This month, our annual issue focused on interiors examines how architects experiment and innovate with ideas, materials, and craft techniques. The scale may be smaller than in other architectural pursuits, but the results can be just as intriguing.
Diminutive projects like a single communal-table restaurant in Guadalajara, Mexico, where ears of corn hang dramatically from the ceiling, and a clothing shop in Shanghai, where roof tiles are adapted as a unique floor detail, share the spotlight with a sprawling, sumptuously furnished apartment in São Paulo and the unapologetic marble splendor of Rome’s Bulgari Hotel.
In Stockholm, a gemlike concert hall, featured on this month’s cover, is built inside a former orphanage. Its architect, Giorgio Palù, has a practice steeped in musical heritage. Based in Cremona, Italy—home of the Stradivarius—he designed the award-winning Auditorium Giovanni Arvedi in that town’s violin museum. In London, the quintessential minimalist, John Pawson, designs a gallery and café for the famously posh Claridge’s Hotel. Two American projects—one an amenity suite for office tenants in New York, the other the new home for the San Francisco chapter of AIA—inject new life into landmark buildings.
Interiors offer an appeal to architects for being shorter-term undertakings than designing from the ground up. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Madrid’s Royal Collections Gallery, by Mansilla + Tuñón, is an extreme example of a drawn-out building process. During the 25-year-long saga of designing and constructing the museum, firm partner Luis Moreno García Mansilla died. And, even after the building was completed in 2015, it would take another eight years before it opened to the public in June.
As a well-known architect recently told me, “Practicing architecture requires dedication and perseverance, and the moments of satisfaction are few and far apart.” Herzog & de Meuron is a firm that’s successfully navigated the ups and downs of architectural practice and surely has many moments of satisfaction. A retrospective at London’s Royal Academy of Arts charts the 600-person studio’s rise to the top of the profession over the past five decades.
Recognizing the complexities of architectural practice, we introduce in this issue a new section called Forum. In it, we’ll explore topics of interest and concern both to seasoned architects and those just joining the profession. It’s a place for opinions and discussion about form, aesthetics, pedagogy, training, technology, and compensation. These subjects are all pertinent to the architect’s evolving role amid economic, social, cultural, and environmental shifts affecting how and why we build.