|Topic of the Month: Making Good Architecture |
Many architects might say that the definition of "good architecture" is a subjective one, but architect David Andreozzi has a definite idea about how to create it by not only operating on the policy of teamwork and integrated design, but about employing Vitruvius's concept of commodity, firmness, and delight in his designs.
David Andreozzi, a graduate of Rhode Island School of Design, is the son of a second generation contractor. He grew up working construction sites carrying junk to the dumpster and graduated to framing, fine carpentry, bidding, running complex jobs, and furniture design/building at RISD. As Andreozzi explains, "I grew up in construction and I have a practical sense that not a lot of architects have. Most architects go to college and really don't understand the construction. There's a practical edge that started me out in my career, so when I show up to a job site, and this is what I pride my small office on, is that you have to know and understand and treat the people on that job site like they're part of the team. These are people that I understand the true value of, and to get good architecture and to form that teamwork, is really important to me."
A turning point for Andreozzi was when he went to work for Shope Reno Wharton in Greenwich, Connecticut, one of the leading shingle style architectural firms in the country. "They now taught me that the tool that the contractors are building from are the working drawings, and that they have to be beautiful, they have to be intense, they have to be solid and well thought out so that errors don't occur. All of that is built in and rolled into my practice to form a level of service on top of just being a decent designer that I'm providing a level of service to the client where they're actually getting better value by working with us."
"If a client comes to me and says they just want me to do the drawings or a design and they're going to take it from there, then I don't take those jobs, I just say no. There are other architects that provide those sort of partial services. It's a bad thing, in my opinion, if you spend months and sometimes up to a year working on a project and then just stop and hand it to somebody else and not follow it through. Number one, you're not involved with the interior detailing that's fun and beautiful, but most importantly from a liability standpoint, when problems occur you're not there on the job site to make sure things are being done correctly. So my first rule is that I won't do that sort of limited service."
"About ten years ago I decided that rather than looking at landscape architects and designers as an enemy, as many looked at me, I'm going to start something new. I'm not going to work with any subcontractor to me or partner in the process, whether it's a landscape architect or a decorator or a designer, unless I approve them. The reason for that is that they're part of the team, and if they're not going to work with me as an equal team member, I'm not going to take the job, and I tell clients that. So I'm actually taking it to the next level. Before I do my design work I'm already talking to the decorator or the landscape architect and asking him or her their opinions so that they're on board with what I'm doing, so that if they see something that looks wrong, they can tell me so I can fix it."
"I demand that all the people are team players so that everybody can deliver a beautiful integrated project for the client. That's how we do it. It's definitely better for the entire building process. It creates a better architecture to have everybody working together and it creates a better final product, unquestionably. It's also comforting and important for the client because the minute there's a mistake, it's natural for people to take sides and blame each other. To me, it's better to make a telephone call and say, "Let's meet and figure it out." Then you tell the client here's the problem, here's how we're going to solve it and I just want to let you know. That's relaxing to the client because you're taking care of them and you're not putting them in the middle."
Andreozzi uses the word "zoophorus" to describe the way his firm works as a unified team, referring to the ancient Greek entablatures depicting figures of animals. "In our case, every single project is made up of teams. That's what I consider us, a little family of animals. I design everything, so I'll design the house. From that point on, my Project Manager and I are 50-50 on every single design decision throughout the entire project. We obviously believe that one and one equals three in team design. Unfortunately I suppose, this methodology will basically prevent my firm from getting very big because all I can be doing is three projects at one time."
Aside from teamwork, another component to creating good architecture, according to Andreozzi, is having a sound design for a building that will not only stand up to time and the elements, but will also work within a particular area's vernacular. All of this and more is what inspired Andreozzi to become involved with the CORA Project, or Congress of Residential Architecture.
As Andreozzi explains, "CORA was started five years ago by three architects: Jeremiah Eck, Dennis Wedlick and Duo Dickinson. Their original intent was that they wanted to have a support system for architects that the AIA at the time does not provide. They also wanted to educate people about the importance of using an architect and then doing good architecture. I got involved very soon after it was started and it immediately morphed into a slightly different concept when it was decided to have CORA be more open and welcoming to anybody interested in improving the current state of residential architecture. CORA originally tried to educate people that it's not the size of the project that matters, but the quality of the design, the quality of the materials and those design decisions. We've drawn up a manifesto that we've submitted to the AIA and it's going to be submitted at their business meeting at their conference in June, when it will be voted on." Anyone wishing to know more about CORA can visit: http://www.corarchitecture.org. Another interview with David Andreozzi about CORA will be appearing in our June issue of this newsletter, after the AIA has made its decision.
