modern eureka


Convent of La Tourette / Le Corbuiser

I’m late to the party on this month’s Architalks and you’re expecting me to tell a story of some discovery or resolution of a problem. I’d love to say that happens often, but most solutions in my practice come because I work rigorously searching and sketching with considerable thought. Epiphanies come during off hours.

One of the earliest discoveries in my architectural career came in the first year of school as I was exposed to a myriad of modern architectural wonders largely because we were required to analyze a well-known building common to most freshman programs. The added benefit to this exercise is it exposes the class to a host of buildings beyond the one assigned to them as we see each other’s work. There was no gold crown involved and my bath water was not displaced trying to measure density. However, I did find myself visiting the architecture library several times a week which was my own form of gold. I was soon becoming an architectural name-dropper before I knew it.

shamberg 01.jpg

Shamberg House – Richard Meier Architect / Building Photography: Ezra Stoller/ESTO

Before I left for architecture school, my exposure to architecture was honestly, quite limited. We didn’t have computers, let alone the internet in the 1980’s when I attended high school, so without libraries, there’s no knowledge. Our local library was a bit slim in the architecture category, so the revelation was delayed until I arrived at Kent State in my second year of school in 1986. Drawing in high school was preferred over drafting, but I never wavered in my goal to be an architect. This just shows that we need to learn to be more aware of our built environment at a younger age.

Many people seem to believe we choose our favorite types (I didn’t say styles) of architecture like we choose our favorite foods or fashion. For me, it’s a constant revelation. I don’t choose out of premeditated volition, but out of unending discovery as I see projects in magazines, or more importantly visit them in person. Fortunately, the post-modernism that had mostly faded during my college years, nor the temporary fad of deconstructivism that made a noble attempt during my latter years had the power to stay with me like our Bauhaus friends or Corbu. I was a fan of Meier, who in my opinion does Corbu better than Corbu and the other 4 of the NY5 were quite influential. If you’re not following, I understand.

Michael Graves, Architect

Architectural history was the first history class I enjoyed, and the instructor kept his personal feelings to himself as he lit up the screen with endless slides from the ages. For the record, no architect dislikes projects from centuries ago; we all love them, but there was something birthed when I was exposed to 20th century modernism. I didn’t react as many non-architects do with antipathy over the lack of ornament, but the clarity and focus of the expressions codified my personality which leans towards the minimal, simple and conceptual. My reasons for preferring contemporary or modern architecture (I say that for lack of a better term) is not something I willfully chose, but discovered and has developed into a mode of working as an architect. I hope I’ve matured in the past twenty-six years since I left Kent State.

California Aerospace Museum, Exposition Park
Frank Gehry 1982-84

As opposed to the way I write, I prefer to design the most with the least. It just is. No other explanation is needed.

Photo 1 credit By Alexandre Norman – French Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link
Photo 2 credit – Richard Meier / Building Photography: Ezra Stoller/ESTO
Photo 3 credit By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, Link

May I invite you to read about discoveries that my friends have contributed to this ArchiTalks series?

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
Eureka!? Finding myself amid the “busy.”

Jeremiah Russell, AIA – ROGUE Architecture (@rogue_architect)
Gee, golly, gosh EUREKA: #architalks

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Eureka! — Things That Suck

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)

Stephen Ramos – BUILDINGS ARE COOL (@BuildingsRCool)
Searching for that Eureka Moment

Jeffrey Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
Finding That “Eureka!” Moment in the Design Process

Keith Palma – Architect’s Trace (@cogitatedesign)
Naked in the Street

Jim Mehaffey – Yeoman Architect (@jamesmehaffey)

Mark Stephens – Mark Stephens Architects (@architectmark)
Eureka moments and what do if clients don’t appreciate them

Larry Lucas – Lucas Sustainable, PLLC (@LarryLucasArch)
Eureka for George in Seinfeld Episode 181


modern eureka

One thought on “modern eureka

  1. These buildings are incredibly interesting to look at and I love the use of natural light to create shadows on the Aerospace museum. Great post.

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