THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING DAVID E. MARTIN

January 5, 2018

Residence in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France (photo from David E. Martin Architects)

How many friends of yours have hung out with First Lady Jackie Kennedy Onassis, as well as President Barack Obama? How many friends of yours have designed for Microsoft’s Bill Gates, as well as Apple’s Steve Jobs? Or renovated a house that sits on 60,000 acres in Austria?

Staying below the radar, David E. Martin, architect and humanitarian, has done the above. And that’s just for starters.

David E. Martin with First Lady Jackie Kennedy Onassis and with President Barack Obama, photographs taken 50 years apart

What can I say about David, my business partner, as he ponders retirement? It seems almost inconsequential to speak of his residential masterpieces that have graced cities around the world, or of his 18 years as project architect for legendary I.M. Pei.

During his stint at Pei’s company, David launched his own architecture office. In the wee hours before the sun rose, during his lunch breaks, and in the wee hours during the darkest of midnight, he grew his Manhattan company to 15 employees, as well as jump started some of today’s greatest designers. Oh, and David learned French and Italian too.

Residence in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (photo from David E. Martin Architects)
Residence in Bel Air, California (photo from David E. Martin Architects)

I say ‘inconsequential’ above, because it is the philanthropy in Mr. Martin that strikes me. Unfortunately for the rest of us, his benevolence and altruism highlight how we are all ridiculously selfish—as we ponder what fancy car to lease next or the trendiest foodie restaurant for which to line up.

Not a tribute or a puff piece here, I just want to show some stunning pictures of David’s architectural projects and mention a few other things, like how he provided 40 hours a week of hospice work at Veterans Affairs Medical Center in west Los Angeles, year after year. No, not just a weekend gig of a few volunteer hours here and there. David’s license plate may at first glance reads, “HOTSPICE.” But no, it actually declares the compassionate message, “HOSPICE.”

Residence in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France (photo from David E. Martin Architects)

Or, providing over 500 scholarships to date for architecture students throughout the world, such as at Princeton, Idyllwild,  Whitworth, Westminster in London, and Chiang Mai in Thailand, just to name a few.

Residence in Austria (photo from David E. Martin Architects)
Residence on Fifth Avenue, New York, New York (photo from David E. Martin Architects)

Years ago, when we got a big check from one of our first clients, David requested that we donate $10,000.00 to P.S. Arts. Greedy and horrified, I proclaimed WTH? But after doing so, I now understand that giving gracefully can surpass the noble things that an architect can do.

Residence in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France (photo from David E. Martin Architects)

To a mentor, colleague and friend, I scribble these notes not to speak of legacy or of Martin/Poon Architects, but rather, simply to say thank you.

© Poon Design Inc.