Jump to content

Architects and their city designs


Recommended Posts

2 hours ago, samagon said:

that's a bit ambitious.

It is, but I do appreciate where their mindset is. This area has the potential to be what they show in the images. I mean they did land SHOP architects to do the ION itself, so they already know what kind of architects who can do this kind of work. That is a good sign. It always starts with the architect you choose to do this kind of work. I hope they start roping in some others like Michael Hsu, who can maybe massage this look to something that feels more Houston. Right now this all feels like something I would see in New York, LA, or even cities like Toronto. Not necessarily a bad thing, but I think something that expresses the colors of Houston, and our general eclectic nature would work better. Overall its a good direction. Will all of this work out? Maybe not, but if they can just build out the area around the ION with a few buildings like this then I'll be satisfied enough.

  • Like 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

14 minutes ago, Luminare said:

It is, but I do appreciate where their mindset is. This area has the potential to be what they show in the images. I mean they did land SHOP architects to do the ION itself, so they already know what kind of architects who can do this kind of work. That is a good sign. It always starts with the architect you choose to do this kind of work. I hope they start roping in some others like Michael Hsu, who can maybe massage this look to something that feels more Houston. Right now this all feels like something I would see in New York, LA, or even cities like Toronto. Not necessarily a bad thing, but I think something that expresses the colors of Houston, and our general eclectic nature would work better. Overall its a good direction. Will all of this work out? Maybe not, but if they can just build out the area around the ION with a few buildings like this then I'll be satisfied enough.

Michael Hsu is literally everywhere inside the loop so I would appreciate a little more diversity in architects lol. I feel his architecture screams Austin and is not representative. I think these look amazing.  

  • Like 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

25 minutes ago, iah77 said:

Michael Hsu is literally everywhere inside the loop so I would appreciate a little more diversity in architects lol. I feel his architecture screams Austin and is not representative. I think these look amazing.  

He isn't everywhere. His only really big projects are Montrose Collective, MKT, and Zadok, along with a few smaller projects. I would really like to see that aesthetic play out with a highrise. That would be refreshing. Yes it does feel Austin, but then again that is where his firm is based. I'd rather it feel more like Austin, which is more Texas, than more New York or LA. The eclectic variety is I believe a better direction than more abstract wood boxes and metal panel wraps with a lot of curtain wall. I'm not saying its bad. It isn't, and the look in this render I've seen in plenty of other places and it does work as an aesthetic. I've seen this play out in Asia, I've seen this play out in Milan, I've seen this play out in London, but it is pretty similar across all those regions. I certainly would like to see great variety try that aesthetic. It doesn't have to be Michael Hsu, but I do think its aesthetic that feels more to this region. Maybe a cross between a Michael Hsu and Lake Flato is something I've been interested in. Very regional and eclectic. Thats just me though.

Edited by Luminare
  • Like 9
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, H-Town Man said:

You've toured around the world... from London to the Bay.

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately. Not in Asia. I do have friends from many parts of Asia though. Also just finished a book about a project in Singapore called Marina One, and a lot of elements in these renders is very similar to what I read about. I have been to Milan and London, and there are plenty of projects that either are planning or have gone this angle.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

@Luminare that is a pretty phenomenal hotel development, maybe my favorite anywhere (that is not historical).  I would LOVE to have a project some day with those sort of design parameters, and client willingness to spend $$$$!  Singapore is awash in money, it’s similar to what Hong Kong used to be before China took over for the British.  Coincidentally, Singapore was also a Crown Colony, but one which maintained its independence and has thrived.

There starts to be a question as to whether Hsu’s office is really importing an Austin esthetic, or if it is a Houston one that is transitioning over to Austin?  Regardless, he is doing some decent work.  He does have a Houston office, and it seems he’s quite busy with superneighborhood defining projects of late…

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

9 minutes ago, arche_757 said:

@Luminare that is a pretty phenomenal hotel development, maybe my favorite anywhere (that is not historical).  I would LOVE to have a project some day with those sort of design parameters, and client willingness to spend $$$$!  Singapore is awash in money, it’s similar to what Hong Kong used to be before China took over for the British.  Coincidentally, Singapore was also a Crown Colony, but one which maintained its independence and has thrived.

