When you drive La Cienega Boulevard in Los Angeles, less than a mile away from Sunset is the hulking and once-marvelous Beverly Center. It’s having a $500M makeover courtesy of owners Taubman Centers. Cathaleen Chen of The Real Deal spoke to Italian architect Massimiliano Fuksas, the architect spearheading the transformation, about his single ambition – to make you feel something when you walk in.
What are the most difficult tasks in design?
The real client is the human being. [The goal is to] always give people emotion. You don’t finish after the structure is built, you finish when you [evoke] emotion. When you design a building, you need strategy but more importantly, you need emotion.
Do you see a distinction between art and architecture?
Art is part of our life. Art belongs to everybody.
What do you think of modern design today?
I think it’s a positive thing that we want more and more design today. It’s a great moment in New York now. Both the clients and the developers now, they want more and more architecture, they want more emotion.
What don’t you like about architecture today?
Strategy alone, it is not enough. Only having strategy is too dry. It’s really commercial. We need to give our experience to others. We are better together.
Do you mean that a structure must serve its utilitarian purpose but also retain its style?
Style is nothing. There is no style. There are only emotions. And this is the best you can give to others. It’s possible to create a stylish building, but it’s harder to create a beautiful one.
So what is beauty in a structure?
What is beauty? Beauty is when your heart and your brain are together, they tell you, “today, I am happy.”
Who and what are your favorite artists? Favorite architects?
My favorite artists are Joseph Beuys and Andy Warhol. As for architecture, one relationship that is very important was when I was a young student of Jørn Utzon’s. He was a very ethical person.
Massimiliano Fuksas and a rendering of the renovated Beverly Center, slated for completion in 2018 (Credit: Alchetron, Massimiliano Fuksas)