A couple of my current projects have me greatly enjoying the pleasures of concrete. I love the stuff for a variety of practical and aesthetic reasons. This is not new – the mesmerizing rotation and great mass of the mixer truck transfixed me as much the next kid. Now, I am a happy peddler of the upscale modernism that fills the pages of Dwell magazine where the clean lines and muted color palettes make concrete a perennial favorite. I can’t resist.
Just as important to me, the tools of the trade, the remarkable plasticity of the material and the genius with which it has been used all give me great pleasure. I am a fan of the hidden seismically sound foundation retrofit under my Bay Area home. I am a fan of greatly celebrated works of concrete architecture by Tadao Ando, Jorn Utzon, Eero Saarinen and a few of their predecessors stretching back to the Ancient Romans. I am a fan of the pedestrian urban sidewalk.
My current concrete work is neither as engineered as a Bay Area house foundation nor as genius as a great work of architecture but it is nonetheless transforming – testament to the potential of even small, strategic installations of the material. Here are a couple of examples.
In this Berkeley rear yard, I installed only four cubic yards to knit together some really broken circulation patterns between house, deck, rear yard and side yard. Now it works and looks great.
In this steep San Francisco rear yard, we’re creating a beautiful terraced garden with smooth concrete seat walls along the side setbacks. In the near future there will be a lush palette of California native shrubs on the outside perimeter, contained by these serene walls, and two level terraces – one for child’s play and one for adult play.