Architects like to put their stamp on as much as possible, from the design of a chair to the whole house, from a theater to a museum. How about entire neighborhoods? When designing a community of homes, there are risks and rewards. Sure, the ego is stroked to see design ideas implemented across an urban fabric. But there are also pitfalls. Beware.
I pat myself on the back. Not just because I was recently accepted into the prestigious College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects (known as FAIA), but because a few weeks ago, I published my 150th essay on this platform.
Setting goals can be a double-edged sword, both the evidence of ambition and a spectrum that includes disappointment. Having incentives and targets provide a road map and a destination. But a list of objectives, if not achieved, can also be a measure of where one has failed.
Architects design homes, schools, skyscrapers, entire cities. Who has given architects this role and influence in society, and what have we done with it? From the Pyramid at the Louvre to the Eiffel Tower, from the Guggenheim to the Burg Khalifa in Dubai—architect’s egos are stamped all over cities, all over the world. Danish architect, Bjarke Ingels, even has drawings to literally redesign Earth.
JEFF HABER: Who’s out there that is inspiring you with what they’re doing? Is there anybody that catches your eye?
ANTHONY POON: There are a lot of influential people. I mean, Frank Gehry—I don’t know who doesn’t admire his work as an architect, artist, sculptor. Peter Zumthor, who is the architect of the new LACMA, the county museum under construction—he’s a Swiss architect, and everything he does is so poetic, so simple and elemental. One of my professors from Harvard is Rem Koolhaas, a Dutch architect who does amazing things.
I have heard clients tell each other, “After you have your project budget, plan to spend double!”
Architecture and construction projects are indeed notorious for costing much more than originally planned. Whether a house or a museum, how is it possible that costs could be off by so much from when the project started vs. finally completed?
A titan amongst us architects has left this world: Ricardo Bofill. In the zeitgeist of art, design, and individualism, it feels as if Atlas finally shrugged.
In 1986 New York City, I, a young architect bravely stomping the granite cobblestones of SoHo streets, came across one of those suspicious card tables selling random artifacts. The seller and his temporary setting, appearing ready to pack up and run in an instant, had me wonder if his goods were stolen, fake, or both.