Carlos architect Jiméne. Luis Fernández-Galiano
Houston, Texas y la arquitectura de Carlos Jiménez. Michael Bell
Works and projects
Saito House, Houston, Texas. 1991-1998
Central Administration and Junior Art School, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Texas. 1991-1994
Lott House, Houston, Texas. 1992-1994
Spencer Studio Art building, Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts. 1993-1996
Davis-Mosteller House, Houston, Texas. 1994-1995
Newlin House Remodeling, Houston, Texas. 1995-1996
Eric Alexander Memorial and Garden, Holocaust Museum , Houston, Texas. 1996-1999
Forth Worth Modern Art Museum. Invited competition. Fort Worth, Texas. 1996-1997
Cummins Child Day Care Center. Invited competition. Columbus, Indiana. 1997
New Art Center at DePauw University, Greencastle, Indiana. 1997-2000
Cummins Engine Distributorship Facility Prototypes. 1997-2000
Arrecife: three linkups with the sea. Arrecife, Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain. 1998
"The Pritzker Architecture Prize 1979-1999" Exhibition Design. The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois. 1997-1999
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art Renovation and Expansion. Invited Competition. Kansas City, Missouri. 1999
Memory, a City, and the Need for Poetry. Text by Carlos Jiménez
The architectural practice of Carlos Jiménez now spans almost twenty years, and yet it is still a young practice by a young architect. Jiménez began to build the moment he finished school; his buildings have gathered their meaning in use and simple presence. "Buildings bleed," says Jiménez; their meaning is evolutionary and they acquire content in every context they partake in.
The introduction by Michael Bell titled "Houston, Texas and the Architecture of Carlos Jiménez", analyzes how the architect's practice has made use of given conditions, sites and intellectual histories, showing that the multi-faceted depth of Jiménez's practice is in large part due to his diligent and empathetic care for the milieu that he works within.
"Jiménez is already an accomplished architect, but his young age marks this publication as a turning point. Carlos Jiménez is in many ways just starting his career and the works depicted here could be understood as those of an architect who has perhaps only recently finished testing the limits of his first instincts. This is not to say that Jiménez is not independent: he is remarkably private and focused and his work is to a large degree a search for both generosity and conviction. Rather, it is to say, that his work has been advanced in a manner that offers insightful reflection on the potential of architectural histories that precede us-he plies these histories in the site he has inherited in Houston." states Bell.
The new context forces transitions and affords emblematic proofs or contingent readings of form finding its new equilibrium-and with it new life. This essay is perhaps unfair to the personal depth of Jiménez practice-its concern is often broader than the specifics of his buildings in showing how his practice has made use of its given conditions, sites and intellectual histories.
This number presents the recent oeuvre of Carlos Jiménez in a publication with abundant graphic and photographic documentation of fourteen works and projects. The introduction by Luis Fernández-Galiano titled Carlos architect Jiménez, weaves biographical insights with his lyrical and personal architectural language, emphasizing the importance of memory in his work. The 'Nexus' section includes a text by Carlos Jiménez titled Memory, a City, and the Need for Poetry.
"It dawns: with fingerings impalpable
daybreak sets ajar the lidded eye:
raining, it rains into the space of memory."
"Perhaps the observation of things has remained my most important formal education; for observation later becomes transformed into memory. Now I seem to see all the things I have observed arranged like tools in a neat row; they are aligned as in a botanical chart, a catalogue, or a dictionary. But this catalogue, lying somewhere between imagination and memory, is not neutral; it always reappears in several objects and constitutes their deformation and, in some way, their evolution."
A work of architecture casts its rooms of light and shadow through the presence of things, simultaneously weaving the resolute tapestry of memory. It is through the urgency, the very unexpectedness of a precise or distant memory, that one completes the idea and the feeling of architecture. I have always marveled at the capacity that architecture possesses to persistently generate and reverberate with memory. Memory undermines the authority of the work of architecture as an autonomous object or as the object of its own isolated importance. Memory delineates the connections that exist between everything that comes to pass in the world. It also reveals the gradual construction of a work of architecture in time, revealing architecture as an instrument of perception. But what are a few of these numerous and persistent memories that surround or intercept one at any given moment? Like a protagonist in a Borges story, the destiny of one's present revolves around these confluent oscillations of time.
