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Chris Downey on Tactile Architecture

Chris Downey on Tactile Architecture

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“The idea of simplicity for the sake of mental clarity can actually be created even within a complex space by having an orthogonal way of moving through that space. Even a Frank Gehry design can have an orthogonal footprint within it. I’d love to visit his museum in Bilbao. It could be a fascinating building to hear or to sense… virtual reality is all about being “somewhere else,” but architecture is about being where you are – that’s what I’m really interested in doing.”

– Chris Downey, Architect

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Chris Downey on Architecture for the Blind

Chris Downey on Architecture for the Blind

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“When I lost my vision, the first thing I had to learn was non-visual coping skills. Rehabilitation teaches you about things like how to travel on mass transit, but there was no training on how to be a blind architect. But why not? After all, Beethoven wrote some of his best music after going deaf. We’re not shut out of architecture.”

– Chris Downey, Architect

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Anne Fougeron’s City of the Future Starts Now…

Anne Fougeron’s City of the Future Starts Now…

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With 80% of the world’s arable land already in use, we are running out of land to feed ourselves. Land and water are fixed, finite resources; their scarcity could become a greater crisis than global warming, terrorism, or species extinction. One way to address that is by expanding the notion of what “land” is to include urban settings, to make regions like the Bay Area self-sustaining. Architect Anne Fougeron answers a few questions about her vision for a San Francisco 100 years in the future by saying, “People shouldn’t be allowed to come into this world only to starve.”

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Jill Pilaroscia: Give Color a Chance

Jill Pilaroscia: Give Color a Chance

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“Color isn’t just about surface decoration. There’s a cellular response to color that we have as human beings, and it’s that response which we are addressing when we work with color. Sometimes colorizing a space costs more to do and to maintain. But our environment shapes behavior. It’s WORTH spending time on.

Few architectural institutions offer a formal program addressing color in the built environment. Any exposure they have to color theory is frequently through studio courses that focus solely on two-dimensional color applications. Architects aren’t taught about bio-responses to color. They’re not taught how they can move volumes around in space through the application of color, or how they can use color to shape experience and behavior. I’d like to tell them not to be afraid of color. Give color a chance!”

– Jill Pilaroscia

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Anne Fougeron: Architectural Edge in the 21st Century

Anne Fougeron: Architectural Edge in the 21st Century

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“Architecture is a tough profession, and it’s not kind to women. It’s not kind to anyone, really. But you’ve got to claw yourself out of that hole. You have to fight the fight. You can’t stay in the back, because nobody’s going to fight that fight for you. NUMBERS MATTER.

With the Planned Parenthood clinics, I didn’t want clinics that look like a prison. There’s already so much victimization of women… why punish them further by making them come to a jail for basic care? Ninety percent of Planned Parenthood’s business is providing basic gyn care – exams, pap smears – for women who can’t afford it any other way. These women already going through enough in their lives. Some of them already have other traumas to work through. The clinics should make them feel wanted and safe.”

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Greg Warner on the Importance of Place

Greg Warner on the Importance of Place

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“The importance of place means respect for what is actually there – including its history. If clients come to us requesting a specific regional or historical style, we respond by asking them what they like about the style they have selected and try to elicit the underlying qualities that attracted them to it in the first place. Then, ideally, we can embody those qualities in a design that’s actually the best fit for the project and its context.

The early design stages are a sort of courtship between architect and client. We’re really interviewing each other to see if there’s a mutual alignment. Just as we listen to their desires, we also educate them on what our values are, and they ideally buy into that early on in order for the project to be mutually successful.

We design homes with the client’s full life cycle in mind, and beyond. The home has to be versatile enough to accommodate generational life changes without requiring a renovation every 10 years. Sometimes this freaks out the clients a little bit! They’re not used to thinking this far ahead. We’re creating their home as an heirloom and a legacy to future generations.”

[Cover photo by Cesar Rubio]

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Matarozzi/Pelsinger: Contemporary Builders and Craftsmen

Matarozzi/Pelsinger: Contemporary Builders and Craftsmen

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“We like contemporary architecture. The buildings are refined designs that minimize fluff. Their lack of ornament actually increases their attraction for us as builders. There’s an organic feel to a well-thought-out modern building. We believe in the adage that form follows function.

“The best workers bring a dedication to craft to every job. You can tell who has it by watching how someone works on the job site. Watch how he or she goes about problem solving. Can he solve the problem and keep working? Can he apply what he learned yesterday to solve a new problem today? Some people need to be shown every single time. I look for other things, too. Does he keep his tools organized? Does he know how to work in rhythm? Does she anticipate what’s coming next? It’s having an intuitive feel for the job. I’m always watching out of the corner of my eye, to be part of the rhythm and flow of the team.”

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Michelle Kaufmann: Phoenix Rising

Michelle Kaufmann: Phoenix Rising

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“My husband and I were looking for a place to live and all we could find was crap! We couldn’t afford anything well-designed, well-made, and energy-efficient. After seeing the thoughtless crap that was filling the landscape, we painfully decided to do something about it.

“We got a bit of property and built a little “green” house on it. Then we thought about the possibilities for mass production, and said, YES! Now, there’s no “if” when it comes to green, healthy, efficient homes. And they can be well-designed and affordable. It’s in how you make spaces, views, and light. The space should feel big, but you don’t have to build it big.”

(Photo: Sunset Breezehouse, designed and photographed by Michelle Kaufmann)

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Brooks Walker: Respectful Designs That Last

Brooks Walker: Respectful Designs That Last

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I like to say that great clients create great buildings. The collaboration between architect and client is a dynamic tension, a matrix for ideas to coalesce. Constraints can be liberating because they give you a direction. It’s an art form, like classical music or haiku. You can’t just do whatever you want.

Our goal is to create a building that is so well designed, out of such durable materials, that no one would want to knock it down later on. We have to be careful about where and how much the architect’s ego should come in. After all, we’re not the end users. We want our buildings to outlast us.

A good motto might be, “Design something like you care.”

[Cover photo by Cesar Rubio]

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