Our buildings are rooted in their surroundings. Sometimes we draw on and extend the design language of their context; sometimes we provide deliberate contrast to call attention to a place. In every case, we strive to make buildings that belong only where they are.
We create juxtapositions that feel unexpected and yet somehow also inevitable. We design these juxtapositions, these plays of adjacency, at various scales: from furniture to facades, and at the scale of the city. This interest may depend on a play of form but may also unfold as people experience our buildings.
Reasserting the here and now, which is the antidote to placelessness and homogeneity, demands absolutely that one avoid predictability. To bring out the here, something might have to be quite unexpected, jarring us into the moment, asserting the now.Deborah Berke
Placemaking often comes from bold architectural expression. But it also comes from how people engage a place — the life that takes place there and the memories that are formed. We delight in animating our projects with activity: living, dining, working, creating, or simply being with friends. How these types of spaces relate to each other and to their urban context requires a kind of storytelling during the design process.
Grounding architecture in a place and making it memorable also comes from the subtle details. Materials, craft, texture, and color may be less overt, but when they are part of the history of a place and richly woven throughout a project, they can leave a powerful impression. This is especially the case when these details tie back to local craftspeople who we ask to bring their knowledge and resources to a project.
For the Rockefeller Arts Center at SUNY Fredonia in western New York, we extended the predominant design language of the campus of cast-in-place concrete to make something “of its place” that also asserts “the now.”