Architects Talking to Architects: Francisco Gomes, AIA

Francisco Gomes, AIA, is co-founder of Gomes+Staub Architecture in Austin, and assistant professor at The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture. Since 1999, Gomes + Staub has offered architectural services for modern residential and public buildings. Currently, the practice is designing projects sited in Austin, Marble Falls, and Redding, Connecticut.

With my son Ansel, illustrating the rapt attention for each other that unconditional love engenders. – photo courtesy Francisco Gomes, AIA

Where do you find inspiration?

I find considerable inspiration in construction. Not just the materials and technical assemblies of our buildings, but the people, tools, and cultures of their construction. Many of my favorite architects — Eladio Dieste, Jean Prouvé, Alberto Mozo, Gilles Perraudin — are those who are designing not just the buildings, but also the way their buildings are made.

What is the next building you plan to travel to?  

This summer, I had an inspiring visit to the construction site of the nearly completed Mepkin Abbey Retreat Center, designed by W.G. Clark and Josh Stastny on the site of the former Mepkin Plantation along the Cooper River north of Charleston, S.C. I’m looking forward to visiting the salinas of Setubal after presenting a conference paper in Lisbon this fall. These landscapes of evaporative salt pans line portions of the Sado Estuary and have been in continuous use since they were established by the Romans. On my long-term wish list is a trip to see the reconstruction of Gerrit Rietveld’s 1955 Arnheim sculpture pavilion, located on the grounds of the Kröller-Müller Museum … because I am completely, some would say unwholesomely, obsessed with buildings made of concrete block.

What is your favorite city to visit?

Copenhagen and Porto are my favorites. They are very different cities built by different cultures in different climates, but when I’m in either one, I’m powerfully reminded of the rewards of civilization.

​The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art north of Copenhagen — they have an impressive flock of Giacomettis, just in case you didn’t already feel a little overweight as an American tourist in Europe. – photo by Francisco Gomes

This concrete block is the only thing I took a photograph of during my last visit to Porto — evidence of my obsession. – photo by Francisco Gomes

Pen, pencil or computer?  

Physical models are my fundamental design tool. Though I’m not so picky about whether they are produced with manual or digital craft, the ones I make myself are usually assembled by hand. I’m also completely incapable of building a study model of a project without the ground which hosts it. When not working with a model, I prefer trace overlays to sketchbooks or digital models (and pencils to pens). Every project is also modeled in Rhino, but whether that happens very early as a tool for design study, or late in the process just to generate renderings with Maxwell, varies from project to project. And we’re still producing drawing sets for all phases with AutoCad, but I’m working on getting us up to speed with Revit. 

Do you listen to music when designing? 

Not usually. My kids always have music playing in the house, so I appreciate a bit of peace when working.

​What is your favorite time of year?

Nighttime. I find many people are more relaxed and relatable after the sun sets. During the day many of us are so preoccupied by the labor of achievement that we sometimes sacrifice a bit of our humanity.

"Architects Talking to Architects" is a column on the Texas Society of Architects blog that spotlights members from across the state at different points of development in their career. All participants are given the same set of questions with instructions to answer any six, giving them the opportunity to highlight the items they feel are most interesting. Have someone you'd like to see featured in "Architects Talking to Architects?" Email communications@texasarchitects.org to let us know!