“I like the idea of surprise and discovery rather than invention, of looking at history and what others have done.”
“In a nutshell, I see myself as a student of the city. I like the possibilities of re-imagining an appropriate urban environment. I’m very interested in how cities work or don’t work, and in their peculiarities and idiosyncrasies. I like visiting cities—they show you that there are many different ways to live.
I’ve been at ARM nearly as long as the founding directors. Over the years, I’ve developed an interest in masterplanning and how buildings fit onto a site—how it all stacks up. Some basic principles of urban design seem to apply to projects of any scale. The spaces between buildings, as much as the buildings themselves, can be the most significant or fascinating bits. Concepts of a hierarchy of uses within a site, or of the importance of people places, are more interesting to me than buildings in isolation.
I enjoy the challenge of recalibrating existing buildings for the contemporary era—buildings that were designed under certain social assumptions that are now outdated. ‘Adaptive re-use’ is an old-fashioned term for this. We need to keep things contemporary while acknowledging history. If you just trash things, you’ve got no sense of where we are and where we’ve been—no history and culture.
Before I became an architect, I did a degree in fine arts and history. I draw a lot rather than using the computer, and people seem to find my drawings useful. Their purpose is to communicate aspects of a design, either to colleagues or to clients and stakeholders.
I like the idea of surprise and discovery rather than invention, of looking at history and what others have done. Architects’ primary reference point is what’s happened before, re-interpreted for contemporary society. I’m suspicious of invention from nothing. Only God can do that.”