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INHABITAT INTERVIEW: 7 Questions with Architect Steven Holl
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.
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