Boffi Soho talks with Lubrano Ciavarra Architects

How did you start your career in Architecture?
ANNE MARIE: I think my obsession started at 7 years old – one afternoon on a corner in my Brooklyn neighborhood, the façade of a brownstone literally slid off the side of the building.  The site was a living section, revealing not just pipes, stairs, and floor thicknesses, but interconnected spaces and materials…it was so layered – I was hooked!  My mother – who started her career in Fashion and then moved into Interiors – fed my vivid visual curiosity, exposing me to the world of art and design.
LEA: I definitely remember climbing around wood-frame houses that were under construction in my neighborhood growing up, but my “ah-ha” moment in terms of true architectural inspiration was during my Junior year in college when I participated in a semester abroad with Colgate University in Venice, Italy.  That city is so textured in terms of material and light.  Living there made me want to draw!

How do you define your style? 
BOTH:  The joy of what we do is in the experience of each new collaboration.  When you connect with a client, a site, a craftsperson – it is inspiring.  As such, we really approach each project independently.
If there is a consistency from project to project, it is in the clarity of our conceptual planning, and in the continuity of materials that is carried through the entire process down to the smallest details.
Whenever possible, we try to bring a sense of expansiveness to each space – perhaps this comes from life in small New York apartments?!

                                                             Watch Hill House, RI

Who are your favorite architects?
ANNE MARIE: Mies van der Rohe for his rigorous use of proportion at multiple scales and his ability to eliminate limits in interior space.
LEA: While I don’t always love her spaces, Zaha Hadid is totally inspiring, not only for being a woman, but for the body of work she achieved – both built and conceptual, with equally present thought explorations – in a limited number of years.

Do you have a favorite building?
ANNE MARIE: Since March of 2014 we have had the honor to be part of the team for the new TWA Hotel, an adaptive re-use of the TWA Flight Center by Eero Saarinen at JFK International Airport.  In working on the project, I have had the opportunity to spend a considerable amount of time in the building – every time I visit the site, it blows my mind.  The expansive roof of Saarinen’s TWA Flight Center is as big as Madison Square Garden yet the space feels incredibly intimate – it is awe-inspiring.
LEA:  It varies depending on what I’m thinking about on any given day!  Over time, favorites have included anything from the Paris Opera House for its sectional theatrical spatial relationships  (in the Grand Stair, not the Auditorium!), to the Kimball Art Museum by Louis Kahn (for its conceptual clarity and limited palette).

What’s your dream project? 
ANNE MARIE: Well, certainly I’d love to design my own beach house but…seriously I`d like to design a dedicated library because the program is so rich and poetic.
LEA: I dream of designing my own house as well – but in the mountains of Vermont or Colorado! Beyond that, I`d like to work on a college or university building because of the potential to make architecture that is both about living and learning.

Where do you draw inspiration from?
BOTH: Inspiration comes from many places – certainly the site and the client.  That said, we often start with a piece of art, a photograph or a painting as a point of departure.  For example, in developing a house for a Medieval Art Historian, we began with two of Giotto’s frescos – this was an inspiration for the layering of space, depth of field and color palette.

Anne Marie Lubrano, Lea Ciavarra

For nearly twenty years, the women-owned Brooklyn-based studio of LUBRANO CIAVARRA Architects has offered a full range of Architectural and Design Services in the residential, commercial, cultural, educational, and hospitality sectors.  Our belief that the best architecture can benefit an entire community is reflected in each of our projects. At both the public and private scale, we strive for conceptual clarity in each detail to create meaning for the people who will ultimately occupy these spaces.