ALLURE OF AN ARCHITECT’S OFFICE

November 20, 2015

When we architects are being artistic, we call it the “studio.” When being professional, we call it the “office.” When wanting to sound prominent, we call it the “firm.”

We also call it the “practice.” Because no matter how long you practice at being an architect, you probably never get it right.

No matter the label for the architect’s work space, an apparent coolness and sexiness pervades. Even a heroic bravado.

THE ROAD TO FRANK GEHRY: WHAT HAPPENED AT LACMA?

November 5, 2015

When The Simpsons make fun of your work, you have arrived, right?

Many think of architecture as a final product, such as a building, a park or a piece of furniture. Many forget about the creative journey that arrives at the final product.

Process and product—in life as in design, getting there is as gratifying as being there.

I ask this of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art: why is the process that architect Frank Gehry is famously known for absent from your current exhibit?

GRANITE STONES BEGIN TO SWEAT, PART 1 OF 4

October 23, 2015

The humidity is dense and impenetrable. A moist blistering force undermines this city’s spirit.

On the street, people struggle to stay conscious in this staggering fire of late August. Like a city trapped in a huge plastic bag, even breathing becomes an effort. A warm stickiness seeps into all things. The granite stones begin to sweat. Yes, even the cobblestones begin to bleed the perspiration of summer. Late 80’s, my first New York City summer.

Heat and humidity give all things weight. All things are immobilized by the oppressive hand of some invisible senseless burden.

EXTREMES OF CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’

October 9, 2015

Down my street, a colossal house (if you can call it a “house”) is under construction. Staggering statistics. Completing next summer, this 112,000-square-foot speculative house will list for $500 million. You read it correctly: not $5 million or $50 million.

But Five Hundred Million Bucks!

Brought to us by Hollywood-film-producer-turned-home-builder Nile Niami, the contemporary estate has a main residence with three additional homes, a 5000-square-foot master bedroom suite, four swimming pools, a 30-car garage, and a lawn the size of half a football field.

EMBRACING THE HUMAN SPIRIT

September 24, 2015

Upon returning from the 9/11 Memorial in New York City, a colleague stated that she found the design dismal. I responded, “Maybe that is the point.”

The National September 11 Memorial & Museum is not exultant. It does not elate. As commemoration, the architecture honors the lives lost through acknowledging grief and pain. Through such, comes healing and the succinct message, “Never forget.”

In the mainstream of TV shows and magazines, architecture is merely thought of as designing homes. And indeed, architecture is a house.

But what can it house?

Besides housing families, architecture can collect memories, it can store beliefs, and it can sustain faith.

“HE IS NOT IN THE OFFICE AT THIS TIME.”

September 10, 2015

A funny thing happened. True story at my new job, decades ago.

Extra loudly rang the phone that memorable early morning. The receptionist was away from her desk. Looking around the office, everyone was either in a meeting or on the phone. Enthusiastically and for the first time, I picked up the phone. I declared, “Joe Smith Architects,” in my most professional voice. (Not the real name of the firm).

The woman at the other end of the line commanded in an irritated fashion, “I want to speak with Joe Smith.” I thought that because I wasn’t professional enough, she was exasperated.

But it was much worse.

© Poon Design Inc.