In her new book, San Francisco-based architect Anne Fougeron shares her self-described obsession with architecture along with several of her graceful, contemporary, light-filled residential and public projects. Fougeron is known for creating bold spaces that relate on a personal scale to the people who inhabit them. She considers light an architectural element and plays with various levels of translucency in all of her work. The award-winning architect likes to collaborate with artisans and craftspeople to produce custom details that often merge metal and glass. Her sophisticated design sensibilities translate equally well into high-end custom homes, and her many nonprofit projects despite their stringent budgets. “The architecture of Anne Fougeron explores the possibility of a new expression of technology while transforming it into a friendly mediator between human beings and environment,” writes architect Hitoshi Abe in the book’s foreword.
Fougeron uses the book’s preface to detail her sources of inspiration. She lists artists known for using light and color to express themselves, such as Mark Rothko, Dan Flavin, Jim Campbell, and especially Robert Irwin, as people “who have shaped my way of seeing and thinking as profoundly as any architect.” She also explains how her dual upbringing in France and the U.S. informs her work and perhaps ignited her passion for creating designs that play with opposites—placing a steel-framed glass cube onto a Victorian row house, for example. The story Fougeron shares in these pages weaves together her personal history with her professional philosophy. She concludes the essay with an assertion that generating beautiful spaces can change peoples’ lives. She backs up the claim with projects that demonstrate her long-term commitments to several nonprofit organizations such as Mercy Housing, Planned Parenthood, and the San Francisco Public Library. “I strongly believe that the public sector deserves great architecture,” she states, adding that “everyone of every income and walk of life deserves design intelligence.” After giving the reader a sense of her history and architectural viewpoint, Fougeron shares 14 projects grouped into design themes. Each themed section begins with an explanation of the concept such as being a modern architect working in a traditional city. The project presentations include a brief, clearly written description followed by pages of gorgeous photographs interspersed with drawings, sections, plans, and models that explain the thought process behind the architecture. The final presentation is the firm’s 2008 entry into a City of the Future competition. It details Fougeron’s view that her profession has an inherent responsibility to help find a solution for increasing overpopulation, poverty, and environmental issues. “They can lead to a new type of civitas,” she says of fellow architects, “through urban vision and renewal.”