Thursday, July 21, 2011

Meet Julie Snow { 2011 AIATN Convention Speaker Series }

Memphis is an amazing array of speakers from across the street and around the world.
Meet Julie Snow, FAIA / Julie Snow Architects /
Minneapolis, MN
Speaking Friday, August 5, 8:30 – 10am

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In one sentence, how would you describe architecture to those outside the field?
Inspired buildings - It’s what distinguishes what we do from generic buildings - specific architecture tailored and inspired by our clients.

Who or what most inspire your creative side? / How do you spark creativity?
People I work with, and the conversations with clients and colleagues about larger issues in architecture along with specificity of projects. Those conversations are not just words but are also through sketches and convey strategies.

What are you currently reading, whether it be books, magazines, or blogs?
Where I like to read is at my lake house at Lake Superior. I’m currently reading six books. One of those is by David Brooks “The Social Animal.” It’s about the different ways we think and rationalize, how things work – intuitive, institutional. Regarding architecture, we tend to talk in hyper rational terms which may not be how we understand the world. Looking outside of architecture there is less tendency to misunderstand architecture.

Different cities have different problems or dynamics. What’s the best thing about designing in your city?
We really don’t do much work here in Minneapolis though I do think the best thing about Minneapolis is that there is a select group of enlightened and progressive clients in a quite progressive city. The issue in most cities is dynamics, how to create more dynamic public space - public spaces that are more engaging, and private space that feels public rather than public space that in reality is an empty plaza. There is a need for intense social engagement, interaction, and dialogue like you have in a coffee shop or more specifically the Ace Hotel, very open and engaging.

How do you balance work life and social/family life?
When my kids were small, it was definitely harder. At a certain point, there was a real distinction between work and family. Not so much anymore. I socialize with those in the same work environment which blurs the edges of personal life and work life. Balancing the two has become more flexible as work is becoming more and more mobile.

Have you been to Memphis before? What are your current impressions?
Yes, a long time ago. It was about ten years ago, and I thought it was great - a great spot with all the history, music and its location on the river. They were just starting a rejuvenation downtown. There is amazing work and people from Memphis.

What are some things you most look forward to in your trip to Memphis? In this response, can you be specific about what exact food you are looking forward to? Everyone seems to be excited about barbecue but we are a great culinary city.
Graceland. The fascinating culture. I look forward to seeing my friends and colleagues in Memphis – Barry Yoakum, John Jones, and Roy Decker. I’m bringing my son with me so we’ll tour the city together. I personally don’t get excited about barbecue. I need to research options as I remember the convention in New Orleans had a lot of discussion about food.

What can we look forward to in your presentation at the AIA TN convention?
Our recent projects that expand the ideas of what defines design excellence, not necessarily by clients but by architects. Design excellence that relates to design performances and sensibility of social dynamics, bringing people together, which seems to work on so many levels. Going back to being social animals, we’ll show strategies that support the many dimensions of architecture.

Any fellow speaker(s) you look forward to seeing present?
Those I know – Brian Mackay-Lyons, Robert Ivy, Randy Brown, Roy Decker, and Will Bruder. I look forward to meeting all of them though.

What other hobbies, interests do you have outside of Architecture?
It’s a pretty big list but it all revolves around family, travel, and architecture.

Do you also have a formal position in teaching architecture or design?
Next fall, I’ll teach a studio at Syracuse University with Matt Kreilich. Previous positions include the University of Minnesota and visiting professor positions at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, Washington University, and the University of Arkansas.

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We look forward to her presentation entitled “The Architecture of Julie Snow.” Read more on Julie in the convention brochure and through the links below.

Facebook Julie Snow Architects
Webpage http://www.juliesnowarchitects.com/

Thanks so much Julie and Trudy for the great phone interview/conversation and providing the images for us. Top photo: Julie busy at the office with her dog Lenin.

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