As part of the college of Art and Architecture’s speaking series, renowned architect Rick Joy visited the campus on Wednesday. Joy received his B.A. from The University of Maine and his M.A. at The University of Arizona. In 1993, he founded his own architecture company, Rick Joy Architects (now named Studio Joy). Nine years later, he won the Architecture Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Joy also received the National Design Award from the Smithsonian Institution in 2004. His program, entitled “Taking the Time,” discussed his company’s principles and projects.
Joy framed the speech around his company’s core values, the most important of which was “being comprehensively observant.” He places a special emphasis on his surroundings, often taking pictures of things he finds interesting and may incorporate into a design. Some of these come from nature, others are manmade. Photos he showcased included pictures of spray paint in downtown Charleston, sunsets, fish traps and canyons. A lot of his work seemed to be inspired by the desert and mountain scenes around his home state of Arizona.
Rick Joy has a special skill for showcasing natural light and building with heavy materials such as stone and concrete. Many of his buildings are cubic in nature, with wood paneling and bright light filling the rooms. He also likes to fit and design the houses to the inhabitants. In one situation, the owner wanted the house to be built quickly so they could move in as fast as possible. Joy devised a fundamental design that allowed the house to be built in eleven months. Still, the house looks anything but simple. Found in Woodstock, Vermont, it has stone ends, gable roofs and solar panels. In another example, Joy highlighted a couple with contrasting personalities and wants. To solve this, he designed specific parts of the house to fit each of the two.
Joy has no fear of admitting his struggles or failures. Once, his team had managed to build one third of an elaborate home only for the owner to suddenly lose their money. In another house, his company had to fire a contractor and build the rest of the project themselves. Joy also discussed his business and the hard decisions he has had to make as owner. Most notably, he described an offer he recently had in China to build resort towers. However, he turned it down when he found out it would destroy nearby fishing villages.
Rick Joy’s architecture is beyond beautiful. One of the hotels he designed, Amangiri in Arizona, makes me wish I was rich enough to even spend one night there. When asked what his advice was to young architects, he stated that one should always make the design “as pure as possible” and stay true to the original concept. He is currently working on several projects, including a train station on the Princeton campus and a resort in Mexico. Joy also urged those in attendance to apply for his Immersion Vermont Master Class. Considering the exceptional designs he showcased, I think it’d be worth it to apply.