THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING DAVID E. MARTIN
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.
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 nearly 50 employees, as well as jump started some of today’s greatest designers. Oh, and David learned French and Italian too.
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.”
Or, offering scholarships for each and every architecture student at the University of Washington, as well as being a major force in the fundraising for the Idyllwild Arts Academy.
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.
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.