Following our Q&A series? This interview features a question for conference speaker Thomas Phifer, FAIA, from Brian Crilly, AIA, LEED AP.
Working for Lionakis from the firm’s Sacramento office, Crilly’s project experience includes the modernization and re-skin of the DMV state head quarters, collaborating with artist Wayne Thiebaud, international master plans, healthcare and education projects.
Crilly grew up in a family of small business owners. Perhaps that’s the reason, that the architect is often interested in impacts of architecture on society as a whole or vice versus. What’s interesting is, his question to Tom led to a discussion about societal changes but also an essential aspect of Phifer’s design process.—Tibby Rothman
Brian Crilly, AIA, LEED AP, Lionakis: Has the industrial/technology revolution coupled with the recent economic collapse created a platform for architects to resolve deeper issues through design?
Phifer: Well, you know, the economic downturn was obviously unfortunate because so many architects didn’t have enough work. But I think it also brought a kind of frugality and simplicity back to the work.
Whenever you have to pare work back, whenever you have to go through the sense of saying that, ‘maybe what we’re doing is too elaborate and too much over the top,’ that’s always a healthy process to go through.
It can be wonderfully self-analytical in the way that you begin to make a work with a user and then it becomes something that needs to be more cost conscious, which means that you need to think about doing a lot with a little–that fewer gestures are better than more.
So I think that particularly the downturn was helpful from that perspective. Certainly not from the point of view of the economics of architecture but if there’s a little bit of a silver lining, I think that’s it.
This interview has been edited and condensed.