The Lens

When I think about architecture and joy, I must consider it on a number of levels, from my professional training and practice as well as from the perspective of my youth when I experienced places without thinking “architecture”; having more to do with association, memory, and nostalgia.

Joy is Timeless, Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles

Meaning of some thing or place has become imprinted indelibly in my memory.  As a designer, I tend to identify the roots of an overwhelmingly joyful experience with a place, that has elements of the natural, historical, and sentimental. An exceptional place resides within and outside of time, in the same way that I think of joy as a timeless state of being.

Joy of place, is transformative.

Clock Face, Congress Street, Portland, Maine

I am vulnerable here, as I would typically justify insight from a purposeful almost proof-like basis.     However as I gain more life experience I am re-acknowledging the intuitive, and at dawn, when I begin to wake from sleep, I find the most potent images that strike their deepest course in my thoughts and obsessions, and therefore my work. For me, observing the most elemental aspects of existence provide joy.

Anasazi chimney rock site, Colorado

Here are some of my primary discoveries:  like harmonies and dissonances, exceptional architecture is timeless. It sounds or feels “right”, or exposes polarities, revealing a dissimilarity.  Transcendent architecture has similar qualities crossing all contexts that it occupies. The frame it sits within, the histories that the observer brings to that place and time, when it came into being (was built), how it existed during its passage through time, and finally, at the moment of observation. All effect how it exists—nearly a quantum relationship. An exceptional place will connect with our collective memory.

Sacred Building, Maine

These sites are containers. In ancient Hebrew, the letter Bet “ב”: that which surrounds or contains a presence,  provides boundaries both inside and outside, and allows for what the Swiss philosopher Eliade describes as sacred and profane characteristics of place. These places, that make an effort, contain humanity.  They hold together the connective tissue between time, memory, and light. In a concrete manor, light reveals the object, and shows it in its contexts.

Attributed to Louis Kahn’s; “An exceptional place must weave both natural and man made within the realm of the un-measurable”. I look for tectonic structure both seemingly natural and man-built. In the examples throughout this review, note the contrasts between light and dark, materials; both solid, transparent, and sandy. Observe the natural foliage, juxtaposed with the manmade, and set in its topography. Look for where the human in each scene appears.

Mountain Path, Oia, Greece

One mile from mountain path, Ioa, Greece

Now, from the distance of my studio and holding the un-cropped photographs,  I am removed from these geographic moments, and become the observer.  I can marvel at that place or path. One can identify the depth of human experience and conflict that has arrested these places. None of the images I present here are coincidental, all rise beyond merely the functional rational.

Exit, Osios Loukas near Delphi

Entry, Osios Loukas near Delphi

Context creates the boundary of the collage.  Joy can be found in the passage from the one place through to the next; this potential, allows for the discovery of the existential, realized after the fact.

Outer regions from palace, Versaille, France

Two trees woven together by the wind can imply shelter or define passage; a simple boundary between this side and the other. What makes it exceptional is how and why this gateway continues to exist for many generations.

I am myopic—I tend to look for the minute details that build a place where timelessness; that place’s fundamental construct and the evidence of the human hand reveal themselves.

New Mexico

Start of path Anasazi site, Bandelier, NM

Gravity is unforgiving, the weight of snow and penetration of the natural elements can affect a built structure in the same way a small tree root can crack granite walls…Everything eventually returns to ground.
The particular paths shown here, are made by humans not by wind, water, or goats, and are not necessarily the easiest means to get from one geographical point to another. They contain ritual purpose.



Mid Point Anasazi Path, Bandelier, NM



Passage to Scarpa’s Grave


Scarpa’s Grave

Passage to Scarpa’s Patron’s Grave

This modern site rejects taxonomy, and offers analogy.  All of the senses are rewarded here, as one passes through the gate; from hard ground surface, over water, to tactile pea stone with a solid concrete wall to one side of the path and a permeable tree lined edge to the south. When the sun is shining, it creates an arcade composed of natural and manmade parts.

Patron’s Grave, Brion Italy

Sacred orientation is a deeper place in the mind, than imagination.
Where the sacred reveals itself, the real unveils itself; and the world comes into existence. These places provide orientation. In orientation one can discover the self and therefore come into existence like sound vs. a noise.

Ioa, Greece


Trail End, Ansaszi, Bandelier, New Mexico

Acknowledging experience of sacred space makes possible the founding of the world. Revelation of a sacred space makes it possible to define a fixed point, and hence to acquire orientation.