There starts to be a question as to whether Hsu’s office is really importing an Austin esthetic, or if it is a Houston one that is transitioning over to Austin?  Regardless, he is doing some decent work.  He does have a Houston office, and it seems he’s quite busy with superneighborhood defining projects of late…

I think it has a hotel component, but its also offices and residential, and of course theres the amazing interior park/courtyard. It really is a crazy project, and one which takes the aesthetic posted and adapts it properly to that climate and setting. I also got to go to conference while in Germany where he did a lecture regarding that project (because the architect, Ingenhaven, is from Germany). I just think the aesthetic presented above is good, but also pretty generic for what you find elsewhere. You know this is "greatest hits" type of work when you see random wind mills on top of buildings. Looking forward to a more refined design.

I do agree with your Hsu arguments. I personally think he is adapting the sorta whimsy eclectic aesthetic you see in Austin, but is now incorporating elements that feel more Houston. I particular the more mid-century feel, and industrial feel which you do see in Austin but fits better here, along with a wide range of colors.

Full disclosure, I am biased when it comes to his work, as I did apply to his Houston office when I got laid-off in 2020. Just so people know. I just wish there were more adventurous architects aesthetically in Houston like a Hsu. Some are getting close, but most stay very conventional both in form and aesthetics.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was mistaken on my “Marina ____” projects in Singapore. 🤷‍♂️  But yes, I see now what you’re saying.  I was half distracted by kids when reading/responding - which I find happens a lot!

At what point does a firm stop being an LA or Austin or Chicago firm when they’ve expanded and some of their more noteworthy projects are located in other cities?

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

14 hours ago, arche_757 said:

At what point does a firm stop being an LA or Austin or Chicago firm when they’ve expanded and some of their more noteworthy projects are located in other cities?

It's the weirdness thing that I feel makes them Austin. Houston I feel is more about order and there is an earnestness to our buildings, especially our skyline, plus a sense of aspiration, whereas in Austin it is more about weirdness, a sense of irony, and a slight condescension. I know these are psychological terms but there is no other way to convey the sense of a certain city or place. A building like The Independent makes sense for Austin but not for Houston. I think we are most closely akin to Chicago in our city's aesthetic, with the difference that we incorporate more color in our buildings as well as more glass; we're a little less grim. 

Unrelated - I once had a conversation with a guy who is a partner at Hsu, who I met through a friend. He said their philosophy is to design buildings that are in harmony with the existing neighborhood and have a sense of locality. He held great contempt for glass highrises and didn't even know the firm Pickard Chilton. I tried to put the question of, What if your neighborhood's historical context is glass highrises, buildings that have ignored the past and their surroundings, what do you do then? I also questioned whether buildings that are asymmetric and "funky" really blended into older neighborhoods where none of the existing building stock was like that. He batted both questions away. They were not worded in such a way as to be worth answering. It was a bit like what I imagine talking to a designer at Yves Saint Laurent or Christian Dior is like. One is permitted to listen, as to an oracle; to argue or discuss is not thought of. He also acknowledged with a grin that they save their best designs for Austin. This was before they had opened the Houston office.

 

  • Like 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Having worked as an architect for… 15 years I haven’t ever heard another architect, or firm try to fudge a design because its for a building that “isn’t your home city”.  That’s bizarre.  You always do your best.  Always strive for each design to work within context of surroundings as much as possible.  (Which is certainly not always possible.)  That’s got to be almost every single firm except corporate architects.  You always try to make a building fit the neighborhood, whether the end result works or not depends on client (money willing to spend), talent of architectural designer, site and programming requirements.  Not every building is a masterpiece, but you never approach things from a standpoint of “I can half-ass it here because it’s Houston and not Austin.”

