Easy Living
Mark Mack (Mark Mack Architects)


Mark Mack, 1996, In His Studio

©Monica Pidgeon

My name is Mark Mack, I'm an Austrian architect living and practising in California I came to California in 1975, just after I graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. and before I came here I worked for Hans Hollein in Vienna and Hans Rucker in New York. And when I worked for Haus Rucker we worked on a project to explore the roof—top use of New York. And this was really an exciting project for me to come America with because it made me see New York from a perspective and from an angle that was very interesting, exploring the acres and acres of unused space in the city, and also not being kind of exposed to the academics of architecture in New York. Because I'm not an academic architect even though I teach architecture at UCLA now, I feel more affinity to the sort of more rudimentary and basic notions of architecture. I left Vienna also for a reason to get away from Vienna which was for me a very timed—inward city, also academically, also architecturally. It was very self- referential and didn‘t take into account the other world which was outside. And so, while for me Vienna was a kind of confinement, New York was a complete relief and exaggeration. The only problem with New York for me was that there was very little work for an architect who wants to build. There was also a lot of lively discussion on an academic level. The Institute for Architecture & Urban Studies which was headed by Eisenman was just in the beginning, it was flourishing. Philip Johnson was doing his rounds. It was a very lively time. But at the same time I couldn't see myself sort of eidsting just doing models and interior applications of architecture within New York. So I was contemplating to sort of move West, trying to maybe go round the world and end up again Vienna and learning something on the way. But before I came to California I worked for half a year with Emilio Ambasz who was a very interesting person to work with and to work for because he was just starting his architectural career while he still was the Curator of Design at the Museum of Modern Art. And there he organised a show on Luis Barragan which was the first show, American show, on his architecture, by the very simple extension of Modernism and the inclusion of vernacular and rudimentary ideas, the use of colour. the use of landscape in architecture. So it was for me a very easy choice then to go towards the West, to visit Mexico, to visit Barragan and to settle here


Baum Residence, Berkeley, California 1988

©Mark Mack Architects

because I feel California has much more earthbound architectural relationships; that people have lots, they can see the ground on which they work, the relationship to the outside, to the inside, the climate - all of this is very much part of the California condition

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