PETER PRAN PETER PRAN | 1935-2017
1935 - 2017
Peter Pran Biography John Savo
Kenneth Frampton Tim Johnson Steve McConnell Seoul Dome Jonathan Ward
Kwun Tong Town Centre Anne Cunningham
505 Union Station
Rysia Suchecka Phu Duong
Telenor World Headquarters Jin Ah Park A.J. Montero
Akerselva Atrium Robert Mankin
Nuritkum Square, IT Complex Pascal Beomseok Suh Bill Bain, Jr.
Sail @ Marina Bay Will Robertson
Gramercy Park Dan Ayars John Savo
Additional Projects Suggested Reading
4 INTRODUCTION - PETER PRAN
1935 - 2017
Peter was born in 1935 in Oslo, Norway. He earned his Bachelor of Architecture from the Oslo School of Architecture and Design in 1961. He moved to Chicago in 1963 to work in the office of Mies van der Rohe as a project designer on the Chicago Federal Center, the Toronto Dominion (TD) Centre and the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin. In 1969 Peter earned his Master of Science in Architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology. In the 1960s and â€™70s he worked in the Chicago office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill on projects including the Sears (now Willis) Tower in Chicago and the Hajj Terminal of King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Significant projects completed at Ellerbe Becket include the New York State Psychiatric Institute in New York City, two academic buildings at SUNY Binghamton in upstate New York, and the Wilton, CT, headquarters of Deloitte & Touche. In 1996 Peter joined NBBJ as a design principal. For the next 15 years he helped NBBJ realize its ambition to become the best design firm in the world, leading some of the firmâ€™s most celebrated projects at the time. Peter was elected a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 2001. In 2011 he left NBBJ to found his own firm, Peter Pran + H Architects, in New York and Oslo. Peter passed away in Norway on July 5, 2017, at the age of 81.
He joined the New York office of Ellerbe Becket in 1986, where he worked for the next decade as a design principal and senior vice president alongside Carlos Zapata, Mehrdad Yazdani and several future leaders of NBBJ, including Tim Johnson, Jin Ah Park and Jonathan Ward.
Peter Pran with his wife Siri Blakstad
Introduction john savo
INTRODUCTION - PETER PRAN
Architect Peter Pran, a longtime collaborator and friend of NBBJ, passed away at his home in Norway on July 5, 2017, at the age of 81. It may be difficult for those who did not have the opportunity to know him personally to fully appreciate his profound, long-lasting influence on both our culture and the quality of our work — which is the reason for this issue of Catalyst, to acknowledge how Peter changed us and to celebrate him and our shared accomplishments.
Peter was introduced to NBBJ by another valued colleague, Dorm Anderson, who had known Peter since they worked together in the storied office of Mies van der Rohe in Chicago. There, among other achievements, Peter helped design and detail classic modern icons such as the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin, the Chicago Federal Center and the Toronto Dominion Center. After subsequent tenures at SOM in Chicago and Ellerbe Becket in New York, Peter was invited to join NBBJ as a principal in 1997.
NBBJ’s design aspirations were already sky-high before Peter joined us, as evidenced by a message that greeted every visitor to the Seattle office on Jackson Street: ”… to be the best design firm in the world.” With partners, principals and core teams following the adage of “hiring people that are better than ourselves,” the quality of NBBJ’s design work had been steadily improving with each new generation of designers and architects that joined our practice. Peter not only met that criteria, but he was unusual in that he had already earned an international reputation as a bold and progressive design leader whose work was at the leading edge of contemporary design. From the very outset of his time with us, Peter was a change agent. In his design, his process and his personality, Peter was something new for NBBJ.
The projects he navigated through design at NBBJ appear poised at the starting line or about to take off, fly, levitate or soar. 7
8 INTRODUCTION - PETER PRAN
Tom Beeby, John Burgee, Stanley Tigerman, Helmut Jahn, Philip Johnson, Peter Pran, Stuart Cohen, Margaret McCur ty and others at the University of Illinois at Chicago
Peter gave us something we needed more than we knew at the time â€” he offered us inspiration.
He combined European sophistication and secularism with a childlike curiosity and unbridled enthusiasm that took people by surprise. More importantly, his designs were unlike anything NBBJ was doing before his arrival. An unrepentant and passionate modernist, he joined NBBJ at a time of transition in our design direction. Peter gave us something we needed more than we knew at the time — he offered us inspiration.
Almost without exception, the projects he navigated through design at NBBJ appear poised at the starting line or about to take off, fly, levitate or soar. The buildings have a fluidity and suppleness that seem to defy gravity and invite a new and more liberal interpretation of Modernism. Look deeper into this issue of Catalyst at the building designs he helped create: 505 Union Station in Seattle, the Seoul Dome, Manggarai Train Station and the 80-story mixed-use tower in Jakarta, the 163 Castlereagh tower in Sydney, and the Telenor headquarters near Oslo.
INTRODUCTION - PETER PRAN
NBBJ readily embraced Peter, but not without some concern about how bringing a “name” architect into the practice might overshadow other designers and their accomplishments. We needn’t have worried. Peter’s collaborative and generous approach to design made room for everyone. He was a teacher and mentor, as well as a conceptual designer of the first order. He was quick to praise and embrace the ideas of others. He pushed us to think and act globally, but his greatest passion and
biggest design impact on NBBJ was encouraging experimentation in building form. Peter was a poet composing in three dimensions — and he wished to make poets of us all.
Manggarai Train Station
80-stor y mixed-use tower in Jakar ta
They are dynamic, graceful and vibrant — adjectives unlikely to be applied to the products of the early or mid-century modernists. Peter and his in-house collaborators helped position NBBJ near the forefront of something new in architecture. As important as his design contributions were to NBBJ’s work, Peter made an even greater contribution in the talent he attracted. Among those drawn to NBBJ by Peter’s presence include Jonathan Ward, Jin Ah Park, Tim Johnson, Paul Davis and Joey Myers, who worked with Peter at Ellerbe Becket; not to mention subsequent generations of leaders like Dan Ayars and others who were his students. In addition to their earlier collaborations with Peter, they have all gone on to make significant design contributions in their own right. Then there are those of us who were already here, but who found the introduction of Peter Pran into NBBJ’s bloodstream to be invigorating and energizing — a refreshing boost of endorphins into our corporate system. Peter was a principal at NBBJ for 14 years, from 1997 to 2011, before he moved on to other challenges and opportunities. He remained a close friend of the firm, and his legacy at NBBJ continued in those of us who had the privilege to work with him and to be inspired by his ideas. That legacy still lives on in the evolution of NBBJ’s design thinking, in which Peter was an important link. Consciously or not, when someone chooses to join NBBJ today because they are excited by what they perceive in our work, they are also being influenced by one of our most inspirational designers — Peter Pran. We will miss him.
