Architects all, curious and eager for encounters, the members of “Architects I Met” enjoy travel, exhibitions, cocktails, walks, parties, lunches, all in the name of meeting other architects from around the globe. Each character brings exploration of a different theme or location. “Architects I Met” began last October on a cafe terrace. We were two young architects who needed to get out, to experience architecture firsthand, rather than at school or in an office. After two weeks spent constructing the association, preparing interviews and testing them with architects from Lyon, we left for California.
After arriving at our neo-hippie abode, we began attending architectural events and conferences..We collected names of all the local architects creating today’s San Franciscan landscape. The idea was then simple: to show up on every doorstep to meet urban planners, architects, designers, professors or students, and to request a half-hour interview over drinks. They received us warmly, talking of their work, their business, their city. For a month, we roamed San Francisco office by office, from downtown to the suburbs, top to bottom, cruising the city with only the architects’ testimonies as our travel guide. They took us to the Grace Cathedral for yoga, to the 18th and Rhode Island Garden’s community garden for workshops, to the CCA to attend graduation, to the streets of Oakland to discover underground art during First Fridays Art Walk, to the workshops of their designers and carpenters, or simply out to concerts, to taste local specialities, to enjoy and admire special places…
The project has gained continual nourishment from human stories which confirm the old adage “it’s a small world”. David Fletcher asked us to the latest exhibition at the SFMOMA, where we absorbed the works of Thom Faulders, himself interviewed a few days before in a bar near the California College of the Arts. EB Min shared her first professional experience with Topher Delaney, whom we had previously met in his grocery store for a quick bite. As well as acquainting us with this rich network, these encounters led us to a professional reflexion about how to guide a vibrant agency. This occurs, for example, when urban planners present their works and unrealised competitions in a videogame interface, which the office then uses to apply its skills to virtual creation. It also occurs when an associate explains the advantage of being headquartered in a city like San Francisco, while simultaneously maintaining a second office in small-town Nebraska to tap into a different market and better to weather the economic crisis through diversification. We understand the necessity of the 1% Public Architecture program, which connects non-profit organisations in need of assistance with architectural design with architectural firms willing to volunteer their time.
Back in France, we had collected 30 testimonies of architects: many stories, even more encounters, inspirations, references and values. Wishing to expand on these exchanges and pleasurable moments, we continued our interviews in various cities that we passed through: Los Angeles, Hawaii, Madrid, Paris, Lisbon, and Lausanne. This new series of interviews has confirmed our belief that the transfer and exchange of knowledge epitomizes contemporary architectural design, and the need for it to be shared.