“Architecture is the mediator between person and place,” says Jeffrey Kovel, principal at Skylab Architecture. “It restores the balance between man and nature, creating an awareness of our environment and the tangible effects we have on it.” Impassioned by architecture early on, Kovel moved to Portland at the urging of a Cornell University peer, working first in construction and later for Architropolis, where he gleaned valuable experience on a project for Lenny Kravitz. Ready to break off on his own, Kovel opened Skylab Architecture in 1999 with the intent to cross-pollinate myriad elements. Compromised of five categories including commercial, branding, prefab, residential and master planning, he and his team rely on a non-formulaic approach to keep it fresh, using inspiring materials and story-telling narratives that speak to a higher degree of sustainability and timeless longevity. “For me, it’s not about classifying what’s trendy; it’s about telling each story through unique, authentic materials,” he says. “That way, the work is more honest and true.”
LX: Greatest influences:
JK: Nature, books, magazines and music. I often compare our work to improvisational jazz because it’s exploratory and free form.
LX: Current project:
JK: We’ve begun designing the Burnside Bridgehead in Portland. It’s a mixed-used development in a very cool urban area.
LX: Art & design icons:
JK: Konstantin Grcic, John Lautner, Gerhard Richter and James Turrell.
LX: Dream collaboration:
JK: I’d love Skylab Architecture to work on a project with Tesla Motors.
LX: Favorite city:
JK: Istanbul. The underground cisterns and the Hagia Sophia are some of the most incredible structures I’ve ever experienced.
LX: Treasured possession:
JK: An oil painting by my grandmother. She was an incredibly prolific painter and would create stunning images from her travels. She always encouraged me to pursue my interests, and viewing her art continues to inspire me in this way.