David Leven, Stella Betts
205 color illustrations, 20 b/w illustrations
Publication date: 12/30/2008
|Powers of observation may be an architect's most underrated skill. For New York City-based Leven Betts Studio, the design of meaningful spaces that bring people into an active relationship with architecture requires finding and inscribing in space the physical marks and temporal patterns of our daily lives. Above all, their work is focused on an individual's experience of a space with particular attention to how we navigate our surroundings. Their intense scrutiny of site and program--a process related to author William Gibson's notion of "pattern recognition"--allows them to take advantage of certain site-specific cues. It inspired, for example, their decision to allow the direction of crop lines in the landscape to guide the design of a 2,000-square-foot upstate New York weekend home. It is visible in the Mixed Greens art gallery in Chelsea, New York, where five irregularly placed beam-and-column structures inspired their design of a zigzagging suspended ceiling that glows.
Leven Betts: Pattern Recognition features 18 projects from the firm's critically acclaimed first decade. The diverse portfolio of projects run the gamut in scale from furniture and exhibition design to townhouse and city plans. Well grounded in the realities of construction--Leven's resume includes a stint in a metal fabrication shop, while Betts spent two years as a project manager at a construction firm--the spare but elegant work of Leven Betts Studio is characterized by a distinctive blend of materials, light, and texture. Featuring numerous photos, drawings, and diagrams, Leven Betts: Pattern Recognition invites architecture professionals and students to explore a unique design process and discover their own powers of observation.
Stella Betts and David Leven both arrived at a collaborative architecture practice through construction and fabrication as well as photography, drawing and sculpture projects that were endeavored after their graduate architecture studies.
Stella's childhood in Phoenix, Arizona informed her interest in the American grid in the west and the natural environment of the desert. Her photography work investigated grid and chance in the exposure of light to photographic paper in the controlled environment of the darkroom. These studies trace a clear line into Stella's architectural production that is concerned with organizational systems and patterning.
David's exposure to art and architectural fabrication process occurred during graduate school when he worked with a group of artists who made wood and metal architectural pieces for architectural projects and large-scale artwork. His artwork following this exposure looked at the mechanics of industrial processes and materials, and has enabled him to investigate the mechanics of assembly and infrastructure in an architectural process in intimate and unconventional ways.