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Friday01 August 2014

Architects' desks: Steven Holl, principal at Steven Holl Architects

Steven Holl's desk
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BD takes a look at the workspaces of architects

Steven Holl said: “For over 20 years, I have been making a morning watercolor on 5”x7” spiral bound watercolor books. These paintings often mark the beginning concepts for a building. They can be formal studies, light studies, or anything that comes to mind at dawn with a cup of green tea. I start every day in the morning and paint for one hour. I have every drawing that I have done for the last 25 years in boxes on a shelf over my drawing board. It has become a kind of second memory bank for me. Separately I have kept journals (9.5”x6” or 6”x8”) since my studies in Rome in 1970. I write my impressions of spaces and places, ideas, concepts, criticisms, reflections etc. The journals have allowed a continuous process, a dialogue with ideas, quotes and spontaneous captured intuitive thoughts.”

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Readers' comments (19)

  • Layout table and angle-poise, undoubtedly drawers full of rapidographs, watercolours and art materials. Its like turning the clock back years and that may be no bad thing for those traditionalists who favour the 'campaign for real drafting'. I wish I had the time to watercolour a rendering, sadly (or thankfully) tight deadlines and large workload prevent and I have to rely on CAD and CGI's.

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  • Alisa Selezneva

    OCD and a lot of spare time... I bet his office looked exactly the same in the 70s...

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  • Karl Duvall

    Would love to see the paintings, would be great to see a collection of work that spans 25 years from the same artist..

    Any chance you can put them up for us to see???

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  • I cant understand the comments above...this is a thinking person, who has a method to focus themselves and to enjoy their craft, it is refreshing to see a working space in this series that seems serious rather than self conscious.
    Cant remember seeing anything that Mike Duriez has produced so I will have to assume he is qualified to label Steven Holl's work as 'rubbish'.
    It should be noted that he is the principle of an international practice...not a draftsperson or struggling project architect....better he invests his mental energy in seeking a clarity of thought, rather than simply counting his money!
    Adrian Watson (not Prem Kumar)

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  • Munter Roe

    Looks like a nice set-up. Reminds me a bit of a university studio, possibly because he has the time to draw.

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  • Adrian, I share your disbelief. Everyone to their own and I don't see any reason to sneer at Steven Holl for his particular regime. Whether you like the desk or not, sharing a little personal space seems to be the purpose of the series.

    Better this insight than the lumbering self-absorbtion demonstrated in another well-known celebrity's rearward-facing desk, exhibited earlier in this series...

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  • i like this desk. it's a good desk.

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  • Sounds like he has a rather nice routine too me, if all architects could make the time to do this maybe we would be a better and more cognitively aware profession. Reminds me of Leisure by WH Davies "What is life, if full of care we have no time to stand and stare..." Keep it up Steven and well done Adrian, and Charles.

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  • Sebastian Cuff

    I love a spot of water-colouring and earl grey tea every morning. Jolly good way to start the day. Just like HRH.

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  • Alisa Selezneva

    well ok, maybe some of us do feel bitter because sometimes we don't have time to have lunch, never mind doing watercolours (in work time!)... life where you don't have to work like a donkey to stay afloat and can just sit and think seems like a faraway fantasy, but hey, I guess I should be grateful I have a job at all!...

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