  • Like 6
  • Thanks 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

8 minutes ago, arche_757 said:

Having worked as an architect for… 15 years I haven’t ever heard another architect, or firm try to fudge a design because its for a building that “isn’t your home city”.  That’s bizarre.  You always do your best.  Always strive for each design to work within context of surroundings as much as possible.  (Which is certainly not always possible.)  That’s got to be almost every single firm except corporate architects.  You always try to make a building fit the neighborhood, whether the end result works or not depends on client (money willing to spend), talent of architectural designer, site and programming requirements.  Not every building is a masterpiece, but you never approach things from a standpoint of “I can half-ass it here because it’s Houston and not Austin.”

Hell yeah that just seems super unprofessional and pretty dumb if they want to expand their brand.

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

58 minutes ago, arche_757 said:

Having worked as an architect for… 15 years I haven’t ever heard another architect, or firm try to fudge a design because its for a building that “isn’t your home city”.  That’s bizarre.  You always do your best.  Always strive for each design to work within context of surroundings as much as possible.  (Which is certainly not always possible.)  That’s got to be almost every single firm except corporate architects.  You always try to make a building fit the neighborhood, whether the end result works or not depends on client (money willing to spend), talent of architectural designer, site and programming requirements.  Not every building is a masterpiece, but you never approach things from a standpoint of “I can half-ass it here because it’s Houston and not Austin.”

That would be bizarre, but it's not what he said. He said they save their best stuff for Austin. Doesn't mean they "fudge" or "half-ass" designs in Houston. You are welcome not to believe me. I am referencing what he said in a personal conversation and I am not disclosing his name. This is the best I can offer. I probably wouldn't believe me if I were you. Then again, I have only related inside info two or three times in the 19 years I've been on this forum, and none of those were situations where someone would normally make something up, especially when I haven't had any inside info on much juicier topics.

Do you not think that starchitects save better designs for New York or London than they do for other cities? Is it so farfetched to think an architect might take it to another level for certain places?

Philip Johnson once said that he saved his best designs for Houston. Here is a link referencing it:

https://uh.edu/news-events/archive/nr/2005/01jan/012605philipjohnson.html

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

@H-Town Man I’m not sure why you seem to take umbrage with my post?  Not every project is a masterpiece - even FLW had projects that misfired.  But his BEST work is in a city he absolutely hated - NYC.  Starchitects bring high end design well beyond their hometowns, and I’d argue many would point to projects they did elsewhere that gained them noteworthy praise and recognition from peers that seemingly elevated their practices overnight.  The continued excellence in design made them stars amongst the field.  

Piano: Menil.  Rogers: Centre Pompidou.  Gehry: Bilbao… these are just a few, and those are the buildings that brought them into the limelight.

 

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

9 minutes ago, arche_757 said:

@H-Town Man I’m not sure why you seem to take umbrage with my post?  Not every project is a masterpiece - even FLW had projects that misfired.  But his BEST work is in a city he absolutely hated - NYC.  Starchitects bring high end design well beyond their hometowns, and I’d argue many would point to projects they did elsewhere that gained them noteworthy praise and recognition from peers that seemingly elevated their practices overnight.  The continued excellence in design made them stars amongst the field.  

Piano: Menil.  Rogers: Centre Pompidou.  Gehry: Bilbao… these are just a few, and those are the buildings that brought them into the limelight.

 

 

I guess I am not understanding the intent of your earlier post, whether it was to criticize what this guy said as being poor practice for an architect, or whether it was to doubt whether he said what I reported him as saying about the Hsu firm, on the basis that no architect would say such a thing.

But your examples of starchitects doing great work in second-tier locations does not establish that no architect ever does better work or "saves designs for" certain cities. It may be that some architects do not favor certain cities, while others do. All I am suggesting is that some architects do. Not that they all do.

