Gregg Pasquarelli is a founding partner of SHoP Architects. To read the interview, click here.
What word or phrase do you most overuse?
Actually. Like, “The check from that client actually cleared. Yes, we can actually design a skyscraper. We can actually design an arena.”
If you could have designed any building in the world, what would it be?
Personally, it would have been the new Yankee Stadium. Bill and Chris would definitely want to do an airport. I think Corie and Kim would want to do an art museum. I wanted to do Yankee Stadium. My second best hope would be if my beloved Villanova Wildcats ever decide to build a new basketball arena–that would be the second building I would most want to do.
What typeface most represents you?
That’s a really hard one. I would lean more towards sans serif; I don’t like all the flourishes. I think if I had to really think of it, it would be that old OCR from the sixties, very retro computer stuff. I guess I played with BASIC too much as a kid?
What is your favorite airport?
I hate them all. If you want to talk about retro airports, the golden age of air travel, I love Dulles. It’s just so weird and it’s of a moment. But I never fly to Washington–I prefer the Acela. I just really don’t like airports. If I had to pick one I would say Teterboro, but unfortunately I don’t get to use it enough!
What is the one thing you always pack when you travel?
Lots of chargers. I have too many devices. And I bring two of every one because I end up leaving them in hotels all over the place.
What architect from the past do you most admire?
Brunelleschi. He had to be a bad ass to pull off that building with all those Medici sniffing around.
What is your favorite city or town?
My hometown, New York. As my dear friend Vishaan Chakrabarti likes to say, it’s worthless to live in any metropolitan area that has less than ten million people. Anything less than ten million is a small town and don’t bother. I love all the global capitals since, to me, density equals intellectual inspiration. You know, I absolutely love London, but its one negative is that a huge percentage of the population is English. I am in love with Rome, but there really are a lot of Italians there. Tokyo is fabulous, there are a lot of Japanese. The best thing about New York is that it doesn’t have a lot of Americans. That’s what makes New York the most interesting in my opinion. It’s the only city where everyone is at home.
If you could own any great piece of art, what would it be?
I know that Kim loves Giacometti, so I would get her a Giacometti sculpture.
What book has had the most influence on you?
That’s interesting. That’s a loaded question. I mostly read non-fiction but right now I will say that Tufte’s books have a big influence on how I work.
What is the last song or album you listened to?
I’ve been playing a lot of early 70s stuff from John Lennon on the piano recently and listening to a lot of Sarah Vaughan and Irma Thomas. I think Lennon has reappeared in my repertoire because it would have been his 70th birthday in December and so they were playing him a lot on the radio. I have also been listening to Etta James’ Chess recordings. But the last album I listened to was Taylor Swift dancing around the living room with my two daughters, who are 7 and 3.
What is your favorite piece of clothing?
Oh God, that’s hard. I guess its probably cuff links in general. I had this amazing pair of cufflinks that I lost seven years ago and I still think about them all the time. They were made by Castiglioni’s daughter Giovanna, who makes beautiful jewelry. She made this one pair of cuff links and I don’t know how I got them, but I lost them in New Haven and I’m still upset about it.
Name one obsessive architect behavior that you have.
I am a constant critic. I don’t think criticism is a negative thing and I don’t think disagreeing is a negative thing. I think that’s the only way you push something forward. I’m an obsessive critic. With everything. At work. At home. Over the details of one of our buildings, over my cufflinks, over the way that the fries are arranged on a plate.
What is your idea of misery?
Constant criticism. Constantly criticizing everything.
What is your idea of happiness?
The thing I like to do the most in the world is to take long walks through the city with Kim with nowhere to go. And we don’t get to do it as much anymore now that we have kids, but we used to pick a neighborhood, anywhere in the five boroughs, and go for seven or eight hours and just find stuff. It’s still my favorite thing to do in the world because you can go to every country for $2.25, or whatever it costs now.
If you weren’t an architect, what would you be?
A “wino” on the Bowery, as if that still exists. I would be unemployed because I am absolutely not good at anything else.