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Firm Profile: Rebecca Schnier Architecture

Rebecca Schnier ArchitectureYou can be talking about the design of a single building, the city plan of Brasilia or the design of an iPhone. Regardless of the size, the function, or the materials, you are talking about Design with a capital “D.” The question is why is this “Design” so important. What does it really mean anyway? (To be clear, we are not speaking of Intelligent Design here.)

Instead of discussing my firm, our work, philosophy, awards and recognition, I want to look at Design more generally. Unfortunately most people in the general public have little idea what architects do, what our skill sets are, and, more generally, why specifically architectural Design is so important.

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“Design…is the organization of materials and processes in the most productive way, in a harmonious balance of all elements necessary for a certain function. It is the integration of technological, social, and economical requirements, biological necessities, and the psychological effects of materials, shape, color, volume and space. Thinking in relationships.” Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Co-Founder of the Bauhaus.

Architecture is a serious business. It must address each quality of Vitruvius’s triad: utilitas, venustas, firmitas- clarity, economy and poetry/grace. It is not frivolous. Good design stands the test of time.

Rebecca Schnier Architecture 3Spaces impact people well beyond its functional aspects. For me, one of the most important aspects of architecture is the exteroceptional impact of space, how stimuli originating outside of the body influences how one feels. Care for the proportions of space is paramount. At Rebecca Schnier Architecture, we strive to create spaces that are comfortable, that suit the body in the proportions, in the way sunlight enters the space, in how cross-ventilation provides gentle air flow.

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For many years I trained as a dancer. Even though I decided as a sophomore in high that I wanted to be an architect it was through dance that I became attuned to how the body relates to what is around it. Without being able to see the entire arrangement of 20 dancers, each dancer’s exteroception sense enables her to find equal spacing on the stage– what is next to you, how far do you need to go to get across the dance floor. Through dance, I learned essential lessons of symmetry, balance, scale, and proportion.

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Add to this my years of graduate study at Columbia University in the early 80’s in the heyday of postmodernism. This was a period of turning back to the classics of architecture. There is a reason that the buildings of the Renaissance and of the masters (Le Corbusier, Aalto, Asplund, Meis) affect people the way they do. I spent time– drawings of plan, section and elevation in hand– studying the canonical western architectural masterpieces. I absorbed the magical quality of the golden section and how the parts relate to the whole.

Since 1993 Rebecca Schnier Architecture has provided a full range of architecture planning and interior design services for residential and small commercial projects. Best known for our award winning, high-end custom residential work, we have also successfully designed restaurants, stores, and corporate headquarters. We emphasize warm contemporary, environmentally responsible, timeless design.

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