Living in New Mexico has formed the way I look at the world. While living in northern New Mexico I started to understand there are universal archetypical forms that everyone relates to – at least on a subconscious level. It has been found that children from different cultures around the world (China, India, Africa, North America) will inevitably sketch the same picture of a house – a triangle on top of a square. This is the universal archetype of “home”; however, great architecture like great art goes beyond the simple recognition of form and moves us to inspiration.
In addition to these archetypal forms of buildings, good architecture possesses a poetic side. The pitched metal roofs and stone or adobe walls of New Mexico architecture protect us from the strong sun and blowing snow. Just as importantly, the play of light and shadow as the sun marches across the stone walls alert us to the passing of time and sculpts space to give form to the building.
What I strive to create is space and form which is at once poetic and functional. I would like to believe that my architecture has a quality of strength and beauty through its simplicity of forms and materials. I was taught by an important professor in graduate school to understand that great architecture is about Nature, Mysticism, Woman and Man, and that without these qualities you merely have empty buildings.
When we start the design process, my team and I (and I must emphasize that it is a team effort) visit the site and collect data from the site. We talk to our clients, ask questions and listen. We try to understand our client’s personal taste and lifestyle so we can capture that and reflect it in our design. The result is a synergistic architecture that is rich with the client’s spirit and our design vision.
We have been dedicated to the use of sustainable building materials, green construction techniques and passive solar whenever possible since we began our business in 1992. Our design vision is all encompassing. One of the most important decisions in architecture is the siting of the building. How it faces the sun, welcomes a cooling breeze and relates to the native plants and trees are simple yet easily overlooked aspects of good design. We begin the site investigation by calculating sightlines from the building area to all major views – and not just the good views – that’s obvious. Our design takes into account the “bad” views too. Those are the areas where we’ll design a fireplace or bookshelf to screen another building. We also investigate the surrounding land to understand and anticipate where neighbors might place a house in what appears today to be a great view corridor.
How a building sits on the land is important to us. A building should be an extension of the site. The relationship between construction and nature should be symbiotic. The two should reinforce each other, playing off each other’s strengths. A building should have a sense that it has always been there – that it belongs there and nowhere else.
As far as the interior of buildings – too many architects are scenery designers. It’s not about how many faux finishes you can put into one room. It’s about the space and the light. It’s about proportion and balance. It’s about how you would feel after all the furniture and fancy finishes are removed from the room. If you still feel good in the space after all the furnishings are removed – it’s good architecture.
It’s not the size of the room, but the proportion of the room that’s important. It’s not just the materials, but how the materials are used. It’s not just about how the rooms are arranged, but how the spaces transition from one to another. You don’t simply put a door on a wall to get to another room. You have to understand how the room works, the path created from the way you enter the room and leave a room, the light, the furniture arrangement, and of course – the views. My design has a quality of strength through its simplicity of forms and use of materials. This allows me to capture the spirit of the Site and Owner. It allows the people who live in the space to claim it as their own and yet still discover subtle, new things about the space long after they’ve moved in.