Credit: John Lee/Aurora Select
Jeffrey L. Day and E.B. Min post on the Stones Table, which melds organic form with CNC precision. Together, the pieces form a rectangular table.
the art of improv
Hesse McGraw, curator at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, an art residency program in Omaha, describes Min | Day’s work as “an architecture that remembers it’s meant to be lived in, and that reaches out to its occupants in a generous way.”
Says McGraw, “When you look at the images you can tell there’s a kind of joy or sense of celebration just by the colors and forms, but the way that happens when you occupy these spaces is palpable. There’s a sense of discovery that unfolds over time.”
Their ongoing work with the Bemis Center and other nonprofit artist organizations has inspired an improvisational paradigm that’s quite different from their meticulously controlled projects, and one that would scare most architects. In this realm, too, Min | Day borrows from landscape architecture. “The way landscape architects think about the long-term has inspired us to think about how to do that architecturally,” Day says. “When you can’t depend on rigorous control from start to finish, you seek ways of structuring the experiences to unify the work of others who succeed you.”
It’s an approach they’ve used on restricted-budget private commissions, too. With a portfolio ranging from a wheelchair-accessible suburban residence to urban adaptive reuse, straw bale houses, and repurposed art buildings on a working farm, their practice is hard to pin down. Recently they landed a new category: master planning for a 90-unit housing project in China.
The philosophy that informs all Min | Day’s work, whether experimental or traditional, is that architecture isn’t so much about the formal image as the way a building locks into its site. And that’s something that has to be experienced.
“When the weather is cool here, the breeze comes from the north, and the building shields a beautiful patio,” says client Paul Smith of his Lake Okoboji house. “In warm weather, the breeze comes out of the south. I often sit there with my coffee in the morning and watch the world wake up.”
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