163 Castlereagh Tower
Kenneth Frampton WARE PROFESSOR OF ARCHITECTURE, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY GSAPP
INTRODUCTION - PETER PRAN
Peter Pran developed a new mode of collaborative practice as he moved within corporate offices from one position of leadership to another, invariably taking the lead but always allowing the younger generation to participate in the design. Although rigorously trained under Mies van der Rohe at IIT, Pran, after a brief flirtation with postmodernism, would opt for a late free-style neo-constructivism line. The evolution of this last may be loosely divided into three phases: first, at different times, his work for New York State and New York City; second, a period when he was preoccupied with a sequence of outlandish proposals for Asia; and finally, his last phase when he repatriated himself to Norway with the Telenor headquarters in Oslo.
In each of these phases Pran worked for a different class of clientele, each having its own demands and expectations together with varying technological capacities. Thus, in New York State the Pran team would be subject to the economic constraints of the American public client, whereas in Asia they were able to indulge the extravagant budget of overheated economies, thereby projecting futuristic imagery irrespective of the limitations of the local building industry and their dependence on the importation of expensive materials. These very varied conditions were accompanied by other changes, not only the total shift to computeraided design but also the growing impatience of private clients who were unwilling to let the design evolve at a reasonable pace and wished to have every issue resolved overnight. In this regard digital
design has engendered as many losses as gains, for while physical modeling remains an integral part of the design process, today’s clients have developed an insatiable appetite for seductive computer-generated images since they appear to represent with mediatic authority the building as it will be seen at completion. While the computer has facilitated the rapid modification of details, the advantages of CAD systems have been in effect offset by a reluctance, due to a lack of time, to build sufficiently detailed, physical models by hand. It is as though the facility of one medium forecloses upon the possibility of another. We encounter this issue in Pran’s SUNY Binghamton Academic Buildings even though they represented a major departure from what had hitherto been standard New York State building practice. Pran’s New York State Psychiatric Institute in Manhattan is an ingenious solution to the task of providing a complex medical facility on a leftover space, situated between the West Side Highway and Riverside Drive. Pran’s Neo-Constructivist approach assumes a more rational, typological character in the New York Police Academy, designed in association with Michael Fieldman. Sports buildings have long been a strong theme in Pran’s architecture ever since his McCormick Place Stadium projected for Chicago in 1990. In 1997, Pran designed the LG Seoul Dome stadium in South Korea, which was won in a limited competition against Toyo Ito, Nicholas
Grimshaw and Helmut Jahn. This 70,000-seat arena broke entirely new ground by incorporating entertainment, shopping facilities and a “cineplex” cinema into its overall program. The ovoid plan of this stadium carried over uncannily into many of Pran’s high-rise proposals which were often predicated on an ovoid plan, as in the case of the 50-story Graha Kuningan tower project proposed for Jakarta in 1998. Pran’s urban approach oscillated between two different strategies, the first being a high-rise shaft and the second being a set of loosely linked, low-rise buildings, connected together by a glazed gallery as in his competition entry for the Rikshospitalet in Oslo. Throughout his career he was always the ubiquitous persuader and resourceful enthusiast. He could get vast projects underway and then turn his attention to the next. He was, as the Americans say, “a mover and shaker” and also, at the same time, a warm and generous colleague. He will be sorely missed. 13
SUNY Binghamton Academic Building
Tim Johnson PARTNER, NBBJ NEW YORK
INTERVIEW - TIM JOHNSON
When I met Peter I was working with Ellerbe Becket in Minneapolis. I was looking through the latest issue of Progressive Architecture, and I saw this model made out of white bristol board, copper and Plexiglas, with a drill bit drilled into a Plexiglas cylinder that represented the elevator core. I was a huge fan of building models to explain my ideas, so when I saw that and found out it was done by this design principal at Ellerbe Becket named Peter Pran, I thought, “Gosh, I work for the same company.” I was completely inspired by how radical his thinking was. This was when Deconstructivism was rearing its head and pushing Postmodernism out the door, and Peter was squarely fighting that fight.
That summer I went to New York City on vacation, and I thought, “You know, I’m going to stop by the Ellerbe Becket office, and I’m going to meet this guy, Peter Pran.” So I called and made an appointment, and I get there
and Peter greets me in his humble manner and immediately starts showing me a competition he was working on for a new airport terminal at JFK. This was August — people were away on vacation — and Peter was there by himself, so after I talked to him for about an hour he said, “By the way, can you help me finish this model?” So I worked for two days on this model with Peter while I was on vacation, and the rest is history. I went on to work closely with Peter for the next few decades. At heart Peter was a formalist. He was trained at IIT, which at the time was one of the best architecture schools in the world, and he worked with Mies, so therefore he was influenced by pure form and minimalist space.
Peter believed that architecture could be liberating, uplifting and most of all dramatic and exciting. 15
16 INTERVIEW - TIM JOHNSON
Peter Pran (center) with Jonathan Ward (third from left), Tim Johnson (third from right) and others in Jakarta
INTERVIEW - TIM JOHNSON Sail @ Marina Bay
Peter also had a big heart for humanity. His Norwegian upbringing was the basis of this, and he brought that to the U.S. during the civil rights era that excited 1960s Chicago. He was not shy in fighting for human rights, particularly for African Americans, and speaking out against the Vietnam War. Peter’s first wife Clevon, a noted artist in her own right from the poor black neighborhood of South Chicago, kept him grounded and balanced. Later in life Peter was very fortunate to meet and marry Siri Blakstad — herself a noted artist in Oslo — who undoubtedly filled Peter’s later years with rich dialogue, critique and happiness. They travelled the world together as Peter lectured and continued to design buildings with his own firm, Peter Pran + H.
A Le Corbusier painting Peter always had behind his desk, now hanging in his last office in Oslo, Nor way.
He was also heavily influenced by artists such as Brancusi and Richard Serra. Peter’s work became a transformation of the pure and rectilinear architecture of his education and early work; he was interested in the spatial energy created through the exploration of dynamic forms and spaces. Peter believed that architecture could be liberating, uplifting and most of all dramatic and exciting — the more of that, the better! I can still hear him coaxing us: “Can it tilt a little more? Can that curve be stronger? Can we make that a little more slender?” Peter always had a great eye — he was one of the best critics I have ever worked with. Once the design was set he was also the tireless gatekeeper, insisting that we and the client all commit to delivering on the artistic vision. One of Peter’s greatest traits was how he inspired talented people with his vision and the “tremendous” — that was one of his words — opportunities for any design assignment, whether it was a high-rise corporate headquarters in Jeddah or a rooftop restaurant in Chelsea. His ability to not just attract young talent, but get them charged up for the mission to be a design firm, made huge impacts at both NBBJ and Ellerbe Becket, which both were largely service firms before he arrived. He embraced and gave tremendous credit to the people who worked with him and was very passionate about gender equality in particular.
