Imagine Magazine - Johns Hopkins - May/June 2014 - (Page 6)
in my own words
to design is Human
Designer, architect, and Creative Director
Office for Design & architecture (ODa)
Israeli-born Eran Chen is one of the founders and the creative director of
ODA, a prominent architecture firm based in New York City. ODA has gained
attention for innovative projects that include everything from historic renovation
to luxury hotels, from private residences to furniture collections. The firm's
international work includes the National Library of Israel in Jerusalem and The
National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design in Oslo, Norway.
In addition to his work at ODA, Chen is a guest professor at Bezalel
Academy of Art and Design in Israel. His work has been recognized in
publications including The New York Times, Architectural Record, The
Architect's Newspaper, Concept Architecture Magazine, and others.
i was always intrigued by the threedimensional environments that surround
us and tried to document them one way
or another. my mom always tells the
story of when i was five years old and i
sat down and drew perspective views of
our living room. she still has the drawings to prove it.
Later in life i had different ideas; i
thought of being a physician and a surgeon, many things. in israel, after high
school you go into the army for a few
years, and it gives you time to decide
what works for you. in my twenties, i
came back to architecture and thought
this is really for me.
every architect has their first project and their first
client who they'll love forever. When i was in my third
year of architecture school in Jerusalem, friends of
mine asked me to design their home. i was a pretty
ambitious student and i took on that mission. of course
we had to involve an engineer to sign off on the drawings; and the client's husband was a contractor, so he
was confident enough that he could read my working
drawings-which were far from perfect. But i designed
their home some 20 years ago, and they still live in it,
so i guess it was successful.
A universal language
i love the fact that our team [at oda] is international.
it wasn't necessarily intentional, but it came about this
way and we love it. i think new York is one of the few
places in the world where you can achieve full collaboration in an environment that supports an international
team. different people bring different backgrounds
and cultures, and the emotional influence they have
on the architecture creates international connections.
it has nothing to do with style or country, social or
economic situations. i think architects notice this about
our work, and it attracts them to our firm.
inheritance and renewal
i don't think you ever build entirely from scratch.
Whatever you're building, as an architect, you build
within a context that preexists. the question is how
much exists within the parameters of the project. But
even if you build something from scratch, you inherit
everything that surrounds it.
the most successful cities in the world are those
embracing the history of their architecture but still
creating renewable frameworks all the time. there are
a few cities i recently fell in love with. Barcelona is a
great, vibrant city, mostly because of that balance of
history and renewal. tel aviv, where i come from, is
very similar. it has the biggest collection of Bauhaus
buildings, yet it's not a city that is frozen in time. it's
ever-changing and dynamic. that really influences the
type of people it attracts, the type of people who gravitate toward these cities.
it's not about the buildings. it's about an environment, the people who occupy these buildings and
their interactions. Barcelona really struck me as the
kind of place you just want to be-you want to sit right
down on the street and have a sangria and take it all in.
Whether you walk through the buildings of gaudi or go
to the beach, there's a sense of liveliness. Combined
with the public spaces, the people, the food, the whole
culture, that makes it a very successful city.
Creating a shared vision
architecture is about engaging an idea and making
it happen through the process of convincing large
groups of interested parties that your vision is the right
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Imagine Magazine - Johns Hopkins - May/June 2014
In My Own Words
Imagine, Design, Build
A Schematic of the Possible
My Life as an Architect
Blueprint for the Future
DesertSol: A Model of Sustainability
Across Space and Time
The Art of Summer
Selected Opportunities & Resources
A Digital Canvas
Rising to the Technovation Challenge
Off the Shelf
Exploring Career Options
One Step Ahead
Planning Ahead for College
Creative Minds Imagine
Mark Your Calendar
Imagine Magazine - Johns Hopkins - May/June 2014