As student architects, we go about learning of the numerous styles in architecture through the generations, dreaming of stamping the new age of Architecture with our designs. The sad truth is that these only remain to be dreams, often our creativity seeming to be kept under lock and key through the paradoxical demand of clients and investors.
Bart Prince, however, turned limitations into opportunity. Featured on October 2008’s Architectural Digest, the Albuquerque, New Mexico-based Architect is considered by American architects to be among the most creative and innovative minds in the field. He considers Bruce Goff, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Antoni Gaudi as his inspirations. He has also studied & worked as an assistant under Goff, one of his career’s greatest influences.
Prince is known for his unorthodox ability to take a common material and give it a new purpose through his wild imaginations. Mentioned in the Architectural Digest, October 2008, the locals of Albuquerque may not recall who Prince is, that is, until his house in Monte Vista was to be mentioned. Prince Studio, better known as the ‘spaceship’ to the locals, his home is a local monument, with cars often seen to stop to take in the curious visual delight.
Bart Prince’s unconventional deconstructive methods have allowed him to stand out from the crowd of designers. His wild creative attitude, however, is systematically navigated around. His imaginations, according to him, begin on a blank canvas, with the first mark on it being placed by learning the clients and the site. In his own words, “I always begin with the client and the site, and each time I like to start again. I don’t come with preconceptions. As I learn from the site and the client and the requirements, I begin to look at what can be done- in an interesting way.”
Dan & Suzanne Kolberg selected Prince as the architect for the Kolberg Residence, knowing his philosophy of no preconceptions and their client being of priority. They had specifically asked for ‘Bart Prince Lite’ knowing the architect’s adventurous mindset. The couple wished for a home that was timeless and contemporary, but at the same time, not too ‘strange’.
He approached a site in a “Wrightian tradition” according to Joseph Giovannini, Architectural Digest. He loved the site he was designing for and would dream of it. Prince’s philosophy would bring him to demand of his architecture to not be a drop of ‘blob’ in the middle of a leveled site. Rather his architecture would match the character of the environment.
The Price Residence was a design that integrated with the site, blending in with the site to answer to the client’s demands for privacy and the form seemed to be inspired by waves to respond to the demand of the occupant’s wish for the design’s close association with the sea.
Gradow residence, built on a 40-acre site was requested to provide spaces for the ‘family, guests, entertaining on a large scale, office, and workspace, gymnasium and exercise pools.’ Prince created steps down the hill in cantilevered sections, allowing spaces for the various functions demanded, and with ‘unorthodox’ forms used as a part of the architect’s program to allow views from all spaces of the house, and also to create spaces that would, according to Prince, allow spaces within which the client could work out an interior design to complement their living setup.
The design that most well represents Prince’s philosophy among all of his greatly loved designs can be considered as the Bradford Residence, designed for his father. The design was one that ‘grew’ from the site that would allow views from all directions. Well-known is his incredible imagination for dynamic forms. However, in his tribute to his father, this tendency of his did not create a strong mark on the site. On the contrary, the different approach that many clients would often fear, enhanced the structure’s program, with the suspended roofs leading the design to appear as if it was a part of the landscape, and bringing about a better view on the upper level.
Bart Prince has taken up a few remodeling projects such as the Spence Residence, and most notably, the Seymour Residence in Los Altos, California. Considering the owner’s love for Math, Art, & Geometry, he transformed the original rectangularly inspired structure into a comprehensive mold of forms that, stated in Eric Oh’s article on Archdaily, would come together with the existing form to create a pattern reminiscent of a bird’s feathers.
Seen in numerous designs of the architect, such as the Whiting Residence, Parsifal Townhomes, Skilken, Malibu, Jemez Spring, Hight Residence, Gloriega & Fu Residence, his unorthodox style defines his philosophy in architecture- unassuming, answering to the site and the client’s demands, but is not just a product of these variables. His designs would become an addition to the existing site, often highlighting the ignored features and giving it a new identity.
All of his works more or less follow his ideological compass. Unorthodox, and against the trend of traditions, Bart Prince’s philosophy is what many young architects aim to follow. His designs, which seems to be inspired by the deconstructivism movement may define contemporary housing: Designs that star on a blank Canvas, being created through the exploration of the Client’s thoughts, and the site itself.
- Giovannini, Architectural Digest, October 2008, Bart Prince Creates a Light-Filled Residence in New Mexico<https://www.architecturaldigest.com/gallery/prince-slideshow-102008> Accessed on 17 July 2020
- Bart Prince, Projects, <http://www.bartprince.com/projects.html> Accessed on 17 July 2020
- Eric Oh, Bart Prince Renovates Home Based on the Owners’ Love of Math, Art and Geometry, written on 2015, <https://www.archdaily.com/775121/bart-prince-renovates-home-based-on-the-owners-love-of-math-art-and-geometry?ad_medium=office_landing&ad_name=article> Accessed on 17 July 2020