful building that will last, that is appropriate
to its site, fairly easily heated, uses both passive and active technology
(solar). The Chinese pointed all of their buildings south. They have been
doing this for thousands of years.
I am told there are more architects per capita here then any place else
in the world, some of them are very dedicated and interested in what
they are doing. There are others who are appealing to the large and
powerful animal that Plato talked about in The Republic, where
the large and powerful animal wants all this stuff -- bananas and cakes
--but all the stuff isn't good for the animal. But the person continues
to feed it anyway.
The animal, of course, is
a metaphor for the public at large. The point is, the public doesn't know
what it wants, so it will eat all the things that aren't good for it,
including McMansions. So the architect philosopher, if you will, would
have a better grip on what's better for them.
Architecture has to satisfy
the first need and the first client, but the architecture also has to
go past that because the first client and the first need changes. Architecture
lasts for centuries. The client and builder aren't here any more, so it
needs to be sustainable to the other generation.
So, indeed, there is actually
a moral issue here. To make something good that will serve themselves
well but that will also serve others well. It's like planting a tree that
you will never see grow and mature. It's a delicate subject. I don't mean
to say that we have to impose everything on the client. I listen to the
client, but I also listen to the site, and I listen to myself.
That is very different from
someone bringing in a bunch of photographs and saying this is what I want,
draw it up. We are not draftsmen. Drafting is part of our process but
I'm not a draftsman to draw up somebody's usually pretty bad ideas. What
amounts to their dreams can often turn into nightmares.
take on the relationship between architect and contractor?
We are troubled with that.
The builder is very important, but the builder is building what we create
and what we draw. It's a great, wonderful, highly respected craft. But
they sometimes think we are "word spinners" and they don't really
need us. The evidence is very clear. They are basically very good craftspeople
in terms of putting things together. But are they creative and are they
doing "spontaneous novelty," and do they really know about aesthetic
judgment? I can tell you they don't.
And another big problem is
when the client and the contractor get together unilaterally, independent
of the architect and make decisions. That's just grist for law suits.
That happens all the time.
The communication should go
through the architect. I'm not saying the architect is dictatorial in
this. He has to be in the loop. So it goes client, architect, contractor.
I think architecture is losing
ground, because the large and powerful animal is being fed by a lot of
amateurs, and it's not good for us.
The profession of architecture
is losing ground, and I don't think it's because of money. I think it's
because the decisions are in the wrong hands. The decisions are in the
hands of those who are not professional. It's really a misinformed public,
and that's probably our fault. And it's a misinformed developer because
they would rather have a captive architect to do whatever he or she wants,
and that's wrong.
Some architects are compromisers.
Some architects do feed the large and powerful animal and I don't have
a high regard for them. I have had to turn down commissions; I have had
to fight this battle for a long time.
When you get a great client
-- and fortunately I have had many, and we always end up great friends
-- then you have an opportunity to do something really special. Unless
you hold to a higher ground with everyone, you are not going to make
it. But the higher ground does not cost more. It often costs less.