CBS’s 60 Minutes Interviews American Architect Peter Marino
(Aired Sunday 4/2/2017)
by Frank Visconti, AIA
Architects are rarely highlighted on National prime time news shows like 60 Minutes although in the last couple of years they have done in-depth pieces on Antoni Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia Cathedral and Danish Architect Bjarke Ingels’ (from Bjarke Ingels Group “BIG”) recent gravity defying work around the world. Last Sunday’s episode highlighted American Architect Peter Marino, whose global success is as boundless as it is a phenomenon.
After being introduced to the professional world by Andy Warhol in the 70’s, he found his way to become indispensable to nearly all the fashion houses of haute couture. He created a niche market among billion dollar companies and the individuals who run them to look to him for author uncompromising architecture celebrating their brands. His work presents depth of detail as rich as the stitching and jewelry of these high art enterprises. He has a clear modernist view of design and focuses on artisanal craft and the natural beauty of raw materials.
I worked at his office for several years as a senior architect among many colleagues who had been with him for over 15 years. He operates from a 16,000 square foot gallery-like office on the 36th floor of one of the most prestigious addresses in Manhattan. His personal art collection within the office appearing throughout the interview spans antiquity to an endless collection of work by Damien Hirst and emerging artists whose works are fetching prices that only serious collectors seek.
I’d say the 60 Minutes interview captures his work as well as his startling personality. The biker leather gear is an everyday suit for him. I met the humble tailor who personally crafts these and is in the office twice a week reviewing samples of the of softest hides one has ever felt. Marino’s silver jewelry is made by a local family of silversmiths I knew who had run an East Village shop on MacDougal Street for decades and is guiding them to create a new international collection.
One will notice that there is a huge focus on bookmatched and sequenced marble in all his projects. There is an Italian woman, Paula, at his office that I sat across from who traveled monthly to all the coastal Italian quarries to personally select the most interesting slabs for each project. They would be cataloged, photographed, then digitally sequenced for each component of a particular project showing every sink cutout or stair tread maximizing the the grain of the figuring.
All this work would pass through his eyes and although it may seem like a huge corporate entity, his office is a true sole proprietorship, with his control over every cut and every window. His firm is comprised of 150 employees including architects and interior designers, digital visualizers, artists and another half floor for his accounting department. Marino, whose architectural degree is from Cornell, maintains his registrations in dozens of states and in the interview mentioned what we all do to keep our credits current for our licenses. That struck me as a statement that doesn’t appear cynical but rather expresses the professionalism that we all adhere to and wish people understood. Yes, he is undeniably provocative and probably has a photographic memory--but he is an American architect and to see our profession celebrated Sunday at 7PM a national network was good for all of us.
The episode can be streamed on http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/peter-marino.