Peter was quite controversial at NBBJ, partly because his volume on design was cranked up very loud. That was hard for the firm to get used to; however, slowly through Peter’s persistence and those he influenced, the firm began to acclimate to it. Peter was relentless with design, and that was his strength, but you could also say it may have been his weakness, because he only managed to get a handful of things built in his career. However, buildings such as Telenor, the Sail, and Gramercy Park are great buildings that to me best represent Peter’s unique vision for architecture. People that work and live in these buildings love the power of the design — therefore, hats off to Peter! Peter was definitely one of those larger-than-life people. I do miss that fact that he is no longer on the planet; however, I do fondly remember all the late nights, physical models, plane trips around the world, client presentations and, most of all, him sitting in his Eames aluminum chair pondering the next design move…
INTERVIEW - STEVE MCCONNELL
MANAGING PARTNER, NBBJ SEATTLE
Peter’s early work had everyone’s attention. Nobody was building models like that, nobody was co-opting materials in almost “pre-Deconstruction” thinking. In the late 1980s, when a lot of superficial postmodern work was going on, Peter and a few others were driving at something else, and, boy, it caught a lot of people’s attention. It was big news. Peter Pran, Carlos Zapata, Mehrdad Yazdani — those guys were thinking about things in such a radically different way.
He had this amazing gift to be unrelenting in his pursuit of progressive, cutting-edge design, and yet at the same time he had a friendliness and a warmth with all his colleagues. He brought the power of being not only a signature designer, but also someone who deeply valued collaboration and understood how a resourceful — if not large — firm like NBBJ could provide the platform and talent and resources to do things that perhaps an atelier couldn’t do.
While NBBJ had an aspiration to be a leading design firm, beyond a doubt we needed role models — we needed people like Peter. He was in many ways unique in his capability to impart confidence, to be courageous, to challenge convention while understanding that, yes, we’re working in a practical world, but that’s no reason to capitulate or not reach for fresh ideas and beautiful, progressive design.
He would always say, not “100 percent great,” but “1000 percent great.” You would hear that a lot: “That’s 1000 percent! Exactly right!” He would also use the word daring: “This isn’t daring enough, we need to be daring.” That’s another Peter-ism.
He had this amazing gift to be unrelenting in his pursuit of progressive, cuttingedge design, and yet at the same time he had a friendliness and a warmth with all his colleagues. 21
22 INTERVIEW - STEVE MCCONNELL
In the late 1980s, when a lot of superficial postmodern work was going on, Peter and a few others were driving at something else, and, boy, it caught a lot of peopleâ€™s attention.
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA 1998
SEOUL DOME This competition-winning entertainment complex and 43,000-seat stadium was designed to serve as a venue for the 2002 World Cup as well as the permanent home of the LG Twins baseball team. It includes a stadium, public concourse, cinemas, restaurants, an entertainment complex, exhibition hall, health club, banqueting facilities, retail and a three-level parking garage â€” all within a single design that wraps the stadium with two tube-like, tectonic, cantilevered arms containing all other functions.
PROJECT - SEOUL DOME
NBBJ: Peter Pran, Mike Amaya, Diane Anderson, Ignatius Chau, Andrew Collins, Jonathan Emmett, Peter Fergin, Mike Hallmark, Salvador Hidalgo, Michael Hootman, Jim Jonassen, Matthew Landkamer, Seung Lee, John Lodge, Greg Lombardi, Greg Lyon, Dan Meis, Joey Myers, Bryan Tessner, Ron Turner, Jonathan Ward, Jim Waymire, Brent Whiting
26 PROJECT - SEOUL DOME
28 PROJECT - SEOUL DOME
30 PROJECT - SEOUL DOME
32 PROJECT - SEOUL DOME
Jonathan Ward DESIGN PARTNER, NBBJ LOS ANGELES
INTERVIEW - JONATHAN WARD
I first met Peter in 1990 or so, at Ellerbe Becket in Minneapolis. Ellerbe Becket at that time had a very special design environment, which, as it turned out, was a very short-lived one. Each office had somebody like Peter — Mehrdad Yazdani in Los Angeles, Mick Johnson in Minneapolis, Mark Molen in DC, and Carlos Zapata and Peter in New York— and a group of young designers that were given room to experiment with these experienced design leaders.
It was a hotbed of exploration, particularly in the context of a large firm. Peter figured out how to engage a design conversation in a large firm that nobody had quite figured out before — except maybe SOM in the 1960s and ’50s, and Peter worked there too, in the ’60s and ’70s. He was able to somehow come into a large firm and bring totally fresh, explorational thinking and engage young people in a collaborative way. It was never, “Do this!” It was more like, “What do you think? How do we do this? What’s your idea? Let’s put it together and do something cool.” Peter’s and Carlos’ collaboration in New York was very influential, but we had a similar group in Minneapolis, where I worked with Paul Davis. We were all pushing the boundaries of what computer design could do at the time. We took a program that SOM had built from scratch, called AES, which was made for rectilinear 1980s SOM buildings, and we pushed it and pushed it to do complex shapes and multiple curved geometries. Everybody was
using the same platform to push the boundaries of what was possible. It was collaboration at a very high level, very freethinking, within the context of real projects at a large firm. So it was a unique environment. It was a six- or seven-year window, and then it closed. Ultimately Dorm Anderson, who was a principal here, with whom Peter had worked in Mies’s office, got in touch with Peter and brought him in to shake things up. They wanted to take a risk and use Peter as a change agent to open up possibilities. At the same time, Paul Davis and the Ellerbe Becket sports group also abandoned ship and came to NBBJ Los Angeles. Tim Johnson joined New York. Peter, Jin Ah and I went to Seattle. It was the same group of connected designers, with a unique collaborative spirit that meshed well with NBBJ, so it was a natural fit.
NBBJ had huge aspirations, and hiring Peter was an important point along that journey, when the firm said, “Okay, we’re going to make a big play here. We’re going to shake things up.”
36 INTERVIEW - JONATHAN WARD
37 Jonathan Ward, Peter Pran, Jin Ah Park, Phu Duong and Erik Lind
For me, there are three really important things about Peter. One was the way he worked, which was very collaborative — anybody’s idea could get on the table. Another is the really advanced integration of design technology. It wasn’t entirely Peter’s doing, but he embraced it fully and really pushed it into the process. This was 25 years ago, so it was really advanced for the time. And he brought an energy to the firm which we desperately needed at the time to shake things up. His aspiration was to always do something better and unexpected. It was grounded in a Modernist background because he worked for Mies and SOM in the ’60s and ’70s, but then he layered on a unique sculpturalism which was subjective but also program- and site-driven. He was always looking for new ideas of how to integrate those two things together.
INTERVIEW - JONATHAN WARD
I have so many memories of going to faraway places with Peter. Having the most advanced technology meant we had to lug around giant computers and a foam cutter, because the physical model and the computer model were completely integrated. Peter was always there until midnight or 1:00 in the morning, cutting out forms and working with the team. I think that commitment, to the work being the best it could be, rubbed off on everyone.
Telenor World Headquar ters with Daniel Buren installation “Fondation Surgisante”
He was disruptive, but in the long run the disruption was a big benefit, even though there were plenty of headaches along the way. The important thing is, NBBJ had huge aspirations, and hiring Peter was an important point along that journey, when the firm said, “Okay, we’re going to make a big play here. We’re going to shake things up.” That’s a bold, brave move for any firm to do, and there weren’t many firms that did that. It was very rare — and even more rare to do it successfully.
