Autor: Schwartz and Architecture

Established by Principal Neal J.Z. Schwartz in 1997, Schwartz and Architecture (SaA) has received wide-ranging recognition for design excellence including numerous national and regional awards, as well as features in the New York Times, Architect, Contract, Dwell, and Wallpaper* Magazines.

Neal holds dual master’s degrees in Architecture and Public Policy from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design and Kennedy School of Government respectively. He graduated with Distinction in Architecture, received the Thayer Award for Meritorious Scholarship, the Sheldon Traveling Fellowship, as well as national awards from the Urban Land Institute and American Planning Association.

This unique combination of design-logic and policy-thinking establishes the foundations of his practice; commitment to creatively explore clients’ needs in ways that surpass their expectations, and devotion to rigorous management of complex design, permitting, and construction processes.

Neal is currently the chair of a newly established AIASF Public Policy and Advocacy Committee, and in 2015, he initiated and chaired a joint AIASF | SF Planning Working Group to advocate for change to residential design review procedures in San Francisco. From 2006 – 2009, Neal was on the board of directors for the National AIDS Memorial Grove and chaired the Memorial Design Committee, working towards the capital campaign and development of this national memorial.

Neal has been actively involved in teaching for 25 years, most recently as an Associate Professor in Architecture at the California College of the Arts (CCA), where he currently coordinates the master’s degree housing studio. Neal graduated Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa from Brandeis University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in European history, and has researched and lived abroad in Vienna, Munich, and Berlin.

SaA fosters a critical practice through built work. While some projects remain speculative, our focus is always on the promise of the constructed artifact as the most potent test of the full complexity of architecture. This focus on building requires us to be equally creative and strategic –drawing into our sphere of responsibility both more abstract explorations of movement, light, and space, and the tangible forces that define architectural production today.

While we pride ourselves on the creative, striving for architectural solutions of clarity, economy, and grace, our lens is always through the pragmatics of a client’s needs. This includes the exigencies of budget, schedule, code, permitting, community input, and fabrication and construction techniques. In fact, negotiating these often competing, real-world demands inspires our creativity. Each affects the final form and content of the work; each is fodder for design.

Movement is often at the genesis of our work. We carefully choreograph spatial sequences to unfold in ways that provoke exploration and, thus, engagement with the built and natural world. At times, this is expressed through formal gestures that promote the sculptural reading of the object, best understood through the physical exploration over time. In both our urban and open landscape work, macro and micro gestures are designed to propel one through the spaces.

Yet more often, the movement explored is a psychological one. In particular, the careful articulation of thresholds and the extension of view through real or perceived space promote a kind of mental exploration and sense of discovery in our work, even from a static vantage point. This control of this spatial expansion is crucial to our technique, built up over years of small-scale work in tight urban spaces.

Finally, we see each of our projects as a site-specific installation. Each maintains its integrity as a singular object, yet each is consciously deformed by the push and pull of its surroundings. The Portuguese architect Alvaro Siza has spoken of the use of buildings to «make more real» the context that surrounds them — to make us understand the existing conditions or operations in a more complex way. This description of the potential of architecture serves as a guidepost for our work.


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