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May 07, 2015

Richard Kuhn AIA

Rick Kuhn BW

Richard Kuhn AIA
Job title and company: Design director, Perkins+Will
Degree(s): B. Des., University of Florida; MArch, Harvard GSD

Professional interests: My passion lies in all things design but specifically in higher education, cultural and civic projects. This is where my focus has been for the last 10 years. I’m also fascinated by the emphasis on design excellence in these market sectors. When we have clients who want to be recognized for design excellence, it instantly becomes a project that breaks new ground.

Anacostia Library. Photographer, Mark Herboth.

What are you working on now?
I am working on the Haymarket Square Hotel, which contains 180 rooms in the middle of Boston’s exciting “Market District.” Located next to the historic Haymarket and Blackstone Block, the complex’s ground floor creates a vibrant culi­nary market with fresh foods, breads, cheeses, and related retail.

I’m also working on a private research corporation. The 180,000-sf expansion and renovation to this research campus in Hartford, Connecticut, includes laboratory and office spaces with the goal of creating a flexible, state-of-the-art research facility.

How do you explain to your mom what you do for a living?
Travel to interesting places and work on just about every building type.

Anacostia Library. Photographer, Mark Herboth.

What inspired you today?
Material science linked to technology and how it is changing facades, and high-performance envelopes. In particular, what architects and engineers are doing with ductile concretes. Graphene is next.

What architectural buzzword would you kill?
Sustainability: We’ve moved beyond [it], and it is expected in all our work.

When you’re working, do you discuss or exchange ideas with your colleagues?
All the time… collaboration and interdisciplinary practice is a philosophy and way of life. It’s how you create the most interesting and sophisticated work.

Harvey B. Gantt Center For African-American Arts + Culture. Photographer, Mark Herboth.

What are you reading?
I’m constantly reading different articles from friends and colleagues on the Web. Whether it is from LinkedIn or something that catches my eye in the news, I enjoy reading something new daily. Steven Johnson’s Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation is on my list.

Do you sketch by hand or digitally?
Both. The two are related. The sketch is a way to conceive an idea, and digital is a way to understand it. Coincidentally, however, digital technology is also starting to inform the way you think about things conceptually.

North Carolina A&T State University General Academic Classroom. Photographer, Mark Herboth.

Has your career taken you anywhere you didn’t expect?

India, China, and the Middle East. In India, I worked on a corporate headquarters for Tata Consulting, and in the Middle East I worked on an Academic Medical Center for The King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Centre in Riyadh, in Saudi Arabia.

Where is the field of architecture headed?
Inspired art form shaped by technology, interdisciplinary practice at the highest level, and social necessity. Architecture will always be the highest collaborative form of art whether rational or organic in its spirit.

Can design save the world?
No, but it can change it for the better.

North Carolina A&T State University General Academic Classroom. Photographer, Mark Herboth.

What do you hope to contribute from your work?
Inspiration, wonder, [a] sense of well-being, and community.

Who or what deserves credit for your success?
Richard Meier FAIA, for the beauty of Modern design; Harry Wolf FAIA for the power of simplicity, and Phil Freelon FAIA for drive and believing in the power of design.

Your least favorite college class?

If you could give the you-of-10-years-ago advice, what would it be?
Network, network, network. They don’t teach you [that] in design school.

Your favorite Boston-area structure?
Currently Genzyme, for its aspiration to serve its community as a living, breathing building.

Who would you like the BSA to interview next?
An inspired engineer: Matthias Schuler of Transsolar or Paul Kassabian of Simpson Gumpertz & Heger.

If you were on a late-night TV show, what would your 30-second plug be?
How the power of design and place can enlighten, elevate, and inspire.

If you could sum up your outlook on life in a bumper sticker, what would it say?
Be careful of perfection.