Tom Kundig

Architect / United States / Olson Kundig Architects

One of the most recognized architects in North America, Tom Kundig is the recipient of some of the nation’s highest accolades, including the National Design Award for Architecture from the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum; four National AIA Honor Awards; six National AIA Housing Awards; numerous local and regional AIA awards; and the 2010 World Architecture News House of the Year. He has been honored with an Academy Award in Architecture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (2007), which the Academy acknowledged as follows: “Tom Kundig’s realizations have reintroduced an architecture of intensity of detail and material focus. In a world of broad-brush gesture and detail banality, Kundig’s works pose a richness of material, color and texture of detail which demonstrate the life force of architecture’s experiential dimensions.” In 2009, the firm in which Kundig is a partner was recognized with the National AIA Firm Award. Olson Kundig Architects has twice been named one of the Top Ten Most Innovative Companies in Architecture by Fast Company.

Kundig’s reverence for place—for both rural and urban landscapes, and their cultural significance—has resulted in work that celebrates site, community, and client alike. His early studies in physics and related sciences led him to develop an interest in the physics of architecture—for Kundig, a perfect union of the rational and the poetic. Today, this interest can be found in Kundig’s detailing and raw, kinetic designs, which explore new forms of engagement with site and landscape. His fascination with the materials of industry, such as steel, concrete, and large machinery, is translated into the design of unique, building-sized machines—gestures Kundig refers to as hot-rodding. Examples of these works include the 70-foot-tall hinge on which the Art Stable’s windows swing, and the giant, yet easily maneuvered kinetic gizmo at Chicken Point Cabin, designed so that a young child can move several tons of steel and glass by simply turning a wheel, thus uniting “inside” with “outside.” Kundig is engaged with a wide range of projects around the world—from the design of huts to high-rises. His current projects can be found across North America, Europe, and in South America.

Kundig has been published more than 450 times in publications worldwide, including the the New York Times, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, Architectural Record, Dwell, A + U, and Architectural Digest, as well as in many books. In 2006, Princeton Architectural Press published Tom Kundig: Houses; the book is one of the Press’s best-selling architecture books of all time. A new monograph of Kundig’s work, Houses 2, is being released by Princeton Architectural Press in October 2011. Most recently, he was named to the Wallpaper*150, a list of people who have contributed meaningful artistic creations to the world over the past 15 years.

Kundig regularly serves on design juries and lectures around the world on architecture and design. He has been a university studio critic throughout the United States and in Japan, including at Harvard University and the University of Oregon, and has served as the John G. Williams Distinguished Professor at the Fay Jones School of Architecture at the University of Arkansas and the D. Kenneth Sargent Visiting Design Critic at Syracuse University’s College of Architecture. His award-winning work has been exhibited at the American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York, Syracuse University, and at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. In the winter of 2010–2011, he was the sole North American architect chosen to represent the continent in an exhibition at TOTO GALLERY MA in Tokyo, Japan. Kundig is a member of the U.S. General Services Administration’s (GSA) 2010 Class of Peer Professionals, which advises the GSA with the goal of achieving design excellence in public buildings. His undergraduate and graduate architecture degrees are from the University of Washington.

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