INHABITAT INTERVIEW: 7 Questions with Architect Steven Holl

by , 11/05/14
filed under: Architecture, Interviews

Steven Holl Architects, steven holl, steven holl interview, architecture interviews, inhabitat interview with steven holl, linked hybrid, Kiasma Contemporary Art Museum, Helsinki, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Beijing, Storefront for Art and Architecture, New York City, Pratt Institute Higgins Hall Center Section, Brooklyn, NY, Knut Hamsun Centre (Hamsunsenteret), Nordland, Norway, Museum of Art and Architecture, Nanjing, steven holl watercolors, horizontal skscraper

INHABITAT: Can you tell us about the house you grew up in?

Steven: In the small town where I grew up, I wasn’t exposed to architecture. Things that we (my brother the sculptor and painter James Holl and I) did that were related to architecture were to build tree houses. We made clubhouses, sometimes two stories, three stories, complicated constructions and when I was seven or eight years old we had as many as three different buildings under construction at the same time: a two-story tree house, a three-story free-standing club house and an underground club house; which I remember had logs for a roof with old carpets laid on top. Earth and grass were put over the carpets. A children’s ‘mythological landscape’, it was like a small city with all these different constructions that we made. In my mind I was already an architect by 1959.

INHABITAT: Who inspires you?

Steven: I interviewed and was tentatively hired to work in the studio of Louis Kahn. However, he died in March 1974, just before I was to move from San Francisco to Philadelphia. His works and philosophy were very inspiring, as is the work of Le Corbusier. It seems to me inspiration is contagious. I remember a text by Louis Kahn entitled, “How was I doing, Le Corbusier?” Kahn held him up as a measure of inspiration.

INHABITAT: What is your ultimate goal when it comes to your work? What do you want to be remembered for?

Steven: I want to live by inspiration and concretize inspiration in space and light. Architecture can be a gift left for others to enjoy – architecture together with landscape can form a special reality – a special place, a place that is alive – inspires alive.

+ Steven Holl

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  1. Allie Schieffelin Walker July 16, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    Now and Forever, Steven Holl is a genious. We did the facade lighting with elliptipar, and it is in our Case Studies Volume Three for anyone interested….

  2. SUJEE2003 June 10, 2013 at 11:01 am

    1. Where would you find building ceiling tile plan & objects on the ceiling?
    a. top view plan
    b. Mirror image reflective object plan
    c. Elevated drawing
    d. Ceiling tile plan

    2. Where would you find latest revision of drawing?
    a. “as built” drawing
    b. Mechanical drawing
    c. Architectural drawing
    d. Plumbing drawing

  3. noura25 October 22, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    “space and light”are some of his secret ingredients to a great architecture like his…but only the true architect knows how to use them well in order to create that magic!

  4. Architecture Icon: Stev... October 22, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    […] recently scored an exclusive interview with Holl, asking him to describe his signature style. The answer? It’s not about Holl – it’s […]

  5. Rashad Al- October 15, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    Amazing interview, I can’t think of anything that inspired me more than his book “anchoring”…worth every minute!

  6. hassan October 14, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    This project is very nice and for sustainable Architecture & sustainable world.

    best wishes for holl

  7. Mike Chino October 13, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    The architecture of Steven Holl elevates the principles of sustainable design to an art form – fantastic interview!

  8. Rebecca Paul October 13, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    NIce work Diane. Thanks for bringing us such wonderful content!

  9. Jill Fehrenbacher October 13, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    This is a really great interview Diane! Steven Holl is one of the most thoughtful and groundbreaking architects of our time in his consider of site, light, user-experience and social/environment context. Fascinating interview – well done!

  10. Andrew Michler October 13, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    I am very encouraged by Mr. Holl’s emphasis on place. So much building has been designed in isolation, literary dropped onto a landscape since suburbia, look and perform poorly as a result. I think buildings that do not respond to the surrounding environment simply compound the problem. It is deeply refreshing to experience buildings like Mr. Holl’s that are intimate with there surroundings.

  11. Real October 13, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    Great article. He should try using cork. It is a unique product that is completely renewable, 100 per cent natural and recyclable.

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