He brought an energy to the firm which we desperately needed at the time to shake things up.
HONG KONG, CHINA 1998
KWUN TONG TOWN CENTRE
PROJECT - KWUN TONG TOWN CENTRE
This transit-oriented development, located at the heart of the Kwun Tong district in Kowloon, integrates a 43-story office tower, five residential towers, a hotel, retail, a bus station and the Kwun Tong MTR station. It functions as a landmark for the continued development of this urban area, with public space that includes an outdoor plaza, complemented by an indoor atrium where all the internal activities come together.
PROJECT TEAM NBBJ: Peter Pran, Dorm Anderson, Susan Dewey, Paul Gillis, Duncan Griffin, Jordan Hukee, Jim Jonassen, Joey Myers, Joe Rettenmaier, Hideto Tanaka, Alec Vassiliadis, Jonathan Ward
42 PROJECT - KWUN TONG TOWN CENTRE
44 PROJECT - KWUN TONG TOWN CENTRE
Anne Cunningham PRINCIPAL, NBBJ SEATTLE
INTERVIEW - ANNE CUNNINGHAM
The Vulcan headquarters at 505 Union Station is Peter’s building here in Seattle. It’s a bit provocative, and although it was not necessarily his favorite, I’m always very grateful that we have one of his buildings in town, because it’s unique. It has some really challenging angles, with the tapering and torqueing, and at one point I was pushing back with him on something, and he stood up, slammed his fists on the table and said, “What do you want, Anne? A square building?!” And I was like, “No, I’ll just take a square floor plate.” But I was kidding.
At the completion of the Vulcan project, he wrote me this really lovely letter and said how much he had appreciated working with me. He was always very generous with that sort of thing. Peter was very, very progressive in terms of his attitude to women in the profession. For a man of his generation, it was noteworthy. At the completion of Vulcan, I literally two days later gave birth to my son — I always say I gave birth to my son when I gave birth to that project. I was in the hospital, and my husband walked into the room
shortly after I had woken up the next day, and I was like, “Honey, thank you so much for those flowers!” It was 24 red roses. I said, “That was amazing!” and my husband was like, “It’s not from me.” So I reached over, and it was from Peter! He was acknowledging the completion of the project and, obviously, giving birth. So he was so lovely. But my poor husband … I always remember the softer side of Peter and his incredible devotion to his first wife. She was very ill and wheelchair-bound, and they came to an NBBJ Christmas party and he was just incredibly lovely and devoted with her. He was a very gentle man. Very exaggerated on so many fronts, but also very gentle. He was a devoted friend, and once he built that bond with you, it was for life.
Peter was very, very progressive in terms of his attitude to women in the profession. For a man of his generation, it was noteworthy. 47
48 INTERVIEW - ANNE CUNNINGHAM
Iâ€™m always very grateful that we have one of his buildings in town, because itâ€™s unique. 49
SEATTLE, WA, USA 2001
505 UNION STATION
PROJECT - 505 UNION STATION
Real estate developer Vulcan served as both client and occupant for this 11-story office building adjacent to Seattle’s historic Union Station. A “waterfall wall” seemingly cascades down the structure’s sloping north face and forms a receding backdrop to the train station, while the west elevation cantilevers out 4 feet at a 4 degree angle until it reaches the property line at its parapet. These dynamic forms anchor the terminus of 2nd Avenue, directly opposite the Space Needle at the avenue’s northern end.
PROJECT TEAM NBBJ: Peter Pran, Michael Amaya, Amy Baker, Torey Beck, Kimball Bergerud, Louisa Chang, Catherine Comstock, Anne Cunningham, Katherine Curva, Brent Gesell, John Halleran, Scott Johnson, Steve Joo, Justine Kim, Paula Kirkpatrick, Jeannine McAuliffe, Jannine McDonald, Joey Myers, Frederick Norman, William Patterson, Dana Rochex, Brent Rogers, John Savo, David Schuman, Erin Shaw, Linda Shedd, Jeremy Thornburg, Alec Vassiliadis, Curtis Wagner, Michael Wangen, Carla Weinheimer, Noel Whorton, Scott Wyatt
52 PROJECT - 505 UNION STATION
54 PROJECT - 505 UNION STATION
Rysia Suchecka CONSULTING PARTNER, NBBJ SEATTLE Peter liberated our young designers from the tyranny of functionalism and convention. He broke the rule of “form follows function” and questioned the hierarchical nature of traditional skyscrapers. Under Peter’s influence, our designers felt free to pursue their own path.
INTERVIEW - RYSIA SUCHECKA
Peter was a provocateur. He was highly competitive and determined. He was willing to use every tool at his disposal — personal connections, diplomacy, persuasion — to realize something he deeply believed in. He would keep at people until he was sure they understood him, and regularly canvased the office for the opinions and support of people he respected and trusted.
Peter was a crusader for great design. He had a fresh perspective, as well as a deep belief in the transformative power of architecture to change how people see and experience the world. He thought of space as stories. His buildings were about community and culture, because they were designed to help people see themselves as part of something bigger. He taught me that the world was made to be free in, and to give up all the other worlds. And I know he believed one thousand percent.
His buildings were about community and culture, because they were designed to help people see themselves as part of something bigger. 57
58 INTERVIEW - RYSIA SUCHECKA
Peter Pran during construction of the Sail @ Marina Bay
Phu Duong SENIOR ASSOCIATE, NBBJ NEW YORK
INTERVIEW - PHU DUONG
During my fourth year of college at Washington State University, I came across Peter Pran’s monograph. His digital drawings — and this was in the early CAD days, when you really had to work at producing beautiful CAD drawings — basically had large landscape effects. Even a high-rise, he would treat it like a landscape, which meant the curves of the building were very long and expansive and extended the eye.
Like an artist, he knew what it would be like in the final experience. On the Telenor project, he encouraged us to explore these long curves. He somehow had this intuition that the geometry would move with you as you walked and experienced it. On the north side of the Telenor 200-meter façade that Jin Ah and I worked on, there is a little kink. He believed that we had to produce an anomaly in it, and when we walked it, he was right. It did produce this dynamic feel, like the geometries were in movement with the person. He would encourage young designers and offer opportunities. Even in a public setting with senior principals and designers, he would ask the intern for their opinion. And I think to this day, that is a legacy piece of NBBJ. It may be true that NBBJ had it before, but he kind of embossed it, branded it into our culture. He was upfront and unapologetic about the inclusion of women and minorities. He was a huge supporter of women designers. Huge. I think he saw it as his mission to make sure everyone was at the table.
As a young boy, his family was involved in the resistance during World War II, so when the topic of war came up, he was pretty sensitive to that. I’m a refugee also, and one time I had a conversation with Peter when he asked me what I thought of U.S. intervention somewhere in the Middle East. I said, “Wars are tough, but there are so many angles to it. I know one thing: if it wasn’t for the Vietnam War, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to be doing what I do.” And we both reflected on that. I wonder if Peter was looking through his life, because if it wasn’t for some of the terrible things that happened, he might have not made his way from Norway. But I just remember having that moment with him that was pretty wonderful. If you ever had a team dinner with Peter, the first thing he would do was ask for a glass of wine, and make sure that wine amounted to a full glass. Wine and a burger and fries — frites, as he called them. Every time, it never failed.
