Gary Paige introduces Mark Mack.
Mark Mack defines primitivism as an ideology of purification, simplification of an architectural process, and as a search for meaning in architecture without using an overt style or architectural language. His work tries to merge tradition which is a local cultural good, with invention in a way that results in a product that is both conservative and progressive. Mack cites influences including Schinkel and Adolf Loos, Charles Keeler’s 1904 book The Simple Home, and Bernard Maybeck’s Glen Ellen cottages.
Mark describes projects in the Napa Valley including one for a group of clients from the city who were uncomfortable with the idea of living on a farm. He agreed to provide the clients with an enclosed urban space which quickly became a fortress in the landscape. The house is meant to stand on its own against the elements of nature and rural seduction to protect the urban lifestyle within the confines of the building. The front of the project is a fortress but with a façade that clearly locates its entrance.
Mack presents a school in Monterey, California that takes off from the idea of a pavilion by breaking the program up into separate buildings. Wood, stucco, and stone buildings all mix together to form the single unit of the school. An added challenge to this project was that the client asked for the building to be flexible enough to be converted into housing if the school should close. In response, He also discusses other projects including a façade design for the 1980 Presence of the Past,. Venice Biennale.
Mack answers questions from the audience including explaining why a stair in a Napa Valley house seems to run into a wall. Mack discusses why the the stair was placed as it was and admits that the final configuration was not completely what was intended. Addressing another question about the possible meaning of primitive forms, he states that for him the forms have meaning in so far as they refer back to a simplification of architectural forces. When asked about the work of Mario Botta, he says it is too artistic, mannerist, and object-oriented.