Affluent Page Presents: Essential Structures

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Inspired by lightand space, StevenHoll creations worksynonymously withtheir environmentand idea of being.

There is a classic architecture axiom that states "form follows function." This means design of aprospective building should consider its intended purpose first, and the actual physical form second. Architects follow this precept all acrossthe world, but perhaps none are more adept at translating this philosophy to solid concrete and metal than Steven Holl.

A product of the great American Northwest, Holl was born in 1947 in Bremerton, a town on the Kitsap Peninsula in Washington,just west of Seattle. He graduated from the University of Washington in 1970, and then moved that year to Rome to enhance his architecturalstudies. In 1976, Holl traveled to London and enrolled at the Architectural Association School of Architecture, popularly knownas the Architectural Association, or simply AA. Holl's time at the Architectural Associationcatapulted him to a brilliant career: in the same year, he founded his ownarchitectural firm, Steven Holl Architects, in New York City. The firm has sinceexpanded across the world, with offices as far away as Beijing.

Critics view Holl's work as markedly distinct from his Americans counterparts.His pieces epitomize a humanistic style that evokes European architectural influences.His approach takes into account the space and light the construction area providesas inspiration. He is sensitive to each building's environmental and historicalcontext. A prime example is the Bloch Building, adjunct to the Nelson-AtkinsMuseum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri. Upon its opening in 2007, the New York Times praised Holl's skill at "subtly inter- weaving his building with the museum'shistoric fabric and the surrounding land- scape." Holl's phenomenological styleencompasses the architecture spectrum, in- cluding residential. In 1993, he won theNational Honor Award from the Ameri- can Institute of Architects (AIA) for his"Stretto House," built in Dallas, Texas from 1989 to 1991. Named after a structuraldevice in Baroque music, the residence, spread over 7,500 square feet, and is made of rooms that flow fluidly into each other and archedwalls that accent a skylight. Holl also won a New York Architecture Award from the AIA for his horizontal "Floating Skyscraper" at theVanke Center in Shenzhen, China. Holl's goal was to shore up the South China Sea shore, providing breathtaking views of the water fromthe tower.

In his 1996 book, Intertwining, Holl wrote that architecture "change the way we [puts] essences, [which is the] study ofphenomenology, back into existence." This may be the ultimate objective of Holl's work: to build works of art that bring the essenceof each of their respective environments to light.

Readers interested in having their own project designed by Holl should contact the firm.

Steven Holl,, 212.629.7262

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