What remains most vivid in my memory is the intensity of place, igniting even the most humble or discarded architecture with its particular nuance. This is the imprint that a place makes on those willing to take time to heed its invitation, to cross its threshold, to welcome its bountiful messengers. I recall that while growing up in Costa Rica's Pacific seacoast and countryside I came to regard architecture as if it were the extension of an exuberant landscape, another exotic plant life among the thousands that populate this small yet enormously blessed country. The world of vernacular architecture as I understood it then seemed to me to be full of astonishing specimens, intertwined with the landscapes which surrounded them, totally at ease or else in direct contrast with them. Sometimes, I would encounter houses completely covered in dense and aromatic ivy, forming giant topiaries against a rain-soaked backdrop. Other times, I would see freshly-cut wood posts, planted in order to make a fence or a corral at my father's coffee farm, suddenly burgeoning with purplish white flowers as the rainy season began. It appeared that no human will or thing could contain the force of the miraculous soil. Nature's unrestrained faith saturated even the smallest of worlds.
Spellbound, I often watched the building of thatched huts, their eloquent simplicity carefully woven of logs and palm fronds. The construction process was riveting, from the clearing of the site to the slow erection of the framework to the most amazing of arrivals: the tall conical roof, gradually layered frond by frond until it became sufficiently thickened to keep the rain out. Raw materials found near the site were transformed into structures that, day and night, percolated sea breezes while cooling the warm, compacted earth floor. This transposition of natural elements to create a sensual space proved that paradise could be altered and regained simultaneously. The palm leaves, now dried and brown, were unable to forget their many times performed dance with the sea breeze. Architecture seemed to exist to provide a place where nature's turbulence and serenity were reconciled as one.
Soon after my family moved inland to the capital, San Jose, I began to frequent the National Museum, housed in an old fortification that had been converted into sprawling rooms for the sole display of the country's historical artifacts. There was a large courtyard in the middle of the fort where I would spend what seemed like interminable hours overlooking the mountainous profile of the city. There it spread for my viewing pleasure: a tapestry of scattered steeples tied by undulating fields of red and green zinc roofs, some freshly painted, others in various states of ruin and discoloration. Many times I imagined the city to be this crowded, ever changing, vibrant garden held captive by the constant gaze of the central cordilleras. The countryside and the city inextricably merged as if they shared a singular destiny.
Thinking, making, dreaming of architecture elicits so many places, they all arrive breaking the secure tenses of time. I seldom recall their precise formal details or intricacies. I remember more a detail of light as it sweeps the surprised penumbra of a passageway, a mentholated breeze as a window suddenly opens, a piece of music whispering from the corner of a room. Just yesterday upon seeing a handrail at one of my neighbor's house I was transported to the touch of a similar one I had encountered years ago amidst the fragile wooden houses near Quepos and Limon (two Costa Rican seaports). This handrail suddenly turned into a field from which a multitude of similar houses emerged. Repetitive yet painted different colors, I see them so clearly now, rigorously organized around a soccer field or a disheveled plaza: simple, light structures ravaged by time, rain and sun yet ever so loyal, overlooking the sea or a thick plantation savanna beyond their verandahs.
Recently while driving around Houston I came across a set of metal buildings in whose glimmering patinas I saw reflected those incredible metal buildings that still vibrate across San Jose. Although now only a few of these buildings are left, they remain proud of their subversive un-tropical manners (metals which do not rust). The serenity of a rainy, lazy afternoon somewhere in the American Pacific Northwest often spells out for me the world of damp earth and hay houses scattered amidst coffee fields . Each house encircling a discreet courtyard where rain enters as a transfigured visitor, in awe of rooms redolent with the unmistakable aroma of freshly brewed coffee. Much like that amazing structure in the forefront of my memory, the Ujarras church near Orosi, a ruin made complete by the loving vigilance of the greenest of mountains.