An interview with Gary Paul, a New York architect with a mission to please.

By Amber Bartlett (‘18)

This is the first in a series of articles about careers that SDJA students found interesting.

An illustration of a futuristic building by artist Mackie Deverett (’18).

Q: What is your creative process?

A: “Well I think the creative process is” considering variables “all at the same time.” It is imperative that you know your audience, context, and budget before beginning a new project. “You have to intuit many different aspects of something at the beginning” in order to go through a creative process to eventually create a final result. “I like to say that I listen to my clients and sort of evolve their ideas to some place much further than they would go on their own because they don’t have the skills, experience, or knowledge to go there by themselves.”

Q: Do you have to be good at drawing in order to be successful in the job?

A: “The most important thing I think you have to do is pay very close attention to details. There are a couple of skills that are helpful, but not everybody is good at all of them. I think having an understanding of geometry is important. I’ve always been able to draw…” Any kind of visual skills, including illustration, can be helpful in creating an unique architectural style.

Q: How has modern technology changed the way you do your job?

A: “I have taught architectural drawing classes and I am not skillful at using a computer to draft. I’ve always had people in my office doing that full time, whereas I wear many hats and do different things. I can’t think with a computer. I don’t understand how you can design with a computer. I can only do it with a pen in my hand.”

Q: How will Architecture change in 5 years?

A: “Well, [architecture] largely is digital now. Most of what people do in offices is computer designing, using computers as a drafting machine. The drawings that are made to design buildings are still going to be executed on the computer. There will be less and less people that are drawing by hand to figure out their designs. Personally, that scares me because I think there may be a little less originality. On the other hand, people do amazing things with computer-aided design; things I can’t even imagine.”

Q: What advice would you give to a student interested in architecture and design?

A: “I would say that the student should look at architecture books, read magazines, and go out into the world and look at buildings. There are [also] many universities” that have summer college programs. You can “see if you are adept at exploring either in drawing or in model form. At ten years old, I was going to the Evanston library and taking out the architecture books that adults were only allowed to take out. I had to get special permission. I would bring these giant books home and read them. I was aware of the outside world. I would look at buildings going up in downtown and look at houses as we drove through the suburbs.”

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