Aug 19 2008

2008 – DESIGN STUDIO MAG

Interview 2008

BK: TELL ME ABOUT THE NAME – YOU CALL YOURSELVES A STUDIO.

JT: WE PUT IT IN OUR NAME TO REMIND OURSELVES THAT WE’RE NOT AN OFFICE OR A CORPORATION; WE’RE A STUDIO, AND TO US THAT MEANS WE DO A LOT OF MODELS.

CT: AND IT’S JUST NOT THE PHYSICAL MODEL. WE SKETCH A LOT. SO IN TERMS OF SUPPLIES, WE HAVE TWO LEVELS OF PENCIL: WE HAVE THE ELECTRIC PENCIL, USING THE COMPUTER PROGRAMS, BUT WE STILL USE A LOT OF GRAPHITE AND COLORED PENCIL. IT’S HARDER TO FIND PEOPLE THAT STILL SKETCH COMING OUT OF THE SCHOOLS. SOME SCHOOLS.YES – THERE’S STILL A LOT OF DRAWING AT U OF M.

BK: TELL ME ABOUT SOME OF YOUR RESIDENTIAL PROJECTS.

JT: THERE’S THE ONE ON LA GOREE ISLAND THAT’S INSPIRED BY THE FISHER ESTATE; IT’S UNDER CONSTRUCT ION AND SHOULD BE READY IN JANUARY. IT’S JUST OVER 18,000 SQUARE FEET, AND THE CLIENT WANTED WHAT A MIAMI BEACH ESTATE WOULD LOOK LIKE NOW WITH ALL THE TECHNOLOGY AND ACCESS… BASICALLY, WHAT WOULD THEY HAVE DONE WITH THE FISHER MANSION IF THEY COULD HAVE DONE IT TODAY – IT’S A VERY MODERN TAKE ON IT. CT: THE OTHER ONE’S ON NORTH BAY ROAD, 12,500 SQUARE FEET, ON THE WATER WITH A WESTERN VIEW. IT’S REALLY A REWOR, KING OF A COURTYARD HOUSE. WHERE WE ESTABLISHED THREE COURTYARDS USING A VERY MODERN VOCABULARY, AND USE ELEMENTS THAT TAKE ADVANTAGE OF PREVAILING BREEZES AND SOLAR ANGLES SO THAT EVEN THOUGH THE HOUSE HAS A LOT OF GLASS. IT’S PROTECTED FROM THE SUN.

BK: WHAT’S GOING ON WITH VITRI, THE STALLED MIXED-USE DEVELOPMENT ON SOUTH BEACH AT ALTON ROAD AND FIFTH STREET?

JT: THAT’S A GOOD QUESTION. THE FOUNDATIONS ARE IN THE GROUND, BUT THE PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN THE TWO DEVELOPERS SPLIT UP AND AFRICA ISRAEL KEPT IT – THEY’RE THE DEVELOPER NOW.

CT: THEY’VE BEEN LOOKING TO CONVERT IT INTO A HOTEL AND OFFICE, AND WE’VE ACTUALLY GENERATED SEVERAL DIFFERENT OPTIONS USING THE SHELL. WHICH WORKS REALLY WELL BECAUSE BOTH COMPONENTS ARE CELLULAR BY NATURE – THEY’RE RESIDENTIAL. WE’RE OPTIMISTIC IT’LL GET BUILT.

BK: HOW HAS THE REAL ESTATE DOWNTURN AFFECTED BUSINESS?

JT: ALL THE LARGE CONDO PROJECTS HAVE BASICALLY
DRIED UP, AND THAT’S NO SURPRISE, SO OUR FOCUS HAS BEEN ON HOSPITALITY AND LUXURY RESIDENTIAL. AND WITH RESIDENTIAL, WE’RE TRYING TO DO A GREENER, SUSTAINABLE KIND OF ARCHITECTURE. WE’RE ACTUALLY GETTING CLIENTS ASKING FOR IT, WHICH IS NICE.

BK: ON THAT NOTE, WHAT’S THE STATUS WITH PINK SANDS?

JT: IT’S GOING FORWARD, BUT THE HOTEL PORTION IS GROWING A LITTLE BIT MORE. WHAT’S EXCITING IS THAT HARBOUR ISLAND HAS NO SPA, SO WE’RE DOING A SPA, WE’RE REDOING THE LOBBY. WE’RE LOOKING AT PREFAB FOR THE COTTAGES, WHICH IS REALLY GREAT. IN THE BAHAMAS. THEY’RE ACTUALLY MUCH FURTHER AHEAD IN SOME WAYS ON THE SUSTAINABILITY ISSUE BECAUSE THEY’RE ALREADY DEALING WITH WATER AND ENERGY SHORTAGES.

BK: TELL ME ABOUT YOUR WORK ENVIRONMENT. JT: WE HAD A LITTLE COMPETITION IN-HOUSE – WE HAVE 10 PEOPLE HERE AND WE WANTED EVERYBODY INVOLVED, AND THE SURPRISE WAS they all wanted a big table in a communal space. and it’s worked out pretty well. We have our model-making area and our library, and it all kind of flows together – our conference room opens up to that space – again trying to get away from this idea of a corporate office. We ripped up the ceiling and put in this sustainable green carpet, so it’s an open. collaborative environment.
BK: So you prefer keeping it small.
JT: Even though we come from Arquitectonica. we made a very conscious decision that we wanted to be like a boutique. because wewant to be involved all the way through, and once you get to be very big you start having to parcel out certain things.
BK:How was it working at Arqultectonica?
JT: The opportunity to work overseas was a big draw. Itwas phenomenal- they give you so many opportunities to do work that just isn’t that easy todoin Miami. Bernardo [Fort- Brescia, Arquitectonica·s co-founder] has been an extremely important mentor.CT: To both of us – we still call him. He’s beenvery gracious, and I’ve never met anyone who works harder than Bernardo.
BK: What dictates accepting or declining work?
JT: It hasvto be interesting from a designperspective; it has tobe challenging, and that could be a small house or a room or a tower. And we have to have a connection to the client- there has tobe a synergy.
CT: Curiosity on the client’s part is important- they bring something to the mix that can make the project better, and that’s where the synergy comes in.
BK: What are some of the challenges of being a couple and working together?JT: The idea that you need to have some divisions about bringing work home. so we try not to. There’s no better Zen master tha, small children. and they don’t want you tobe thinking about something else – that’s the biggest thing. Of course. one of the advantages is that it’s an ongoing conversation-I trust him, he’ll tell me why he likes it or doesn’t.
CT: I think we’ve learned that the work isalways better when we both collaborate.

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