Stanley Saitowitz | Natoma Architects Inc.

Stanley Saitowitz | Natoma Architects Inc.

Stanley Saitowitz
Natoma Architects Inc.


The essential medium of architecture is space, air, rather than substance, matter which contains the emptiness. Architecture is the construction of charged voids, frames of opportunity, fields of possibility. I am interested in space, more than meaning, in the architecture of movement and flux, of time and event, rather than object and monument. I am interested in the emptyness that material constructs. I am interested in the invisible. Buildings are less objects than interludes in the field of fluid and continuous space. In this world of proliferation of image, the reality of experience and the need for authenticity increases. I am interested in the tactile and sensual, in the haptic over the visual, in communication through the direct experience rather than figural images which rely on memory for communication. I am interested in the actual space of experience which allows new meanings to accumulate through use in this unprecedented transcultural and transgenerational condition.


The generative ideas of modern architecture emerge from the consideration of buildings as systems, related to machines, or natural organisms, or the phenomena of the city. I am interested in similarity and dissimilarity, in relations of relations, in theme and variation, order and accommodation. I search for the highest common denominator to establish the field of operation as a framework of unity and a panorama of resistance. I have sometimes thought of buildings like geography, where matter evolves without particular purpose, pushed by forces, describing their formations, like plate techtonics and geology. Authorship is virtually eliminated as system generates in the realm of natures mode of operation. Buildings are structured on the same principles which generate cities, based on rules and patterns, on infrastructure and frameworks, inviting habitation, participation and transformation.


I am interested in buildings as apparatus rather than object, as instrument rather than monument. I think of architecture as support for human events, more like a camera than a photograph, more like a telephone than a conversation. I am interested in generosity and opportunity rather than program and stasis. I have always resisted the idea of programming as authoritarian and aim instead for constructed freedom in which the habitation of space remains fluid and open. I search to make architecture a frame, an open field which facilitates the dreams and desires of the inhabitants. In this way architecture can be viewed as an instrument, a way to extend the exuberant parts of life, a tool of liberation.


In the search for the authentic over the image, the actual materials and systems of assembly, the process of construction, become the aesthetic. I want to make objects which expose their cause, buildings which are perceptual process. I like to think of construction as growth. Not an idealized form, but the actual performing of the work made precious. I think less about architecture as art, and visual, than architecture as cooking, and haptic. I make buildings by the gathering and assembly of ingredients. The plan is the recipe.


Traditionally architecture's tools encouraged the description of the static or very slow. We were unable to talk to ourselves about how buildings live in the river of time; we could not hold on to light and shadows. Built buildings teach the lessons of time, of their changing presence from day to night, and how they settle into their worlds in use. The reality of times passage becomes a design element. Our buildings respond to the conditions of changing sunlight through the day; the shift in becoming the source of light at night, and the changes of temperature through the seasons. We build stages for the subjects of our work to play out their constantly changing lives.


Green architecture is not just about the future of building, but the key to any future. We have developed both passive and active energy systems. These include intelligent passive design using solar orientation, shading, day lighting, window layers, and active systems like sensors which calibrate and balance interior environments, photovoltaics, geothermal and river cooling. We use renewable resources, and build lightly, using the least possible materials and effort to encompass the most possible volume and space. Our entire practice revolves around the idea of economy and optimization.