The Architecture of Place: Florida, Atlanta, and Al Ain
with Scott Merrill
Perhaps now more than ever before, we are all aware of the built environment that surrounds us, and of the impacts it has on the health of individuals, communities, and the planet. The Architecture of Place series brings together the established and emerging voices working to create a better built future. You can find more information on the full series here.
The first event in the 'Architecture of Place' series was held on October 19, 2020, and featured a lecture from Scott Merrill, principal at Merrill, Pastor & Colgan Architects.
The lecture focuses on local forces that influence design, like climate, or the skills of the labor force, or the proximity of materials, or local culture; and larger forces--regional, national, and global--that are in constant tension with local forces. The goal of the talk is to help architects find a good balance between all these competing considerations, but it also addresses a question many of us face, which is whether we have the right--or the professional standing--to work in far-flung places that we don’t know as well as we know our own backyards.
The talk starts with Florida and works outward. Florida has always drawn in far-flung influences and managed to adapt them, assimilate them, and make them her own. Sometimes the result has been a circus, but sometimes it is exhilarating. One goal of the talk is to help avoid the circuses and to take advantage of the freedom this affords--without having a locale lose what makes it special, and without local places becoming anachronistic. The talk looks at the history of how regional and international influences have influenced Florida, and at provincial traditions that have withstood an onslaught of outside influences. The talk emphasizes the idea that we do not need to choose between these two; that both are part of our common inheritance, and that to ask people to choose only has the effect of making our inheritance smaller and more impoverished.
Since Florida has successfully assimilated many remote influences, and since outsiders have had such a positive influence on Florida architecture, the conclusion is that, if done intelligently and respectfully, architects can practice successfully in more far-flung places by drawing in appropriate measures from both local and remote traditions. Eight projects--four in Florida, one in SW Atlanta, and three in the Arabian Peninsula--are used as case studies. All three places have a surprising number of things in common. They all face challenges that local traditions strain to solve, and the case studies will show, in very specific ways, how drawing from broader traditions can be constructive in solving new problems.
The ICAA would like to thank The Benton Family Foundation for its generous support of this lecture series, along with series sponsor McCrery Architects.
About the Speaker
Scott Merrill received a BA from the University of Virginia and a Masters of Architecture from Yale University. In 1990, he opened a practice in Vero Beach, Florida. He is the principal designer for the firm. His work has been recognized fourteen times by the Florida AIA and three times by the national AIA. In 2004, Merrill and Pastor Architects was given the Arthur Ross Award by the Institute of Classical Architecture. In 2012, he was awarded the Seaside Prize. In 2016 the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture awarded Scott the Richard H. Driehaus Award.