The Edge: Very close and personal with Snøhetta’s Craig Dykers.
February 17, 20154 min read
Editor's note: Internationally acclaimed Architecture Firm Snøhetta moves, of all places, downstairs from Novedge. The Firm's newly opened office in San Francisco has already made an impact on the surroundings. One week of stalking and a party later, Snøhetta's founding partner, Craig Dykers , kindly (and voluntarily) agrees to answer some of my questions.Novedge: Welcome to the hood Craig, tell us a little bit about yourself and the journey that took you downstairs.
Craig Dykers: This is a small world; happy to be your new neighbors, it was nice to get the chance to meet you and the Novedge Team and answer these questions for the Novedge Blog……. My personal history is somewhat global. I was born in Germany, my mother is from London, my father is from New Mexico. I spent much of my life in Europe and most recently in Norway. Today I live in New York City, when I am not on a plane.
Novedge: We are dying to know how you met your other half, Kjetil Trædal Thorsen; was it love at first 'site' ?
Craig Dykers: Well my other half is actually my wife Elaine Molinar who is also an architect in our studio and she is the Managing Director of our operations in America. She and I met at University and we have been married for 25 years. I met my business partner Kjetil when we began to work on the Alexandria Library competition, also 25 years ago. So I suppose 1990 was an important year in my life. Kjetil and I have always shared a common view of life, politics and Architecture.
Novedge: What is the Snøhetta's projects that makes you most proud?
Craig Dykers: It is fair to say that your most recent project always makes you the most proud. But they are all like our children, and each has its unique characteristics. We have made many small projects like birdhouses and dollhouses that are great. Any time you can make a meaningful object that has a positive impact it is a joy. We are also Landscape and Interior Architects as well as Branding and Graphic Designers. Recently we have made several intriguing landscape works that stand alone, and we won a competition to design the national currency of Norway. The New Norwegian Krone, designed by Snøhetta.
Novedge:What are you currently working on right now?
Craig Dykers: We are completing construction on the SFMOMA in San Francisco and on a new library in Toronto as well. We are adding two museums to our portfolio: one in Lescaux, France and one in Dharan, Saudi Arabia. Also we are in the middle of completing the reconstruction and re-design of Times Square in New York City. We are in the design phase of several other projects including an Opera House in Korea, the new Headquarters for Le Monde in Paris, and libraries in Calgary, Philadelphia, and New York City. Beyond this we have about 40 other projects, all wonderfully interesting, including Graphic Design commissions and smaller scale projects.SFMOMA Expansion. Image courtesy of Snøhetta and Steelblue. Busan Opera House, South Korea. Image courtesy of Snøhetta and MIR.
Novedge: Sustainability is a big focus for the firm; what comes first, the Design or the Research?
Craig Dykers: That's like the chicken and egg question (although I'm pretty sure the egg came first). It is actually very simple. In our work the simple components are built upon to better understand more complex problems. We have many partners to help with the research and development.
Novedge: Where do you think Architecture is going in the next 30 years?
Craig Dykers:Architecture will likely die out in some ways. We still practice in a rather primitive way and I can only hope that Architecture as we know it, will simply fade away. I am hopeful that we will instead find ourselves working within more complex and interconnected systems. I hope people will connect more easily across various disciplines. This will likely only happen if the legal system changes or if insurance becomes obsolete.Lescaux Cave Centre IV, photo credits Dominique Louis. Can you spot the building?
Novedge:Is there a building, a landscape or an airport you would like to design (but that you haven't been asked yet)?
Craig Dykers: It is often the client that is the focus of our desires and not the project types. A great client is more important than the type of project. We look for clients with energy and vision. Rendering for the new headquarters of Le Monde, Paris. Image by Snøhetta.
Novedge: Have you learned to speak Norwegian by now?
Craig Dykers: Elaine and I began to learn Norwegian when we created the company in Norway with our Norwegian friends. I enjoy making up words like "Elskepels" which would mean Love Fur if it were a word in Norwegian. Sometimes we sing the birthday song in the studio in Norwegian. Everyone also speaks English and many other languages in our group.
Novedge: Why do you think Snøhetta is so successful?
Craig Dykers: We seek consensus without diluting ideas. That is difficult to manage and is generally considered too risky for many design oriented practices.
Novedge:I stalked you for a week. Not once you wore black; not even during public functions. What do you have to say for yourself?
Craig Dykers: My socks and underwear are even more colorful. Craig Dykers and yours truly in front of a replica of the composite facade for the SFMOMA. If you want to know more about the digital fabrication that went into this project, read our interview with Kreysler and Associates.
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