A brief jaunt around your local area can reveal some amazingly unique artwork. Architecture is what gives a neighborhood, town, or city its visual appeal. Every structure is designed to serve a purpose. It must also exceed the client’s expectations while meeting strict building regulations. The architect is the keystone; the integral piece of the puzzle that makes the picture-perfect.
For anyone considering new construction or a remodel, the architect can be your greatest resource. Clients spend a lot of time with their architects discussing every detail of the project. Those details are a visual representation of a client’s inner thoughts, beliefs, habits, hobbies, and personal tastes. Selecting an architect with similar characteristics can eliminate some very awkward moments and misunderstandings.
Finding an architect who is the right “fit” for you is as simple as getting to know the architect and “who” they are. A quick google search may deliver a few phone numbers for you to call. It may even provide a few websites for you to visit. Those are great starting points, but you need to know more about the architect. What makes them “tick”? Does their style of architecture line up with your vision?
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Marvin Armstrong to talk about his Architecture and where he finds inspiration.
The Architecture of Marvin Armstrong
Ron: Marvin, let me start by saying thank you for letting me interview you for my blog. I was checking out your website and it had something interesting that caught my attention, so I’d like to start there!
The description of your logo is awesome! You referenced Frank Lloyd Wright as a point of inspiration for the logo. I can connect with that because I am from the suburbs of Pittsburgh, PA, and have visited the renowned Fallingwater. Can you talk about how you draw inspiration from your influences while still maintaining your identity and design style?
Marvin: Frank Lloyd Wright mounted a red/orange ceramic tile on some of his buildings as a way to mark or ID his work as his own. The logo also comes from the Vitruvian Man drawing by Leonardo da Vinci, it’s the overlapping man figure that defines the circle and square. The square representing the earth and the outstretched arms and legs resembles a compass, an ancient tool of architects.
Frank Lloyd Wright and Leonardo da Vinci are both inspiring historical figures that I relate to. Frank Lloyd Wright for the timeless beauty of his architectural designs, and Leonardo da Vinci for his artistic and technological genius. I try to bring that kind of artistry and inventiveness to my work.
By rethinking even mundane design problems, the potential for new images can come to light. By changing the way I look at a problem I can provide a new solution to each project rather than falling back on a repetitive design style. Every project is different and deserves a specific design. This keeps it interesting for me and for my clients.
Staying Inspired By Evolving
Ron: You’ve been doing this for a long time (your website says since 1987). It’s not uncommon for people to become complacent during a 30-year career; how do you “stay fresh” and keep yourself motivated?
Marvin: It will be 30 years this summer that I’ve been working for myself. In 1987 the tools of the trade were completely different. Pencil, paper, and many hand drafting tools (including the compass) were the architect’s tools at that time. The tools now are a computer, software and a printer, and the printer is on the way out.* The profession is not the same and the projects are not the same. It’s this evolution that keeps it interesting, something new is going on every year. Coming up with new ideas keeps it fresh, each project is essentially a new idea.
*Authors note: the industry is slowly shifting toward computer-based resources to simulate tours and 3-D renderings, however print is very much alive and healthy. Many architecture firms re-purpose plotter printers to create large photographs of completed projects to hang in their office. Some print the original rendering on canvas as a gift to the client.
Places To Go, Architecture To See
Ron: Have you toured any of the iconic architectural structures around the world?
Marvin: I’ve seen many of the Frank Lloyd Wright buildings in California, which are very inspiring to see in person, like all architecture, the real beauty is in being there. I’ve been inside the Eifel Tower and it’s even taller than it looks.
Ron: Which world-famous structures are on your “bucket list”?
Marvin: Among the great architectural structures on my list to see is the work of Antonio Gaudi in Barcelona for their organic design. I also do organic sculpture in wood and clay (if I can make a shameless plug: marvinarmstrong.com).
Ron: Shameless plugs are always welcome! It’s your work and that is what this interview is all about! Actually, can you describe a favorite feature or 2 of your local work so readers can look for it when they are out and about? It can be a unique experience for people to connect with you by knowing the backstory of your structures.
Marvin: The new apartment complex at 541 Fulton Street, called ‘541 @ South Tower’ is a good example of reinventing the solution. The client wanted an Art Deco design to relate to the existing apartments and commercial buildings across the street, called ‘Fultonia’. The South Tower project is the result of re-imagining the Art Deco style in a modern building with curves and towers intrinsic to the building function. We used LED neon lighting, seeing the building at night is quite a sight.
Ron: It looks great in photos! Now I have to take a trip over there at night to check it out! Marvin, thanks again for letting me interview you. I enjoyed getting to know you, and I’m sure the readers did too!
When selecting an architect, remember LOCAL architects are experts in your area. They are familiar with your particular city processes and building codes. Additionally, they are familiar with the “vibe” of your area. They can prevent mistakes like building a Jetsons structure in a Flintstones town.
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