Describe the moment you knew you wanted to become an architect. What was your a-ha moment?
I grew up as the son of an architect and my grandfather was a mason, thus I was always surrounded by creation and construction projects. The love for building and making things goes far back, but the pivotal moment happened during my carpenter apprenticeship in Germany. I became friends with the Andre Poitier, son of the woman who owned and managed the shop. He was in his second year studying Architecture in Braunschweig and took me to visit the university. This experience changed my view of design and architecture. In the following years, we did many design-inspired furniture and renovation projects together while I was an apprentice, and later as a student just like him in Braunschweig.
What project pushed you out of your comfort zone? What did you learn from that experience?
Palomar Medical Center was that project. We charted so much new territory from delivering the project in Revit and pushing sustainability in healthcare to innovative medical planning that included hospital bedrooms to be acuity adaptable and providing a reconfigurable surgery platform. We jumped over giant hurdles during the design and delivery of the project, it required us to take many risks. In the end, this shaped lasting friendships and memories and has impacted who we are as an office today and who I am as an architect. The lesson learned here for me is that if a collective of gifted, committed people push the limits, that is where the best results are created. There is nothing better than to be with a group of people that inspire and create at the highest level. As a group, we commit to this for every project we deliver and that is the foundation of our success.
What’s on your desk right now?
- Alice Park pen pouch and valet. She is an architect that also designs and produces goat skin leather accessories; her husband Michael McDonald used to work at CO Architects. They last forever – the pen pouch is from 1999. https://coolhunting.com/style/alice-park-acce/
- Caran D’Ache fountain pens and pencils. My favorite birthday gifts – one set was for my 40th and the other was for my 50th. They are different color ink and pencil hardness.
- Dot matrix journal Behance New Leaf. I use the dots for scale. I’ve used all kinds of journals and this one is my favorite so far. I’m still looking for one that has a mix of paper and vellum.
- Kinto mug. It keeps me warm. It is so needed when you can’t get up to get a fresh cup of something warm.
- Warby Parker reading glasses. These are really needed when I have to cut something with a sharp knife.
- iPad and Apple pen. I love the iPad and Apple pen for drawing on Miro.
- Staples easy button. It puts a smile on everyone’s face when pressed at an opportune moment.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
Well, I came here from Germany to be in the place of my dreams and that is still holding true. Los Angeles and its ever-evolving urban fabric keeps me fascinated and in the state of perpetual discovery. One place that I would love to spend more time at would be Venice, Italy. I have been many times to visit the Biennale and to spend an extended amount of time to really understand it – being in the Veneto – would be wonderful and so utterly different from life here.
What artists, architects, or other notable figures from the past or present do you admire most?
The work from Michael Heizer such as “Double Negative” that commits to a single gesture or intervention fascinate me and I look for this almost spiritual quality in the space and forms we create. The strength of the idea that drives the expression, what organizes the building inhabitants and the makes it part of the site, place and community. Start with the idea.
It’s your last night on earth – what are you having for dinner?
Pasta with smoked caviar at the Metropole in Venice.