Architects design the props of life – the spaces in which we live, work and play. At Faleide Architecture, we strive to design each project for all time – to imbue it with an aesthetic and functionality that will remain powerful and compelling long after short-lived trends have fallen away.
Experience has taught us that design that endures is design that is as unique as possible, driven by the specifics of you and the unique way that you want to live in this time and this place.
We commit 100 percent of ourselves to your project:
We engage our senses. We listen to you, your vision, your dreams. We feel the play of the sun and the wind on the site. We observe the placement of the site on the land and with respect to the community around it.
We focus our minds. We believe that each building is the culmination of a conversation that is as old as building itself. There are a limited number of architectural questions but the answers are as varied as the architects who have answered them before us. We stand on the shoulders of our predecessors to interpret their answers in a rigorously modern way.
We tap into something bigger. Nature shapes our environment in profound ways. Light warms the land. Water carves the mountains. The smell of a rose awakens emotions. The world offers us gifts that transcend logic and reason. Our designs are inhabitable canvases within which these natural intelligences can touch our lives.
The end result, after we have listened and studied and opened ourselves to the world around us, after we have used the information to inform the form, is a structure that is imbued with your vision and the particulars of your place. Like a song that you “know” without ever having heard it before, it will feel like it should always have been there in your life.
Personal Architectural Philosophy
Architect = object maker.
The human condition: life’s drama and concrete props
Architects make the props that arise out of the drama
What is the nature of these props?
Each object occurs along a continuum. For example, if you wanted to design a wheel today, while it would share characteristics of wheel-ness with the original wheel, it would also embody this moment in time. So there is an evolution of the thing and there is also a conversation between the past and the present and even an eye toward the future.
We can look to past wheels to speak to us about their time, about the concerns of the time in which it was designed and made. The information informs the form. So my quest is always: what information is out there that will inform my design. The design is less about some random idea that I have in my head and always about responding to and interacting with the information that is out there to tell me what the design should be.
And, in turn, when I design, I am adding my own layer of information that can be interpreted in the future by a future architect trying to figure out what the next iteration of the wheel should be.
The conversation goes two ways, however. Yes, the object can speak to us. But what we learn is only as good as the kinds of questions we ask. That is the architect’s obligation – to know what questions to ask and to ask big ones. So the architect must continually be reading and studying and debating.
Perhaps the biggest question: how do humans know the reality of objects: as events and as things.
Humans seek out orientation – we want to know where we are in relation to the world. We orient ourselves by the things that surround us – places, smells, etc. These things tell us we are here and not there. The world around us can provide orientation inadvertently – such as finding our way through a forest. But as a designer, I create things that provide orientation deliberately. If I am to design something that provides orientation, it must be particular so that it can be used by people to differentiate, which is at the heart of orientation. Going back to information informing form, the more information I have – about the circumstances of the site, about the politics of the place, about the geography of the place – the more particular I can design.
I use all of this information to inform my manipulation of the elements of architecture – walls, columns, roofs, beams, etc, along with the materials.
The object, to the extent that it will connote image, will carry the meaning of sign – it will become as symbol or an icon. But as an architect, I believe my primary obligation is to create a design that embodies the essential qualities of what is desired to be made.
Saarinen: form is not mute, it reveals the soul of the maker. When form follows function, it should be both practical and spiritual. This arises out of a governing principle of creation – there is an artist in all living things and there is a creative instinct that yearns to be expressed. Thus a silk rose does not satisfy – every molecule of its being is merely manipulated silk.
If you strip away all the contemporary meaning we each load onto our objects and just look at the concrete world around us, you’ll see, as Saarinen writes, that “form speaks through proportion and rhythm infused in material and construction. It is configuration of materials that creates the spaces that allow us to respond emotionally to them. To feel that this little room is cozy and that space is magnificent. This is hugely profound. The architect creates the props of life and the architect who has some insight into universal human desires and who understands how configurations of materials in space can embody and promote those desires will be in the best position to create props that satisfy those desires.
Where do I look to discern the form of an object?
I need to be able to discern “creative instinct” – this is still something outside myself.
These things exist in nature whether or not we recognize them.
The artist, says Michelangelo, is born to discern and reproduce preexisting beauties in nature. True beauty penetrates the inner eye to the heart and awakens passion.
Humans have had an evolving and shifting relationship with the concrete versus the non-material world and, within the concrete world, we have had a shifting relationship with man-made versus non-man made.
I want my objects to have muscle – a sense of the materiality. A presence of the material.
Michelangelo’s genius is his ability to create human forms that also call on the metaphors of human experience.
Saarinen – form must be of its time so that the meaning can be collectively agreed on.
It is not the architect who gives form meaning.