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Architravel | Online architectur quide
Architeam Projects

clip Steven Holl

Total Projects from Steven Holl: 12

In 2002 Steven Holl was named ‘America’s Best Architect’ by Time Magazine, which benediction asserted his status as the highest-profile US architect of his generation. Born in 1947, Holl studied at the University of Washington and in Rome before pursuing postgraduate study at London’s Architectural Association in 1976, when Rem Koolhaas, Bernard Tschumi, Nigel Coates and Zaha Hadid were tutors. These auspicious beginnings were followed by a series of publications including the foundation of the influential Pamphlet Architecture journal.

He began his career in practice in California, but opened his office in New York in 1976. Early projects included a few good-taste interiors, but his first truly influential building came with the remarkable Berkowitz Odgis House in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts (1988). This single-storey building reinterprets the balloon frame, with a veranda playing vertiginous games with views out to the ocean and back to and through the house itself.

An eclectic portfolio of housing followed, including his Void Space/Hinged Space housing in Fukuoka, Japan (1991); the Stretto House in Dallas (1992); and the Makuhari Housing in Chiba, Japan (1996). A major breakthrough was the Jesuit Chapel of St Ignatius at Seattle University (1997), where Holl created a series of geometric volumes, each bringing a different quality of natural light into the chapel to dramatize the various aspects of the Jesuit ritual. Holl used coloured glass to create a concept he describes as ‘seven bottles of light in a stone box’. These bottles not only create amazing effects within the interior, but shine out across the campus at night as coloured beacons. His big break – the Kiasma Contemporary Art Museum in Helsinki, won in an open international competition – was to continue in this vein. Completed in 1998, Kiasma made Holl the first US winner of the Alvar Aalto Medal – one of Finland’s highest architectural honours – and confirmed his reputation as a creator of theatrical and intense interiors in a building that also dealt with an incredibly difficult site at a motorway intersection.

More recent work perhaps shows Holl’s desire to place himself in context. His Simons Hall student residence at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2003) is a bold perforated megastructure with a disorientating scale worthy of Rem Koolhaas. Perhaps most significantly, in the 2002 com¬petition for the reconstruction of the World Trade Center, he formed a team with three members of the ‘New York Five’ group who dominated US architecture in the 1950s and 1960s – Peter Eisenman, Charles Gwathmey and Richard Meier. Their scheme was not shortlisted, but Holl became an outspoken critic of the process, showing that he is one of the least paro¬chial practitioners in the US, calling for US architecture to learn from the European model of procuring major public works – the open architectural competition with an informed jury.

Holl is still relatively young for an architect. What he lacks in Gehry-style bombast, he makes up for in his adaptability and invention. The question that remains is whether such a stylistic chameleon will ever have a coherent body of work. Perhaps it is best that he does not.
April 28
2013

website: www.stevenholl.com


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