CHARLIE MENEFEE

Associate Professor, Architecture

Education: B ARCH 1977 Carnegie Mellon University


My making is a continuum of efforts (now primarily drawings) spent querying what might best be built that meaningfully and responsibly connects revelatory and relevant instants across long periods of time. At one end of the time scale, I am particularly fond of foundations – the first instructive elements to connect idea/intention to a context and usually are the last to slip into memory. At the other end, I endeavor to observe [and eventually shape] instants such as the moment sunlight turns a corner and rakes a surface to expose the order of material and hand of its shaper to the observant. The collection of such instants becomes memory, the foundation of human culture.

As to my hand, underlying my lines, instructions, and questions is the simple emphatic reminder to attend. Attend to what surrounds me – contexts defined in a myriad of ways that challengingly change in scale from instants to eras. Attend to what I am making – how and with what resources. Attend to choices – mine and others – regarding responsibilities, accommodation, and desires. Attend to choosing to build the minimum with grace.  I have found that if this awareness informs my practice, something can be gleaned from each attempt at making and I learn.


Most designers are removed from the direct acts of building. What we do make are drawings – representations – that stand in for materials, places, and processes. I am, if not a builder, a draughtsman. I draw. I teach others to draw. With this skill we attempt to communicate our thoughts on dimension and order in the hopeful process of negotiating our futures. This is design. Care and attention to the line indicates our attitude towards what we suggest. As we shoulder the seriousness of our practices, that care projects through our drawings. With all of us drawing/designing, we then build with the same level of informed clarity, intensity and commitment to the shared situation at hand.

2000
Clark and Menefee, Princeton Architectural Press, R. Jensen
2000
"Preservation Has a Modern Movement", New York Times, April 6, Design Section, J. Iovine author
1999
A House For My Mother, Princeton Architectural Press, B. Dunlop
1999
New American Cottage, Watson – Guptill Pubns., J.G. Trulove
1998
Aree di Rigore, Capital (Italy), February
1997
Domestic Rigour: Three Houses, Lecuyer, The Architectural Review, November
1997
American House Now: Contemporary Architectural Directions, Universe Publishing
1997
"Architects Process Inspiration", Perspecta 28  The Yale Architectural Journal
1996
Architecture in North America: Since 1960, Tzonis, Lefaivre, Diamond
1995
"Greatness By Design", New York Times Magazine  March 12