should take advantage of the mild climate and gorgeous setting by emphasizing outdoor living spaces that won’t overwhelm the small-island setting. They can be all of those things and still be filled with magic. We will insist on letting the landscape dominate whatever architecture occurs here…there is power in the small…and the un-built.” Throughout the design process, AA tailors structures to fit their clients’ specific needs while accommodating a “loose fit” architecture—including un-programmed space—that can respond to inevitable growth, multiple uses, or other unforeseen opportunities as they arise. “The key to any project is lively collaboration,” Ross explains. “It is essential in establishing the goals and functions so that we can create a unique ‘place’ where strong connections are made between the project and the site, the project and its inhabitants, and the project and the larger historical landscape. We come with no predetermined aesthetic ‘look’ or style…it is discovered over time. It is important that what we build reflects both the time and place of conception…and is in that sense modern.” Working closely with the client, AA develops a dynamic environment for work, study, viewing, and/or performance and strives to reflect the culture of the client for whom they are designing. They actually enjoy constraints—confined budget or aggressive schedule, for instance—because they shape the creative process and create real focus. These strategies and style of work are successful; Ross’s work has won awards from the AIA/ New York Chapter every year since 1994 with the exception of 1997.
incorporate natural lighting and ventilation in offices and other passive “green” features. 2. Ravenswood Winery in Northern California: About a decade ago, the “No Wimpy Wines” winery chose a “No Wimpy Locale” for its new winery in the Carneros region of Sonoma County. Ross’s Thacher classmate Justin Faggioli (former executive vice-president and chief operating officer of Ravenswood) envisioned converting a basalt quarry nearing closure into a winery site in a win-win scenario: recovering the quarry land in a manner consistent with Sonoma County General Plan, while taking advantage of the gaping hole to create a unique lake setting amongst the rock and utilizing pre-existing established truck access routes. Combining the operations required coordination of trucks arriving empty and leaving full of rocks while other trucks arrive full of grapes and leave empty, common use of the existing truck scale, mutual water supply, dust control using reclaimed winery wastewater, and public safety concerns. Keying off the local rural setting of barns and sheds, AA designed a building that settles into the ground and blends with the landscape: “It’s not a ‘look-at-me’ type of building; it’s oriented to the south to take advantage of passive solar lighting and heating, and shield against the prevailing westerly winds; the main entry is under an unusual ‘bite’ out of the otherwise plain, long roofline; concrete floors are stained a wine-color that will fade with time.”
turtles, or watch the sunset are easy;” says Ross. “Fitting in the other elements—housing sites, marinas, stores, infrastructure—without harming the environment is more difficult. We will discourage the super-sized mansions that so many people build now. Since these are mostly second homes, they should be informal, low-maintenance and comfortable but they
After Thacher, Ross matriculated at Stanford University, where he earned a degree in biology. He trained as a carpenter and fabricator, and built wood-framed houses and fiberglass kayaks in Northern California before working for visionary architect, Paolo Soleri, who formed concrete into an imagined city in the desert of Arizona. Ross then attended Harvard’s Graduate School of Design where he received his Master of Architecture in 1977. He then interned at the office of MLTW/Turnbull Associates in San Francisco, and focused on site and material issues relevant to land planning, winery and residential architecture. e
3. A coastal island, due west of Tallahassee, Florida: Without overbuilding and damaging the beautiful and ecologically-sensitive 800acre island, AA is helping determine how the Island should be developed. “Designating the best places to kayak, fish, snorkel with the Conceptual house design for a coastal island in Florida Fall 2005 / Winter 2006 21