 

Edited by H-Town Man
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I never once typed that I didn’t believe you.  I just stated that it was bizarre.  I didn’t intend that to be an issue.  So my apologies.  I do take issue with his statement (from a professional standpoint), but it was probably tongue in cheek?  If not, then this person is probably a real prima donna, and those sort of architects (or people in general) are best left floating around in their own heads.  And starchitects are certainly capable of having such lofty ideals of themselves.  So are lesser architects - I know - I worked with several.  (Both were absolutely jerks in every sense of the word, and also a control freaks.)

Edited by arche_757
  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

21 hours ago, H-Town Man said:

That would be bizarre, but it's not what he said. He said they save their best stuff for Austin.

If I were looking for an architect I'd probably not choose them if they aren't going to give me their best stuff unless I am in Austin. whether you call it half ass, or whatever, they're still sending a clear message about who they care for, and there's no need to defend their choice to stick within their preferred market.

which is all fine, if they want to target the Austin market, it's big enough right now to support them and allow them to grow substantially, I'm sure. 

and I'm sure they reference the facade designs as saving the best for Austin, and not the actual structural designs.

Edited by samagon
  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 hours ago, Avossos said:

If I was an architect, I’d give my best with the assignment and budget. Every time.

silly to think successful firms are not going to design the best building they can.

Architects usually do their best job.  But they are almost always constrained by the client's budget. 

Or worse — they put together a fantastic plan that is within budget, only to find out later that the budget has been cut. 

I can't count the number of times I've seen some really good first rendering of a project "value engineered" into blandness.

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well this has been an interesting discussion...

Funny enough, I'm currently studying for one of my 6 exams...ugh...for licensure and one of them is practice management, and what is being discussed at the moment relates to what I have been slaving away preparing for this exam (Its in December).

5 hours ago, editor said:

Architects usually do their best job.  But they are almost always constrained by the client's budget. 

Or worse — they put together a fantastic plan that is within budget, only to find out later that the budget has been cut. 

I can't count the number of times I've seen some really good first rendering of a project "value engineered" into blandness.

As a foundation, one would, and should use this quote in relation to an architects typical duties, and how the design process normally is carried out.

In architecture, we are governed, legally, by what is known as the "Standard of Care":


         a legal concept, defined as the level of skill and diligence that a reasonably prudent architect would exercise in the same community, in the same time frame, and given the same or similar facts and circumstances.

At the same time, it should be noted that the law does not require perfection. I think its important to relay this because some people's definition of "best" often times isn't what is best but instead its somewhere in the neighborhood of "perfect" which are two different things. Especially in legal terms.

I don't think anyone has bothered to clarify what is meant by "best" in relation to @H-Town Man 's original post. Are we talking about best as in "This building is the best among all other buildings." Or are we talking about "This building is best for this particular location and circumstances." Two completely different things. What's important is context. Then again we are on the internet, and over my many years living on the internet (I don't do so very much these days for precisely this reason), is a place completely devoid of context.

For the sake of brevity, we can table what I've said above for another day, and another thread for this very topic. I will say straight up that while I'm grateful for @H-Town Man posting the conversation he had with the aforementioned architect, it probably wasn't the best way of either posting, or framing, or disclosing such a personal conversation because there is so much context left out, of course people could take that particular statement and just run away with it into who knows where. For myself, I'm going to choose not to say anything disparaging or question the authenticity of said statement, or question the integrity of the architect who said the thing at the heart of the matter because it would be unfair of me to do so, given the fact that so much context is missing, and I've never met the person before, although it seems we share a lot in common, including our desire to rid the world of the gloomy, hollow, and depressing all glass box skyscraper. Can we get a architecture Jesus to purge us of this architectural sin?! I guess its but a dream.

