Lecture Recap :: David Lewis

By: Curtis Robinson, BArch Candidate

The last of the Spring 2012 Student Lectures occurred this past Tuesday, May 1, with a great lecture by David Lewis, of New York's Lewis.Tsurumaki.Lewis (LTL). As a firm, Lewis describes that, LTL is research driven, and that their projects always start with constraints and research.  

Interior of Fluff Bakery (ltlarchitects.com)

Lewis didn't have to go through many projects for viewers to realize that the firm creates visually stimulating spaces, both inside and out. Through pattern, color, form, and material choice, architecture is transformed from just a generic canvas to something wonderful. The wall and ceiling surfaces of the New York bakery/coffee shop, Fluff Bakery, is composed of over 18,000 linear feet of 3/4"x3/4" strips of stained plywood and felt. The lower portion of the walls contain darker strips which help hide any spills that could take place in a coffee shop. Further up the wall to the ceiling are more white strips which allow for more light to bounce off into the space.
Interior of Tides Restaurant (ltlarchitects.com)

LTL does not use materials just as intricate patterns, but they use material to create form and function as well. When designing the New York restaurant Tides, which use chopsticks as utensils, the firm realized there was no space in plan to make the space special - so they went to section. The ceiling is made up of over 110,000 bamboo skewers that transform the flat ceiling into a topographical landscape. The pattern also serves as an acoustical barrier.   

CUC Administrative Building (ltlarchitects.com)

If you're blown away by what LTL creates on a small scale then imagine what they can do with 42,000 square feet of an empty warehouse type building. The firm worked with Claremont University Consortium, to transform what Lewis called a, "glorified shed", into a new administrative building.  The design begins on the exterior with a cedar membrane that respects the existing structures geometry, but also moves free and is able to create and define new entries and outdoor gathering spaces.  At the main entry, the form winds its way into the interior and defines the reception and cafe space, blending the outside with inside. 

Exterior of Arthouse (ltlarchitects.com)

The last project Lewis showcased was an expansion and renovation of Arthouse, a gallery in Austin, Texas. The building has a fascinating history, and the preservation and display of it's history is beautiful. Lewis showed images and talked about the opening night. The band was supposed to perform on the outdoor roof space. However, due to weather, they were moved to the lobby space which is separated from the sidewalk simply with glass walls. As people were dancing in the lobby, outsiders were walking by puzzled and some even came in to join. It is that social interaction that can make a space stand out from everything else.   

Lewis.Tsurumaki.Lewis always keeps in mind the social interaction of the users of a space, as well as how the public will interact with it. As a firm, they believe that successful projects work with the constraints, and that material is also a complex part of the project, strongly influencing how space functions.