Jeanne K. Perantoni, Principal
What woman do you admire most in the field of architecture, design, or art, and why?
First, I would like to recognize female pioneers whose architectural contributions were often overshadowed by their husbands, who were also exceptional architects. This includes Denise Scott Brown, who with her husband, Robert Venturi, were among the most influential architects of the 20th century; and Billie Tsien, who played a pivotal role in partnership with Tod Williams in making modern architecture both sustainable and highly functional. I greatly respect Denise Brown’s work as Principal-in-Charge of the Sainsbury Wing of London’s National Gallery. One of the best reflections of Billie Tsien’s work is her design for the Barnes Foundation building, which was the first major art and education institution in the US to achieve LEED Platinum certification.
Two other women I greatly admire are Zaha Hadid, who did it all when it came to expressing architectural creativity. She was a woman filled with vigor and vim. Her works are incredibly poetic, original, and beautifully detailed. I also enjoy viewing the work and planning efforts led by Jeanne Gang, who currently is changing the way architecture and urban design is approached. She is on the cutting-edge of redefining the role that architecture plays in society and in creating ways to make buildings environmentally and ecologically sustainable – as showcased in her Aqua Tower in Chicago.
What is your favorite building or public art installation/sculpture, and why?
I have always appreciated the work of Frank Lloyd Wright including his Prairie-style buildings. His style is beautifully on display in his Robie House and iconic Fallingwater. Wright created buildings which were always in touch with the human scale, notably this was in big contrast to the modernist designers of the post-World War era. A Finnish architect I admired, who had the same design sensibility, was Alvar Aalto whose organic designs incorporated nature into the buildings and campuses he created. His work celebrated the human form and its interaction with nature over time, allowing materials to age in place and be softened by the forces of nature. This sensibility is seen in his Aalto Center in Seinajoki as well as in his S-curved MIT dormitory, which is always fun to view when up in the Boston area.
What trend in architecture/design/art do you most like/least like, and why?
Having been classically trained in architecture, I have been stimulated to renew my design approach and respond to the call for greater diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the planning of built environments. My focus has shifted to creating forms which ensure that buildings are fully accessible and relatable to all types of people in the world. The means design images are not reliant solely upon forms from the past or upon European-style aesthetics to generate meaning – instead new iconic shapes and forms from Asia, Africa and South America can be used. This has expanded my design vocabulary, including how I can express the indigenous use of natural materials and biophilic features. It is especially refreshing to work with younger designers who are bringing new technological skills to the table, fostering greater collaborations between our A/E teams and clients. This has made the entire design build process more exciting, resonant, and responsive – leading to better outcomes and solutions.