Andreozzi feels very strongly about stressing good design and good architecture and is almost on a mission to do so, feeling that it's not only good practice for architects, but in the best interest of the people for which architects design and build. As an example of bad architecture, Andreozzi cites two houses designed by the famous American architect Michael Graves. "I went to see two of his very famous houses that he designed in the beginning of his career. One is the Hanselmann House (1965-67), and the other is the Snyderman House (1972), both in Fort Wayne, Indiana. One is just a big square cube and the other is more of a sculpture. He was making relationships to his abstract paintings and they were the most beautiful and provocative residences when they were built and published. They were fascinating. I had the oppertunity to visit them both as part of my college course in about 1979, so they were around ten years old. The Snyderman House was literally falling apart. The outside curves and sculptural pieces were made with technology that looked like mushy paper mache, and it was falling off the side of the walls. Then we went to the Hanselmann House which is a small cube, and it was totally falling apart. That was a rainy day, we were inside, and we were with the designer that worked as Project Manager under Michael Graves so he knew the clients. We went in for a tour and there were literally buckets in various places with leaks coming down through the roof. The older couple who commissioned Michael Graves to build the house looked at my professor and asked what he thought they should do with the house and if they should spend money to renovate it since it was literally falling apart. And I'll never forget it. My professor looked at them in a most compassionate tone and said, "I think you would be best served by razing the house and selling the land." I like Michael Graves and a lot of what he's done, so I'm not just insulting Michael Graves as an architect in general, but his earlier work was pushing the envelope so far that it wasn't architecture, it was sculpture. And it was sculpture that wasn't even made for the outside. And the criminal sin of that, and I mean this, is that he had this elderly couple spend their nest egg on this house that in ten years was ripped down. The money was gone. It's so sad and some architects don't care about that."
"Most architecture schools teach that it's all about cutting edge, modern architecture that is moving the face of architecture forward. But people need to pull away the style of the architecture. It's about the quality of the design and its relationship to the context of the environment that it's in, whether it's a city street or a field and also the area's unique vernacular. That's what makes good design. It has nothing to do with somebody creating the next piece of sculpture that you then put program in."
"The ancient Roman architect Vitruvius said that there are three things that make up architecture: commodity, firmness, and delight. Those are the three ingredients of architecture. So you can imagine three ingredients that make a cake rise, and you can screw with those a little bit and you still have a cake that rises, but at some point if you do it incorrectly, it's not architecture, it doesn't rise."
"Commodity is referred to as the program. In other words, if I'm designing a house that needs three bedrooms, it needs good design and relationships of the rooms to each other. Or if it's an ambulance center it needs to have certain relationships that work. So either they work or they don't work, and that's what has to be solved. Firmness is engineering and that would be keeping the building standing up, keeping the environment such as rain and snow out, and keeping it solid for years. It's the science that goes into the structure. And delight is the art, and that is the fun part. Many architects only care about one thing - they care about the art, and they use too much art and not enough firmness, which is the structure. So good architecture, again, goes back to commodity, firmness and delight."
Vernacular must also be taken into consideration, according to Andreozzi. "When I started in architecture and worked for Shope Reno Wharton who was designing shingle style houses reminiscent of the turn of the century that were designed by Stanford White and McKim Mead & White, I learned that vernacular is important, historic symbolism."
"I took a course in college on vernacular architecture which talked about how every single region has their own type of architecture. In some cases it has to do with the fact that you need an adobe hut because that's what works with the environment. In other cases, it's the symbolism of what generations have done and how the buildings look. To me, a beautiful shingle style house is kind of mounted to the mother earth by a big chimney. When you go to Nantucket and you look at the oldest house in Nantucket which is salt box, the chimney sits in the center of it and can measure 15' x 15', so you can picture this little wobbly house blowing in a cold winter day in Nantucket shaking around, and in the center of a core there's this chimney that's heating the house, creating food, and it's tying the house to the mother earth. So the symbol of that chimney means something to me, and it means something to a New Englander. Even if you don't necessarily need it anymore, it think that it's sort of reminiscent of what makes architecture beautiful in New England."
