“Architecture from Someone’s Imagination is not Enough”: Interview with Junya Ishigami

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Junya Ishigami's works at the 2008 Venice Biennale. Image © junya.ishigami+associates Junya Ishigami's works at the 2008 Venice Biennale. Image © junya.ishigami+associates

I think that the conversation with Junya Ishigami at his experimental (and very international) studio in Tokyo was one of the most memorable experiences of my recent trip to Japan. Junya's visions for not just of his own architecture but for the profession were wholeheartedly inspiring. He thinks that architecture today is “not free enough.” He wants to diversify it, liberate it from so many architects’ insistence on following particular building types and, in general, our narrow expectations. He wants his architecture to be soft and loose and finds inspiration in such improbable metaphors as clouds or the surface of water. “We need to introduce more varieties of architecture to better address peoples’ dreams…I want to expand architecture into the future by creating new comfortabilities,” says Ishigami, whose two recent manifesto-like exhibitions in Paris questioned the very

Junya Ishigami's works at the Fondation Cartier. Image © Giovanni Emilio Galanello
Design for a Table / Junya Ishigami. Image © junya.ishigami+associates
Junya Ishigami's works at the Fondation Cartier. Image © junya.ishigami+associates
Models for the Noel Restaurant / Junya Ishigami. Image © junya.ishigami+associates
Models for the Noel Restaurant / Junya Ishigami. Image © junya.ishigami+associates
Cartier Foundation Exhibition / Junya Ishigami. Image © junya.ishigami+associates
Junya Ishigami's works at the 2008 Venice Biennale. Image © junya.ishigami+associates
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“Architecture Happens Because We Believe in a Better Future”: An Interview with Jürgen Mayer

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Museum Garage Miami / Jürgen Mayer. Image © Miguel Guzman Museum Garage Miami / Jürgen Mayer. Image © Miguel Guzman

Architect Jürgen Mayer H. founded his firm J.MAYER.H in Berlin in 1996. He studied both in Germany (Stuttgart University) and in the US (Cooper Union and Princeton). Back in 2010, Mayer H. told me that while his solid professional education in Germany equipped him with the know-how about the technical and practical aspects of architecture, he still lacked a clear vision about how to develop his own thought and an architectural language.

Years of questioning and experimenting eventually led to the development of his own distinctive voice. Mayer H.’s buildings have brought unique identities to many places around the globe, particularly through his use of data protection patterns that triggered the creation of architecture unlike anything seen before. On my recent visit to his studio in West Berlin we discussed the architect’s identity. When I confronted Mayer H. about

Metropol Parasol / Jürgen Mayer. Image © Nikkol Rot for Holcim
XXX TIMES SQUARE WITH LOVE / Jürgen Mayer. Image © Rob Kassabian
JOH3 / Jürgen Mayer. Image © Ludger Paffrath
Court of Justice / Jürgen Mayer. Image © Filip Dujardin
Sarpi Border Checkpoint / Jürgen Mayer. Image © Jesko Malkolm Johnsson-Zahn
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“I Want to Build Lighter”: Francisco Gonzalez Pulido of FGP Atelier

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Harmony. Image Courtesy of FGP Atelier Harmony. Image Courtesy of FGP Atelier

After graduating from Tecnológico de Monterrey, a leading technical school in Mexico, Francisco Gonzalez Pulido worked on design-build projects for six years before leaving for the US where he earned his Master’s degree from Harvard’s GSD in 1999. The same year the architect started working with Helmut Jahn in Chicago where he stayed for 18 years – from intern to becoming the president of the company in 2012, at which point he renamed the firm into Jahn. By then he developed his own body of work there. Last year Gonzalez Pulido started FGP Atelier in his adopted home city.

