Pre­cise CRE­ATIV­ITY

Ottawa Business Journal - Ottawa at Home - - PROFILE - writ­ten by mary tag­gart pho­tog­ra­phy by mark holleron pho­to­graph by steve clif­ford, cour­tesy of barry j. hobin & as­so­ci­ates ar­chi­tects inc.

Buzz words like sus­tain­able, syn­ergy, clar­ity and con­text are all part of the vo­cab­u­lary for a pro­fes­sion that en­com­passes both sides of the brain to at­tract a logic-based and philo­soph­i­cal thinker. Four of Ot­tawa’s most pres­ti­gious ar­chi­tects posed for a photo in front of one their de­signs and shed light on the qual­i­ties that make for well-de­signed space. The com­bi­na­tion of cre­ative ge­nius and pro­fi­cient pre­ci­sion make these peo­ple in­trigu­ing and awe-in­spir­ing. Each, with a unique style, is putting his mark on this city. Any­one with an in­ter­est in global ar­chi­tec­ture will be in­trigued to learn where these gu­rus be­lieve that the most ar­chi­tec­turally in­spir­ing cities in the world can be found.

Barry Hobin of Barry J. and As­so­ci­ates Ar­chi­tects First Av­enue at Pat­ter­son Creek

When did you de­cide that you would be­come an ar­chi­tect? Ex­po­sure to my fa­ther’s work as a con­trac­tor/crafts­man and fine tech­nol­o­gist started the process. In high school it be­came clear that my in­ter­est in art and my math skills suited ar­chi­tec­ture. What facet of ar­chi­tec­ture in­trigues you the most? The abil­ity to shape hu­man emo­tion. Whether it is the awe of stand­ing in the great cathe­drals of Europe or the com­fort of a small space in a cus­tom res­i­dence, ar­chi­tec­tural de­sign de­lib­er­ately in­sti­gates a re­ac­tion. Where in the world is the most fas­ci­nat­ing city ar­chi­tec­turally? The most fas­ci­nat­ing cities in the world com­bine the ur­ban de­sign of the pub­lic realms, streets, courts and parks with ar­chi­tec­ture. Barcelona, London, Chicago and New York have to be at the list. Name one or two build­ings in Ot­tawa that you con­sider to be well de­signed and why. The Na­tional Gallery, Ot­tawa City Hall and the newly cre­ated Ot­tawa Air­port are func­tional build­ings that make strong state­ments about their con­text, and tell sto­ries that res­onate with Ot­tawa’s phys­i­cal and cul­tural land­scape. What are the de­sign strate­gies that you try to in­clude in your work? Con­text is the start­ing point. Un­der­stand­ing of the sun/cli­matic pat­terns, sig­nif­i­cant nat­u­ral fea­tures and a sense of cul­tural his­tory help or­ga­nize al­most all of our projects. Then the qual­ity of in­te­rior space as shaped by in­tro­duc­tion of nat­u­ral light and views. The meld­ing of in­te­rior space and ex­te­rior con­text cre­ates a pow­er­ful com­bi­na­tion.

Ritchard Bris­bin of BBB Ar­chi­tects Ot­tawa Ot­tawa In­ter­na­tional air­port

When did you de­cide that you would be­come an ar­chi­tect? When pre-med and the­ol­ogy didn’t work out for me. What facet of ar­chi­tec­ture in­trigues you the most? The peo­ple. This busi­ness brings you into con­tact with ev­ery kind of per­son imag­in­able – and that’s what keeps it in­ter­est­ing and usu­ally grat­i­fy­ing. Where in the world is the most fas­ci­nat­ing city ar­chi­tec­turally? This ques­tion is like ask­ing me which of my five chil­dren is my fa­vorite. There is no clear an­swer. In North Amer­ica, it’s Chicago, hands down, for all the ob­vi­ous rea­sons – from Frank Lloyd Wright and the Prairie School to Mies and the Chicago School. In Eura­sia, it’s Is­tan­bul for its stun­ning his­tory lessons. In Europe, it’s Barcelona and London for con­tin­u­ally push­ing the de­sign en­ve­lope and the way they see them­selves. Name one or two build­ings in Ot­tawa that you con­sider to be well de­signed and why. I de­fault to one of my fa­vorites, Arthur Erick­son and his Bank of Canada build­ing. Four decades af­ter com­ple­tion, it’s still stri­dently mod­ern, del­i­cate in its de­tail­ing, with a cham­fered roofline, pati­nated cop­per and green slate. It’s dis­tinct yet def­er­en­tial to both the his­toric bank and to the chateau-roofed build­ings of Par­lia­ment Hill. What are the de­sign strate­gies that you try to in­clude in your work? As a firm, we be­lieve good de­sign starts by rec­on­cil­ing the ur­ban con­text first. Build­ings have an obli­ga­tion to strengthen and con­trib­ute to their sur­round­ings.

