We have a thing for old barns, sheds, silos, and all objects in the landscape. On a trip to Iceland I photographed many of these structures. CUBE’s work is heavily rooted in the building site. Many of our ideas arrive from a thorough reading of the land itself: its shape, its vegetation, its views, its light, each place is very unique. Two of us grew up in rural parts of the Southeast which may have something to do with it.
Unlike architectural styles, these structures normally arise out of utility in response to a basic agricultural need. Every part has a job. They are pure, simple, expressive structures that use what is available. They are by definition a response to their place, and in many ways they are what contemporary architecture ascribes to.
We are often asked about our name. No, we don’t design cubes, but the cube is a basic unit of spatial measurement. Back in St. Petersburg Junior College our first design exercise was to draw 10 perfect cubes in perspective – freehand. Don’t even try to use a straight-edge to draw them; Professor Bergsma would call you right out. We did a lot in class that first semester, but every night we had to draw those damn cubes for months until they were perfect. Then we began carving them up to develop space. It was a form of architectural bootcamp. We learned how to draw with precision, we learned how to control proportion, we learned how to see. We are forever grateful to those two first professors, Don Bergsma and Robert Hudson, who taught us not only how to see, but instilled a drive to reach far beyond what our young minds had imagined. The name CUBE is a nod to our roots.
The above photo is reflective of our very different personalities and illustrates how we work together to create meaningful architecture. Now in our mid-30’s, we are fortunate to have known each other since the age of 18 as friends, roommates, work colleagues, and business partners. It’s this lineage that helps our partnership to operate as one.
We work collectively on each project. While we have similar backgrounds, our minds process information in often-opposite ways. It allows us to consider things we otherwise would not have seen. This diversity of thought is what keeps us fresh; without it we’d grow complacent and repetitive.
Outside our office we are normally very organized, but inside our office, design is a passionate and nonlinear process: we argue, we contradict, we reason, we take sides, and eventually we reach a consensus that aligns with a concept. When an idea comes to the table it goes through what we call the machine: it’s studied from all angles, transformed, built upon, and reemerges with new understanding. Each of our projects is grounded by a concept that drives the entire process. Without this goal we’d simply be decorating. The concept gives meaning and purpose to the design and helps inform all project decisions from budget to detail.
Our larger goal is to make environments that move the human spirit, and to have fun while doing it. This is why we became architects. We are curious people who want to have an impact on our world. We believe in the power of design to enrich life, and it is our collaborative approach that allows us to realize the full potential of each project.
Architecture is a profession of practice. So what does an architect do? A typical project involves working with: