New York-based architect Deborah Berke shares her busy life for this week’s Q+A. Berke is a professor of architectural design at Yale University and author and co-editor of several books, including The Architecture of the Everyday. The work of her award winning firm – Deborah Berke & Partners Architects – has appeared in numerous publications as diverse as Vogue, The Wall Street Journal and Remodelista. Today Berke gives us a look at her residential projects and a peek into her work space.
In the last decade your firm has grown to over 30 architects, designers, technical and administrative staff. When you were starting out did you plan on heading up a firm such as this? When I started out, I did not imagine heading up a firm. I studied architecture out of a passion for architecture in itself. I did not have a vision for how I would practice in the future, although I am very happy with my practice and love working with everyone in the office.
Above, top and below: The 3,000 square foot Rabbit Hill Road house in Warren, CT forms a compound with a garage, pool and pool house.
How would you describe your work and do you see a common thread running through all your residential designs? The common thread in all our residential work is subtle elegance rooted in the site. We design houses that are comfortable, clean, and have a clear and distinctive style.
Above: The Miller House, commissioned by industrialist J. Irwin Miller and his wife Xenia Simons Miller in 1953, was opened to the public in May this year and Berke spoke at the inaugural symposium.
You recently spoke at a symposium celebrating the opening of Eero Saarinen’s Miller House to the public. The strongly horizontal buidling has a timeless quality and is still as striking today as it was in 1957. Can you share your impressions of that house? I love that house. It is a great work of architecture. It’s also an environment carefully calibrated for a large and happy family, and that is part of its success as a design.
Managing a firm, speaking commitments and designing takes a lot of time and energy. How do you strike a balance between work and the rest of your life? I don’t strike a balance. I work hard and I play hard, and I don’t get very much sleep. However, I love everything I do.