Launch Slideshow

Theory vs. Practice

Our studio relationship began at Princeton University, which we attended as both undergraduate and graduate students. There we established a way of thinking about architecture that we have tried to maintain as we have progressed from an academic environment into a working practice. We quickly realized that while the perfect isolation of a studio at school encouraged clarity and criticality in design, those qualities often suffer when a project is exposed to the complexity of external constraints one finds in a practice.

Theory vs. Practice

Our studio relationship began at Princeton University, which we attended as both undergraduate and graduate students. There we established a way of thinking about architecture that we have tried to maintain as we have progressed from an academic environment into a working practice. We quickly realized that while the perfect isolation of a studio at school encouraged clarity and criticality in design, those qualities often suffer when a project is exposed to the complexity of external constraints one finds in a practice.

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    Ogrydziak/Prillinger Architects

    The authors intentionally make room in their thriving practice for conceptual projects, such as the 20 Degree Isometric House, which won a 2005 Honor Award in Unbuilt Design from AIA San Francisco.

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    Tim Griffith

    Ogrydziak/Prillinger’s research projects help energize their built work, including the Kayak House in Lotus, Calif. — a collaboration with Ogrydziak Architects.

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    Ogrydziak/Prillinger Architects

    Ogrydziak/Prillinger’s research projects help energize their built work, including the T House in San Francisco.

virtual reality

Just as all design work, whether theoretical or built, begins with an idea, all projects begin their lives as virtual projects. All architects spend an inordinate amount of time in the virtual realm and oscillate between different modes of representation to control the architectural product. Ideally, we ourselves would love all of our projects (conceptual and built) to undergo multiple stages of enactment (virtual and real), including construction. We think of building a project as another “test” of the success or failure of the ideas. For, despite the proliferation of the virtual, we (happily) still can be surprised on jobsites.

Our hope is to invigorate our built work through our theoretical explorations and to inform our conceptual reach with the challenges we confront in the built environment. For young practicing architects, relying exclusively on built work to create opportunities for radical design places an unrealistic expectation on clients' interests and budgets. The obvious alternative is an academic career spent influencing the general architectural discourse through the publication of theoretical projects and lectures.

Both options seem limited, but in different ways. On the one hand, pure building without space or time for reflection can result in the use of borrowed idioms or stylistic repetition. On the other hand, strong conceptual work petitions to be applied to another level of development. It seems obvious to us that both practices should coexist.

  • Credit: Ogrydziak/Prillinger Architects

  • Credit: Ogrydziak/Prillinger Architects

Zoë Prillinger and Luke Ogrydziak, AIA, are the principals of Ogrydziak/Prillinger Architects in San Francisco.