This week, IAA welcomes Evan Davis as our new architectural intern. The Friendship, Arkansas native graduated from the Fay Jones School of Architecture at the University of Arkansas in 2013, and previously worked at Tevis Architectural Group. We’re excited to get to know Evan better, and for you to as well. Luckily, between site visits and drafting projects this week, he found the time to answer a few questions. Read what he has to say about architecture, design, and his “dapper sense of style…”
What trends do you think are most important/interesting in architecture and design?
Architecture has always seemed to struggle between being reactive to change and proactive in causing it.
With the rise of the Internet and social media, there is a democratization of information on a global scale greater than any previous generation. This has brought great change in how people interact socially and economically – two significant drivers for changes in architecture from previous eras. We are already seeing some early results with designs inspired by a blend of socio-economic and environmental sustainability, especially within urban redevelopment. It will be interesting to see how the profession of architecture, in education and practice, will change over the next few decades as this and subsequent generations of Internet and social media-savvy people mature.
Do you have a favorite building – a design that really inspires you?
(Given that I feel architecture is best experienced in person than through images or planning, I’m only choosing one that I’ve been to)
My favorite building is La Casa Galvez by Luis Barragan. It was the strongest example of “building as landscape” that I could think of (before the Nelson-Atkins addition), and perfectly culminated my architectural experience in Mexico [see image above]: terraced landscape and floor plans, high ceilings, a well-executed mix of classical and modernist design, and material richness as thick as the taste of Mexican milk chocolate. The experience is simply too multi-faceted for me to put into words at this moment. I could only recommend that anyone visiting Mexico City see the work of Luis Barragan, as many as you can.
Do you have a favorite building in Kansas City?
My favorite building (currently) in Kansas City is an honest tie between the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (new construction) and the Kansas City Central Library (retrofit/restoration).
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is a conjoined twin of my two loves: classicism and “building as landscape”. The original building and landscape are delightful reminders of European design mixed with American pragmatism (despite its scale, it lacks the heavy decoration of counterparts from across the pond), with the picturesque procession from setting foot on the great lawn to walking through the exhibit halls on the second floor filled with an experience celebrating the grandeur of old. Whereas the dialogue of the European-inspired original was of an object standing in the landscape, the addition is a wonderful opposition of “building as landscape”. The design approach is applied equally inside and out: the terraced planning of the interior and the green roof over the addition that merges with the great lawn both remind me of my experience with the work of Luis Barragan.
The Kansas City Central Library is tied simply for its amazing restoration and retrofit from central bank to library. The new grand stairs that connect the three main levels are well placed and executed for their intentions, with the roof garden and conference room a terrific way to crown such an institution. It isn’t without its flaws (questionable air quality and ventilation, roof access limited to elevator only, and some bulky detailing), but my repeat visits to the library have only increased my personal affection for it.
How would you describe your design style?
I would describe my current style as leaning towards Critical Regionalism (given that I am influenced by Barragan, Aalto, and Ando), though I confess that a bit of Miesian Modernism from my time in college slips out every now and then.
I am an all-around geek: playing video games on weekdays (I am currently spending my evenings playing Guild Wars 2), Dungeons & Dragons on weekends, and making time in-between to watch movies or listen to film/television/game critics. Whenever I am not indulging in these activities, I am walking around the city or looking for new books at Barnes & Noble.
Anything else you might like to share…
I love my black cat Belladonna, whom I adopted after she was rescued by Amber (my girlfriend) in St. Louis.
I am currently working on a new website Man At A Desk, where I will post articles discussing architecture, (video) games, and movies.
I can have a very dapper sense of style, and will happily peruse thrift stores for hats, gloves, canes, and trench coats.
My background in tabletop gaming, community theatre acting, and film means that I can be quite the thespian when I want to!