Even a high-rise, he would treat it like a landscape, which meant the curves of the building were very long and expansive and extended the eye. 61
62 INTERVIEW - PHU DUONG
FORNEBU, NORWAY 2003
TELENOR WORLD HEADQUARTERS
PROJECT - TELENOR WORLD HEADQUARTERS
The headquarters of Norwegian telecommunications giant Telenor occupies the site of the former Oslo airport with two curving, glazed “boulevards” that embrace a central plaza where people can spontaneously meet, share knowledge and generate ideas. The boulevards connect eight wings of open office space, one of the world’s largest and most successful implementations of “hot-desking,” in which employees aren’t assigned fixed seats but are instead free to work anywhere on campus.
PROJECT TEAM NBBJ: Peter Pran, Robert Anderson, Ragnvald Bolstad, Robert Boulware, Craig Brookes, Gummi Brynjarsson, Kerry Burg, David Burger, Ian Butcher, Dace Campbell, Nicholas Charles, Brenda Clark, Daniel Cockrell, Kay Compton, Case Creal, Torhild Dahl, Carole Dewey, Chris Dixon, Bonnie Duncan, Phu Duong, Edwin Fajardo, Donna Garrett, Roderick Grant, Duncan Griffin, Kelly Griffin, Hanne Gutknecht, Jay Halleran, Michael Hallmark, Heather Heflin, Joseph Herrin, Jordan Hukee, Christopher James, Jim Jonassen, Susan Jones, Aud Kristoffersen, Christopher Larson, David Leptich, Erik Lind, Ingeborg Lindheim, John Lunt, Steve McConnell, Dan Meis, Michael Mora, Thomas Morton, Joey Myers, Bill Nichols, Carol Nordling, Frederick Norman, Teri Oelrich, Jin Ah Park, Joseph Rettenmaier, Lars Ribbum, Ronald Seman, Michael Soubotin, Carsten Stinn, Rysia Suchecka, K. Swartz, Jim Tully, Alexander Vassiliadis, Gunn Vesterli, Teena Videriksen, Curtis Wagner, Jonathan Ward, Jim Waymire, Noel Whorton, Scott Wyatt, Alan Young, David Yuan, Suzanne Zahr, Richard Zieve HUS ARKITEKTER: Lars Christian Koren Hauge, Tom Forsberg, Annema Selstrom, Bjorn Sorum; Per Knudsen Arkitektkontor: Per Knudsen, Jan Storing
66 PROJECT - TELENOR WORLD HEADQUARTERS
68 PROJECT - TELENOR WORLD HEADQUARTERS
70 PROJECT - TELENOR WORLD HEADQUARTERS
72 PROJECT - TELENOR WORLD HEADQUARTERS
74 PROJECT - TELENOR WORLD HEADQUARTERS
76 PROJECT - TELENOR WORLD HEADQUARTERS
78 PROJECT - TELENOR WORLD HEADQUARTERS
Jin Ah Park
INTERVIEW - JIN AH PARK
FORMER PRINCIPAL, NBBJ LOS ANGELES
Peter was really democratic. For me, being a woman, being young, he was so inclusive in the way that he welcomed the best energy. Ideas — that’s what it was all about. If you were an intern and could make something wonderful, you were an equal in his eyes. He gave credit very fairly, even generously.
Technology had just come around, so he couldn’t do a lot of the digital tools himself, but he was right in there, shaping stuff up with the foam cutter. It was gorgeous, he’d just make sculpture. He’d come in and sculpt his own ideas with the hot wire cutter, make his own schemes, right there next to you.
And not just democratic, but collaborative. He understood that, sometimes, when you get to be senior, you feel like you got there because you know more — but Peter wasn’t like that. He was always trying to pull people in to see who had the coolest idea to improve the project.
And the black suit. He always wore a black suit, no matter what the event. He did not own khakis. There was always an Armani black suit.
He had an expectation of doing the world’s best work. He would say, “This project’s going to be world-famous, the best in the world.” He was just relentless — that’s a good word for him. He was relentless about pushing to have the best work, and he never backed off. He was like, “Why? Why can’t we do that?” He would ask that with an innocence, “Why not?” He was just relentless, optimistic and always striving for the best and innovative work. When someone did something he liked, his famous line was, “This is so incredible!” [with rolled “r” and drawn-out “eh” sound] I don’t know how you put that pronunciation in quotes. “This is so beautiful! This is incredible!” I’m not even sure that’s actually a Norwegian accent.
If you were an intern and could make something wonderful, you were an equal in his eyes. He gave credit very fairly, even generously. 81
82 INTERVIEW - JIN AH PARK
Jonathan Ward, Peter Pran, Peterâ€™s wife Clevon Edgerson and Jin Ah Park
He was relentless about pushing to have the best work, and he never backed off.
A.J. Montero PARTNER, NBBJ COLUMBUS
INTERVIEW - A.J. MONTERO
I found Peter to always be extraordinarily kind to people he didn’t know. Not as kind to people he did know, which was an interesting dynamic. Once he got to know you he could be very straightforward in the way he would critique things, but you never took it personally because he took time at the beginning to get to know you. He didn’t have time for the niceties, you could say, of leadership style. But it never struck me as being personally insulting. It was always a challenge, almost a gauntlet, to make Peter happy, because you had a lot of respect for him. It wasn’t about making him personally satisfied but about making the design better.
I distinctly remember him in the middle of the night sleeping on top of a desk. Not under the desk — on top of it. Mind you, at this point he wasn’t a young man but, man, that guy was a workhorse. He wouldn’t leave until he was satisfied with things. He would go off with the young guys and work all night. It was us and it was Peter somewhere. When he woke up he would walk around with his hair all crazy and his shirt untucked on one side, like “What are you guys doing now? Anything good?” One thing I learned from Peter was this weird combination of arrogance and confidence. Arrogance in the very best sense of the word, that as designers we have to have a certain confidence to say, “This is what I think, I’m a trained architect, I’m trained in aesthetics and form.” Now, that’s a very arrogant thing to say, but that idea helped a lot of designers navigate between a big, corporate firm and individual expression.
His legacy is not all positive. For instance, his interest in form-making was a big, primary concern, at least outwardly, to people. Many of us knew Peter was looking at the totality of program, but he was never convinced that a program had to be jammed into a series of boxes for efficiency or whatever. Beauty could be a big part of it, but of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Personally, he gave me insight into what it means to get older in the profession. I remember having a conversation about this specifically in the middle of the night — you’re only “old” when you stop thinking about new ideas and embracing new things. That’s why I have to constantly remind myself that I never want to be that old guy in the studio telling the younger designers, “That’s crap, and this is the way it’s done.” Peter would never say that, and if I catch myself saying things like that, it’s time for me to hang it up.
