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"The roadcut is a diagram of the investigative process for the making of architecture."—Antoine Predock
The work of New Mexico architect Antoine Predock is known around the world. In 2006, the American Institute of Architects awarded Predock its Gold Medal, the highest honor it can bestow on an individual, aligning him with such celebrated modern architects as Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, and Louis Kahn.
In Roadcut, architectural historian Christopher Curtis Mead traces Predock's development over forty years from early work in Albuquerque—the housing complex La Luz and the Rio Grande Nature Center—to twenty-first-century projects like Winnipeg's Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Mead also gives special attention to the Nelson Fine Arts Center in Tempe, Arizona, the American Heritage Center and University Art Museum at the University of Wyoming, the Turtle Creek House in Dallas, the Austin City Hall and Public Plaza in Texas, and George Pearl Hall at the University of New Mexico.
Posted June 6, 2011
Predock's architecture brings to mind the term "landscape" linking the immutable nature of a given area of land with manmade introductions to it which nonetheless do not hide, efface, or obliterate the area. The prominent, award-winning Southwestern architect Predock exemplifies what this concept of landscape means for him by reference to what is known as a "roadcut" which has archaeological, geological, and construction implications. Predock explains, "In a highway roadcut...a sectional diagram of earth is revealed through man's intervention...The roadcut is a diagram of the investigative process for the making of architecture." Predock looks beneath the surface of a site not just for knowledge of the substratum that will be supporting whatever is built, but also for knowledge of the prehistory and old and recent history of a site. For Predock, a site's roadcut serves not only as an inspiration for a design, but also in a way a model.
A roadcut contains elements from ancient oceans, fossils, artifacts of primitive peoples, evidence of migrations and conquests, and detritus of modern culture such as hubcaps, beer cans, and fast-food wrappers. Predock's architecture for a site aims at reflecting, complementing, and extending the millennial, historical, and latter-day composition of a site by shapes, materials, colors, and atmosphere. His architectural works however are not eclectic. For Predock is "consciously intuitive rather than cerebral in his approach to architecture" with the roadcut stimulating and guiding his intuition. Nor does this architect resort to hackneyed techniques such as "quotes" or overused principles such as monolithic forms or practices such as glossy surfaces making a structure more of a modernist statement or paean to an architect's "vision". Predock's works by contrast are functional while being distinctive, imaginative, and modern.
Mead, who as a professor of architecture and also art history at the U. of New Mexico was approached by Predock as an author for this book, treats individually nine Predock projects throughout the Southwest and West plus one in Canada after an introduction on the architect's biography, career, sources, and ideas. The diversity of these exemplify Predock's range and versatility: a nature center, a housing complex, a home, a fine arts complex, a museum. Economical text involving historical, descriptive, and technical matter sometimes with quotes by Predock accompanied by colorful and dramatic visual matter of drawings, diagrams, and striking photographs engrossingly--almost interactively--imparts the individuality, relevance, and intelligence of the architect's works. Since about 2005, Predock has been getting commissions from China, Russia, and other parts of the world, evidencing that his architecture has attracted international attention.