Conversations with Architects
As PRE begins the process of creating an office and defining a practice, we realize the value of talking to those who have done it before and succeeded. Pre-Office will be a published collection of interviews with architects whose offices we respect and admire, talking about the current economic climate and the nature of practice in such times.
The questions that we are asking are specific to each architect being interviewed, but they all have a common thread of urgency given the current economic crisis. Among some of the standard questions are the narratives of how each practice was started, how they've changed based on fluctuating economies, how offices are structured, and where they might be headed. We believe that these published conversations will prove interesting and valuable to the architectural community, both young and seasoned.
This research is being carried out in multiple phases. The first phase is contained within New York City and within our direct network. The timeliness of this project is crucial, which is why we plan to finish the first round of interviews by the end of June 2009. With the support of the network of Columbia University, its professors and alumni, the first phase of this project will include some of the most prominent architects in New York City, as well as some of its emerging talent.
The second phase---and subsequent phases---will move beyond New York as our network grows. Each conversation ends by asking the architect whom we should interview next. After the first round of publishing, we will pursue these suggestions to expand the scope and diversity of the people we are interviewing. Expanding both within and beyond New York, we also hope to find the cusp of the profession itself. Through the lens of four young architects who have not yet defined their roles in the profession, we hope to explore the ways in which architectural training can allow us to produce beautiful and important work, whatever it may be.
- Bernard Tschumi, Bernard Tschumi Architects
- Lindy Roy, Roy Co. Design LLC
- Gregg Pasquerelli and Chris Sharples, SHoP Architects
- Laurie Hawkinson, Smith-Miller Hawkinson Architects, LLP
- Kadambari Baxi, Martin / Baxi Architects
- Karla Rothstein, SR+T Architects
- Scott Marble and Karen Fairbanks, Marble + Fairbanks
- Galia Solomonoff, SAS / Solomonoff Architecture Studio
- Matthias Hollwich and Marc Kushner, HWKN
- Florian Idenburg and Jing Liu, SO-IL, Solid Objectives - Idenburg Liu
- David Benjamin and Soo-in Yang, The Living
- Sang Hwa Lee and Jeeyong An, GinsengChicken
- Deborah Berke, Deborah Berke and Partners Architects LLP
- Georgeen Theodore, Tobias Armborst, and Daniel D'Oca, Interboro Partners
- Jürgen Mayer, J. Mayer H.
- Vito Acconci, Studio Acconci
- Nader Tehrani, Office dA Inc.
- Meejin Yoon and Eric Höweler, Höweler + Yoon Architects / MY Studio
- Bjarke Ingels, BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group
- Alejandro Zaera-Polo, Foreign Office Architects
- Ada Tolla and Giuseppe Lignano, Lot-ek
- Stan Allen, Stan Allen Architect
- Shohei Shigematsu, OMA New York
- David Fano, CASE Design, Inc.
- Peter Zumthor, Atelier Peter Zumthor & Partner
- Wolf Prix, Coop Himme(l)blau
The first book, Pre-Office, will contain the edited conversations as a means of both describing the nature of practice today and a means of beginning to position PRE within the profession. We see this research as not only the documentation of ideas surrounding professional practice, but as a first step toward defining our professional practice. Offices don't appear out of nowhere. They take planning and strategizing, especially when they involve the sort of collaboration we're proposing.
But the research cannot end with the publication of the first book nor with a definition of PRE's practice. We will continue the conversations because practice changes, and PRE will change with it. Keeping a finger on the pulse of architecture practice will both enable and force us to keep a constant finger on our own pulse. Maintaining a critical eye on how we practice is as important to us as what we practice. As such, this self-critique is as much a product of the research as the publications it will yield.
As we wrap up this series of discussions and present it as a pilot for the project, we are moving forward with new conversations with offices that have recently closed, our peers who are also establishing an identity through practice today, artists, and architects beyond New York City.
After completing a handful of interviews, PRE launched the project at Studio-X in New York City on 8 October 2009 in a fantastic discussion on types and perceptions of Value in Architectural Practice. Our thanks to Karla Rothstein, Laurie Hawkinson, David Benjamin, and Soon-in Yang for joining us.