It was always a challenge, almost a gauntlet, to make Peter happy, because you had a lot of respect for him. 85
86 INTERVIEW - A.J. MONTERO
Scott Hunter and Peter Pran during construction of the Sail @ Marina Bay
88 PROJECT - AKERSELVA ATRIUM
OSLO, NORWAY 2005
AKERSELVA ATRIUM The 10-story Akerselva Atrium brought contemporary design and Class A office space to central Oslo. It presents a neutral face and folded, receding massing to the historic buildings to the west, while expressing a more contemporary design to the Akerselva River to the east. A diagonal atrium draws pedestrians into the building and to the indoor/outdoor cafĂŠ and riverfront promenade.
PROJECT TEAM NBBJ: Peter Pran, Brian Archer, Wayne Blackwood, Ingo Braun, Edmund Caddy, Jessica Cowie, Christopher Daniel, Phu Duong, Ivan Equihua, Crysta Falcon, Ken Giannini, Cliff Green, Matthew Johnston, Gary Mountford, Bruce Nepp, Jin Ah Park, David Portman, Martin Reeves, Stuart Rudd, Mark Thompson, Jonathan Ward, Edward Wood, Nick Worth PRAN ARCHITECTS: Odd Sigvart Pran, Elisabeth Pran, Erlend Blakstad Haffner; Bambus Architects: Marcus Pran, Andreas Paulsson DARK ARCHITECTS: Jonas Sobstad, Inger Anita Reigstad, Inger Anita Reigstad
90 PROJECT - AKERSELVA ATRIUM
92 PROJECT - AKERSELVA ATRIUM
94 PROJECT - AKERSELVA ATRIUM
96 PROJECT - AKERSELVA ATRIUM
INTERVIEW - ROBERT MANKIN
PARTNER, NBBJ LOS ANGELES
The first time I met Peter, he happened to be in Los Angeles for a lecture, and he came over to the studio. I walked him around and showed him what we were working on, and he was such a polite man, always so kind and complimentary. And then he gets to NHN. Our original NHN schemes were pretty radical, but ultimately the building got pretty simple from a geometric standpoint. I remember Peter goes, “All the fun has been taken out of the building!” I was kind of aghast, and I said whatever I usually said, like, “You know, timeless design, blah blah blah.” And Peter said, “It’s not exciting enough! You need to get some curvature back in the tower!” It led to this extremely funny 15-minute discussion where he started grousing about how clients never listen to us, they never follow the architect’s vision, they always want to dumb it down, and at that point I’m like, “Well, Peter, maybe I can show you another project.” A lot of people talk about Peter’s impact on visionary architecture, but at the same time he cared about issues like planning and budget and how it’s going to get built. Sometimes he’d get hung up on some detail, and you’re like, “Peter, we gotta let this go,” but more often than not it was for the betterment of the project.
The projects he led or was involved in are some of our firm-defining projects. You can see that they’re moments where the firm took a great leap forward, projects like Telenor or the Sail, which became these powerful, transformational projects for NBBJ. Or Nuritkum Square. For our brand in Korea? That project really launched us in a strong way. When Peter left, he went around and thanked all of the members of our team. He could have just glided out — he was like a world-renowned architect — but it spoke to the way that he deeply cared. He cared about our craft, but he also cared about the individuals and their ideas and what they contribute to the design.
A lot of people talk about Peterâ€™s impact on visionary architecture, but at the same time he cared about issues like planning and budget and how itâ€™s going to get built. 99
100 INTERVIEW - ROBERT MANKIN
He cared about our craft, but he also cared about the individuals and their ideas and what they contribute to the design.
Peter Pran with models of Akerselva Atrium
102 PROJECT - NURITKUM SQUARE, IT COMPLEX
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA 2007
NURITKUM SQUARE, IT COMPLEX The 22-story IT Complex at Nuritkum Square combines a business center, research facilities, exhibition space and media production facilities. Defined by its skybridge, pedestrian plaza and buildings dramatically elevated on exposed structural columns, it anchors Seoulâ€™s Digital Media City with an interactive destination where people can experience the latest in technology.
PROJECT TEAM NBBJ: Peter Pran, Harry Bairamian, Paul Becker, So Eun Cho, Jean-Claude Constandse, Paul Davis, Morgan Ely, Young Kim, Byoung Kweon, Lih-Chuin Loh, Robert Mankin, Fernando Olvera, Guy Painchaud, Gina Paoletti, Frederick Powell, Sarah Quainton, Steven Ryder, Michelle Stevenson, Nnamdi Ugenyi, Victoria Wang, Jim Waymire, Patrick Winters HEERIM ARCHITECTS & PLANNERS
104 PROJECT - NURITKUM SQUARE, IT COMPLEX
106 PROJECT - NURITKUM SQUARE, IT COMPLEX
108 PROJECT - NURITKUM SQUARE, IT COMPLEX
110 PROJECT - NURITKUM SQUARE, IT COMPLEX
112 PROJECT - NURITKUM SQUARE, IT COMPLEX
Pascal Beomseok Suh PRINCIPAL, NBBJ LOS ANGELES
INTERVIEW - PASCAL BEOMSEOK SUH
I have a slightly different view of Peter because when I met him I was working for Heerim, one of the biggest architecture companies in Korea. Peter’s book was very popular, and his style was very, very new to people at that time. We often called it “NBBJ-style” when we talked about that curvy, angled, dynamic architectural style — like, “let’s do a sort of NBBJ-style for that government building.” Of course, I realized later that NBBJ has many different styles, but at that time I thought what Peter did represented NBBJ’s style. I think it made NBBJ’s perception in Korea very different.
He once gave us a lecture about curves, and he drew a Nike logo and talked about his philosophy of tension and how to merge from curve to line. When you look at Nuritkum Square, the IT Complex, at the ground the tower façade is almost straight, and then about halfway it slightly makes a curve and then the curve goes sharper at the top. It’s not one arc, it’s actually changing arcs. And he talked about Nike as an example of how it changes.
We had a workshop with Peter, and our team built five physical models of the tower with slightly different arcs. Peter chose one arc out of five, and the team further developed it and posted the sketch rendering on the wall. Heerim’s president, Mr. Jeong, was not 100% into that arc, so he tried to get a slightly different angle, but Peter insisted it shouldn’t be that way. So we posted the rendering back on the wall, but when it was time for Peter to leave for Los Angeles, he was worried, what if President Jeong changed the arc back? So he put his signature on the rendering and wrote, “Do not change this arc, Mr. Jeong!” And we kept it, and we won the competition.
He put his signature on the rendering and wrote, â€œDo not change this arc, Mr. Jeong!â€?
116 INTERVIEW - PASCAL BEOMSEOK SUH
Above: YoungKyoon Jeong (president, Heerim), Peter Pran, Eue-chul Kang (vice president, Samsung Construction), Paul Q. Davis, Pascal Beomseok Suh
Bill Bain, Jr. CONSULTING PARTNER, NBBJ SEATTLE I met Peter through Dorm Anderson, who I first met at WSU where he was teaching and I was serving as a visiting critic. Later, after Dorm joined NBBJ, Peter Pran came to Pullman for crits when we were designing the Design Discipline and Engineering Buildings at WSU. He was clearly a great designer and was quite outspoken. When he expressed an interest in coming to NBBJ, we were quick to welcome him.
