Jean-Gabriel Neukomm is a Founding Principal at SPAN architecture in New York. His projects spanning 20 years cover a wide range of luxury residential, institutional, hospitality, urban planning and retail projects. Projects have included residences for Calvin Klein, Ian Schrager, and Fabien Baron; retailers such as Calvin Klein Collection, Pringle of Scotland, Custo, and Frame Denim; and developers Rockrose, Gotham, and Greenland USA. He earned his M.Arch. at Princeton University, and his B.A.in philosophy from Haverford College.
If there was one piece of art you could feature in, which would it be and why?
One artist I’m currently very interested in is Lori Hersberger, specifically his neon and mirror installations — it appeals to me both as an architect and photographer. I would love to be able to collaborate on something like that in one of our public projects.
Who inspires you and why? an artist, a family member, someone current or historical?
I have been deeply inspired by my collaborations with Fabien Baron over the past 10 years, from our work together on Pringle of Scotland, to his office and townhouse design. His deep rigor and relentlessness in resolving design problems were a formative experience for me, and something which will continue to inform my work. On a personal level, it was wonderful to see that a person of his stature could be so graceful under pressure, and a pleasure to work with.
What are your cultural aspirations? what do you still want to see, do and achieve?
Outside architectural design, my passion is photography. I have been taking landscape and urban photos for many years now — unlike our architectural work, which usually takes years to bring to fruition, photography is a more immediate pleasure. Working behind the lens has also deeply affected how I conceptualize projects, from the use and reflectivity of materials to the way we lay spaces out.
What are your favourite cultural cities in the world and why?
I’ve been fortunate to spend a lot of time in Downtown LA recently, and am amazed at the quantity and variety of things on offer. The youth and energy are incredible, and I am in love with the buildings — so many old deco masterpieces being rehabilitated and brought to life, it’s really very exciting. I am curious if we will see something similar in Detroit in the next 10 or 20 years...?
What are you up to at the moment and where can we find it?
We’re working on a number of projects whose scales vary widely – from our recently completed townhouse for Fabien Baron to high-rise projects in Brooklyn’s BAM cultural District and Downtown Los Angeles. We have also just started an exciting collaboration with Frame Denim, founded by London’s famed Saturday Group. You can see many of our completed works at: www.span.ny.com