Its in my opinion that because there is so little context, the conversation is rather mute. Its a lot like conversations about the college football playoff. Who is the best football team on paper, even though we can not possibly have them play one another even though that is the point of the playoff...its a fun conversation to have, but certainly nothing to fight over or pretend that we are mindreaders and see motive or intent for any architect regarding how they practice, including the architect at the heart of this discussion. @arche_757 I get exactly what you are saying, and I even agree with what you are saying in the abstract, but because I don't know this particular architect I couldn't possibly agree with how you applied it in your series of posts. I will say that I've had my fair share of run ins of the exact people that you have described, and not only that, just people that are in this discipline who just don't care, or are just in it for the paycheck, or if its a big office are just in it for clout or office politics. That's just life though right? As unfortunate as that may be.

For those wonder about how ethics relates to all of this, which is a good read, I will link them here:

NCARB Rules of Conduct

https://www.ncarb.org/sites/default/files/Rules_of_Conduct.pdf

AIA Code of Ethics

https://content.aia.org/sites/default/files/2020-12/2020_Code_of_Ethics.pdf

Lets just say that, if in describing a hypothetical architect, where we know the intent, motive, and context actually render service that wasn't to the best they could do for their client, and knowingly did so which would then bring about an inferior product for the client irrespective of budget, circumstances, etc... then that could possibly be grounds for a violation under AIA's Code of Ethics as I read them.

13 hours ago, samagon said:

If I were looking for an architect I'd probably not choose them if they aren't going to give me their best stuff unless I am in Austin. whether you call it half ass, or whatever, they're still sending a clear message about who they care for, and there's no need to defend their choice to stick within their preferred market.

which is all fine, if they want to target the Austin market, it's big enough right now to support them and allow them to grow substantially, I'm sure. 

and I'm sure they reference the facade designs as saving the best for Austin, and not the actual structural designs.

This happens more often then you would think, but not for why this discussion has happened in the first place or in the way you might think. Often, us as architects and designers go through many many many many different design iterations with a client. So many different possibilities. Most simply go into the trash because rightly they weren't good designs, and probably wouldn't in most circumstances, but every now and then you strike gold, but the client sees another option that is worth way more than the gold you have presented, and chooses to go one direction, but the gold you struck is actually good, and then you simply save it for a rainy day. This happened to me not that long ago where I designed 3 different façade options for a townhome project. One was "contemporary", one was "modern", and one was "traditional", and as is practice for me I typically try to design all three to a standard where if one is chosen over the other I would be proud to work on that option even if the one I prefer isn't picked. The client choose the "traditional" option, but the "modern" option was really nice, and my boss and I looked at each other and said...we are just going to keep that option for ourselves because we like it and will use it for another client if the circumstances are right and the client is right. And we totally can do that even if some might not like this because unbeknownst to most in here its actually pretty stunning the level of copyright architects have over their designs since the passage of such legislation in 1990. After 1990, architects not only possess the copyright of the finished building itself, as well as the documents used to construct said building, but even the models, sketches, and processes used to get to that final building is all copyright! During my studies, I thought that was pretty wild. So whatever is produced even if it doesn't get built can be used by that same architect in any place whatsoever any time. Pretty neat stuff.

Anyway, this has been long enough. Thought I'd chime in since this was an interesting conversation that related a lot to what I'm currently studying. With that being said, I'm off to read/study contract documents for the traditional Design-Bid-Build delivery method....oh fun...ugh.

Edited by Luminare
  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

@Luminare I think we all are hovering around the same page.  I think it is accurate to state knowing a person in the world versus rendering an opinion of an unnamed individual via a web forum post makes a big difference in being able to build a realistic view towards their actual character.

I think the great irony in all of this discussion is that one could make the argument Hsu’s office is doing more interesting buildings here than in Austin.  Also, $10 bets that same designer who has such grief over tall, glass covered buildings will soon design one themselves.  Life has a way of stirring the pot.

Good luck with your exams.  The ever evolving NCARB… also stirs the pot!

Edited by arche_757
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you both for your insights. I found the "standard of care" concept to be enlightening. To Luminare's comment that perhaps I should not have related this conversation since there was not sufficient context, I will say that the person who said these things didn't provide much context for their words and didn't seem to particularly care about how they were understood.

