If you read my previous post you know that I recently participated in a 4th year architecture studio midterm critique. During one of the presentations, while several of us offered our critique, the question was asked of the student “who is your favorite architect?”. And of course every mind in the room immediately started rattling off names of famous starchitects like Mies van der Rohe or Le Corbusier or Santiago Calatrava or Richard Meier. And, as the student floundered to find what she may have thought would be an appropriate answer, I began to wonder why it is that we put so much celebrity on these high profile architects? Their designs are high profile, to be sure. And mostly cutting edge in design and execution, though perhaps not always successful in function and performance. And that is well and good. Architecture needs to have her envelope pushed and stretched and sometimes torn completely. But, do we really need to look so far up towards Mt Olympus type architects to find cutting edge work to admire and emulate?
I think not.
I’ll be honest and admit that, when I was in school, my favorite architects were none other than Richard Meier and Le Corbusier. I identified most with them because I, even now, strive to design with an honest simplicity of material, color and form. But as I’ve continued in my practice and learned and worked for real architects, not those ephemeral Olympians, I’ve seen the immense value in architects and designers who simply strive to give their clients the best product and service they can without the need or even desire for widespread recognition. These are the architects I celebrate and follow and try to emulate.
Starchitects are great. They get headlines and they help to publicize architecture in the public eye. But there are so many more that truly add value to our profession either through their work, community involvement, education and/or outreach. And here is a small list of some local Jacksonville architects and designers I’d like to introduce you to. These are just some of those that, through their work and willingness to act on behalf of the profession and not just themselves, I admire and respect.