"That's how I view architecture, is that symbols in building within the environment, within each individual vernacular is incredibly important. We just finished a project down in Abaco in The Bahamas. We rented a boat and took pictures of local Bahamian architecture because it was important for me to try and represent the history of Bahamian architecture. Instead of me going there and putting a shingle style house in The Bahamas, I feel like it's my social responsibility to design something that relates to the environment that it sits in, even if it's contemporary reinterpretation."
"One of the houses I designed here in the Northeast on the coast is a much more contemporary shingle style house. The client came to me and said they wanted something cutting edge but they also still wanted it to relate to the area. So what I tried to do is something that was appropriate to the area, but also contained contemporary elements. I call this "shingle style on acid", especially if you see the plan of it. So that, to me, is as modern as I would ever go because there's a line that says it's not historical anymore and not respective of your neighbors. It's important that you believe in a philosophy that to be good design, it has to relate somehow to its environment."
"One of the most famous shingle style structures is Stanford White's Club House at the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, Long Island, New York. It's really very special. The shingle style was really developed in New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. This area was really the hotbed of some of the best shingle style architecture in our country which was occurring around 1880 or so, we're very lucky."
Andreozzi's projects have been featured in a recent shingle style book written by E. Ashley Rooney, and two of his projects will be featured in her next book.
|Helpful Links for Architects
AIA Interior Architecture Knowledge Community
The AIA Interior Architecture Knowledge Community provides leadership and expertise to practitioners of interior architecture and design, working cooperatively with its members and other interiors organizations to address relevant, timely practice issues, markets, and trends, such as licensing, liability, environmental, and technological considerations. Through the Interior Architecture Knowledge Community, important links are maintained with allied professionals, service providers, and manufacturers. If you wish to become a member of the AIA Interior Architecture Knowledge Community, call AIA Member Services at 800-242-3837, or visit: http://www.aia.org/practicing/groups/kc/AIAS076039
Architect Online's Continuing Education Center
Architect Online's Online Continuing Education Center gives professionals a convenient way to earn necessary continuing education credits without having to set foot in a classroom. The courses listed, sponsored by the companies noted, are accessible from anywhere you can establish an online connection. Just register, read the required material, and then take the test, either through a downloadable mail-in form, or free via a secure online connection, depending on the course. You'll be able to maintain your professional credentials, at your pace, and at a location that works for you. Visit: http://www.architectmagazine.com/industry-news-section.asp?sectionID=1018
Architectural Record Continuing Education Center
Architectural Record magazine has a free Continuing Education Center where architects can earn AIA Continuing Education Credits online. Visit: http://continuingeducation.construction.com
Architectural Record Discussion Forums
The McGraw Hill Construction Community, publisher of Architectural Record, has provided architects with a forum to express ideas, opinions, suggestions, and gripes. The discussion forums are open to all, and include topics such as Green Building Projects, Virtual Design, Practice Matters and a forum for younger architects. Visit: http://construction.com/community/forums.aspx
The Green Meeting Industry Council
The Green Meeting Industry Council (GMIC) is a non profit
501(c)(6) membership-based organization. Their goal is to encourage
collaboration within the meetings industry toward the development of
green standards that will improve the environmental performance of
meetings and events on a global basis. The GMIC is the only
professional green meetings organization that is a member of the
Convention Industry Council. For more information visit: http://www.greenmeetings.info
The World Architecture Community
The World Architecture Community invites all architects to create a free profile on their website. The World Architecture Portal is a unique comprehensive international directory and catalog of contemporary architecture where all architects, scholars and institutions may submit their work and links to share with colleagues from around the world. For more information visit: http://www.worldarchitecture.org
We hope you enjoyed our informative monthly e-newsletter. For
questions, comments or more information, please e-mail or call us
Liz Benton, Editor
Glacier Blue® Architectural Topics & NewsDevonian Stone of New York, Inc.
|Copyright Devonian Stone of New York, Inc. 2008. All Rights Reserved. Content may not be copied or reproduced in any way without the written consent of Devonian Stone of New York, Inc.|