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Design by O’Brien Jr. ’00 Featured

Posted on Tuesday, March 04, 2014

A space designed by Architect William O'Brien Jr. '00 was the focus of an AECCafe article. The blog focuses on the architecture, engineering and construction industry. O'Brien is currently assistant professor of architecture at the MIT School of Architecture and Planning and is principal of an independent design practice in Cambridge, Mass. He is also one of the founding members of Collective-LOK.

The blog describes a recent house designed by O'Brien, the Hendee-Borg House in Sonoma, Calif. The article notes it is "a symmetrical saw-tooth roof house for two artists-a sculptor and a media artist-that includes a pair of large artist studios and an attenuated gallery space, in addition to a sequence of domestic spaces. The studio spaces are planometrically-mirrored about an east-west axis in order to facilitate distinct, natural lighting conditions for each studio under a series of eight skylights."

In detailing the unique features of the space, the article also includes numerous visualizations to illustrate it.

In 2013 Architectural Record awarded him with the Design Vanguard Award, a prize given to 10 firms internationally. Additionally, Wallpaper* magazine named him one of the top 20 emerging architects in the world, and included him in the 2013 Architects Directory. He is the recipient of the 2012-2013 Rome Prize Fellowship in Architecture awarded by the American Academy in Rome, and his practice was awarded the 2011 Architectural League Prize for Young Architects and Designers. In 2010, his practice was a finalist for the MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program and was recognized as a winner of the Design Biennial Boston Award.

O'Brien earned his B.A. cum laude in architectural studies and music from Hobart College. While a student, he was a member of the Statesmen soccer team and participated in the study abroad program to Denmark, Copenhagen.

The full text of the article as it appeared in AECCafe follows. Photos are available with the article online.


AECCafe
Hendee-Borg House in Sonoma, California by William O'Brien Jr.

Sumit Singhal • February 28, 2014

Article source: William O'Brien Jr.

The Hendee-Borg House is a symmetrical saw-tooth roof house for two artists-a sculptor and a media artist-that includes a pair of large artist studios and an attenuated gallery space, in addition to a sequence of domestic spaces. The studio spaces are planometrically-mirrored about an east-west axis in order to facilitate distinct, natural lighting conditions for each studio under a series of eight skylights.

This arrangement provides diffuse, northern light in the south-facing studio, and bands of direct light in the north-facing studio. Although the studio spaces remain connected both spatially and by way of a shared gallery wall, the main living and dining area separate them. The primary order of symmetry, as is evidenced from the exterior by the profile of the roofline, is challenged on the interior by particular motivations related to the domestic program.

These motivations-the desire for natural light from a skylight in the opposing direction to the series of large skylights, for example-foster several, local secondary orders of symmetry. Due to volumetric requirements of stairs in conventionally scaled houses, stairs typically resist planometric symmetry (stairs of grandiosity are an exception). In turn, the circulation throughout the house and studio spaces is circuitous. It is an asymmetrical, indirect and continuous loop that encounters two sets of half-stairs, both studios, the connecting gallery, and the stair on the domestic side of the house.

William O'Brien Jr. is Assistant Professor of Architecture at the MIT School of Architecture and Planning and is principal of an independent design practice in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He is also one of the founding members of Collective-LOK.

In 2013 Architectural Record awarded him with the Design Vanguard Award, a prize given to ten firms internationally. Also this year, Wallpaper* named him one of the top twenty emerging architects in the world, and included him in the 2013 Architects Directory. He is the recipient of the 2012-2013 Rome Prize Fellowship in Architecture awarded by the American Academy in Rome. His practice was awarded the 2011 Architectural League Prize for Young Architects and Designers. In 2010 his practice was a finalist for the MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program and was recognized as a winner of the Design Biennial Boston Award.

O'Brien has taught previously at The University of California Berkeley as a Bernard Maybeck Fellow and was the LeFevre Emerging Practitioner Fellow at The Ohio State University. Before joining MIT, for two years he was Assistant Professor at The University of Texas at Austin, where he taught advanced theory seminars and design studios in the graduate curriculum. At MIT O'Brien currently holds the Cecil and Ida Green Career Development Chair and teaches design studios in both the graduate and undergraduate programs. He was the recipient of the 2010 Rotch Traveling Studio Scholarship which funded research and travel for an advanced design studio in Iceland.

O'Brien pursued his graduate studies at Harvard University where he was the recipient of the Master of Architecture Faculty Design Award. Prior to graduate school he attended Hobart College in New York where he studied architecture and music theory and was the winner of the Nicholas Cusimano Prize in Music. After completion of his graduate work he studied in Austria as the recipient of the Hayward Prize for Fine Arts Traveling Fellowship in Architecture under the sponsorship of The American Austrian Foundation. He has been named a MacDowell Fellow by the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire, and a Socrates Fellow by the Aspen Institute.

His publications include essays, "Approaching Irreducible Formations" in ACADIA re:Form, and "Totems" and "Experts in Expediency" in Log Journal. He is currently contributing to and editing a collection of essays for which he has received a grant from The Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.

 

 

 


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