Collection by Olivia Martin

The Architect's Architect


We find the architects featured in Dwell to be incredibly inspiring, but who inspires them? To put the question to rest, we asked the architects covered in our October American Modern issue, "Who is your favorite American architect and why?" The results are as inventive and varied as the architects themselves.

Heidi Beebe of Beebe Skidmore Architects:

"Lawrence Halprin (technically a landscape architect) for his work at Sea Ranch. He planned the entire community to complement and restore a sensitive natural environment along the coast, and his work on the design guidelines for the buildings at Sea Ranch led to a consistent architectural style where the residences emerge from the earth like rock outcrops, mushrooms, or clusters of trees." Doug Skidmore of Beebe Skidmore Architects:"Edward Larrabee Barnes for Haystack Mountain School and the original Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. He achieves a great power of space and sequence without complexity, using simple manipulations of basic, well-proportioned volumes. Materials and details recede in support of the space." Anni Tilt of Arkin Tilt Architects: "My favorite American architect is the late Samuel Mockbee. Thoughtful, inventive, and humble, Sam Mockbee believed architects should have 'a moral sense of service to the community.' He not only designed, but, through the development of the Rural Studio project at Auburn University, encouraged students to design, build, and celebrate re-use, affordability, structural clarity, and humanity—and do so with joy and imagination." David Arkin of Arkin Tilt Architects: "The late E. Fay Jones. His Thorncrown Chapel embodies an organic modernism that we strive for in our work. Jones was known as somewhat quiet and unassuming, and I had the honor to hear him speak in San Francisco in the early 90s. In his opening unscripted remarks he quipped, 'As architects, all we have is caring and trying.' "After Anni Tilt (my favorite for obvious reasons), Obie Bowman would be my favorite living architect. Granted, this is a bit biased, as he is a friend as well as the architect I consider my mentor (having worked with him for two years when I first moved to California). I think he's doing some of the most unique as well as environmentally tuned-in work anywhere." Tom Lacey and Andrei Saltykov of Lacey & Saltykov Architects:"For us it just has to be Louis Kahn. His architecture, particularly The Salk Institute if you experience it, still gives a vision of the future." Matthew Hufft of Hufft Projects:"Well I have two: Eames and Buckminster Fuller. Both have a great spirit that brought them well beyond architecture into other fields, such as film and science, and then back. I think that is not only what it takes to be a great architect but an American entrepreneur."

Sunset at Sea Ranch, 1977, by Lawrence Halprin. Image courtesy The Cultural Landscape Foundation.
The Walker Art Center opened in 1971 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas by E. Fay Jones.
Louis Kahn’s Salk Institute (top left) is a stunning building that looks directly out to the sea.
The Eames house living room as it is best known, shot in 1994.