Noel Cross is an architect with many passions. Green layout, Baroque-style art, Apple Spanish and products layout are just a couple of the loves of his life — all of which find a means to intersect in his architecture. His clinic in San Jose, California, has performed houses in all shapes and styles across California. From a cliff-front home in Gualala to some barn in Mendocino County to a beach house in Santa Cruz, Cross’ distinct style and fires come across in all of these. “Every project differs,” he says. “I never get bored.”
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When did you know you wanted to style houses?
In my senior year of high school I took an architectural drafting class, adored it, and never return.
Once I was in my early 20s I moved into the Ahwanee dining room in Yosemite, and got all choked up when I first viewed it as a trained architect. The same occurred in Paris when I watched the Notre Dame Cathedral — I broke down in tears. My goal is to inspire feelings like those in my clients. Otherwise what’s the point?
Which famous architects would you love a opportunity to utilize?
Herzog & de Meuron, or Frank Gehry, or Lake | Flato.
What’s your favourite new thing you’ve seen online?
I just visited this winery [Dominus Winery] by Herzog & de Meuron in Yountville — genuinely spectacular architecture.
What fresh color or material are you using today?
COR-TEN [weathering] steel for exterior siding. No maintenance, great natural [range of] colours, and it changes over time.
What’s the most fascinating thing you’re working on today?
A net-zero-energy home in Los Altos Hills. It is a really modern (really exactly what I call “earthy modern”) house with spectacular views of the San Francisco Bay. It will be heated and cooled with a ground-source heat-pump system, has a rammed-earth characteristic wall, a living roof, a rooftop vegetable garden and orchard, a rainwater reclamation and heaps of solar panels — every green and energy-saving attribute we can consider. It will be near net zero power, which is quite cool, and it is going to seem really cool also.
Who’s among the favourite artists?
Vermeer. The sense of light in his paintings is unbelievable. “Girl With a Pearl Earring” is magic. I can stare at it for hours.
The most important thing in your desk would be …
I don’t know what I’d do with my iMac and iPhone. Thank you, Steve. You were the very best.
Favorite classic furniture bit?
The Gehry cardboard Wiggle seat or the Gerrit Rietveld Red & Blue seat.
If you could change 1 thing about house design, it might be …
Make tract-house developers use really good architects, an appropriate amount of budget, and integrate better long-term believing. More than 90 percent of Americans live in houses with exceptionally substandard design and affordable stuff, and the people does not understand what they are missing. The health of our world and our wellbeing suffer greatly because of it.
Your perfect client is …
A combination of understanding what they want functionally and stylistically sufficient to provide you a strong leadership, and then are still wide open to being educated and motivated. It helps if they are very involved and interested, ask plenty of questions, and also have the ability to comprehend and respect the architect’s vision.
What inspires your designs?
Many things. My love of architecture, all styles, modern being my favorite now. The environment, the specific site and the surrounding region are huge inspirations. Probably most of all are my clients. My only nonnegotiable is that they must love their home, therefore that I take a good deal of inspiration from what they are dreaming of, what would make them the most happy and proud. I try to catch their spirits and create a refuge for their mind, if this makes sense. The bottom line is that buildings are for people, so they would be the most crucial inspiration. The website is a really close second; in some circumstances it is a tie.
Where is your go-to place for inspiration?
Where in the world do you wish to go next? Why?
Spain. Man, I am just dying to see Barcelona along with also the work of Antonio Gaudi, and then drive over to Bilbao and encounter Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum first hand. For me personally there are so many similarities in the work of both of these great architects. Both are artists deep down, and with no art in architecture, you merely have mortar and bricks without a spirit. Why do it?
Can you still draw, or is everything about the computer today?
I hand-draw every project, particularly in the design stage. I leave the CAD for my superb staff, that are much better at it than I am. We eventually finish the design in 3D on the computer, and it is an amazing and powerful tool, but most everything is still designed using a pencil in my hands.
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