Once upon a time, Le Corbusier sat in his single-room office alone, pencil in hand, solemnly pondering an architectural problem, “face to face with himself, the wrestling of Jacob and the Angel within the human soul,” as he explained in volume eight of Oeuvres Complètes. About one project he wrote, “This took a long time to develop, the design worked upon and caressed in days of perfect calm.” His famous dictum was “creation is a patient search.” Each new edition of the Oeuvres Complètes was eagerly anticipated, and although it would come out only every few years with a limited number of projects, every one was marked by an extraordinary level of originality and power: the Villa Savoie, La Tourette, Ronchamp, Maisons Jaoul, the High Court and Assembly at Chandigarh, the Carpenter Center.
Never did more than 15 people work at his office at 35 rue de Sevres, in Paris. Similarly, Louis Kahn never had more than 20 architects at his office in Philadelphia. Of the 40 desks at each of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin studios (East and West), only 20 were ever occupied. At the most, James Stirling’s staff was around 25. And, of course, Carlo Scarpa worked with maybe 6 people in his own home office in Vicenza, Italy.