Founder and Principle Chartered Architect of Robert Towell Architect Ltd. in the Cayman Islands, Robert (RIBA) shares his firm's diverse portfolio of projects, his thoughts on the ever-changing industry and a few of his favourite things.
RL: Why did you choose to become an architect?RT:
As a young boy my parents guided me towards architecture or engineering because I was really good at creating and designing projects. When I graduated from Ryerson University’s Architecture Programme, I was hired by a small highly design-driven practice in Toronto where I had the fortune of working on many impressive, unique and varied projects, which was fundamental in establishing a solid foundation for my later years as a Chartered Architect.
RL: Describe your design aesthetic and how it has evolved.RT:
One of my earliest projects was a large custom designed house for a prominent art collector. The home had a modern-style flat roof, the rooms were filled with original 21st century artwork, and the home was constructed using a fiberglass exterior panel envelope resembling oversized limestone blocks. The property was adjacent to some of the largest and oldest homes in Toronto and its design aesthetic certainly made a statement. While I appreciate many styles, I really have a passion for modern and contemporary design. I realise that while not everyone shares this view, I enjoy that there are so many ways to express architectural beauty.
RL: What are you working on at present?RT:
The firm currently has a variety of private single-family custom homes, which should commence construction in early 2012. Recently, with Davenport Development Ltd., we designed and unveiled some modern canal and beachfront homes that have received positive reviews and offer unique options for the discriminating buyer. We are also working on a new Butterfield Bank branch in town, a couple of proposed restaurants, a beach resort club and we just completed the new Penha Perfume and MAC cosmetics retail stores. In addition, we have a number of renovation projects with owners who have chosen to upgrade their properties rather than move.
RL: What is your proudest achievement?RT:
From a family perspective, I have a very supportive wife and wonderful children. From a personal perspective, the establishment of my business that has contributed more than 20 years of industry experience, professional advice and guidance to a varied range of design projects in the Cayman Islands and abroad. Most of all, I am happy to be able to balance my work and island lifestyle.
RL: What are the biggest challenges you face as an architect in the Caribbean?RT:
As global warming continues, Architects and Engineers find themselves having to design buildings that can withstand the everchanging weather conditions. While many Caribbean countries have advantages (such as higher grou nd), those on low-lying islands have found it imperative to elevate their buildings to minimise damages. Increased hurricane activity and fuel costs have resulted in an increase in regional building costs, which in turn affect an Architect’s designs as well as create major challenges with regard to client budgets.
ROBERT’S TOP TEN
Spanish modernist, Santiago Calatrava, who combines artistry with engineering.
The Barcelona chair designed by Mies Van Der Rohe in 1929. A classic yet modern piece of furniture.
3. Design Tool
Music inspires me in every aspect of design. It sets the mood and helps the creative imagination.
Without hesitation, my Rancilio Silvia Espresso machine with matching coffee grinder.
My 13 year-old daughter’s artwork and her mastery of colour.
Bugatti Veyron in black and red.
W Hotel – one of my design favourites.
8. Food & drink
Ron Zacapa (30 yr old) Guatemalan Rum with a Filet Mignon.
“Chinamerica” by Handel Jones.
My son’s fourth birthday in Nosara, Costa Rica and summers at the family cottage in Northern Ontario.
Name four people (alive or deceased) you wouldAthlete:
invite to a dinner party and why.
Wayne Gretzky – great to watch and a good guy.Actor:
Robin Williams because he is just insane.Politician:
Bill Clinton because he was a cool president.Family:
Either deceased parent would be great.
To learn more, visit: www.RobertTowell.com