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Duality & Culture of #Architecting: A Conversation with Tom Kundig

Architecture is a field that encompasses a wide range of projects, from giant commercial buildings like skyscrappers and hotels all the way down to small residential homes. While some architects may be drawn to the allure of large-scale projects, there is a unique power and opportunity in working on smaller, more intimate designs. In a recent episode of ARCHITECT-ING with renowned architect Tom Kundig and podcast host, architect and CU Professor, Adam Wagoner explored the significance of small projects and the impact they can have on both the architect and the client.

Kundig's career trajectory is an example to the power of small projects. He started his own firm in Alaska of all places, where he had the opportunity to work on a variety of small-scale designs. It was through these projects that he discovered his passion for residential architecture and eventually joined forces with Jim Olsen, reducing his team from twelve people to seven.

"I recognized that no small projects get me to these places. Now, that matters to me. It doesn't have to matter to other architects, but for my career, those small projects have led to not only terrific adventures and learning opportunities but also clients that led to, in some cases, significant projects."

One of the key takeaways from Kundig's career is the importance of patience. He advises young architects to be patient and understand that it takes time to establish oneself in the field. He states, "You're going to be frustrated. You're going to have your heart broken. And that's again, like mountain climbing or even mountain skiing. Sometimes you really have to struggle through some low points and just hold on. It'll work out."

In the world of architecture, there is often a distinction made between art and craft. Kundig challenges this notion, believing that both art and craft are essential components of the architect's work. Tom believes that architects should not draw a hard line between the two but instead embrace the intersection of art and craft in their designs.

"I think we've all got poetics in our body, and we've all got function. I mean, to function as a human being, you have to have an artistic side, a poetry side, and a functional side."

While Kundig acknowledges that there are times when architecture should challenge and disturb, he believes that the primary role of architecture is to make us aware of our nature and our culture.

Listen to this episode of ARCHITECT-ING here orwherever you find #pocasts!


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