Page C1.2 . 09 May 2001                     
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    Turnbull - Buildings in the Landscape

    (continued)

    Stairs, platforms, and passages securely link Bill's buildings to the ground, encompassing roofs mediate their relation to the sky, and layered walls frame the spaces between.

    But the quality of light is what brings these works to life. In Bill's houses light does not fall where the windows happen to allow it; rather the windows, doors, and skylights are positioned so that they can place the light most effectively.

    Bill's buildings are suffused with light, as in the outdoors. Turnbull invites us to share his understanding of the landscape as continuum — not a continuum of the abstract sort envisioned by Mies van der Rohe, but a differentiated field of topography, with features and inhabitants, bathed in the light of revolving seasons.

    Bill's most fundamental mentor was the landscape itself. His closeness to the forms and processes of nature made him ever alert to its demeanor. In placing buildings, he was especially adept at finding positions of advantage and imagining ways of building that complemented the character of the site. His approach to the landscape — as to his life — was not one of emulation, but of cultivation.

    The land, the family, the acts of building, the joys of inhabiting, all merged in Bill's mind into homes for the imagination. He created places that are both precise and alive, that inspire even as they accommodate.

    The integrity of his buildings, delineated with quiet care, reflects the intensity of their conception and the passion with which they were nurtured. They are buildings that honor human presence in the land.

    Donlyn Lyndon was a partner of MLTW with Charles Moore, William Turnbull, and Richard Whitaker. He is now a professor of architecture at the University of California at Berkeley, editor of "Places," board member of the International Laboratory of Architecture and Urban Design, and partner in the firm Lyndon/Buchanan Associates.

    This article is excerpted from "William Turnbull, Jr.: Buildings in the Landscape," copyright © 2000, and is available from William Stout Books in paper and hardcover and from Amazon.com.

     

    AW

    ArchWeek Photo

    MLTW placed few windows inside each cube to enhance the sense of enclosure, but numerous skylights admit the warm sun.
    Photo: Morley Baer

    ArchWeek Photo

    Each unit maintains a close connection to the adjacent open land and the distant cliff and sea views.
    Photo: Morley Baer

    ArchWeek Photo

    Turnbull's buildings are suffused with light.
    Photo: Morley Baer

    ArchWeek Photo

    Light does not fall where the windows happen to allow it; rather the windows, doors, and skylights are positioned to place the light most effectively.
    Photo: Morley Baer

    ArchWeek Photo

    William Turnbull, Jr.: Buildings in the Landscape.
    Image: William Stout Publishers

     

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