Digital to Ecological
Edie Cohen -- Interior Design, 11/1/2007 12:00:00 AM
John Friedman and Alice Kimm think big: A $65 million garage for the Los Angeles Police Department. The 34,000-square-foot graduate-level aeronautical labs at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Mira, a 2,000,000-square-foot Chinese trade center under development in Santa Ana, California.
The husband-wife architects also know how to think small: A 4,000-square-foot L.A. house that's stunningly sustainable. The 2,000-square-foot restaurant Lucky Devils, featuring graphics and branding as prominent parts of the mix.
"We enjoy a challenge," Kimm says. All projects by John Friedman Alice Kimm Architects are "design problems," Friedman chimes in. "Ideas and materials from our small projects inform larger ones and vice versa." Polycarbonate wall panels from the nightclub Sugar, for example, reappeared for large-scale use at the LA Design Center. A Lucky Devils wall covering, abstracted from a photograph of a freeway, inspired the one that will be punched up to billboard proportions at Mira, where the skin of the building will integrate electronics.
JFAK likes technology. "Digital fabrication can explore a whole range of forms and ideas," Friedman says. But there's another issue, Kimm adds: "How do these things get built, affordably? Our office has always been concerned with the nuts and bolts of how things get put together."
Friedman and Kimm founded JFAK in 1996, after meeting at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design. Where do they see themselves in 10 years? "We seem to be on a path to larger, more complex institutional projects," Friedman offers. From the current staff of 11, that could mean doubling in size.