For this architect, words, phrases and sentence fragments are the inspirational beginnings for the designs at Elliott+Associates Architects. Words ultimately translate into “Architectural Portraits” that find physical form in architecture. Form, color, and light are the vehicles for translation. This book features those inspirational word experiments and places them in context with the work of Elliot + Associates Architects.
For me “Word Paintings” involve the collection and creation of words and phrases that describe the architectural spirit. The “Word Paintings” arrive before the architecture does. They are the emotional link to the physical form. The “Word Paintings” can take the form of singular words, fragments and phrases, rarely are they paragraphs and never chapters. They are these fleeting moments of insight gleaned from a conversation with a client. Many times they are not ideas or a direction for their project, yet their words may become the inspiration for their building. At the time, I may not know it either. But for me this listening is where the project inspiration begins. I often begin by saying, “What do you want from the architecture?” We talk. And then I ask again. “Now, what do you really want from this experience?” And so it begins. We all know what it is like when we start to draw. Sometimes the pen knows instinctively what to do. Some kind of magic happens and an unexpected form or space is realized.
“Word Paintings” are uninhibited and let me dream freely. There is no criticism, no wrong answer – just discovery. This search for the emotional link to the project is both frightening and rewarding. “Word Paintings” contain no stylistic preconception. They are fresh and new each time. Working in my sketchbook is in essence “a conversation with myself” and I have learned that the words can take you beyond the form and the function. It is the search for a “zone” in the subconscious when you can feel the spirit of the architecture. It is the vision of a place before it exists. Sometimes it is very difficult to get there. Other times you can see clearly and quickly to the essence of the project. For me finding that “zone” through the “Word Paintings” is both elusive and addictive. I like being there; I can’t stop and I want to go back often. As humans we covet memorable experiences. They give us hope, optimism and a place to go as a reflection of an important moment in our lives. That moment is unforgettable. Indelible.
“Word Paintings” allow me to describe a form or space first. Then the architectural resultant is not dependent on a stylistic response. It will be fresh, new and inspired. I see the creation of architecture as the ultimate statement of optimism.