Christo­pher Sim­monds of Christo­pher Sim­monds Ar­chi­tect Inc. Rideau Val­ley Con­ser­va­tion Cen­tre

When did you de­cide that you would be­come an ar­chi­tect? At the age of seven, my grand­mother sug­gested that I be­come an ar­chi­tect be­cause I was good at math and in­ter­ested in art! I de­cided to go into ar­chi­tec­ture school be­cause I would be able to study a range of sub­jects in­clud­ing art his­tory, phi­los­o­phy, psy­chol­ogy, en­gi­neer­ing and de­sign. I have of­ten won­dered whether I should have stud­ied art or phi­los­o­phy in­stead, but my con­tin­u­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion into East­ern spir­i­tual phi­los­o­phy and aes­thet­ics have sat­is­fied these urges. What facet of ar­chi­tec­ture in­trigues you the most? Get­ting in­side the client’s head to un­der­stand the of­ten di­ver­gent and con­tra­dic­tory wishes they put for­ward, and then cre­at­ing a vi­sion for a build­ing, which ad­dresses all the needs in a unique syn­the­sis. Where in the world is the most fas­ci­nat­ing city ar­chi­tec­turally? Syd­ney is a dy­namic city that has a lot of ex­cel­lent mod­ern build­ings that re­spond very well to their cli­mate and con­text. Name one or two build­ings in Ot­tawa that you con­sider to be well de­signed and why. Ot­tawa’s Par­lia­ment build­ings and Notre Dame Cathe­dral have lay­ers of crafts­man­ship and de­tail­ing that are end­lessly ab­sorb­ing. For a mod­ern build­ing I would choose the Uni­tar­ian Church on the Ot­tawa River Park­way near Woodroffe. What are the de­sign strate­gies that you try to in­clude in your work? Syn­the­siz­ing some­thing unique that works func­tion­ally, so­cially, en­vi­ron­men­tally and aes­thet­i­cally.

David McRo­bie of David S McRo­bie Ar­chi­tects Inc. Boys’ res­i­dence at Ash­bury Col­lege

When did you de­cide that you would be­come an ar­chi­tect? At the age of ten. The pro­fes­sion con­tin­ues to en­er­gize me and I am al­ways en­cour­ag­ing young peo­ple to con­sider it. There are not enough ar­chi­tects! What facet of ar­chi­tec­ture in­trigues you the most? The va­ri­ety of de­sign chal­lenges, dif­fer­ent sizes of projects, types of build­ings and client needs. The range of work is only limited by one’s imag­i­na­tion. Also, the abil­ity to present our de­signs us­ing com­puter technology is free­ing and ex­cit­ing. Fi­nally, work­ing on larger de­sign teams with al­lied pro­fes­sions is stim­u­lat­ing. Where in the world is the most fas­ci­nat­ing city ar­chi­tec­turally? Rome for its his­toric sig­nif­i­cance. But, on a more mod­est scale, my vote would be Siena for its twist­ing hilly streets that pour into a me­dieval town square to pro­duce one of Europe’s ex­tra­or­di­nary civic spa­ces. Name one or two build­ings in Ot­tawa that you con­sider to be well de­signed and why. Ot­tawa’s his­toric rail­way sta­tion by John B. Parkin is a time­less piece of work – heroic in its scale and a grand en­trance to the na­tional cap­i­tal. Moshe Safdie’s Na­tional Gallery, with its cer­e­mo­nial walk to the ro­tunda and in­no­va­tive light­ing of its gal­leries, is also a tour de force. What are the de­sign strate­gies that you try to in­clude in your work? I strive to in­clude at­ten­tion to site con­text, clar­ity in plan­ning, use of a ra­tio­nal struc­tural sys­tem and sus­tain­able/green fea­tures.

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