Gyo Obata has already have made a name for himself as one of the founding partners of HOK, a global architecture firm, but now he is looking to share his experience with other design enthusiasts through his new book, “Gyo Obata: Architect| Clients| Reflections.” Recently launched this past September, the book uniquely centers upon Obata’s experience in dealing with client requirements, featuring the photos and plans, as well as his reflections, on 30 building projects from over the last 50 years. Here, Obata talks with Contract and offers his expert insight on what makes “good” design.
1. Tell us a little about your new book “Gyo Obata: Architect, Clients, Reflections.” What do you hope readers will take away?
Most architectural books are written where the designer of the building really talks about the building and not very much about the relationship between the architect and the client and the design process that you go through. In this book, I talk a little about the concept behind each of the 30 projects, but most of the book is comprised of client interviews that detail what they felt the design process was like.
I think that this book will convey to the lay person or to a professional how important it is for an architect to work very closely with the client and to listen to what his vision and the requirements are for a particular building. I think it will give the public a new kind of insight into how this whole process of design develops and maybe even clarify it a little.
2. What is your design philosophy?
To listen to the client, understand what their requirements are, and design a building that really meets those needs while the design is all coming from me. I very strongly believe that the architect has to work very closely with his client to come up with a building that truly fulfills all the requirements.
3. What advice/tips would you give to aspiring architects?
Listen to the client first before you do any kind of designing so you can really understand what his goals are. Once the client understands that the architect is really listening to him, he then gives the architect even more freedom to design.
4. If you weren’t an architect, what career path would you have chosen?
I would still be an architect. Ever since I was in the sixth grade I said I was going to be an architect. My father was a painter and my mother was a floral designer, so art was certainly one of the considerations. Architecture has both art and science in it and that’s why it is interesting for me. Every building that I design is like a new process of discovery. It’s a wonderful profession.
5. Where do you get the inspiration for your designs?
The inspiration of any building or design comes from your own experience and your own background. Each project to me is different because the requirements are different, and thereby the buildings look different.
6. What was your favorite project to work on?
Everybody asks me that, and none of them are my favorite. Each one is like a child. I can say that certain buildings have been very popular: The National Air and Space Museum is probably the most popular museum in the world. It gets a tremendous amount of visitors (in some cases 50,000 people are in that building)
7. Do you feel that a design degree is important?
I think it’s really important for an architect to go through architectural training. Architecture is a very complicated profession in that there’s many variables that you have to understand, so that training is really important. Once you graduate from an architectural school and get your degree, it’s then important to work in a firm and learn how buildings are developed. I think that the training period is well worth while.