In this recurring Q&A series, Sasaki staff share what inspires them, what they are working on, and a bit about life outside the office. Today, say hello to Colin Booth, designer in our Campus Studio!
Why do you do what you do?
These are interesting times. You can't be too dramatic about the do-or-die state of affairs. Design is, at its core, about intention, so being in our field means influencing the intention behind how human beings live. For me, addressing that issue is not only imperative, but super fun.
What are you working on now?
I'm currently master planning Red River College in Winnipeg, beginning a new health sciences building for Methodist University in Georgia, and occasionally advising on a new lab building at Bristol Community College.
In which research topics or concepts are you most interested?
I've been researching what it would mean to be THE leading firm in designing sustainable built environments, and I recently completed a cross-the-US road trip interviewing a variety of professionals. There seems to be a lot of opportunity for innovation in how we structure our contracts to better incentivize lasting quality and efficiency. The trick is exploring these ideas in incremental ways, without a whole-sale overhaul of our current business model.
With a group at MIT, I'm also exploring the further development of a concept that a few of us in the office did for a 2011 Metropolis Magazine competition. It addresses the importance of public engagement in resource efficiency via gamification.
And more broadly, I'm working with others in the office to support and cross-pollinate their own research initiatives, which has been incredibly exciting.
Hideo Sasaki once said, "Contribution is the only value." What do you contribute?
I've come to see myself as an instigator and enjoy surrounding myself with folks who know how to make interesting and positive things happen. I therefore hope that I bring to the office this network and these sensibilities. I hope that I contribute ideas about the next way to do things.
Where is your favorite place in the world?
The Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto. I've been there twice, once in 2006 and most recently while working with two Sasaki colleagues on Ogawa Coffee. Beyond the main shrine at the base of the mountain are a series of pathways—miles of them, lined with thousands of orange-red tori gates in tight succession, leading to occasional pockets of smaller shrines all over the mountain. It's just magical. The Japanese have a real knack for identifying, marking, and enhancing natural beauty in the landscape.
Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto
Whom do you admire?
The late Paolo Soleri. He was my initial inspiration to practice architecture, and I had the pleasure of spending a few days with him over the last decade, most recently in March. I can't help but admire someone who developed such a compelling, broad, end-game philosophy, and then took bold steps to literally build towards that vision. I owe much to him, and a handful of my mentors whom he also inspired.
What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
I like to make things. I recently completed a complete gut reno of my condo in JP in which I built most everything I was legally able to, and have moved into sewing, leatherworking, and smaller-scale wood-working and metal-working. I did much more of these in a previous life, mostly goldsmithing and jewelry model-making. I find that it's a wonderful counterpoint to the design, management, and general digital thinking that we do in the office. A bit of making in the evening and weekends, with an occasional mountain climb, goes a long way to balancing Modernity.
What's on your iPod?
Junior Kimbrough, Mississippi John Hurt (1928 recordings), Deltron 3030, Al Green, and a loop of rainstorms for when white noise in your ear is more appropriate than distracting lyrics.