Quiet Art Film Leaves you Thinking About Much More Than Architecture
DIRECTED BY MARK NOONAN / 2017
DVD STREET DATE: MAY 28, 2019 / KINO LORBER STUDIO
We are amazed by the Great Pyramid of Giza, and take selfies with the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Our hearts broke when Notre Dame burned in the spring and we make pilgrimages to the site of the World Trade Center and remember. These buildings and so many more are important to us, they define our past and current culture, they show what we hold dear and where we think we are headed. But how many of us think about what goes into the art of architecture? How many of you know an architect or someone who designs a space? Is this something you contemplate when you walk into your office building or when you go home to your subdivision or condo? No, for the most part we accept the space and make minor cosmetic changes to fit our personalities. But what if we were thinking about architecture and buildings, living and working space as a philosopher? What if we wondered about the human condition and about what type of space would benefit our lives rather than just sustaining it? What if buildings weren’t just beautiful for beauty’s sake but for our soul’s good? And how does all that affect the way you view a visit to the local big business mega mart? These are the questions that Kevin Roche asked and why he’s considered one of the most important architects of the 20th century. And these are the thoughts that will linger long after you watch the beautiful art documentary, Kevin Roche: The Quiet Architect.
This quiet film by director Mark Noonan shows the long life, of architect and poet Kevin Roche. From his childhood in Ireland and his first building, a piggery, for his pig farming father to the giant expansion he built for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The documentary highlights major buildings and projects in Roche’s life and how his creativity, love of nature and thoughts on community transformed the way current architects look at communal spaces. He created green spaces in buildings before they were trendy, he knew that we needed to be connected to nature! Throughout the film you witness how Roche approached architecture as a problem solver. He listened to the clients, followed around the workers that would inhabit the new space, addressed the needs he observed and created a space that would connect people. “I feel sorry for the office workers, I can’t think of a worse life!” Roche wanted each of his buildings to improve the lives of those who spent time working within the walls. He was not concerned with efficiency or economics, he was constantly thinking about our lives and what we do with the time we have on this earth.
In this documentary Noonan gives you wonderful interviews with Roche’s family, friends and fellow architects alongside Roche himself. (Kevin Roche recently passed away at the age of 96 on March 1st of 2019.) You witness his work ethic, what he thought of the craftsmen that had to build his blueprints and what he learned from those architects that went before him. You see his love for each of his buildings, over 200 creations, and how his fingerprints are all over each one. “Kevin is an optimist and that’s why his architecture serves people!” So you truly get a sense of who Kevin Roche was as a human and how his worldview affected his creations. Another important feature of this documentary is the gorgeous cinematography of Kate McCullough. She gives the viewer long takes to breath in each building. You are able to stare which is necessary in any art documentary. It’s with these panoramic positions and wide angle views that you are able to appreciate the beauty, scale and thought that went into each of Roche’s buildings.
I finished this film amazed and instantly looking up the closest Roche building that I could visit. (John Deere Head Quarters, Moline Illinois) While I was looking up his different buildings I noticed that he designed the Bank of America Plaza in Atlanta Georgia, the tallest building in Atlanta. This struck me because it’s my sister’s favorite building. (She lived in Atlanta for several years.) At night time the top of the building lights up in spectacle and my sister always thought that it looked like a tower of popsicle sticks stacked together. It captured her imagination and it was a welcome sight when she would come back to Atlanta. In the same way, I always get a thrill when I see the Gateway Arch in the distance in St. Louis. (Another Roche design) It makes me smile at the first glimpse and it dazzles me as I cross the Mississippi. These buildings are more that just spaces we inhabit, they become a part of who we are as humans and we connect to them. Roche knew that connection is a core truth of humanity and through each of his designs he tried to bring us all a little closer to one another!
I highly recommend Kevin Roche: The Quiet Architect. It is out now on DVD from Kino Lorber and it will dazzle your eyes and make your look at the spaces you visit a little differently!