As co-founder of By Way Of, a blog that investigates the journeys of daring and creative women, it seemed only appropriate that I interview the newest CTA partner, Christa Waring. –Dara Magagnoli
BWO: So, why did you want to become an architect?
CW: I don’t think that I had a specific reason. It was more of a calling. I recently took my class to an office visit at H3 Hardy, which is headed up by Hugh Hardy who is in his 80s (and an architectural icon) and still goes to the office every day. He told my students that architecture is an obsession. I liked that, I believe that. It’s not a job that one falls into by mistake. It’s trial by fire!
BWO: How does NYC inspire your work?
CW: I do prefer fixing things over designing new things. In particular, I like to do renovations of low-income housing. I have that architect’s belief that when someone’s environment is improved, then their life is improved. I like to believe that. I think in a place like NYC there’s a fair amount of opportunity for that kind of work. The population is so much more diverse and there are people here with that same real interest that I have.
BWO: One of your projects that we were most excited by was the Lower Eastside Girls Club. Can you talk a bit about that? Your inspiration for the project?
CW: We worked with the Girls Club for many years before the building was realized. The Girls Club is a little funky and fun, and this inspired the facades, and the scale of the facades, which I am happy to say are petite little gems on the side streets. But they are also bold and outspoken which we spoke to with our choice of materials (exposed concrete, corten steel). They have fun “contents” on the building interior, a two-story library with a grand cast concrete stair, the Airstream trailer podcasting lab, a 30’ planetarium dome. We chose to accentuate these elements on the facade with concrete “frames” that stick out and announce that something quite special is going on in those places. The corten and stainless steel “banner” that runs along the facades from street to avenue to street tie the building together and let the community in on the goings on inside this big new building. It was a very exciting project, built during the time when the economy tanked, so it was a real success story.
BWO: Who is your favorite architect right now?
CW: My favorite design architect is Behnisch Architects. One of my professors introduced me to their work like 15 years ago and I remain intrigued.
BWO: Do you have favorite materials to work with? Do any materials speak to your design aesthetic?
CW: I do love brick, roman sized. I am so retro.
BWO: What inspires your designs?
CW: Context. I am never a fan of a new building that overwhelms its surroundings. I received an email yesterday about owners of a lot in NYC that are petitioning for a 30 FAR for their new building. What that means is a GIANT building. It’s ludicrous.
BWO: What excites you about the future of Architecture?
CW: The profession is always changing, particularly with the rapid advances in technology but there is always something that brings it back to the prehistoric hut. Architecture has always managed to bridge this divide. I look forward to seeing where this leads us.
BWO: Any badass women you love? Dead or alive?
CW: Julia Morgan, badass woman of Architecture circa 1900!
Photo and interview excerpt with Christa E. Waring brought to you by Dara Magagnoli. Image of the Lower Eastside Girls Club copyright Evan Joseph. Full interview to be featured on By Way Of Blog on March 3rd.