Margaret Helfand, a Manhattan architect and urban planner, who started off as an interior designer, served as a president of the American Institute of Architects’ New York chapter and passed away at the age of 59 on June 20th.
Considering the fact that we deal with sexism, it is impressive how greatly Margaret has succeeded in the world of architecture, where men presume they have authority in. She aimed up top and worked with big firms such as Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and Marcel Breuer Associates; she was a co-chairman of New York New Visions, and the Center of Architecture’s president. However, she spent a big portion of her profession working in her own firm that was founded in 1981.
Since her office’s opening, she had a clear statement about her special interest in architectural forms that included clean elemental forms; the consumption of natural material and the assimilation of her buildings accordingly to their neighboring panorama. Helfand gave off a modernist kind of vision with her skillful methods combined with a subtle originality. What differentiated Margaret from others was her devotion to the craftsmanship production, her high courtesy to specifics and the study of resources of different textures.
Like most prosperous architects, Helfand built many buildings and designed many interiors such as Time Out magazine’s 1996 offices in New York. However, she is known for her major school buildings such as Kohlberg Hall at Swarthmore College, in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, and Unified Science Center, also at Swarthmore College. At Kohlberg Hall, Margaret blended 3 different elements, which are ashlar, cobweb gneiss and granite. This was a great combination with the Contemporary wooded building that was characterized with Gothic assemblies in a stone and slate university. As for the Unified Science Center, Helfand used homegrown stone to design the labs and the social meeting areas.
Another noticeable aspect, which appealed to one of her principles, was for the Automated Trading Desk, in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, where she established a headquarters and highlighed the importance of an individual’s workplace design in relation to its landscape.
After a series of projects industrialized during the 1990s, Margaret Helfand debated on architectural principles and called for logic, simplicity, and sensuality. After long observations it was noticed that her firm’s goal was based on the use of basic materials such as steel, wood, glass, and stone. There was always a minimal alteration in order to preserve their natural colors, textures, and basic properties to generate visual motivation.
According to Helfand’s futuristic vision, buildings should be able to rely on their own utility, materiality, and workmanship to convey their time in history.