INTERVIEW - BILL BAIN, JR.
He could talk your ear off, but when he got his teeth into a project, Peter was resolute and unstoppable. He was never a coward and always did what he thought was right. His work seemed eccentric at first, but he was just ahead of his time. He was designing buildings with dramatic curves before Zaha Hadid.
Peter was a positive force and had a great influence on NBBJ. But we should have changed more. NBBJ is like a very big ship and it takes time for it to change direction. We let Peter slip away too soon. Strong, idiosyncratic designers have historically had a hard time fitting into our culture and typically moved on after a relatively short time. Peter and his wife Clevon were a striking and memorable couple. Both were social and gentle people who were sensitive to others and a pleasure to talk to. My favorite of his buildings is The Sail in Singapore. It is wonderfully evocative. Telenor with Jonathan is another exceptional project. I wish Peter were still here.
When he got his teeth into a project, Peter was resolute and unstoppable.
120 INTERVIEW - BILL BAIN, JR.
Peter Pran sketching in front of the Flatiron Building, New York City
SAIL @ MARINA BAY As the first residential buildings in Singaporeâ€™s Marina Bay, the Sail set a new benchmark for future development in the central business district. The tallest residential building in the world at the time of its completion, all 1,111 units sold at record prices for Southeast Asia within a matter of weeks. It remains a dynamic destination today, as one of the Marina Bay developments that is best integrated into its urban environment.
PROJECT - SAIL @ MARINA BAY
NBBJ: Peter Pran, Sara Agrest, Charles Alexander, Reggie Aviles, Friedl Bohm, Craig Brimley, Rick Buckley, Hsin Yi Chang, Karyn Exilus, Jorge Gomez, Scott Hunter, Tim Johnson, Young Kim, Peter Lorimer, Jo Merriman, Heather Metzger, Lisa Gonzalez-Nenadich, Robert Norwood, Sarah Quainton, Gordon Ramsay, Michael Ramsay, Stephen Rice, Tara Schneider, Jay Siebenmorgen, Catherine Smith, Keri Spiller, Rysia Suchecka, Karin Tehve, Nnamdi Ugenyi, Jonathan Wall, Scot Walls, May Yuen
124 PROJECT - SAIL @ MARINA BAY
A. 1 Bedroom unit B. 2 Bedroom unit C. 3 Bedroom unit D. 4 Bedroom unit E. Elevators F. Stairwell
126 PROJECT - SAIL @ MARINA BAY
128 PROJECT - SAIL @ MARINA BAY
130 PROJECT - SAIL @ MARINA BAY
132 PROJECT - SAIL @ MARINA BAY
134 PROJECT - SAIL @ MARINA BAY
Will Robertson PRINCIPAL, NBBJ NEW YORK
INTERVIEW - WILL ROBERTSON
Form was Peter’s love — building was sculpture. He would tell me stories about working with Mies van der Rohe, where they would build these massive models of the Neue Nationalgalerie and just slightly tweak the roof. Mies would sit there and say, “A little bit higher, a little bit lower, a little bit higher, a little bit lower …” They would do that for hours. So I think Peter picked that up, because I remember working on the Sail at Marina Bay, and he wasn’t happy with the form of it. I didn’t know what to do, but I was working in 3D Max, so I just took the scale command and started making it taller, taller, taller, until he said, “Yes, there it is!” And it was like a mile and a half tall. It was kind of a joke — I was turning it up to 11, and he’s like, “Yes, it’s perfect!”
I mean, he wasn’t naïve. He understood that there are all kinds of practical reasons why you can’t do something, but he had a belief that architecture is more than practical. There are limitations on things, but he knew that if he kept pushing and pushing and pushing, he might not get a mile-and-a-half-tall tower, but he would get something more interesting than if he didn’t.
A funny story I remember was when Joe Nocella had his first child. Joe was in the hospital, and he got a call from Peter, and Peter said, “Joe, I have this absolutely fantastic project! You are going to be so excited! It is this amazing project, I can’t wait to start it.” And Joe was like, “Hi, Peter. Okay, yeah, no, I’m in the hospital, my wife’s in labor.” And Peter said, “Oh, that is absolutely fantastic! You are going to love this project! It is absolutely amazing! I will see you on Monday!” Just straight-ahead, we’re doing this, everything else blocked out. (Did Joe come to work on Monday?) No, I don’t think so.
There are limitations on things, but he knew that if he kept pushing and pushing and pushing, he would get something more interesting than if he didnâ€™t. 137
138 INTERVIEW - WILL ROBERTSON
I was turning it up to 11, and he’s like, “Yes, it’s perfect!” 139
140 PROJECT - GRAMERCY PARK
GRAMERCY PARK Peter Pran’s final completed project, the two 24-story Gramercy Park towers — located at 57 Grange Road, near Singapore’s prestigious Orchard Road — exhibit his lifelong interest in dynamic building form. Large, planted balconies in every unit open to the outdoors to create natural ventilation and reduce the need for air conditioning, along with amenities that support a lifestyle of fitness, leisure, art and nature. PROJECT TEAM NBBJ: Peter Pran, Carlos Alegria Ly, Andrew Azzopardi, Tyler Bowa, Craig Brimley, Jacob Campbell, Etienne de Vadder, Felipe Guerrero, Juan Iratchet, Tim Johnson, Charles Killebrew, Karen Liu, Daniel Malka, Tom McCabe, Susanne Milne, Steven Oakley, Angelina Pinto, Jesse Pyeatt, Sarah Quainton, Hannah Robertson, Will Robertson, John Schlueter, Jay Siebenmorgen, Thomas Singer, Katharine Van Anda, Jonathan Wall, Alan Young
142 PROJECT - GRAMERCY PARK
144 PROJECT - GRAMERCY PARK
146 PROJECT - GRAMERCY PARK
148 PROJECT - GRAMERCY PARK
INTERVIEW - DAN AYARS
PRINCIPAL, NBBJ COLUMBUS
My first time meeting Peter was at the University of Kansas. Peter was leading a third-year grad student studio, and I was in the fifth year of my Bachelor of Architecture. I didn’t necessarily like my professor, and as I was walking out of studio, I ran into the dean in the hallway and said, “If Peter Pran’s here, can I join his studio?” And he said, “Sure.” I still don’t know why he let a fifth-year undergraduate into a third-year graduate studio.
You look back, the best influence is the people he brought with him in that transition from Ellerbe Becket to NBBJ. He had a way of really tapping into the potential of young designers and giving them freedom. He loved technology — computer animations, computer renderings — along with physical models, so it was an interesting mix, the way he worked with people and mentored them in different ways.
I brought my parents into the office soon after I joined NBBJ, and they knew I had him as a professor, and he said, “Oh, Dan’s the most fabulous person in the studio!” When he really liked people, you’d know. He was always complimentary of everybody, but he was very critical when talking about the work.
