Monday, October 15, 2012

The Definitive New Architecture Book: ‘Contemporary Classical: The Architecture of Andrew Skurman’ was recently published by Princeton Architectural Press, New York

The brilliant architect, Andrew Skurman, has ateliers in San Francisco and Paris.

In his dazzling new book, he offers the inside scoop on classical architecture, with beautiful illustrations, elegant watercolors, plans, images and drawings. In 255 pages, he offers insight into an often-arcane topic.

Skurman’s wonderful compendium, which includes twenty projects, takes readers into his firm’s classical contemporary architecture and gives a privileged view of how architecture starts, develops, and is refined and designed.

Andrew Skurman’s book is full of ideas, information, expertise and his exquisite taste.

Andrew Skurman is inspired by a broad range of classical architecture, from Greek and Roman, to French, Italian, Georgian English, and perhaps above all by Palladio.

City apartments, a colonial country house, a chic Paris apartment, an Italianate lakeside villa, a French Renaissance house, and a Norman-style carriage house are all in his vocabulary.

“Today, heavily ornamented rooms look old-fashioned, and we love to exercise restraint,” he said. “I sometimes wonder about the future of my houses, asking myself what will become of them as time passes. I hope that the children who grow up in them will recall their childhood homes as places of beauty and comfort. I hope that the families that dwell within will be remembered for having lived there in happiness.”

In the Foreword to Skurman’s book, by Diane Lewis, a fellow student at Cooper Union in the seventies, she writes, “There is a dramatic interdependence between the austere and the voluptuous in Skurman’s work. His experiments with materials and collisions of style are reflected in his selections, fabrication, and placement of works of art, objects and materials. His approach to the issue of cultural memory and the challenge of historic precedent in architecture is uniquely embodies in his process.”

The Architectural Aphorisms of Architect Andrew Skurman

• Each architectural period has its measure of ornament. Today, too much is too much, too little is boring; we are in a time of balance.
• In an ideal architectural world, it takes three to tango: The client, the interior designer, and the architect.
• Based on European philosophy, science and arts, this country built its own culture. What I am doing is quintessentially American: I'm bringing the splendor of European architecture to modern America.
• Classical architecture is like European languages: there are many. The more fluent you are in several, the better you express yourself.
• What is the most important architecture? It is the one that moves people the most, today and over the centuries.
• The great British architect Quinlan Terry believes that architecture is of divine origin. Some scientists believe that the laws of physics and mathematics are of divine origin.
• When I see great art and architecture, it brings about the feeling of transcendence.
• Some patrons treat architects like part time servants, others like admired artists. It says little about the architect, a lot about the patron.
• We see how admirable the architecture of the past was, but we forget that only the exceptional has remained. This leaves room for the architecture of the present and the future. I would like to come back in a hundred and again in a thousand years, to see what is left.
• Each artist has an intimate evaluation of his own work. I'm convinced that Palladio, Michelangelo, Mozart knew that we would continue to celebrate their glory hundreds of years later, and that their names would be unforgettable.

ARCHITECTS SPEAK — Andrew Skurman's favorite quotes on the meaning, ideas, magic, and work of architecture:

“Architecture is the reaching out for the truth.” —Louis Kahn

“Design is not making beauty, beauty emerges from selection, affinities, integration, love.”—Louis Kahn

“To provide meaningful architecture is not to parody history but to articulate it.” —Daniel Libeskind

“Be not afraid of being called un-fashionable.” —Adolf Loos

“We are searching for some kind of harmony between two intangibles: a form which we have not yet designed and a context which we cannot properly describe.” — Christopher Alexander

“There is a role and function for beauty in our time.” —Tadao Ando

“Architecture is an art when one consciously or unconsciously creates aesthetic emotion in the atmosphere and when this environment produces well-being.” — Luis Barragan

“I think that the ideal space must contain elements of magic, serenity, sorcery and mystery.” — Luis Barragan

“The house has to please everyone, contrary to the work of art which does not. The work is a private matter for the artist. The house is not.” — Adolf Loos

“There will never be great architects or great architecture without great patrons.” —Edwin Lutyens

“The aesthetic of architecture has to be rooted in a broader idea about human activities like walking, relaxing and communicating. Architecture thinks about how these activities can be given added value.
 — Thom Mayne

“Architecture is a visual art, and buildings speak for themselves.” —Julia Morgan

“My buildings will be my legacy... they will speak for me long after I'm gone.
 — Julia Morgan

Biography of the architect:

Architect Andrew Skurman founded his firm in San Francisco in 1992. As principal and owner of Andrew Skurman Architects, he focuses on superbly crafted custom residences that are logically planned to the specific requirements and wishes of his clients. His expertise lies in the elegant and refined expression of Classical architecture and the interpretation of French, Georgian, and Mediterranean styles.

