Architects Talking to Architects: Jamie Crawley, AIA

Jamie Crawley, AIA, leads the emerging studio HA Architecture in Austin. Crawley has been recently appointed as the Young Architect Regional Director for Texas.

Crawley is pictured here with his dog, Zaha, and his Barkitecture dog house submission, Rib House. –photo courtesy Jamie Crawley

Where did you grow up?

I was born in Montreal, Quebec, but having lived here longer than anywhere else, I consider myself a naturalized Texan. When I was growing up, my dad worked for an International Telecommunications Company. We lived in Ontario, Georgia, California, and Tennessee prior to settling in Plano — just north of Dallas. Every summer was spent in Montreal, which instilled in me an appreciation for a multilingual culture, curiosity of place, and studying history, and a penchant for travel that I feel fortunate to share with my daughter, Emily, on our own adventures.

Pen, pencil, or computer?

I have always drawn every day for as long as I can remember. In architecture school, I fell in love with the sketches of architects we studied, as if it was glimpse into their process. Every day with a morning cup of coffee, I use a simple Pentel extra fine pen in a small Moleskine sketchbook. I have been doing this for a few years now and post these musings as #coffeesketch via Twitter and now Instagram. It truly helps me think and is often a solitary musing, but I have increasingly found in my career that sketching serves as a dialogue starter. My shared posts to #coffeesketch seem to resonate in social media and have allowed me the privilege of meeting many new people.

On most days, Crawley can be found sipping coffee and drawing away in his Moleskin sketchpad. He shares his drawings via #coffeesketch. –photo courtesy Jamie Crawley

In our studio, we move quickly to computer drawing as a parallel process. However, pen sketches continue to be made throughout the design as part of the client/architect dialogue and an iterative design process. My personal art, on the other hand, is done at a much slower pace and is undertaken as a solo exploration usually beginning in pencil, Conté, or charcoal, and often explored through mixed media.

Crawley explores media outside of pen when working on his personal art portfolio. –courtesy Jamie Crawley

Where do you find inspiration?

I have always been fascinated with pop art, comics, graphic novels, anime, film, and the work of street artists. Full disclosure: When I was studying architecture in Italy, I was travelling on my own one weekend when I stumbled upon an exhibit entitled “American Graffiti.” The work of Jean Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, and Kenny Sharf were all on display in what, honestly, was an ad-hoc gallery amidst a decommissioned nunnery just off the Piazza Navona in Rome. As an architectural historian — yes, I taught those long, slide-heavy survey courses — graffiti can certainly be equated to the work of Russian constructivist architects, who decades later influenced the work of Zaha Hadid, Daniel Libeskind, and Thom Mayne. But it should also be noted that Warhol, Pollack, and, more recently, Shepard Fairey and Bansky were equally influenced. A craft that is both serious and irreverent that seems decidedly American resonates with me.

Street artisit Shepard Fairey remains a constant source of inspiration for Crawley; pictured here are Emily, with a Fairey mural, and a photo of Fairey's Obama "HOPE" poster. –photos by Jamie Crawley

What is your favorite time of year?

Even as a Canuck, I really am not a fan of the cold. Each year, I can’t wait for when summer comes, and it is warm enough to get in the water. Summer is always filled with swimming, family, friends, BBQ, soccer, and travel. Whether it is a weekend excursion or more ambitious trips, exploring new places is always a real treat.

What is the one building that you just had to see for yourself?

This past summer, my daughter and I decided a beach trip was in order. We decidely made an adventure out of it by visiting a few national parks, historic sites, and a pilgrimage to Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater. Arguably one of the most recognizable American architectural treasures, it had been on my list for quite some time, and it did not disappoint. Conceptually, there is a timelessness with Wright’s work and the rigor of the modern expression in that setting that is truly inspiring.

Crawley and his daughter visit Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater on one of their recent adventures.  –photo courtesy Jamie Crawley

Architect’s aren’t known for their hobbies … do you have one?

Growing up art and sports were the two constants in my life. I have always been an avid sports fan. Being from a multigenerational hockey family while living in places without a lot of ice skating, I quickly fell in love with soccer. I played competitively most of my life. Now, I am more likely to play in a pick-up game to stay active — though I’ve played a couple of seasons of indoor soccer since moving to Austin. Sharing the “beautiful game” with my daughter by attending professional matches and coaching her soccer team for several years have truly been the best part.

Soccer is a staple activity for Crawley and his daughter, pictured attending a FC Dallas match. –photo courtesy Jamie Crawley

"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. Is there someone you'd like to see featured in "Architects Talking to Architects?" Email communications@texasarchitects.org to let us know!