We continue this retrospective look on Peter Bohlin, FAIA, founder of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson. As explained in the first part of this article, the architect has just been awarded the 2010 AIA Gold Medal.
Presenting the Gold Medal, James Timberlake, FAIA described Peter Bohlin as a “…true American original. He represents the quintessential American qualities of innovation and inventiveness, combined with pragmatism. Despite his commanding presence and the very large shoes he wears, Peter does not shout in a room or in his architecture; instead, he speaks calmly and from a profoundly centered well-spring in his being."
The new Museum of Liverpool that has just opened on...
Environmental Education/Visitor Activity Center, National Park Service, in Pennsylvania A project that distills Bohlin’s approach to nature center design to its essence with basic shed massing, a broad, overhanging roof, natural materials, and a luminous, lantern-like glow from within. Designed to focus on environmental learning activities, the Visitor Activity Center is a remarkable building that hosts an open space designed for gathering, dining, meetings, lectures. More Details here
Bohlin and his 200-person practice, which has offices in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Seattle and San Francisco, have shown a deference to site context and a tendency for design humility that is becoming rarer and rarer among the top tier of practitioners.
Again and again, his work demonstrates that great cities, towns, and buildings are created by designers looking to further the story of their place in a collaborative and contextual way, not by singular architecture that calls for heedless and self-serving attention.
Creekside House in Woodside, California "At Creekside, a first glimpse of man’s relationship to nature is not a building, but of ‘crutches’ assisting the old tangled oak last another century. The crutches are a helping hand; they are a first act of design by the architect, a simple humane detail, the essence of the relationship of this house to its surroundings. In Peter’s sketch, eerily resembling the tangled oak, site and structures sit quietly together in the landscape –a simple palette of concrete and solid walls generally to the west, glass and open to the east and the creek. " James Timberlake, FAIA
Awarding the Gold Medal to Bohlin, wrote Scogin in his recommendation letter, would communicate that “architects can in fact address all the complexities of our present day world with the grace and humility that privileges the best of human aspiration.”
"His is not a work of grandiose egotism, or of vanity, but an ethically intelligent architecture of constructive logic that springs from the nature of circumstance." James Timberlake continues about Peter Bohlin; "Peter’s work serves to mend, rather than to create a continuing cultural divide in modern architecture. He has mentored a universe of architects and clients alike. He has contributed to the architectural profession not only through this Institute but also by the highest quality original examples in his own work. Peter is an architect who never had to ‘find’ or ‘embrace’ an environmental ethic, material sensitivity, sustainable practices, or deeply rooted tectonics. These ethics have always been there – from his earliest days as a student at RPI, and at Cranbrook during the time of Eero Saarinen’s epic works.”
Seattle City Hall in Seattle, Washington The City Hall is a modern public building that opens itself to its surroundings, through its forms and its landscape. Its varied curtain wall facades of steel and glass, uniquely reflect the solar orientation and urban fabric of each face.
Timberlake adds: “Peter’s work demonstrates incredible breadth and depth, from conception through execution of the smallest detail. He designs for people, and his work is always humane and human scale. His work encompasses a broad spectrum of program, typology, site, construction methodology and client. His craft is widely known internationally among those who appreciate, practice, teach and buy architecture. This is an architect who has won nearly 500 awards, world-wide.
Waipolu Gallery in Oahu, Hawaii "Waipolu Gallery intersects the landscape from volcanic crater to seaside. This is a singular space in distinction to Seattle’s collective space; a serene envelope for a contemporary art collection with spaces for living. It does this without ignoring its place and time and the magnificent sculptural presence of the dynamic natural force outside of its walls. Like congealed magma, all voids and crevasses, this gallery flows against, down and out of the volcano." James Timberlake, FAIA
Bohlin’s projects have earned 14 national AIA Awards, including nine Institute Honor Awards, COTE Top Ten Green Project Awards, AIA Committee on Education and AIA Housing Awards. Bohlin is the 66th AIA Gold Medalist. He joins the ranks of such visionaries as Thomas Jefferson (1993), Frank Lloyd Wright (1949), Louis Sullivan (1944), LeCorbusier (1961), Louis Kahn (1971), I.M. Pei (1979), Frank Gehry (1999), and Renzo Piano (2008). In recognition of his legacy to architecture, his name will be chiseled into the granite Wall of Honor in the lobby of the AIA headquarters in Washington, D.C.