A few years ago when Texas A&M was playing Notre Dame, my father-in-law graciously offered to fly us from Austin in his Cessna 210 to South Bend Indiana. What I thought was going to be a long airplane ride to a football game turned into an education on great design, architecture, engineering, and construction. On our return from South Bend (fyi, time ran out on the Aggies – but that’s another story), we stopped in St. Louis for the evening and toured the famous “Gateway Arch” the next morning.
I have often admired the arch from far away in textbooks while a student, etc., but to actually take the ‘elevator’ to the apex and touch the monumental structure with my own hands had a profound impact on me.
The visionary architect of the Gateway Arch was Eero Saarinen. Interestingly, Eero Saarinen was often criticized for creating a new design ‘style’ with each and every project. He consistently broke all of the ‘rules’ with his unique and creative solutions to the needs of his clients. Eero Saarinen was also unique in that he considered his clients to be co-creators of his architecture and attributed much of his success to them.
Likewise, while my design prowess is light years behind that of Eero Saarinen, I believe that I share his same philosophy. That philosophy being that I am more about solving problems than being a slave to the classic textbook rules of design. I want to answer the needs of my clients with unique and special ideas. I also believe that my clients are my co-creators. Between their Lifestyle, their lot, and their vision, the greatest shapes can emerge, and most importantly, they are the shapes that the ‘creators’ best relate to and thrive in. Not what someone told them had to be.