Nicholas Buccalo, Architect [njbaarchitecture]
What is your specialization in architecture?
NJBAarchitecture provides Architectural Design, Construction Documents, and Administration for Residential, Retail, Commercial, Office and Mixed-Use Projects regionally and around the world. Mr. Buccalo's expertise is Architectural design and has applied this to great effect for a variety of projects ranging from very small renovations to multi-billion dollar mixed use urban developments. He understands people, design and architecture and applies only the best principals to every project.
Recent noteworthy projects: Carnegie Hall Landmarks Renovation, South Bend Regional Art Museum, Dongyin Economical Residential Community, Zhongguncun R & D Center, Harvey Keitel Penthouse, Ji-Lin Condominium Tower. Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall, Victory Theatre Times Square, Brisbane Tower, MacArthur Center, Prague Center, and many others.
Is there a web page or blog where one could see something of your work?
NJBA Rendering: http://thedrawingstudio.ning.com/
LinkedIN Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/njbaarchitecture
Ning Network: Johnson Burgee Architecture: http://johnsonburgee.ning.com/
NJBA @ Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/32165477@N06/
Research In Ancient Egyptian Architecture: http://setinstone.ning.com
What is it for you a good architectural design?
There are many aspects which define quality Architectural Design. First, an Architect must take into account one's budget. We pride ourselves in this respect, delivering built projects that are on budget. Then, one must account for the 'image' of the project which reflects the client and context in regards to the building's longevity. It must be designed in a way that allows it to fulfill the needs of the client into the future meaning it must be sustainable both in terms of function and image. We pride ourselves in the fact that our projects are forward thinking and inspiring. They become iconic not only for our clients but also for the communities in which they reside.
What era of architecture most fascinates you?
The period between about 5000 b.c. and 2010 a.d.
List the name of a famous building which you don't care for.
Hard question as each building ever built is an expression of humanity. I'd say if there are any buildings that I don't like it's those which don't fulfill their potential, which in those cases they aren't famous to begin with.
What hardware and software do you use that you deem as indispensable?
Fast and furious, over-clocked and stuffed with ram to generate as fast as I can think. Use all types of software but currently experimenting with the natural effects of Sandbox 3.
In which city do you live or work and why?
NJBA is centered in New York City. This gives us access to the best consultants in the world including associations with other architectural firms if there is a need. For instance, NJBA has an established relationship with the world renowned firm of Philip Johnson Alan Ritchie Architects for international projects. We have already completed several independent and collaborative efforts in China and this association will ensure that the product we deliver will be of the highest quality.
Do you work with other architects? How is the team set up?
For large scale and international projects, we collaborate with Philip Johnson Alan Ritchie Architects. This allows us to deliver the design quality expertise of NJBA and the technical and design oversight expertise of PJAR. It is a collaborative effort to ensure the highest quality for our clients. No time or effort is spared. Contact Alan Ritchie: http://www.pjar.com/
What do you think of competitions? What types of competitions do you normally compete in?
Competitions which hope to attract professionals, should always have financial prizes to help cover the costs associated with production. Architects should, on the other hand, have enough common sense to not enter competitions that don't have a stipend. Those that don't have stipends are abusing individuals who don't have common sense and therefore shouldn't be considered for the project in the first place.
Mantaining the signature of a building, how is the identity of the surroundings respected?
Some projects must be signature buildings while others should focus on enhancing the context in a way that allows them to be signature buildings for the area. Both types respond to the context but in different ways. A high-rise, which can be seen for miles, respects and enhances the context of the skyline. In either case, buildings should always enhance the context as in doing so increases the spirit of those who frequent the area. This doesn't imply that a building should be a copy of surrounding buildings, quite the contrary. What buildings need to do is 'respect their elders' while at the same time express themselves as independent and noteworthy based on their own accomplishments.
Which architects, past or present, do you admire?
I must admit that I admire those who push the limits of creativity, past or present, who are able to understand their own contemporary setting yet see into the future.
In your professional philosophy, what comes first, function or form?
Form and function are integral. Like the human form and spirit itself, there are countless variations, expressions and stages of life among each individual. But also like the human, function is utmost important for life itself, yet within one's life there is ample opportunity for self expression, so hence the two can be considered balanced in an harmonious whole.
