For Richard Keating
architect/artist: Richard Keating
interview title: Ten questions for Richard Keating
interviews compilation no: T-30
interview format: Text
date: June, 2005
appeared in: houston architecture, glasssteelandstone.com
interviewer: houston architecture members
(as appeared in the website)
In June of 2005, the members of Houston Architecture Info put together a list of questions for celebrity architect Richard Keating. He is the man behind the designs of such buildings as the JPMorgan Chase Tower in Dallas; the Williams Performing Arts Center in Abilene, Texas; and One South Dearborn in Chicago. Naturally, the Houston questioners are most interested in his Bayou City works like Wells Fargo Plaza, the El Paso Energy Building, and San Felipe Plaza.
What follows are ten questions from the Houston group, and Richard Keating's candid responses. We thank him for indulging us.
Q Is there a chasm between collegiate architectural curriculum and the actual practice of architecture? If so, what recommendations would you give to a student to prepare them for the profession?
A Yes, and there has been for some time. It depends on the schools, but a practitioner would like to see more emphasis on the craft of architecture rather than just the form. For instance, Sci-Arc here in L.A. is only about graphics and gestalt, not really about buildings.
Technology is an important aspect of our profession, but the increasing lack of skill and knowledge in architecture is defaulting this to the subcontractors.
Q Is the need and/or desire for licensed architects on the rise or decline? What segments (residential, commercial, government, education, religious, etc...) of development/building are seeing an increase or decrease? Why?
A While the growing population and demographic forces would indicate a commensurate growth, architects are in danger of becoming less relevant if they continue to have the general public believe we are only interested in form at any cost and primarily for our own satisfaction.
Q How are European, Asian and US perceptions of architecture different?
A European architecture, because of daylight and green laws is more technological and therefore exploring needed relevant thoughts. Asian work is following the American desires for form, just more of it.
Q Is Frank Lloyd Wright overrated?
A No, and neither is Frank Gehry; but Thom Mayne and Daniel Libeskind sure are!
Q Is our lack of zoning (in Houston) a factor in the design of structures we see popping up everywhere? Is no zoning a good thing?
A I don't think [zoning is a factor in Houston's design]. I think the force of the market works so similarly that it is hard to see the difference. Good master planning and overall vision would be valuable.
Q What inspired you to study/practice architecture?
A My parents bought a house designed by an architect who left drafting materials behind and because it was in a remote area and I was an only child, I used the equipment for fun and then started drawing and thinking about houses. I drew floor plans since I was 5 years old.
Q Have you ever made a pilgrimage to visit a specific structure?
A It is my favorite way to travel. Searching out important architecture takes you to the most memorable serendipitous experiences!
Q Is there any structure that you've been in that it was difficult to leave?
A Ronchamp and I go back to the Salk Institute every time I am nearby.
Q What is your favorite book? What book are you reading now, if any?
A Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino. Currently reading a string of biographies, but best recent book was Middlesex by Eugenides.
Q If you enjoy music, what is in your CD/MP3 player presently?
A KD Lang's "ingénue," always.