I remember him once at a restaurant ordering a steak when he said, “I’d like some pommes frites,” and the lady said, “We only have French fries,” but he would not let it go — “I want pommes frites.” So she brought French fries and it was all good.
I always called him the conductor, because he’d sit in a room, and you may have 10 people coming up with good ideas, but you could see him surveying the ideas — “I like that, and I like that” — and he’d go off and come back the next day with a model that brought all those good ideas together into one great idea.
When he really liked people, youâ€™d know. He was always complimentary of everybody, but he was very critical when talking about the work. 151
152 INTERVIEW - DAN AYARS
Peter Pran (second from left) with NBBJâ€™s Bruce Neff (far left), Dan Ayars (four th from left), Jin Ah Park (center), Jonathan Ward (far right) and others
John Savo PRINCIPAL, NBBJ SEATTLE One of the things I liked most about Peter Pran was the way he was an energetic cheerleader for architecture and the Modernist movement. Peter’s passion for architecture was unbounded. Through his collaborations, his work and his teaching, he was constantly inspiring his fellow professionals. When you were around Peter, how could you not want to do great work?
INTERVIEW - JOHN SAVO
Peter was always sincere. His emotions were readily transparent and absolutely authentic. I don’t know how it was possible, but I perceived him as simultaneously naïve and sophisticated. I found it very endearing.
I was impressed by Peter’s social conscience. For example, Peter was an avowed feminist before it was popular for men to adopt the title. He was an enthusiastic supporter of women in architecture and unhesitatingly corrected others — including me — when he thought we were acting or speaking chauvinistically. I felt honored to have the opportunity to meet both of the women who lit up his life. Not surprisingly, both were artists and inspirations to him — first Clevon, sadly blind and short-lived by the time they came to Seattle, and later Siri, who restored his spirit and returned order to his personal life. Dinners with Peter and Siri were joyous occasions and filled with lively conversation. Jacquie and I would always look forward to their visits.
While Peter was a tireless self-promoter, I was impressed that he was just as ready to recognize the accomplishments of others. Peter’s enthusiasm was contagious and he performed best in a collaborative setting — where anyone’s ideas were welcomed and the best design always won out. Peter had already developed an easily recognizable style and earned an international reputation before joining NBBJ. But once I had the opportunity to work with him, I learned that he started every project afresh and he enjoyed engaging with the client and listened carefully to their input. His emphasis on form and dramatic, often sinuous, shapes occasionally frightened clients and contractors. But the clients who stayed with him knew they were getting something special and reveled in their shared accomplishment when their projects matured into built work.
Peter’s enthusiasm was contagious and he performed best in a collaborative setting — where anyone’s ideas were welcomed and the best design always won out. 155
156 INTERVIEW - JOHN SAVO
ADDITIONAL PROJECTS berlin, germany
NEUE NATIONALGALERIE ( Mies van der Rohe )
new york, ny, usa
NEW YORK STATE PSYCHIATRIC INSTITUTE
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION - ADDITIONAL PROJECTS
( Ellerbe Becket )
ADDITIONAL PROJECTS 3
chicago, il, usa
SEARS TOWER ( Skidmore, Owings & Merrill )
jeddah, saudi arabia
JEDDAH INTERNATIONAL ARIPORT, HAJJ TERMINAL AND SUPPORT + MAINTENANCE STRUCTURE
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION - ADDITIONAL PROJECTS
( Skidmore, Owings & Merrill )
chicago, il, usa
CHICAGO FEDERAL CENTER ( Mies van der Rohe )
toronto, on, canada
TORONTO DOMINION CENTRE ( Mies van der Rohe )
Sara Johnson, “Remembering the Groundbreaking Architect Peter Pran,” Architect, September 5, 2017.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION - SUGGESTED READING
Following decades at some of the biggest architecture firms in the United States, Norwegian-born architect Peter Pran, FAIA, died on July 5 in his hometown at the age of 81. Known primarily for his work at Ellerbe Becket (acquired by AECOM in 2009) and then NBBJ, Pran developed a reputation for championing innovation in large practices. In a 1998 monograph, Kenneth Frampton, Assoc. AIA, described Pran as “an architect for a new age, where neither the individual practice nor the corporate firm will remain the same and where the hybrid alternative will begin to have a greater chance of achieving work of quality.”
Thom Mayne, Daniel Libeskind, Odile Decq & Fumihiko Maki, Peter Pran of NBBJ: Realizations, Images Publishing: 2007. From “An Architecture of Complexity: The Work of Peter Pran,” by Fumihiko Maki: Pran’s strong compositional moves end up serving more than merely visual ends. The visual energy of his designs disarms the conventional prescription of human activity of prosaic programmes. Unusual spaces and unexpected scenes allow us to reinterpret programs as we see new spatial relationships emerging; the relationship between form and function thus becomes a reciprocal process of criticism, rather than a linear means of determining design.
Peter Pran, Christian Norberg-Schultz & Kenneth Frampton, Peter Pran: An Architecture of Poetic Movement, Andreas Papadakis: 1998. From “The Return to Modernism,” by Christian Norberg-Schulz: Undoubtedly, Mies van der Rohe remains the strongest source of inspiration for Pran, not to say the only one. Pran has in fact pursued high-rise and wide-span structures throughout his career, and in this sense he is a true “modernist.” But his recent projects do not have the orthogonal order of Mies’s later designs. Rather they develop possibilities inherent in his early projects for Friedrichstrasse in Berlin. When I once asked Mies why he made no use of curves, he answered: “The Baroque architects were able to do that, but they were the result of a long evolution.” This evolution becomes manifest in the later works of Peter Pran. When he himself calls his design “an architecture of poetic movement,” it implies that the spatial flow is no longer a mere manifestation of openness and interaction, but has become a subtle expression of the transformations present in the late modern field of spatial forces. Pran’s high-rise buildings are usually split into two vertical slabs, one which is orthogonal and one which is curved and warped. The first expresses the basic role of gravitation in architecture, whereas the other makes the rising up in space a “flight,” which, as already mentioned, he relates to Brancusi’s birds. Even the warped slab, however, remains clearly defined and regular. Between the two, and other volumes on the ground, the spaces of circulation are truly dynamic. Here the “free plan” has become an expression of the complex and often contradictory life on earth, whereby the rising “bird” gains a liberating effect. In fact Kenneth Frampton says that “Pran’s architecture seems to intend a modernity that is liberative.”
Kenneth Frampton, Peter Pran & Fumihiko Maki, Peter Pran of Ellerbe Becket: Recent Works, Academy Editions / St. Martin’s Press: 1992.
PETER PRAN | 2018 | INTERVIEWS + SELECTED WORK
When architect Peter Pran passed away last year, many NBBJ’ers thought back on his 15-year tenure at NBBJ from 1996 – 2011 with great fondne...
Published on May 16, 2018
When architect Peter Pran passed away last year, many NBBJ’ers thought back on his 15-year tenure at NBBJ from 1996 – 2011 with great fondne...