Do you view suburban sprawl as an ecological threat and a waste of resources? Do you advocate for more vertical and denser town planning?
You might say I recognize every square meter of ground as being precious. Architecture is placed within nature always, even in NYC where one can watch the sunrise graze down the sides of the towers of 42nd Street. I do believe that in general there is a lack of quality and efficiency in building in America which leads to short life-span structures that during their whole life cycle do not enhance the environment nor the quality of life for those who inhabit them. If I had the powers to decide and build, I would build higher density communities of quality construction which would support the ideas of neighborhood while at the same time preserve natural environments for our enjoyment. The needs of the automobile also should be tempered by reducing road surface area and increasing automobile free pedestrian zones, thus reinforcing the notion of neighborhood and quality of life. In many ways the old European village with its enclosing walls provides a solution worth consideration in the way it creates a boundary between 'outside' and residential 'inside'.
What will the single-family home of 2050 be like?
I am quite excited by what the future holds. We are beginning to move homes to a more self-sustaining level, in terms of energy, maintenance and technology. These aspects are already starting to make their way into our thinking now, but, by 2050, they will be standard fare. This means Architects will be able to design 'flexible housing', one in which the form and spatial relationships can be manipulated to achieve a desired aesthetic effect.
For instance, the quality of interior lighting will be the manipulation of where the sun is at any given time. Building envelopes will be multi-layered, providing a variety of dynamic effects which will help maintain the quality of the interior environment. Buildings will be designed with products that will help them become more maintenance free and thus more sustainable.
For you, which new materials provoke the most interest?
Carbon based products that are flexible, durable and strong. They offer the opportunity for free expression. Coupled with flexible solar cell sheets, Architecture is fast becoming a new world of possibilities.
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?
During the development of a project, if one has their feet on the ground, will be able to lead both the client and public to the best solution given the site, context and budget. Architects need to be leaders of design, not the other way around which apparently has been adopted by so many Architects who are obviously confused about their role. For the leaders in Architecture, that do exist, their work speaks volumes regarding their attitudes as leaders of design.
The pharahons built pyramids, and bankers skyscrapers: will architecture always be a symbol of power?
I see Architecture as a symbol of the human spirit.
Imagine your ideal house. Where would it be? What would it be like?
I have many prototype 'ideal houses' set in a variety of locations. While a rural setting is quite romantic and exciting to ponder, it is the challenge of creating an ideal house set within an urban environment that most excites me, perhaps because it is the most difficult to do. The urban house provides the opportunity for a vertical journey through space, up to a height where one can take in the surroundings and reflect on life itself.
Can one copy and still be original?
One could argue that Philip Johnson was a copier, but what sets Mr. Johnson apart was his ability to synthesis an idea as expressed by others and then create an ultimate expression of that idea. This is Architecture or any other form of human expression at its essence. Was Mr. Johnson successful as an Architect of Architecture? In some ways yes, perhaps in other ways no. But as an individual who could understand trends and turn around and become a leader of that trend certainly takes a special talent. Blatant coping is robbery and for those who practice the duplication of historic buildings is doing a dis-service to every generation that their buildings exist. Historic architecture is an expression of 'that time'... not of 'this time'.
Where is the balance between deeply-rooted architecture and that which responds to its particular era?
Spectacular architecture: do you believe that buildings are becoming more and more media phenomena?
No. Does one not think that the Duomo Sienna didn't raise a stir when it was completed, or the, what I like to call, Djoser's 'Wave' Pyramid do the same. Media is but a form of conversing and spreading the word which us humans have done for tens of thousands of years. Not much has changed from my point of view.
What motto would you like to see inscribed at the entrance of the university's department of architecture?
"Make your Architecture as great as the human itself".
What would be your dream project at this moment?
Whether a residence situated in a beautiful place or a modest mid-rise in an urban setting, all projects offer the possibility of greater forms of expression and it's those I always dream of.
Who is your favourite artist?
Too many great artist to just pick one... Rubens is probably my favorite, but one can't forget Caravaggio, Bernini, Monet, Vermeer, Manet, Picaso, Sargent, Warhol, Bruegel, David, Homer, Van Gogh, and that's just western art. Many fine works come from Asia and India regions. And to forget Egyptian, Greek and Roman art is to ignore our human history... there is much to appreciate, hence my Minor in Art History.
Nicholas Buccalo, Architect