Home > Features > Feature Article

Boston-based architect Bob Augustine has spent a great portion of his professional life in architecture within the academy, developing and teaching the instrumental Thesis Seminar program at the Boston Architectural College. He is now an associate professor at Wentworth Institute's architecture program. But since leaving his long post at the nearby BAC, Bob has been engaged in a fundamental shift where practice is now a large portion of his professional life, and where his newfound pursuits and passions are thrusting him into a critical debate raging within his own work: tradition versus modern, comfort versus social responsibility.

And it's all happening within the beltway of architecturally conservative Metro Boston.

This introspective conflict is the stuff he literally encouraged hundreds of students to engage in when developing their thesis programs. Now he's working on a thesis of his own -- in his practice -- that has earned him spotlight attention in the Boston Globe Magazine and World Architecture News.

This winter I had a chance to sit down with Bob -- who is both an old friend and former professor of this author -- and discuss the new attention and critical praise he's been receiving for his latest work.


Academia to Practice

Boston Architecture

The Market for Modernism

The Creative Class: Luxury and Desire

Green Design and Reconfiguring Tradition

Comfort versus Responsibility

ArchiCAD and the Mac

Mac OS X
Adobe Creative Suite
2.16Ghz MacBook Pro
Apple Cinema Display
HP DesignJet 130 printer
HP C7100
Web Site
Bob Augustine Architect


Academia to Practice

AFR: How was your transition from the academic world to the world of practice? What was the shift like from teaching thesis, concepts, theories to the realm of practice?

Bob Augustine (BA): Well because so much of my background was in practice before my academic days, it wasn't like a jump, per se, it was more like a stutter step -- like going back to where it was before. The first thing I brought to my client was a quote from Daniel Libeskind... "tradition is a veiling of fiery origins." I always loved that. The client, who was an artist, said, "yes, let's go for it." There was this immediate connection, about ideas and the possibilities of architecture.

Do you think that is a rare client?

(BA): Yes, there was a lead into it since the client was an artist and his wife a graphic designer. But I found that it is true with other clients as well, even with my contractor-developer, Duncan. Duncan is interested in a different kind of architecture, not building the traditional "McMansions". He is someone willing to take a risk.

Can you tell me a bit about this collaboration you have with your builder-developer?

(BA): It is not the traditional design-build relationship, but is is a collaborative relationship. It makes sense that we go on this path together a bit to see where the work goes. It works well for me. In practice versus academia there is a lot more concern about codes, reviewing agencies, building departments, responding to square footages, open space, and adjacency. Duncan's experience helps me navigate through those issues. At the same time I can hand over the baton and share some of the design work with him and his crew when he starts building and they start working closely with the client on a day to day basis.

You bring up an interesting aspect about practitioners who teach. Before you were working with students getting them to try all these things out, conceptually, not necessarily grounded in the realities of the building code, historical architectural review board—these type of things that typically don't get confronted in the academic studio. This is often hard to reconcile on a certain level.

(BA): This is interesting. You are raising the question: how much can you still rely on, or how much can you energize the idea of search, in the work, when all of a sudden you are building buildings? You start to fall back on old reliable patterns.

Yes, that's right.

(BA): I was aware of it but I still think I was able to keep some of the meaning. We could talk about the meaning I still have in my work. I think the work is really about tradition and not just modernism. Everybody looks at it and says that it is modern design but not really, that is why Libeskind's quote is so interesting. I think subverting tradition a little bit is good and I believe that is where the modernist's break was a mistake, their break was so cleanly from tradition that they didn't touch it anymore. They left it for the post modernist to deal with.

Affordable green housing proto-types (left), World Architecture News "house of the month" winner (middle) utilizes extensive use of copper and utilizes green technology sod on portions of the roof. The Boston Globe runs feature titled 'Modern Love' about modern housing that is challenging perceptions and acting responsible to energy conservation and the environment (right).

And are you dealing with it?

(BA): My work seems to go back to engage in traditional forms again. Subvert may not be the best word to use for it, but I think it kind of is. Reconfiguring traditional roots is perhaps more appropriate. I like to think that some of the work is sustainable, green, 2007.


next page > | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |


Home > Features > Feature Article




NBC on iTunes





  | Corrections | About Architosh | Awards & Press Reaction |
| Site Map |

Privacy Notice | Contact Us | How to Advertise | Corporate Sponsorship |
Copyright © 1999 - 2008. BritasMedia Publications. All Rights Reserved.
Architosh™ and the ToshLetter™ are trademarks of BritasMedia™

Quantified - Quantcast