Charles Brickbauer, architect

Presentation Date: 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Location: 

Villa I Tatti

It has been an enormous honor to have had the privilege of adding to this historic complex created by the Berensons.  Specifically, following in the footsteps of architects Cecil Pincent and Geoffrey Scott seemed an interesting and daunting challenge.  The thought of cutting edge modernism – my home turf – was not an option for obvious reasons.  However, reinterpreting the Tuscan renaissance as was originally done by Pincent and Scott, seemed an exciting and logical approach.  The basic concept therefore would include tradition, order, proportion, materiality and the functional requirements. 

 
Often architects rush to the drawing board, but I must research and contemplate before I feel confident and conversant enough with the requirements.  The last step in my process is the actual design.  It is only then that I dare to test the ideas that seem possible. 
 
Simply copying what had already been done splendidly and too many times with woefully banal results, held no interest.  After studying both the typical and famous buildings, it became evident that there was much more stylistic freedom than would seem obvious.  Renaissance order appeared more theoretical than practiced: the rules were there to be broken and that was consistent with Wittkover’s pronouncement that the Renaissance was an architecture of taste, seeking no logic or consistency or justification beyond that of giving pleasure.  I sought to expand beyond even these tenets to demonstrate that logic and consistency can be successfully applied in the service of, and justification for, visual pleasure.  Here, nothing is quite what it seems to be. 
 
The Deborah Loeb Brice Loggiato nods to precedents beyond Pincent and Scott: To Vasari, for the system of harmonic proportion, Philip Johnson, my early mentor, for sheer perverse logic and others from Raphael to Russell Page.  Buildings such as the Villa Gamberaia, Villa Medici, the Carmine served as points of reference.  In the end however, it is in the Loggiato’s detailing that my naturally inclined modernist impulses are fulfilled.  At the same time, those familiar with one past project will recognize that this new building stands in dynamic contrast to the geometric-all-glass Brown Center I designed for the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore.  It makes for an intriguing comparison. 
 
One thing that all architectural practitioners readily understand is that (and quoting Scott) --- architecture is the art of organizing a mob of craftsmen, and today I must add professionals.  It is to them I give my most heartfelt thanks for making this project a success.  Particular thanks are extended to Debby Brice, whose generous contribution has made this all possible; to Walter Kaiser – who sorely missed today – for his vision, confidence and guidance.  To Joe Connors for getting the construction started and keeping the ball rolling.  To Lino Pertile for his patience and steadfastness in the final stretch.  Importantly to Nelda Ferace and Allen Grieco and to Mimmo Tufaro and Mimmo Segatori for overseeing the Loggiato’s successful completion.  And lastly, to Ziger/Snead for use of the hall. 
 
With these thoughts in mind, my appreciation to all for celebrating here today.  It truly has been a remarkable experience to have had the privilege of adding a brand new building to this amazing institution and to see it completed on the eve of I Tatti’s 50th anniversary.  Thank you.