What is your vision for how to shape the next generation of architects and designers?
Cranbrook steps way outside the bounds of what is now becoming a typical architecture education. It’s highly lateral—seeking out information from other disciplines. [Students] know how to “make” here. It’s not an elective studio where you have an opportunity to work on a building for a few weeks. At Cranbrook, that’s all we do–we just make. As a result the people who come out of here know what it means to build. That’s all they do.
Cranbrook is a graduate program exclusively. We’re the nation’s only independent graduate school of design education. There’s no curriculum; you and the [artist] in residence decide what you’re going to work on all year. It’s very liberating… you could easily see yourself spending your whole life here.
Cranbrook has had a massively outsized influence on contemporary design culture, more than almost any school in the country. It really has reinvented the way we live, and sit and make buildings and make art.
You were living in New York on 9/11 and in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, how has witnessing these
events shaped you?
I am by nature optimistic and I choose to see the positive above the negative. What I came away from those events with was a greater faith in people and a recognition that we always have to be vigilant, and listen and think and read and learn.
Never under estimate the power of the average citizen to do wonderful things. Because that’s what we saw over and over. The people who just showed up from nowhere with nothing. People who just came and wanted to help. They slept in disgusting places and went out every day to hammer nails and tear down flooded building. And they kept coming in wave after wave. It was really humbling. It changed everything I do.
Read part one of our interview with Reed Kroloff.