I still remember 14 years ago, sitting in front of Peter Eisenman and telling him that I am quitting after working for him for one year. He asked me what I planned on doing next. I told him that I would like to work for OMA (Office for Metropolitan Architecture). Without asking, he picked up the phone and called Rem Koolhaas as I stood there. He told Rem that a young German architect is applying at his office and he should hire him – 36 hours later, I was in front of Rem and it catapulted me into 3 years of the most amazing professional experience.
Mentorship can occur in a moment or for a period of time – but most importantly, it needs to be based in truth, trust, talent and a certain degree of selflessness between all parties.
In the architectural profession, mentorships are essential. We are working with products that are 900% more expensive than our fees, and it demands a lot of trust when a client hands over $1M to build a house or to renovate an apartment – even more so when you are a young firm. Mentors add to the experience, connections, critical review, credibility and guidance that architects need for the professional execution of a project and the assurance of a client.
Symbolic and most elaborate in this regard was a project I did for the Bauhaus Foundation in Dessau, which turned into a publication with the name “UmBauhaus – Updating Modernism”. I had the opportunity to interview 29 experts in the field of architecture and beyond to elaborate on the quest to recreate the formerly destroyed director’s house in Dessau.
Most of the interview partners were either mentors of mine or people that had a major influence on my professional experience. As a result, the book turned into something of a mirror of my mentor network, seen through the lenses of an intellectual and architectural investigation on modernism. From Omar Akbar, Chris Bangle, Peter Eisenman, Rem Koolhaas, Rainer Weisbach, Donna Robertson, Walter da Silva, Filip Noterdaeme, to Francesco Bandarin – the book as a support network for an idea.