Waipolu Gallery and Studio

Architype Dialogue presents

Peter Q. Bohlin, FAIA

What was the most difficult issue about working within this building type or the most unexpected challenge that may have influenced new thought in your project?

It is difficult to describe building in an environment as inviting as Hawaii as anything but a perfect opportunity. The sun, ocean, and captivating views draw countless visitors and residents. Conventional thought, however, would point out that these same elements are not ideal for works of art. Our challenge was to make a space that would immerse the inhabitants into the rich landscape in a way that balanced the needs of people and art while enhancing both.

For example, the gallery is designed with apertures at each end, one to the ocean and one framing views of Diamond Head. The skin of the building extends forward just far enough to cut out the harsh direct sun but in doing so frames the view so deliberately that the view itself becomes part of the collection.

Did this project expand or evolve your role as an architect in any way? In general, do you feel that the role of the architect is changing on current projects?

The role of an architect is evolving slowly but the underlying principles remain constant. We delight in the opportunities of working within regions, new climates, and new technologies. Each project sharpens our perception of the subtle differences in the culture, local resources, and microclimates. While we recognize the individuality of people there are surprising similarities to their perceptions of space and the choreography of experiences to accommodate daily rituals. These principles form a diagrammatic framework that can then be finely tuned to the client, the site, and the microclimate to the point it must feel inevitable to its circumstance.

How is your building possible today in a way that it may not have been before and how have trends in technology and society inspired new thought and solutions?

In general we are using many of the same materials that have been used for ages. Technologies advance to allow us to do more with these materials. To stay abreast of new advancements we are constantly looking to other industries and professions for innovations. Changes in the glass industry for example, have allowed us to do things today that were impossible a few short years ago. Glass sizes, interlayers, coatings, and connections, are continuing to change to allow larger, more efficient glass installed with higher precision, with better performing connections. The glass bridge is a perfect demonstration of the benefits of this approach, allowing the client to seemingly hover in space, immersed in his art.

In the context of this project, how is your office and design process being influenced by current trends in academic curricula and incoming young architects? In turn, how are current projects and processes guiding the ongoing reformulation and development of academic curricula?

Our work is deeply rooted both in technical rigor and intuitive design based on a deep understanding of people, site, light and shadow, wind and views. We work collaboratively, assuring these values and observations are instilled in future generations through the mentoring process. Young architects bring an understanding of the latest tools for visualization and communication that allow us to together create better architecture by confirming and refining our intuition and utilize technology to its fullest potential.

Architype Review thanks Peter Q. Bohlin, FAIA, for his interview and for contributing to this collection of Architype Dialogue.

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