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June 2006


MEET THE ARCHITECT

S. Edward Parker
by Alexa Stevenson

What do you love about Connecticut? The stylistic diversity of the housing market gives me a great resource from which to design. I love the scale and personality of the residential architecture. Connecticut is an excellent fit to practice good traditional design—I don't think I would have the same opportunities elsewhere. Name a source of inspiration: The diverse historic residences in Greenwich. It's like having a style encyclopedia at my fingertips.[Image]What's your guilty design pleasure? For years it was designing in the traditional or classical vein. Therefore, among the brainwashed modernists, I was a pariah. It was only after joining the Institute of Classical Architecture that I was able to find like-minded classicists and traditionalists. Now, it's not so much a guilty design pleasure as it is a path of righteousness. Do you have a favorite building? I can't think of one that would be a favorite. There are certain moments in various buildings that I enjoy. Grand Central has some excellent detailing and daring sequential choreography. The exterior of Louis Sullivan's Bayard Building [65 Bleecker St., NYC] is awe-inspiring. The atrium in Burnham and Root's Rookery in Chicago is heavenly. Who has had a profound impact on your work? Susan Alisberg, my partner. Her strengths fill in my weaknesses. She has a wonderful grasp on how a house functions for a family and how it should enhance their lives, not dictate the way they live. Working with her makes me a better architect and designer. I always cringe when I see: Architectural gems replaced by new houses that are behemoth boxes with shades of classicism and no character. Favorite material? Aluminum. It's light and versatile and has endless possibilities relating to architectural ornament. I had the fortune to work with Kent Bloomer, a sculptor and ornamentalist in New Haven, building a large-scale architectural ornament such as the window tracery in Reagan National Airport. What's the most exciting part of a new project? The design development. Sitting down with a schematic design and making it real. That investigation and exploration exposes unknown surprises that beg inventive solutions.

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