Skurman recently received the honor of being named a Chevalier of Arts & Letters by the Minister of Culture of France. He is an appointed member of the prestigious Council of Advisors of the National Institute of Classical Architecture and Classical America. He currently serves as Creative Director of the San Francisco Fall Antique Show.

Skurman is currently designing projects in Northern and Southern California, New York, Nevada, France and China.

Skurman received his Bachelor of Architecture in 1976 from Cooper Union in New York City. He began his design career apprenticing with the New York firm of I.M. Pei & Partners from 1976 to 1980. He worked in the San Francisco office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and later as a Studio Director at Gensler and Associates in both San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Residences designed by Andrew Skurman Architects have been featured in numerous publications. Work by the firm is also included in San Francisco Style (Chronicle Books, 2004) by Diane Dorrans Saeks.

Andrew Skurman Architects
3654 Sacramento Street, San Francisco, California.
Telephone: 415.440.4480

Images courtesy of Andrew Skurman, used here with express permission of the architect.


Tara Dillard said...

Adore trinities.

Client, interior designer, architect is MISSING huge element.


Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

columnist said...

Quite recently I was expressing to my better half how I would like to build a neoclassical house, but with elements designed for today's living, and Andrew Skurman looks like he would be the man with the plan. (I merely have to find the moolah, and the choice piece of land.)

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

Hi Tara-

Agree with you on landscaping. Essential.

Hi Columnist...far away and not so...(wish I was in Bangkok on the way to Burma...)-
Yes...well...keep Andrew Skurman in mind.
He's mild-mannered, extremely learned, and wonderfully generous and kind to his clients.
Plus...look at the drawings and plans and models! So inspiring. Be sure to stay in touch, DIANE

Greet Lefèvre said...

Andrew is a genius!!!
I definitely order his new book!
Thank you for letting us know about it!!

Michael Hampton said...

I am thrilled that there is finally a book on Andrews work which gives us a glimpse into his extraordinary work. I have had the privelege of working on two projects with Andrew and his office. The perfection of the interior architecture makes the interior decoration easy! Thank you for sharing.


peggy braswell said...

Skurman makes wonderful "eye falls" which I adore! would love to work with him. Sent this to a friend/client.

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

Dear Greet and Michael and Peggy-

You are all absolute experts and I so appreciate your wonderful comments.
I also love will get you through life, I believe.
I agree that Andrew is a genius architect--and that his houses are poetic, emotional, elegant, and human in scale.
I'm always so happy when readers discover Andrew's work--and tell me that they dream of having a house by his firm. Delicious.
very best, DIANE

Philip Bewley said...

Breathtaking images, and Skurman re-energizes classicism as a philosophy that is not only compatible with contemporary living, but enhances it. Classicism is not really at odds with Modernism, and it was Skrman himself who related to me the Mies was, in an underlying sense, a classicist. While there are few out there as Skurman who are as conversant today with classical orders, Palladian ratios and proportion, his work, I think, ultimately is about an idea that is truly timeless.Loved your post, Diane, the images, text, and as always, about intriguing ideas, and a pleasure to look at and read.

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

Dear Philip-

Thank you so much for this appraisal of Andy's work.
It's fortunate for us that he is in San Francisco. So inspiring...and just ten minutes away along Sacramento Street.
Philip--as I look at Andy's ultra-polished and beautifully proportioned architecture, I see how important it is for everyone to see classical modern architecture at its best. Everything is correct. The columns are so elegant. The placement of windows and doors is impeccable. This is design by a classically trained architect--not guesswork.
Thanks Philip...see you at the antique show.
very best, DIANE

*Chic Provence* said...

Diane there is so much to see in his work.. these images are wonderful... I love love the setting of the huge Georgian home in the golden hills of (I'm guessing here) north of San Francisco in the hills of wine country?

Splendid as are all your posts!



Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

Dear Kit-

Love your observation.
You are absolutely right that each shot--the columns, the exteriors, the doors, the interiors, that bathroom (an apartment on Nob Hill) with the 'quilted' tile floor--and so much more--are so perfect and so elegant.
The key is that Andy is a classically trained architect--and he has traveled the world looking at the real thing, the best examples of centuries-old classical architecture. His proportions and materials are all sublime--and yet he is not trying to make these houses look old! That's the key. He trims the molding and simplifies the detail so that everything looks crisp and contemporary. But first he gets the proportions and placement right. No wonder he is so popular.
Oh, the is in CARMEL VALLEY...and you are right it looks like the Napa Valley.It's on a large property at the end of a miles-long road, very lovely.
See you soon, DIANE

Brillante Interiors said...

Powerful images, powerful words.

alan gold said...

i am so happy for andrew's success..i went to school with andrew in NY as we were classmates at long beach jrhs class 8-16..andrew had a great sense of humor as one of his jokes had us lol in miss plant's english class