I will ask though, do you think that Philip Johnson was being unethical when he said that he "saved all his best designs for Houston"? Take for example the Transco Tower. Johnson had seen a certain building from his office window, the Beekman Tower, and thought of designing a glass skyscraper with the same shape, probably long before getting the commission. He probably had other tall building commissions in other cities in the meantime, but saved this design for Houston. Was this unethical?

Or take another design of his, the AT&T Building. This was arguably his most revolutionary design (some could argue Pennzoil Place) and he used it in New York. He probably wanted to build it in New York because it was the right setting for such a statement and would get the most attention there. Was he wrong in saving it for New York?

 

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't see how ethics could be a thing, regardless of the city in question. 

at the end of the day, if the client is happy to get what they paid for, then how is that unethical? the opinion of us on a forum counts for very little in that transaction.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

10 minutes ago, samagon said:

I don't see how ethics could be a thing, regardless of the city in question. 

at the end of the day, if the client is happy to get what they paid for, then how is that unethical? the opinion of us on a forum counts for very little in that transaction.

This refers to professional ethics. Architects have certain duties to their clients as in other professions like medicine or law; see Luminare's posts above.

 

3 minutes ago, Naviguessor said:

Thanks, H-Town.  Never hear that about Tansco Tower.   Here is an image of Beekman Tower.   

A wooden model of this is also prominently displayed behind Jimmy Fallon's desk on The Tonight Show. Feels like you're looking at the Transco Tower when you watch the show (ironically it is just to the left of Johnson's AT&T building).

 

Edited by H-Town Man
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

9 hours ago, H-Town Man said:

Thank you both for your insights. I found the "standard of care" concept to be enlightening. To Luminare's comment that perhaps I should not have related this conversation since there was not sufficient context, I will say that the person who said these things didn't provide much context for their words and didn't seem to particularly care about how they were understood.

I will ask though, do you think that Philip Johnson was being unethical when he said that he "saved all his best designs for Houston"? Take for example the Transco Tower. Johnson had seen a certain building from his office window, the Beekman Tower, and thought of designing a glass skyscraper with the same shape, probably long before getting the commission. He probably had other tall building commissions in other cities in the meantime, but saved this design for Houston. Was this unethical?

Or take another design of his, the AT&T Building. This was arguably his most revolutionary design (some could argue Pennzoil Place) and he used it in New York. He probably wanted to build it in New York because it was the right setting for such a statement and would get the most attention there. Was he wrong in saving it for New York?

 

Since I like analogies I'll use a football one again. Nick Saban, who is probably going to go down as the greatest head football coach, not just in Alabama, but in College Football as a whole. To this day, Saban has won 6 National Championships at Alabama, 1 with LSU, zero with the Miami Dolphins in the NFL, and zero with Michigan State. Clearly his best run as a coach has been with Alabama. No question about that, and I would assume that with his success at Alabama he will probably say that they best place he coached at was at Alabama. So does that mean he wasn't coaching his best at LSU? or Miami? or Michigan State? No. It highlights just how difficult it is to win, and be the best, and also the combination of factors it takes to be the best. It also tells the story that sometimes when one is at the their best or thinks what they are doing is the best it isn't enough in certain circumstances, or administration, etc...

Its the same with architecture. In fact the link you posted if you don't zero in that one statement, which was actually said by the journalist even if Johnson said it once before, but you learn in that interview why he "saved" his best designs for Houston, and that was because of the relationship Johnson and Hines had with one another. It was a relationship that just worked and was quite magical. In those types of relationships anything can happen. No matter what design Johnson would have presented Hines, Hines trusted Johnson no matter what and that allowed Johnson to do more daring projects that also just so happened to be his best. This is also why I said we should have defined what constitutes as "best" are we talking global? In a particular context? At a particular point and time? In my opinion best isn't relative. Its very much based in context. Best also doesn't mean that just because things didn't work out with one client even when you were at your best doesn't mean you weren't doing your best. All that matters is if you were doing your best at that time at that place, and if it was best for that client and what they wanted. People also change, and evolve. Situations change. Tastes change. Circumstances change. Its way more complicated than just saying "Oh he said he saved his best designs for Houston, that must mean he didn't do his best for others". I KNOW THATS NOT WHAT YOU ARE SAYING, but its the heart and soul of what is being said.

