Tag Archives: ARENA

DESIGNING FOR THE ATTAINMENT OF KNOWLEDGE

October 25, 2019

Harrington Learning Commons, Sobrato Technology Center & Orradre Library, Santa Clara University, California (photo by HHPA/Tim Griffith)

My previous article, Architecture for Learning, discussed the importance of good design for young learners ranging from preschool to high school. This essay exhibits our work with higher education, from university students to lifelong learners.

Investing in education can be one of life’s most rewarding investments, with both tangible and intangible returns. Whether it is a better job or a higher sense of the world, education is the foundation that civilizations are built upon. And the venue for learning is architecture.

Inha University Library, Inchon, Korea (model photo by HHPA/Foaad Farah)

Designing for the attainment of knowledge is to create experiences that stir, encourage and sustain learning. Yes, a building can teach. Akin to a textbook or software, the built environment can be a tool that demonstrates and instructs. And a learning environment is much more than the classroom. (All the buildings in this article are designed by me, in collaboration with my colleagues at HHPA or NBBJ.)

American University in Cairo Library, Egypt (photo by HHPA/Barry Iverson)

LIBRARY

A library is a traditional “old school” environment for learning. Sometimes full of books and sometimes not, the architecture of libraries houses information in whatever form that takes, hence new building names like “information services” or “learning commons”—no longer “library.”

Joseph A.W. Clayes Performing Arts Center, California State University Fullerton (photo by HHPA/Tim Griffith)

ARTS

Unfortunately, some schools marginalize the arts. A performing arts center not only offers arts to an engaged and eager audience, but teaches how the arts sustain creative progress.

Science and Technology Building, Pima Community College, Tucson, Arizona (photo by HHPA/Bill Timmerman)

CLASSROOM

This science and technology classroom building promotes STEM, but the structure also acts as a gateway into the campus of the community college.

Northwest Campus Housing, University of California Los Angeles (photo by HHPA/Michael Moran)

DORMITORY

A dormitory is more than a place to crash after a long day of classes. Student housing is the platform for the sharing of knowledge and of the day’s successes and failures.

University Center, University of the Pacific, Stockton, California (photo by HHPA/Foaad Farah)

STUDENT UNION

As a canvas for student life, the student union or university center comprises food services, retail and tech offerings, student organizations, social spaces, administration, and all the functions that fall under the umbrella of student activities. A student center is a microcosm and joyful collision of one’s existence.

Soka University Gym, Aliso Viejo (photo by HHPA)

RECREATION

Health and physical well-being are necessary aspects of education. The phrase “physical education” is not just about playing volleyball in a gym. How many philosophers and poets have expounded on strong mind and strong body?

Cintas Convocation Center, Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio (photos by NBBJ/Xavier University)

What is a convocation center? The college’s sense of pride and community can be supported by a basketball arena, as well as by an assembly hall where the entire student body can convene and be called to order

“When the Cintas Center is finally finished, we will continue to look back on Anthony Poon’s work with the highest regard. It was a pleasure for us to work with Anthony.” – James E. Hoff, S.J., President, Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio

WHO WILL BE MY CLIENT?

July 8, 2016

Arena for 2000 Olympics, Sydney, Australia, by Anthony Poon (w/ NBBJ)

In architecture school, our professors provided us with projects to design. Example: For this semester, design a sports arena in San Francisco, overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

But here is the thing: How does an architect land such a project after graduation? This is a challenging question to ponder after you leave the comforts of school, after you have made the premature decision to start your own architecture company from your apartment. And you realize that you have no clients. Not a sports arena. Not even a bathroom addition. None at all.

Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, Florence, Italy, by Leon Battista Alberti and Giorgio Vasari (photo by wanderfly)
Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, Florence, Italy, by Leon Battista Alberti and Giorgio Vasari (photo by wanderfly)

Everyone sees homes, theaters, parks and shopping centers within our communities, but how does an architect get hired to design them?

Many architects would kill for a system I call the Medici Effect. Within such a circumstance, an architect can sustain a career through the loyal patronage of a single client—be it an individual, a retail chain, or a university. This Medici Effect is a client-architect relationship where decade after decade, the faithful client provides the architect with projects.

Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flowers, Florence, Italy, by Arnolfo di Cambio (photo by Petar Milosevic)
Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flowers, Florence, Italy, by Arnolfo di Cambio (photo by Petar Milosevic)

From the 15th to the 18th century, the Medici family reigned supreme in Florence. As wool merchants initially, then formidable bankers later, this family commissioned Renaissance painters, sculptors and writers. And yes, architects too.

Alongside hiring painters Michelangelo, Raphael and Rubens, and the scientist Galileo, the Medici’s supported architects most of all: Alberti, Vasari, Buontalenti and Bartolomeo, just to name a few. As one of the most powerful clans throughout Europe, the Medici family bankrolled the entire career of any architect of their choosing, as well as completing building upon building—from palaces to churches, from museums to hospitals.

Pterodactyle, Culver City, California, by Eric Owen Moss Architects (photo by Architect)
Pterodactyle, Culver City, California, by Eric Owen Moss Architects (photo by Architect)
Samitaur Tower, Culver City, California, by Eric Owen Moss Architects (photo by Tom Bonner)
Samitaur Tower, Culver City, California, by Eric Owen Moss Architects (photo by Tom Bonner)

Though a wonderful tale from hundreds of years ago, this Medici Effect does continue today. A contemporary example can be found in Culver City, where a husband/wife, client/developer team of Frederick and Laurie Samitaur Smith has sustained a 30-year patronage of Eric Owen Moss Architects. Project after project, the Smiths have produced a city-scale portfolio of buildings through the talents of this single architect

During fortunate periods of my career, my Medici’s have appeared in the form of developers, retiring architects, friends, and even a public school district. What I have learned so far, if I have learned anything at all, is that an architect should base a career on relationships not contracts. If an architect’s entire career revolves around one hundred projects, it is better to find ten patrons that might each give you ten commissions vs. finding one hundred individual clients.

It should be taught in architecture schools, and it should be a directive at the workplace: Build relationships and attract clients. At many law firms, entry-level attorneys, even paralegals, are requested to bring in clients.

DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, University of Notre Dame, Indiana, by Anthony Poon (w/ HHPA, photo by Pfeiffer Partners)
DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, University of Notre Dame, Indiana, by Anthony Poon (w/ HHPA, photo by Pfeiffer Partners)

Architecture is not just about earth shattering design, but about marketing, business development and public relations. If you are simple minded, call it “schmoozing.” If you are intelligent, call it good business. And, if you are human, call it survival.

© Poon Design Inc.