Designer Crush: Mary Ann SchicketanzAuthor:Michelle Konstantinovsky
Even after two-plus decades as an internationally practicing architect, Mary Ann Schicketanz retains the influence of her roots. The native Austrian and founder and president of Studio Schicketanz says she brings a European sensibility to the practice of sustainable building and design, exemplified by her leadership in the integration of green design principles with strong thematic design concepts. Learn more in our Q+A below.
How did you get your start in design?
Design has been a part of my life since I was a child. I attended art classes at our local arts academy since I was 7 years old. Visiting the latest exhibitions was a regular family outing, and touring ancient cities and cathedrals with all their treasures is how we spent our summers.
How do you feel modern European architectural and interior design styles differ from modern American styles and which do you prefer?
When it comes to styles it’s impossible to lump all of Europe together since Scandinavian design and Italian Design differ enormously, for example. And one may be able to say the same for the Midwest compared to Southern California. One aspect may be the one universal difference, which is scale. Most everything is of a smaller and more delicate scale in Europe. I do not prefer one over the other since designing appropriately for any given environment is what I value most.
Why are green design principles so important to you and how do you integrate them into your work?
In the US about 40% of all energy is consumed by buildings and the construction industry generates about 170 million tons of demolition and construction waste a year. Considering these staggering numbers green design principals are essential if we want to leave a livable planet to future generations. We aim for net zero on all of our projects and all of our specifications adhere to LEED principals.
Tell us about a particularly memorable project and describe what made it so special/rewarding/challenging.
We have the privilege to work on the most amazing virgin properties along the Big Sur Coast, where we always defer to the landscape. Sometimes we also get the chance to clean up and restore a piece of coastline. One of our clients bought an ocean front piece of property – the cliff plunges 800 feet into the sea – which had over the years been cluttered with cabins, odd terraces, a pool and exotic plants that used a lot of water. After cleaning up the land and tending to the magnificent oaks we got the great opportunity to not only build a new home to blend with the land, re-sculpt the gardens, but also fully furnish the home to create a seamless environment between nature and the interiors. The clients later also purchased the adjacent properties to the north and south which gave us the opportunity to extend the landscape restoration and restore the two existing homes as guest houses – one of which is the former country house of Philip Johnson and David Whitney.
Who are some of your biggest professional role models and why?
I like individuals or businesses that are highly competent in their field, but also successfully cross disciplines and consistently turn out excellent work. Architect Peter Marino is one example; Gensler, as a firm, is another.
What’s your dream vacation destination and itinerary?
My dream vacations are a combination of nature and good exercise, culture and good food.
Here are two sample itineraries:
Flying into Cusco in Peru staying at the Monasterio, hiking the Inka trail to Matchu Pitchu, followed by two days rest at the Belmond at the top of the mountain.
Ski tour in Lech, visit to James Turell’s skyspace and a delicious meal at Hotel Arlberg, accompanied by a fine local wine.
Favorite book of all time?
Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy.
Go-to easy recipe?
Tattoos: yay or nay?
Beach or mountains?
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