Steven Holl is a New York-based architect whose light-filled designs reimagine possibilities for both public and private spaces. He is the creator of over 60 projects worldwide, notably including the Bellevue Arts Museum’s own building; the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri; and the Horizontal Skyscraper in Shenzhen, China. Although Holl is a Bremerton native, only two of his completed projects are located in his home state—the Chapel of St. Ignatius at Seattle University and Bellevue Arts Museum.
Making Architecture marks the first time Holl’s work has been featured in a solo exhibition at BAM since the building opened in 2001. Bellevue is the seventh stop on the exhibition’s international tour, and is one of only a few stops where visitors will have the opportunity to appreciate Holl’s work in a Holl-designed building. Works in the exhibition bring the intricacies of Holl’s process to life, illuminating his distinct approach to making architecture through seventeen recent projects.
In today’s changing architecture practice, the standard method of how an architect works is increasingly mediated by technology. The use of the computer is an asset to the architect; however, removing the hand in the making of architecture raises questions about how a building ultimately looks, behaves, and even feels to the occupants. The hand-mind connection brings subtleties and nuances of color, materiality, light, and space that the computer does not and perhaps cannot achieve.
For forty years, Holl has presided over a practice that directly opposes the seemingly ubiquitous trend towards using technology to create architecture. His process is based on the idea that to achieve artful buildings he must continue to work by hand, creating watercolor drawings at every stage of making a building and engaging with what he calls the “thinking-making couple” of architecture.
Making Architecture considers three distinguishing aspects of how Holl makes architecture. Thinking focuses on how Holl uses watercolor drawings, small exploratory models, and material fragments to generate ideas. Building reveals the process of making architecture through models, sculpture, and in photographs taken during the actual construction process. And finally, Reflecting brings Holl’s ideas into sharp focus through a selection of digital films, and writings, both by and about Holl.