If you are interested in the idea of "standard of care" look into it further because its very specific to time, place, context, client, circumstances, etc... Its not relative in the slightest. If Johnson satisfied his clients needs and gave them the best design that THE CLIENT wanted then thats all that matters, and maybe he showcased these other designs and were rejected by the client, like in my example that happened to me. Also look into the AIA code of ethics because its all centered on the architect, but more important their relationship with the client, the public, and the environment, and as long as they aren't intentionally delivering an inferior product or are leading their client down a wrong path and knowingly doing so then that is grounds for a violation. I don't believe from my knowledge of Johnson that this was ever the case. I don't remember ever hearing about a client that ever said...hey I wanted that design, and Johnson didn't show me that. Never heard of that. In my opinion, case closed. Not just per each circumstances, as Johnson was beloved by his clients, but also globally across his career. I'm I saying he never did anything wrong ever...no. What I'm saying is that he was not only a great architect in what the code of ethics calls for, but was also the standard by which Architects should practice. A high bar. His best designs where in Houston because his best client was in Houston that allowed him to be the best and what he did. Not exactly rocket science. For anyone on this forum that hasn't ever had to collaborate on a project or work with a client, or work with others to achieve a higher goal will never know how difficult it is to get what you want done done.

Edited by Luminare
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 11/19/2021 at 7:17 PM, Luminare said:

Since I like analogies I'll use a football one again. Nick Saban, who is probably going to go down as the greatest head football coach, not just in Alabama, but in College Football as a whole. To this day, Saban has won 6 National Championships at Alabama, 1 with LSU, zero with the Miami Dolphins in the NFL, and zero with Michigan State. Clearly his best run as a coach has been with Alabama. No question about that, and I would assume that with his success at Alabama he will probably say that they best place he coached at was at Alabama. So does that mean he wasn't coaching his best at LSU? or Miami? or Michigan State? No. It highlights just how difficult it is to win, and be the best, and also the combination of factors it takes to be the best. It also tells the story that sometimes when one is at the their best or thinks what they are doing is the best it isn't enough in certain circumstances, or administration, etc...

Its the same with architecture. In fact the link you posted if you don't zero in that one statement, which was actually said by the journalist even if Johnson said it once before, but you learn in that interview why he "saved" his best designs for Houston, and that was because of the relationship Johnson and Hines had with one another. It was a relationship that just worked and was quite magical. In those types of relationships anything can happen. No matter what design Johnson would have presented Hines, Hines trusted Johnson no matter what and that allowed Johnson to do more daring projects that also just so happened to be his best. This is also why I said we should have defined what constitutes as "best" are we talking global? In a particular context? At a particular point and time? In my opinion best isn't relative. Its very much based in context. Best also doesn't mean that just because things didn't work out with one client even when you were at your best doesn't mean you weren't doing your best. All that matters is if you were doing your best at that time at that place, and if it was best for that client and what they wanted. People also change, and evolve. Situations change. Tastes change. Circumstances change. Its way more complicated than just saying "Oh he said he saved his best designs for Houston, that must mean he didn't do his best for others". I KNOW THATS NOT WHAT YOU ARE SAYING, but its the heart and soul of what is being said.

