About The AIAAbout The AIA
As founder and principal of John Dwyer Architect in Minneapolis, John strives to incorporate humanitarian architecture in community advocacy and teaching. His leadership in restoring parts of the Ninth Ward in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina is inspiring and demonstrates his strong commitment to designing for the public interest.
Last architecture book read
Peter Zumthor’s Thinking Architecture
How did you make the decision to pursue a career in architecture?
In 9th grade, I loved drawing and math. The rest is history.
Where did you go to architecture school?
University of Minnesota
Did you have a specialization?
I would say I specialize in design technology, but the truth is I love the intimacy of designing houses.
What do you like best about being an architect?
I love the longevity of the career. I love that I’ll be doing this well into my 90s.
How do you define creativity and apply it to your career?
I think design is thought. So great design, in my eyes, is anything done with great thoughtfulness. For myself, I just keep trying to learn, to gain more knowledge, to learn how to think, how to be more thoughtful, and to make sure I’m constantly putting it all into what I design.
Do you approach architecture from an artistic or functional starting point? Are the two concepts exclusive?
Nope, at least not the ultimate architecture. It’s functional art. I will say that I believe design is different from art in that a designer responds to a given context whereas an artist selects a context to work within.
What’s your favorite building and why?
I love Sverre Fehn’s Nordic Pavilion at the Bienalle Gardens in Venice. I’m blown away by it structurally, almost as much as I’m blown away by its beauty.
If any, who are your role models?
Peter Zumthor, Tom Fisher, my father, and Gandhi.
What project you’ve worked on are you the proudest of the result?
I’m always proudest of my next project. So in terms of result, I’d have to go with the one I just finished, since it’s the closest one to my next.
If you had to choose one of your projects to represent your work, what project would you choose?
Infill. It’s still unbuilt, but it was my first successful attempt at merging economic and ecological benefit into something beautiful enough that I would want to live in.
What projects, other than your own work, do you find inspiring?
Siza’s pavilion at the 98 expo in Lisbon, Peter Zumthor’s house and studio, and Scarpa’s Castelvecchio.
What are your guiding principles for your design work?
I only have one: to keep getting better. Part of that is an ongoing search for the definition of better, but the goal is to keep getting better.
What do you want to be your legacy?
I want to just continue thinking and learning and growing as a designer and let my legacy shape itself.