Once again, I look back at the past year in search of stand out projects. Instead of “the best”—which I dare anyone to define—I listed the most intriguing for 2020 and the most seductive for 2019. For closing out 2021, the operative adjective is striking. Common synonyms for ‘striking’ include: stunning, dramatic, prominent, remarkable, unusual, and beautiful.
Relative to other industries, mentorship in architecture is scarce. Why? Let’s look at this from the viewpoint of a young architect. If a senior architect approaches the fresh-faced junior architect and offers, “I would like to mentor you. You would be my protégé.”
In many other fields, the young professional would be flattered by an influential industry leader taking him under the wing of mentorship. But not true in architecture. Why would some entry level architects find it demeaning? Is “protégé” such a bad word?
I have designed within a number of planned communities, meaning neighborhoods where architectural guidelines are provided, sometimes dictated. At such communities, the architectural look and feel—from building height and size to materials and colors, from specific styles to window proportions—are regulated for the sake of “neighborhood compatibility, harmony, and consistency”–and other such righteous words.
JEFF HABER: Along with design, you are an accomplished musician. What happened first for you growing up? Did you have a design bug? Did you have a music bug? Did you have any bugs at all? When did it start for you as a child?
ANTHONY POON: I would say I had a creative bug as a child. And it wasn’t specifically music or architecture. It was just the interest to make things, to build things, to take things apart.
When adding to an existing building, the conventional agenda requests that the new structure match the old. A typical client request suggests that the point of connection between new and old be “seamless.” But there exists a different school of thought, a provocative one. Here, the new structure not only contrasts the old, but the addition is intentionally disruptive.
Upon a visit to Seattle, I confronted three different buildings—all leaving a seductive imprint on the city and my memory.
– Seattle Central Library by Pritzker-laureate Rem Koolhaas,
– Musuem of Pop Culture by Pritzker-laureate Frank Gehry, and
– The Spheres at Amazon by corporate NBBJ.
The first two projects are by two of the most famous living architects on the planet. The third is by an anonymous company without the trappings of a sole Wright-ian genius, giving way to collaboration instead—for better or worse.