Luca Andrisani  
Luca Andrisani Architect

By Ingrid Spencer

It takes a certain amount of audacity for a 26-year-old Italian architecture school student to write a letter to Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron detailing the reasons why they should hire him. Tenacity paid off, and Luca Andrisani was that plucky student, and went to work at the famed Swiss firm right after receiving his M.Arch. from The Royal Institute in Sweden (his undergraduate degree came from La La Sapienza University in Rome).

Media Installation, New York City, 2008, 2008
Image courtesy Luca Andrisani Architect
Media Installation, New York City, 2008

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Now principal of his own eponymous New York City based firm for the past six years, Andrisani looks back at the two years he spent at Herzog & de Meuron with pride and some wistfulness. “The way they ran their firm, their quality of listening to what each person, both clients and employees, had to say, it’s stayed with me,” he says, admitting that while he has no regrets about leaving the firm to follow his dream of moving to New York City, his time with there has informed his practice decisions on many levels. Not to mention the fact that the projects he worked on while a senior architect at Herzog & de Meuron—most notably Prada projects in Tokyo and Italy—gave him valuable experience in the realm of high-end retail environment design.

Andrisani admits that after flying high those two years he wasn’t quite ready for what was in store for him in New York City, where he secured a position working for Rafael Vinoly Architects. “I was used to communicating with the partners every day,” he says, “and not accustomed to working in a big loft with hundreds of computers lined up. It was just a very different experience for me.” And not one he wanted to continue. “For me, the goal was always to start my own firm,” he says. “It was just a question of when.”

After a year in the big loft, Andrisani went to work for Peter Marino Architect, a smallish firm known for its innovative approaches to luxury retail shops. “One of the great things about working with Peter was experimenting with different materials.” For Andrisani, it was all part of the mix, and although he was in his element, he itched to run the show. “It was always the plan,” he says.

Still ambitious, still tenacious, the 36-year-old does admit to a little more reserve in his practice and in his designs. “There is a place and a time for everything,” he says, “and though I appreciate how little fear I have had in my career, I acknowledge that there was a bit of irresponsibility there too. I don’t regret it.” And he shouldn’t. His four-person firm has completed a number of retail and residential projects including flagship stores for hip clothier Poleci in New York City and Las Vegas, a store for Lalique in San Francisco, and a number of residential projects in New York City. His architectural aesthetic is clean and minimal, but never “dry or empty. I appreciate contrasts between materials—fragile with hard, then earthy. Juxtapositions are a good way to create emotion, I think.” Andrisani also says his gutsy inclinations are less about his own ambition these days. “you tend to want to succeed alongside your clients,” he says. That success, he says, starts with inspiration. “I’m inspired by travel, by constantly competing for projects, and by just always talking to people. The client is always inspiring, as well as everyone around me. I strive to run my practice like Jacque and Pierre run theirs. The ability to pay attention to people and never be closed to anything is always the highest standard. It’s something to aspire to.” 

PRINCIPAL: Luca Andrisani
LOCATION: New York City
WORK HISTORY: Peter Marino Architect, 2003-2006; Rafael Viñoly Architect, 2002-2003; Herzog and de Meuron, 2000-2002
EDUCATION: M.Arch. The Royal Institute in Sweden, 1999; B.Arch. La Sapienza University, Rome, 1998
KEY COMPLETED PROJECTS: Platinum Salon, New York City, 2009; Poleci, Las Vegas, 2008; Poleci, New York City, 2007; Lalique, San Francisco, 2006; Kornfeld Residence, New York City, 2008; Erns-Jansen Residence, New York City, 2007
KEY CURRENT PROJECTS: Awadalla Residence, New York City, 2010; MKG Productions, New York City, 2010; Atlantic City Boardwalk Holocaust Memorial, unbuilt

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