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Harwell Hamilton Harris: Interview (1976)59:05

Harwell Hamilton Harris responds to questions from Shelly Kappe.

Harris describes growing up in an idealistic and progressive early 20th century Los Angeles. He considered himself a sculptor until he saw Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock House in 1925. An attempt to contact Wright's assistant, Rudolph Schindler led to meeting with Richard Neutra. Harris describes working for Neutra in the 1920s, along with Gregory Ain.

Harris describes how his own practice began when Neutra left to tour Europe in 1930. His first built work, the Lowe House in Altadena, 1934, was published in House Beautiful, and led to more residential work. In his own work, he sees the idea of prefabrication informing his use of interchangeable units, like a musical scale, to create a rhythmical composition. Harris describes how he assumed the immediate post-war period would be bad for practice, so in 1951 he accepted an offer to head the architecture school of the University of Texas at Austin. The possibility of doing more work, while teaching, led him, in 1962, to the School of Design at North Carolina State University. Asked about the difference between his California work and his work in Texas and North Carolina, Harris sees more continuity than difference. He argues that both wood and stucco have interesting characteristics that he uses "joyfully." Asked about new architecture being built, Harris describes his discomfort with megaprojects and vast urban plans. He characterizes his architecture as a means of discovering what can be.

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