Snap - November/December 2013 - (Page 31)
interview by j. michael welton
Centered in Seattle
Principal/Owner, Olson Kundig Architects, Seattle
why practice here?
Because of the landscape, culture, quality of life, and the location.
It's a takeof point to Asia, Canada, San Francisco, and South
America. It's a great epicenter nationally and internationally,
and it's become a very mature city in a short period of time.
what kinds of materials
do you favor?
I use any material, but my bias is to use
them in authentic ways where they
haven't been made to act diferently or
be something else. I like them to weather, and naturally. Given
a choice, I'll choose material that gets better with time
without high maintenance, like concrete, steel, or wood.
you're known for your small
buildings, but you also do large
ones. how do they relate?
I work longer on smaller buildings because they're terrifc little
experimental developments that have an efect on larger
projects. In my lectures to students, I tell them I fnd smaller
projects more interesting in so many ways,
because you meet more clients, more
landscapes, and more cultures. It's a way to
develop a portfolio and a richer experience.
The smallest residence I've designed is the
Rolling Hut [right] at 250 square feet.
photo credit: © richard darbonne (portrait); dwight eschliman (top); tim bies (rolling huts)
what's the story behind
your funerary urn?
Artist Greg Lundgren has a line of urns
and caskets, and he's having architects
and designers take it on because the
industry is not taking the potential seriously-he believes it's all
so vacant. He asked if I'd be interested, and in a nanosecond, I said
of course, because it's so potent with cultural meaning.
It's a fnal home. It's powerful and intimidating to know that
you're doing something so intimate and meaningful.
what are you working on now?
A residence in Rio de Janeiro that will be a 1,000-square-foot
building, maybe two. It's up in an area that looks down on the
Rio beaches, the city clifs, and the Sugarloafs. At the larger end,
we're working on Burke Museum of Natural History and
Culture at the University of Washington. It's 110,000 square
feet. There are a couple of mid-rise projects in Seoul, Korea, and
others in Switzerland, Canada, Los Angeles, and the Berkshires.
tom kundig learned about design while a young apprentice to a
sculptor, and about the outdoors as an avid mountain climber. These
passions manifest in his projects, which are often sculptural volumes,
many of which open up to nature and the outdoors in big ways. Kundig
has received numerous honors including the Cooper-Hewitt, National
Design Award and an American Academy Award, both in Architecture.
Number of cubic inches inside
Kundig's spherical funerary urn.
Tom Kundig (above) stands in the lightwell of Olson Kundig
Architects' office. The lightwell is topped by a 14-by-25-foot counterweighted sky-door, which is raised by an apparatus that uses the city's
water pressure to activate pistons. The controls are laser-etched steel
puzzle levers (foreground) that require the user to close one valve
before opening the other.
sweets.com | november/december 2013 | snap | 31
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Snap - November/December 2013
Snap - November/december 2013
Dekton on Deck
Case Study: Hospitality
Daylight & Sun Control
Glass & Glazing
Product Focus: Glass & Glazing
Green Product Roundup
Made in the USA
Making Sense of the New Leed
Live & Learn: Ceu Courses
The Sweets Spot
Dates & Events
Trade Show News
Partners in Design
Snap - November/December 2013