REIMAGINE THE POSSIBILITIES
Originally from Switzerland, Tobias Guggenheimer grew up living and learning in many diverse places. His highly successful architectural design firm continues to expand around the world.
ARCHITECTURE LEADERS TODAY
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TobiasGuggenheimer architects, P.C.
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Reimagining the possibilities of design by Joel Cornell
Originally from Switzerland, Tobias Guggenheimer grew living and learning in many diverse places around the world. His highly successful architectural design firm, Guggenheimer Architects, is currently based in Westchester County, New York and continues to expand around the world via a new office in the Philippines and several more to come. Guggenheimer had first gained an interest in architectural design from the perspective of an academic. “My initial interests were in a career in academia,” Guggenheimer said. “I first gained a degree in literature and had intentions on developing that as a career. My interest had always intersected with my hobbies in art, and particularly in sculptures. Over time, I began slowly drifting away from working in academia and began taking a more active interest in three dimensional artistry and design.”
After graduating from Binghamton University in New York, Guggenheimer went back to Europe, where he had several old friends who were active in the architecture business in Italy. Through his experiences during this time, he gained great exposure to some of the classic and vast traditions in architectural design. “I realized that architecture would be a great combination of the academic and the cultural, the artistic and the technical,” Guggenheimer said. Before fully committing to his career in architecture, Guggenheimer moved his family to Evergreen, Colorado where began learning every aspect of the construction process. In 1980, he quite literally built his OPPOSITE PAGE & ABOVE: Tuxedo Park Lakefront House. View from the southeast, the living room, kitchen and den.
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"I realized that architecture would be a great combination of the academic and the cultural, the artistic and the technical."
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own house from the ground up, from digging the holes out of recycled materials to installing all the passive and active solar systems to creating the initial designs for the project. After years of experimenting with creative styles in architectural design, Guggenheimer completed a new design for a retiring architect who loved his designs and helped to establish his love for design. He attended the School of Architecture at the University of Colorado in Denver to receive his license in architecture before moving to New York to establish his firm in 1991. Guggenheimer Architects began small and has stayed that way ever since. Over the years, they have come to specialize in higher end residential work, mainly concentrated in the metropolitan New York region. There was always far less opportunities for new construction projects in the bustling towns surrounding New York City, so the firm learning to specialize in renovating older residences. Approximately 40 percent of their work is in the heart of New York City; an additional 40 percent takes place in the nearby suburb of Tuxedo Park; and about 20 percent near Guggenheimer’s headquarters in Westchester County, N.Y. “We began our work in Tuxedo Park about 12 years ago,” Guggenheimer said. “It was already established as a historic and attractive planned community to cater to workers and middle class folk located in the Ramapo Mountains. It was meant to be something akin to a northern Italian lake country where people would rent houses for varied periods of time. “Our first project there was for a project called the Hay House (verify spelling). We took the whole place apart and rebuilt it in a new contemporary style that also respected the original intentions of the architect. Our work there went on to bring us dozens of projects within Tuxedo Park, ranging from similar renovations to new homes to feasibility studies. Over the past decade, we’ve been the single most active architecture firm in that neighborhood.” Much of the work that Guggenheimer Architects does is unique in that their renovations projects rarely require the occupants to leave their home during the construction process. On one notable project, the owner suffered from severe illness triggered by even low level toxins or allergens such as dust, dirt or off gassing due to glues and chemicals. Guggenheimer designed a temporary second home for the family directly on the property that was connected via a covered walkway to the main building. This allowed the family to remain close by during construction while still able to live comfortably and easily. Although 95 percent of the design and building work that Guggenheimer Architects does is in the metropolitan New York area, they have taken on a massive expansion of the presence internationally. The firm has recently completed a master plan for a new resort hotel in Egypt just off the OPPOSITE TOP & ABOVE: Restored Historic Mansion in Tuxedo Park. View of the house exterior and the kitchen after restoration. BOTTOM LEFT & RIGHT: Twin Turret House in Tuxedo Park after restoration. Exterior view and west view of the kitchen.
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coast of the Red Sea. Several years ago, Guggenheimer establish a satellite office in the Philippines to help facilitate work with their clients there. “We have our office here where we get the majority of our design work done,” Guggenheimer said,” while our office in the Philippines works in person with our clients during our nights so we don’t have to change our process or do any work without daily, direct input from the client.” Guggenheimer Architects also has done work across the U.S., into Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan. Guggenheimer also maintains a wide range of contacts throughout Southeast Asia for two reasons: he is highly involved in doing non-profit work for schools and health clinics, especially for women in communities there where they are under served; and also for providing his clients in the U.S. with a diverse collection of Asian antiques, art, sculptures and rarities. Parallel to his architectural practice, Guggenheimer also gives back to the architectural community in tremendous ways. He still remains active in the academic community. During the first few decades of his practice, he was involved with the Pratt Institute as a professor of architectural design and technology. Afterwards, he became the director of interior design at Marymount College in New York, before being asked to teach at the Parson School of Design. He has also authored two books: A Taliesin Legacy, a study on the students and apprentices of Frank Lloyd Wright; and a new book concerning the history and utility of direct competition within the industry of architectural design. Despite their small size, Guggenheimer Architects is able to offer a broad range of experience and expertise to each client. Whether in renovating a Depression Era building in Tuxedo Park or non-profit projects in Sri Lanka, Guggenheimer is able to provide specialized and professional service to high end and non-profit clients alike. Currently, Guggenheimer Architects is focusing on their international development throughout Southeast Asia, as well as developing their presence with the realm of non-profit and social service design for education and healthcare. ALT BELOW: Rendering of the north view of a Shingle Style Country House in Tuxedo Park. All photos courtesy of Tobias Guggenheimer Architect, P.C.
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Published on Nov 30, 2010
Originally from Switzerland, Tobias Guggenheimer grew up living and learning in many diverse places. His highly successful architectural des...