Residential Design

VOL1 2019

A business-to-business magazine focused on the collaborative process and talented work of residential architects and custom homebuilders.

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Page 26 of 75

A Brief Reflection on 35 Years in Architecture BY STUART NAROFSKY, FAIA Last year marked the 35th anniversary of the start of my architectural practice. Normally, a milestone like this has one reflecting on the past—the successes, failures, memorable projects, and perhaps projects that should never have been taken on in the first place. However, two events occurred in the fall of 2018 that changed the way I looked back on the paths I've taken and the convergences that have determined my current ways of thinking about architecture and design. Those two events were the death on October 18 of Rob- ert Venturi, founding principal of Venturi, Scott Brown & Associates and author of the 1966 treatise "Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture"; and October 23, the centen- nial of the birth of Paul Rudolph, the former Yale architecture dean whose often controversial work is now being rediscov- ered and reconsidered in two New York exhibits. Studio Days I attended the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) back in the 1970s, when the architecture program was in its infancy. My class of '78 was the first to graduate with an accredited degree. As with most newly established programs, there was no formal pedagogical theory or philosophy that motivated us. These were interesting times, to say the least— a dire economy, a bankrupt city, and a profession with un- employment hovering near an all-time high. So our exposure to the architecture profession was predominantly from our instructors, who were disciples of Mies van der Rohe's "less is more" credo and "form follows function," the phrase coined by 19th-century master Louis Sullivan. "Plan and Section" were drilled into us. With little con- struction work going on, many architects were devoting time to theory and experimentation. Thirsting for more knowledge and inspiration, a group of us started the school's first lecture program. As a member of the lecture committee I had the opportunity to meet some of architecture's future "stars": Michael Graves, Robert A.M. Stern, Peter Eisenman, to name a few. Paul Rudolph was also among the speakers, a once influential practitioner and educator whose work was con- sidered passé at the time, dimming in the light of postmodern thought. Although Mr. Venturi never lectured at our school, his work and ideas were much talked about. Within the school's studios, camps began to emerge. There were the New York Fivers (influenced by the New York City Five—Eisenman, Graves, Charles Gwathmey, John Hejduk, and Richard Meier), the Wrightian clan, and the ever-growing group of Venturi disciples. In one instance, stu- dents with an aversion to the growing postmodern movement put up a picture of Philip Johnson's proposed AT&T building and used it as a dartboard. Professional Path During Mr. Rudolph's lecture at NYIT, he visited our studio and, impressed with the work he observed, asked me and a few other students if we would be interested in working for him—specifically to build a model of his proposed complex for the New Haven Government Center. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity—my first job in the profession. As there were only five of us in his office, I benefited from working firsthand with the master—a memorable experience. I worked there until the spring of '78, when I left to complete my thesis. Above: Model for Paul Rudolph's proposed New Haven Government Center Stuart Narofsky, FAIA Photos: Phillip Ennis 27 VOL. 1, 2019 RESIDENTIALDESIGNMAGA ZINE.COM AIA CRAN

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