Today the studio, counts a dozen of architects and is overseeing the design of a couple of high-rises in China, a baseball stadium in Mexico City, and university buildings in Monterrey, among other projects. The following interview was conducted at FGP Atelier in Chicago,

Shenzhen Gate. Image Courtesy of FGP Atelier
Harmony. Image Courtesy of FGP Atelier
DIABLOS. Image Courtesy of FGP Atelier
Tecnano. Image Courtesy of FGP Atelier
ART. Image Courtesy of FGP Atelier
Harmony. Image Courtesy of FGP Atelier
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“We Learn From the Ordinary as Well as From the Extraordinary”: Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown

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Best Products Showroom, Langhorne, Pennsylvania (1978). Image © Tom Bernard Best Products Showroom, Langhorne, Pennsylvania (1978). Image © Tom Bernard

There are so many complexities and contradictions in life in general and architecture in particular. I am writing this intro to an interview I held in 2004 with Robert Venturi and his life-and-architecture partner Denise Scott Brown, while visiting Beijing’s Tsinghua University where I was invited to teach this fall. Was it simply a coincidence when, at the last moment before leaving my New York City apartment I would, almost by chance, grab a 2001 issue of Architecture magazine with Venturi on its cover and his contradictory quote, “I am not now and never have been a postmodernist.

I learned of Venturi's passing last week on my first day of teaching at Tsinghua; the news arrived as I and the students discussed their proposals to improve their campus. In yet another strange coincidence, Venturi and Scott Brown

Sainsbury Wing at the National Gallery, London (1991). Image © Timothy Soar
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“Making Problems is More Fun; Solving Problems is Too Easy”: Liz Diller and Ricardo Scofidio of Diller Scofidio + Renfro

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© Hufton + Crow © Hufton + Crow

It is so refreshing to hear the words: “We do everything differently. We think differently. We are still not a part of any system or any group.” In the following excerpt of my recent conversation with Liz Diller and Ric Scofidio at their busy New York studio we discussed conventions that so many architects accept and embrace, and how to tear them apart in order to reinvent architecture yet again. In New York the founding partners of Diller, Scofidio + Renfro have shown us exactly that with their popular High Line park, original redevelopment of the Lincoln Center, sculpture-like Columbia University Medical Center in Washington Heights, and The Shed with its movable “turtle shell” that’s taking shape in the Hudson Yards to address the evolving needs of artists because what art will look like in the future is an open question.

 

Zaryadye Park / Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Image © Maria Gonzalez Zaryadye Park /
Institute of Contemporary Art / Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Image © Iwan Baan
© Beat Widmer, Courtesy of Diller Scofidio + Renfro. ImageBlur Building / Diller Scofidio + Renfro
The High Line / Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Image © Iwan Baan
© Iwan Baan
The Broad Museum / Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Image © Iwan Baan
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Sergey Skuratov of Sergey Skuratov Architects: “I Imagine the Building as a Living Thing”

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Copper House / Sergey Skuratov Architects. Image Courtesy of Sergey Skuratov Architects Copper House / Sergey Skuratov Architects. Image Courtesy of Sergey Skuratov Architects Sergey Skuratov, founder of Sergey Skuratov Architects, an award-winning Russian practice (2008 Architect of the Year), is known for his sleek and well-composed portfolio. Projects such as Copper House, Art House, and House on Mosfilmovskaya Street demonstrate his sensitivity to materiality and ability to retain his vision from concept to reality. Over the last two decades Skuratov has succeeded in producing a whole strata of world-class architecture in Moscow, far more than any other local practitioner. His projects, predominantly residential and office complexes, have remained attractive and versatile without ever veering into conservatism. Vladimir Belogolovsky: Speaking of a site that you were given for one of your projects you said, “How chaotic, repulsive were the surrounding structures. It was unclear if it was possible to bring any order there, to do anything sensible compositionally or stylistically.
House on Mosfilmovskaya Street / Sergey Skuratov Architects. Image Courtesy of Sergey Skuratov Architects
Garden Blocks / Sergey Skuratov Architects. Image Courtesy of Sergey Skuratov Architects
Minsk Hills / Sergey Skuratov Architects. Image Courtesy of Sergey Skuratov Architects
Ego House / Sergey Skuratov Architects. Image Courtesy of Sergey Skuratov Architects
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