Working with a Brilliant Architect

9/3/2019
This fall as we celebrate the 33rd anniversary of Odgis + Co I want to thank all the talented designers who I have had the privilege to work with. I am also reminded that 33 years ago, I was building my AIA award-winning house in Martha's Vineyard. Below is a story about Starchitect Steven Holl's first house project.

Our Martha's Vineyard house, known as "The Whale House" and completed in 1988, launched the career of Steven Holl, one of the world's foremost architects. This was Holl's first house, and was inspired by Herman Melville's Moby-Dick

The Native Americans in the book used beached whales to construct their homes, Holl's creation was constructed in a similar way. The home was an inside-out balloon frame structure, elevated over the landscape. The wooden "bones" of the frame carried an encircling veranda affording ocean views. Along its porch, wood members received the naturally growing vines of the island. These tendrils transformed the straight linear architecture.

In 1989 the Berkowitz-Odgis House ("The Whale House") along with Holl's other work was exhibited in a solo show at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). MoMA later purchased twenty-five works including a lithograph of the house by Holl for the museum's permanent collection. It won the 1986 Progressive Architecture Citation, 1999 AIA National Honor Award, and was published in books and magazines globally including House and Garden in multiple languages. In July 2001, Time named Holl America's Best Architect, for "buildings that satisfy the spirit as well as the eye." Other awards and distinctions include the best architectural design in New York for The Pace Collection showroom in 1986 from the American Institute of Architects, the New York American Institute of Architects Medal of Honor (1989).

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Steven Holl (born December 9, 1947) is a New York-based American architect and watercolorist. Among his most recognized works are designs for the 2003 Simmons Hall at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the 2007 Bloch Building addition to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri and the 2009 Linked Hybrid mixed-use complex in Beijing, China and the Museum of Fine Art in Houston, Texas.  
www.stevenholl.com

By Janet Odgis, President and Creative Director of Odgis + Co, an award-winning certified woman-owned design firm based in New York City. For 30 years she has worked with some of the world's most prestigious corporations reinventing ways to define and express their brands.




 

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