Peter Gluck, Marc Gee, Thomas Gluck, Charlie Kaplan, and Stacie Wong; GLUCK+
Recorded: April 7, 2015
For me, from the beginning, the means and methods of building have always been inseparable from the equally important conceptual thinking at the heart of crafting architecture. Design has always been a seamless enterprise, starting with analysis of a client’s wants and needs and concluding with a finished, working building. Never did it occur to me that one might first design a building, and then figure out how to build it. Or, for that matter, give it to someone else to build. From a philosophical point of view, a further contention is that theoretical and aesthetic claims can best be evaluated when they are embodied in real buildings, which make demands on architecture that paper and computer schemes do not.
It follows that the deeper the architect’s engagement in the entire process, from the earliest phases of conception to the final details of construction, the greater the chances for the actual realization of a design and the emergence of good architecture. From a more prosaic perspective, we attempt to bring into alignment the needs, those conceptual attributes, of a successful building: its context, or its fit into its place; its program or use; its structure, or its sculptural material presence; and its social imperative, or its value to society as a whole. Complete overlap would in fact represent the perfect diagram. Of course, the perfect diagram is unachievable. But the greater the degree of this overlap, and the quality of the poetic expression of that overlap in the building’s final form, is to a large extent the measure of its success.
— Peter Gluck on the philosophy of GLUCK+
Peter Gluck founded New York City-based GLUCK+ in 1972 with an integrative approach to design and building. In this architect-led design-build practice, which the firm describes as “single-source responsibility for the design, construction and commissioning of buildings,” the designers are also the construction managers for nearly all of the firm’s projects.
In a lecture titled “Thinking Making Making Thinking,” the firm’s five principals illustrate the “two inseparable acts of thinking and making” through a series of recent projects. Thomas Gluck describes a house on Chicago’s North Shore that counteracts a steep bluff and poor soil by employing an innovative cellular concrete foundation and stretching the house into a procession of indoor and outdoor spaces. Stacie Wong presents the island campus of Duke University’s Marine Lab in Beaufort, NC, detailing the distinct massing, design, and material decisions the firm made to deliver a higher-performing building within the university’s budget.
Marc Gee presents the Blue Ridge House in North Carolina and the process of working side-by-side with craftsmen on the intensive detailing of a distinctive lumber wall as well as an affordable housing project in Aspen, in which the firm acted as the developer, architect, and builder. Charlie Kaplan details the Lady Liberty Academy Charter School in Newark, which employed pre-fabricated off-site construction that allowed the school to welcome students only nine months after construction began, and a house in Colorado that minimized energy use through sustainable technology and post-occupancy modifications.
Following the presentation, the five principals sat down with Jared Della Valle (53:47), co-founder and president of New York City-based real estate development company Alloy, for a conversation on the challenges and rewards of taking on risk, learning to solve problems along the way, and the shortcomings of Building Information Modeling.
The Current Work series invites significant international figures who powerfully influence contemporary architectural practice and shape the future of the built environment to present their work and ideas to a public audience.