The Rational, the Passionate, and the Fantastical: The Book Lists of David Piscuskas and Juergen Riehm

By Steve Kroeter May 8, 2012
David Piscuskas
Juergen Riehm

Architects David Piscuskas and Juergen Riehm: 1100 Architect (New York and Frankfurt)

David Piscuskas

Profile     Book List

Juergen Riehm

Profile     Book List

David Piscuskas and Juergen Riehm have been partners in the firm 1100 Architect for almost 30 years. Together they have completed work on three continents and across a vast array of building typologies—including educational and arts institutions, libraries, offices, single and multi-family residences, retail spaces, and community facilities.

Their work, which counts the Irish Hunger Memorial in New York among its many award-winning achievements, is celebrated for achieving a rhythmic balance in the relationship of context, program, materials, aesthetics, and sustainability. The result is, in the designers’ words, an “architecture of lasting beauty that communicates meaning while cultivating relationships.”

The importance of books is evident everywhere in the lives of Piscuskas and Riehm: in the large number of libraries and schools they have designed, including branches of The New York Public Library; in their office library; and certainly in the book lists the two architects submitted to Designers & Books.

Office Library

The office library of 1100 Architect. Photo © Jeff Cate. Courtesy of 1100 Architect

In the introduction to his book list Riehm mentions that one of the defining features of 1100 Architect’s work has been the opportunity for collaboration with artists. The firm has, for example, designed residences and studios for artists including Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, and Ross Bleckner—and also the headquarters building for the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. Among the books by or about artists included on the two lists are, on Riehm’s list, Richard Serra, Sculpture: Forty Years and James Turrell: The Other Horizon (“Turrell’s way of perceiving space through light has been influential in our work at 1100”); and, on Piscuskas’s list, Dialogues with Marcel Duchamp and Brice Marden: A Retrospective of Paintings and Drawings (“His paintings achieve a beauty, elegance, and deceptive simplicity that appear to be effortless but in reality require much hard work”).

The two architects’ shared interests shape their book lists in other ways as well. Both partners include titles on the artist Gordon Matta-Clark and on the work of architect Carlo Scarpa. Riehm says Scarpa represents a “sensitivity toward the preexisting condition and history” that “has greatly influenced our work.” Piscuskas praises Scarpa’s “quality of working with materials that highly respects their inherent qualities and explores unanticipated use and forms.”

1100 Architect (Works in Progress), 1997 (The Monacelli Press)

Eames Design: The Work of the Office of Charles and Ray Eames—which Riehm calls “extraordinary” and which Piscuskas notes for the way it “illustrates the Eameses’ great virtuosity, pragmatic inventiveness, and pure joy of design”—shows up on the two lists.

Also on the list of each architect is a book associated with the days of being a student. For Piscuskas that book is American Buildings and Their Architects by prominent architectural historian William H. Jordy, who taught Piscuskas at Brown University. Piscuskas says he respected Jordy’s “extraordinary mix of passion and clear-eyed rationalism.” And while Riehm was a student at the Städelschule Academy of Fine Arts he read Die Welt als Labyrinth (“The World as a Labyrinth”) by Gustav René Hocke, in which Hocke “cleverly divides the world into two extreme yet coexisting realms—the fantastical and the rational.”

1100 Architect: 1998–2006, 2006 (The Monacelli Press)

Note: Two monographs, published by The Monacelli Press, feature the work of David Piscuskas and Juergen Riehm: 1100 Architect (Works in Progress) (1997) and 1100 Architect: 1998–2006 (2006).



View David Piscuskas’s Profile     View David Piscuskas’s Book List

View Juergen Riehm’s Profile     View Juergen Riehm’s Book List


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