Aaron Betsky introduces Antoine Predock, and Central Office of Architecture as part of the Dreams, Beliefs, and Fantasy lecture series. Betsky notes that Predock has offices in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Los Angeles, and is interested in the vast landscape of the Southwest, and how to design buildings that are not completely dwarfed by the surroundings. Central Office of Architecture consists of Ron Golan, Eric A. Kahn, and Russell N. Thomsen, who all graduated from San Luis Obispo in 1981, went their separate ways for a time, and reunited to form COA.
Predock presents a number of projects that aim to produce what he calls “innocent” marks in the landscape. He tries to understand the essence and the emotion of the site before designing anything. The La Luz project in Albuquerque employs thick adobe walls and captures the view with a cascading design while simultaneously addressing climactic considerations. Predock also shows the Rio Grande Nature Center, and the American Heritage Center in Wyoming. Predock likes to sculpt his ideas in clay, and produce drawing from the model.
Predock describes many built projects, all involving a very close reading of their surroundings. He uses various devices such as mirrors and surface finishes to heighten awareness of the environment. For a house in Venice California, he uses a rotating window to both open the interior to the exterior, and to emphasize the view to the ocean. His buildings integrate very dramatic spaces with materials and forms that relate to the landscape.
Russell Thomsen describes Central Office of Architecture’s research that involves measurement, experimentation, and production. They are interested in multiple meanings, and multiple representations collapsed and superimposed on one image. They attempt to represent and convey the complexity of the contemporary urban experience.
Eric Kahn of Central Office of Architecture describes some of their built projects. A restaurant in Venice attempts to create a pause in the typical Los Angeles streetscape. The residential projects pay homage to the view afforded from the sites, but they also deal with existing structures in novel ways.