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Gene Kaufman's Buildings Would Go Over Better in France

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Gene Kaufman may have done more to shape the Manhattan skyline during the building boom than any other architect, thanks to his role as prolific hotel builder Sam Chang's right-hand man. The results are, um, up for debate. Kaufman just sat down with the Commercial Observer to talk shop. Here he is talking about bold vs. boring design:

I think there is a range in our work from the more bold to the ones that are sort of somewhat more within the mainstream. That has to do with the client. Not every client wants to be—or should be—bold. In fact, we have sometimes advised our clients to do something less ambitious because something more ambitious may not suit their long- or short-term goals. That's right: Talk 'em down, baby! Kaufman has his critics, of course, which is a shame. In Western Europe no one would dare question his authority! Wait, what?

I would say that throughout Western Europe, architecture is very highly regarded. Architects have a role more like what a doctor traditionally has here, even though doctors' esteem may be eroding today. But an architect—in Italy in particular, but in many countries of Western Europe—is considered to be a professional in the sense that a doctor is a professional here. You don't go in and question a doctor's opinion. You might get a second opinion from another doctor, but you don't say to a doctor, 'No, that's not what I want. I want this.' Or, at least you do it at your own risk.Fair point, but they don't put ice in their sodas in Western Europe, so trusting their opinion on anything gives us pause.
· The Sit-Down with Gene Kaufman: Recovery Blueprints [Commercial Observer]
· Gene Kaufman coverage [Curbed]