Since founding your firm 30 years ago, you’ve designed houses, universities and museums along with art galleries – which is your favourite? “There really isn’t a favourite. One of the things I love about architecture is the variety of the people – both the clients as well as all the consultants – and that always keeps it interesting and dynamic. With a private home, there can be a direct relationship with the client whereas in a museum, which has a board of trustees and a director and other senior staff, it is a different kind of engagement – equally enjoyable.”
Describe the working style in your office. “The office has 70 people and we work in a very collaborative manner. I’m extremely proud of our office culture: it is a place where people tend to stay for long periods and really grow with the firm.”
Art and architecture are often segregated. how do you bring them closer together? “Art and architecture are very different disciplines and what we try to do in our projects that are art spaces [be they galleries, museums or collectors’ homes] is, through architecture, provide a space that allows the art to be fully appreciated in an intelligent and focused way.”
Tell us about the new David Zwirner gallery in Hong Kong. “I believe galleries are a form of portraiture and need to reflect the individuality of the gallerist and how they like to present their artists. In Hong Kong, we built on our long relationship and developed an approach that both responds to the existing context of the building and maintains a high level of personalisation that is reflective of the gallery. The two floors of the galleries are integrated in terms of proportion and palette. The materials are consistent throughout, with an open, welcoming staircase between the two levels.”
How are women regarded in architecture? “Architecture is still a male-dominated profession and I am often asked how it feels to be a woman in such a field. In the past, I have said, ‘It is all I know.’ This is true, of course, but I think the issue is much more complex than that.
“I think women do still have to fight to be recognised for their contributions to the field and to be treated fairly and equitably.”