Personal Statement

My work combines a conscious integration of disciplined thought about design process with an open responsiveness to the necessities of day-to-day practice. Most importantly, in my own work and in collaboration with others, designing and building are seen as inseparable actions. Early experiments with a participatory design-build process have led to a practice which continues to include active client involvement and personal attention to construction supervision.

Parallel to practice is my related interest in teaching, which is based on direct association, a pedagogy dedicated to discovering the generative origins of form and to closing cognitive gaps in design process. As in my own work, awareness of what is immediately at hand is critical to this learning process. Simultaneously loose and rigorous, it encourages students to recognize the behavior of real materials as a starting point for building exploration. Final building form is derived from a non-linear series of interactions in which physical models become the instruments by which drawings are made. Assumed always is a dialectic of designer and work-in-progress and a congenial relationship between human intention and the behavior of materials-at-hand. The fundamentals of direct association include: material dialogue, iterative testing and transformation, territorial definition, space dimensioning, relative proportion and size, elemental repetition and variation, building order, primary systems organization, figuration, and underlying form recognition. Ultimately, my purpose is to make students aware of the possibility of authenticating form through their own direct experience and manipulation of potential building elements.

In short, my work as an architect and a teacher is focused on learning from experience. The early days of designing and building with clients and friends offered a solid base from which to derive new insights and techniques which I continue to pass along and transform with every project. I have no absolute theory of design. Instead, I am guided by careful observation, focused experimentation with technique, and clear principles of open-ended spatial organization. Each project, whether it be a new alternative, sustainable house in the mountains of Colorado, a student center for a private secondary school, or a rigorous Greek Revival restoration in an elegant urban setting, is an opportunity to test and alter what I am describing as a method towards developing a unique solution. As a result my work is diverse, and the wisdom gained from each experience is really all that I expect and value as my greatest reward.

Richard C. Tremaglio