William Q. Sabatini [billsabatini]
What is your specialization in architecture?
Our firm is organized in Commercial, Higher Education, K-12 Education, Health Care, Housing, Interiors, and Landscape Architecture "Practice Areas." I am most interested in programmatically complex building types. The firm specializes in rational problem solving focused on our client's goals and aspirations.
Is there a web page or blog where one could see something of your work?
See our website at www.dpsdesign.org
What is it for you a good architectural design?
Art feeds our souls. Architecture, the mother of all arts, is intended to serve people. Great architecture can only serve people if we pursue the work with discipline, adhering to strong design values.
1. FUNCTION COMES FIRST: The right approach is to focus first, as a priority, on how a design “works” not how it “looks.” The client’s needs must be accommodated and never compromised by trying to achieve a purely aesthetic goal. We must strive to produce high performance solutions with respect to energy, water use, and land use.
2. RESPOND TO PEOPLE, PLACE and TIME: Responsive architecture, to have lasting meaning, must be of its own time, of its specific place, and representative of the people it serves. A fresh interpretation of people, place and time requires a creative approach unencumbered by pre-conceptions of style. Furthermore, I believe style is the enemy of sustainability.
3. THE ENVIRONMENT IS A CLIENT: Designs that “fit” the context of site and feel natural to their setting contribute to sustainability. Proper orientation and appropriate exterior “skins” of buildings to mitigate sun and wind, maximize natural day lighting, and minimize energy use is a responsible approach made possible through a sensitive understanding of the microclimate and other constraints and opportunities of the place.
4. WE NEED A SENSE OF PLACE: People desire architecture that is memorable, projecting a vivid experience of place, an architecture that is strong in image using all of the visual tools at our disposal: volume, color, texture, natural light, and simple form. And in the southwest, it is about contrasting these tools, connecting the indoor to outdoor space, creating defined exterior spaces, and paying attention to the idiosyncrasies and qualities of the site.
5. MAKE IT HONEST: A truthful expression, a simple, direct concept and the truthful use of materials results in elegance. A successful design that attains clarity and simplicity engenders a sense of well being. Yes, I believe less is more, down to the details.
6. ADHERE TO COST, BUDGET AND SCHEDULE: Efficient layout, simple construction, the right materials to do the job, simply put, good judgment about getting “the most for the money” will result in projects that get built. A project that is not executed within a specified cost and timeframe can never be realized. Design theory remains that without effective execution. I design to build.
7. IT’S NOT ABOUT THE ARCHITECT: Some architects can’t let go of the idea that the project belongs to them. When you ask the legitimate question, “Why do we need to do that?” are you frustrated by a self centered answer like, “It won’t work any other way.” Somehow, your agenda is not their agenda. For me, the greater challenge is to understand and embrace the client’s goals and aspirations and then use all of our ability to create the right answers for them, not us.
What era of architecture most fascinates you?
Quite frankly, I am most fascinated by the current era. The diversity and multitude of creative ideas we see today is inspiring and mind boggling. To be part of the design community today is exciting and fulfilling. There is no limit to the possibilities of design and, with sustainability in the forefront, our services have never been more valuable.
List the name of a famous building which you don't care for.
I don't care for any facility or design that doesn't care.
What hardware and software do you use that you deem as indispensable?
We use the typical array of production tools but most indispensable now is "Sketch Up" and a good role of trace.
In which city do you live or work and why?
I live in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We have offices in Las Vegas, Nevada and Amarillo, Texas. I prefer Albuquerque--a place of cultural diversity, perfect weather, and up lifting, inspiring light.
Do you work with other architects? How is the team set up?
Our firm employs over 50 registered architects who work collaboratively on projects they are passionate about, whether it be a high technology research facility, a new hospital employing evidencd-based design principles, or a child friendly elementary school.
What do you think of competitions? What types of competitions do you normally compete in?
I disagree with competitions as a means to procure architectural design services. The collaborative effort between architect, owner, and user results in responsive architecture. Avoiding that communication through competitions voids the essence of our service. It's not just about the product--it's also about the service that creates the product.
Mantaining the signature of a building, how is the identity of the surroundings respected?
This question implies that creating a signature somehow compromises a building's context. Arriving at an appropriate statement is much more complex and subtle. It is arrived at as a response to the site's micro-climate, pedestrian, vehicular and service movements and approaches, and ideally a visual expression that is imageable.
Which architects, past or present, do you admire?
Consistently producing work that is contextual, inventive, and simply sophisticated, no firm is doing better work than Polshek and Partners.
In your professional philosophy, what comes first, function or form?
Function. The rest will fall into place.
Do you view suburban sprawl as an ecological threat and a waste of resources? Do you advocate for more vertical and denser town planning?
Yes, but the market place must and will prevail. But it is now politically and economically possible to realize more sustainable practices. Efficient densities are inevidable as long as they address the well being of the user.
What will the single-family home of 2050 be like?
Most importantly, they will at least be carbon footprint neutral and quite possibly give back to the environment.
For you, which new materials provoke the most interest?
I'm intrigued by materials that stretch the imagination of the chemist. In the near future, I see structural shapes, building skins, and interior finishes of new, man made products that are recyclable and environmentall friendy but also of diverse strength, color, shape, texture, and scale. What else could an archtect ask for?
Bioclimactic architecture, domotic systems...do you think we are approaching a profound revolution in architecture?
Yes, global population growth will necessitate a new paradigm of building.
In the development of a project, do you feel closer to the client or to the public as a whole who will use the final product?
We choose our clients carefull so we don't have to make a choice. All of our clients are as concerned as we are for the welfare and service to the public. It makes good business sense anyway.
The pharahons built pyramids, and bankers skyscrapers: will architecture always be a symbol of power?
I don't agree with that statement.
Architecture, as any human art, is a direct reflection of humankind. I am a humanist who believes in our ultimate goodness and wisdom. Our architecture will evolve and progress as a result. The speculation of where it will go is exciting and inspiring.
Imagine your ideal house. Where would it be? What would it be like?
My ideal house will be sustainable, private, silent, safe, and filled with light. In one word peaceful.
Can one copy and still be original?
There is no such thing as an original idea.
Where is the balance between deeply-rooted architecture and that which responds to its particular era?
Style, a look defined by its time, is the enemy of sustainability. I woudn't value anything, certainly not architecture, because of its time or era. So I see no need for the balance you refer to.
Spectacular architecture: do you believe that buildings are becoming more and more media phenomena?
Due to the advances in technology--technology of materials, systems, and construction methods we are able to realize spectacular design. But this has always been the case. Wasn't the Empire State Building a media phenomena? People will always be fascinated by spectacular buildings. They are source of pride and achievement.
What motto would you like to see inscribed at the entrance of the university's department of architecture?
"Let our work define who we are"
What would be your dream project at this moment?
I think a complex mult-user, multi-use facility in an urban setting would be a fascination.
Who is your favourite artist?
I have long been intrigued by the diversity and creativity of Picasso but I am equally impressed with Leonardo da Vinci, Michaelangelo, and others of the Renaissance. Then throw in some Matisse, Klee, Rothko, Calder, Serraut, Modigliani, and others and you see I have many favorites. I'm humbled by all of it.
Which websites about architecture do you frequently visit?
None, but I'm open to suggestions.
William Q. Sabatini
Albuquerque, New Mexico