If you are interested in the idea of "standard of care" look into it further because its very specific to time, place, context, client, circumstances, etc... Its not relative in the slightest. If Johnson satisfied his clients needs and gave them the best design that THE CLIENT wanted then thats all that matters, and maybe he showcased these other designs and were rejected by the client, like in my example that happened to me. Also look into the AIA code of ethics because its all centered on the architect, but more important their relationship with the client, the public, and the environment, and as long as they aren't intentionally delivering an inferior product or are leading their client down a wrong path and knowingly doing so then that is grounds for a violation. I don't believe from my knowledge of Johnson that this was ever the case. I don't remember ever hearing about a client that ever said...hey I wanted that design, and Johnson didn't show me that. Never heard of that. In my opinion, case closed. Not just per each circumstances, as Johnson was beloved by his clients, but also globally across his career. I'm I saying he never did anything wrong ever...no. What I'm saying is that he was not only a great architect in what the code of ethics calls for, but was also the standard by which Architects should practice. A high bar. His best designs where in Houston because his best client was in Houston that allowed him to be the best and what he did. Not exactly rocket science. For anyone on this forum that hasn't ever had to collaborate on a project or work with a client, or work with others to achieve a higher goal will never know how difficult it is to get what you want done done.

Well, Hines might have been headquartered in Houston, but they partnered with Philip Johnson on buildings all over the U.S.: Atlanta, New York, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Louisville, Denver, etc. I think Philip Johnson did his best designs in Houston because, as he elaborated elsewhere, it was a laissez-faire city where you could do anything anywhere, which went along with his "great man"/heroic views on art and history. He was a big proponent of the unfettered individual and appreciated Houston as a place where such individuality was still encouraged.

I know the link I gave you didn't actually quote Johnson saying this. I said above that it "referenced" it. I don't really feel like trying to track down the original quote. The link makes it clear enough that he said it.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

10 minutes ago, Houston19514 said:

Phillip Johnson was a great self-promoter who was very good at making comments that flattered and/or entertained his audiences.  Even if he once said that he save his best designs for Houston, that doesn't make it true.  

Sure. I guess the discussion is still, "Is it even ethical for an architect to say that, true or not?" Also, there is the evidence. Except for the AT&T Center which seems like it was intended for New York for maximum impact, it does seem like he saved his best work post-1970 for Houston. Obviously not measurable or provable, however. NY and Atlanta are probably second and third in terms of the level of work he gave them.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, H-Town Man said:

Sure. I guess the discussion is still, "Is it even ethical for an architect to say that, true or not?" Also, there is the evidence. Except for the AT&T Center which seems like it was intended for New York for maximum impact, it does seem like he saved his best work post-1970 for Houston. Obviously not measurable or provable, however. NY and Atlanta are probably second and third in terms of the level of work he gave them.

 

I don't know... I'm not sure it really rises to a question of ethics.  If a self-absorbed architect wants to fluff up an audience by allowing them to believe what they want to believe/hear what they want to hear on a matter as inconsequential as whether they save their best work for a particular city... not sure there's any real harm done.

 

It's interesting that Phillip Johnson has also been quoted as saying "Glibness will get you anywhere."

Edited by Houston19514
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 11/22/2021 at 10:51 AM, Houston19514 said:

I don't know... I'm not sure it really rises to a question of ethics.  If a self-absorbed architect wants to fluff up an audience by allowing them to believe what they want to believe/hear what they want to hear on a matter as inconsequential as whether they save their best work for a particular city... not sure there's any real harm done.

 

It's interesting that Phillip Johnson has also been quoted as saying "Glibness will get you anywhere."

Ok. This has generally been my view of the matter. Some of the architects on here thought that it was unethical. I rather like that he saved his best stuff for Houston, if he in fact did.

 

Edited by H-Town Man
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Perhaps Johnson's friendship and working relationship with Hines, and the fact that Gerald's world headquarters just happened to be in Houston, helped to influence the way both approached the Houston portfolio. I would think that Gerald would want to go that extra mile to do great things in his hometown. And perhaps Hines approach to development inspired Philip to push things a little farther. He definitely was Gerald Hines main guy for a number of years and Houston was the recipient of quite a few of his most successful projects. The list of projects he designed for Houston is quite long. I guess his design for the Fluor campus in Sugarland was one of his last, and certainly the most distant to downtown. Together they helped shape Uptown, and remade the Houston skyline. 

 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
×
×
  • Create New...