Interview: Jacques Ferrier (Fall 2009)

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Cite de la Voile Eric Tabarly, Lorient, France, 2007 – Winning competition entry [2001] (Photo: Luc Boegly)

COMPETITIONS: What inspired you to start your career in architecture?

Jacques Ferrier: First and foremost, I was fascinated with the way buildings were built, with their structure. Before I was trained as an architect, I was trained as an engineer – in science and mathematics – and then I pursued architecture. When I began my architectural studies in architecture, I realized the specificity of it, as compared to art or engineering. In a way architecture is less complex because there might be less calculation involved, but more complex because you work directly with people, with site contexts, etcetera.

COMPETITIONS: And what inspired you to start your own firm?

JF: I started a firm with a friend of mine who went to school with me. We started in 1990, as sort of a first run. I opened my own office in 1993, sixteen years ago now. We were lucky because it was the end of the golden age of public competitions in France and it was possible, even if you were a young architect, to be invited to participate in these competitions. When I started my practice, I managed to get invited to one such competition for a university laboratory building. With this building, I received a national prize, which was typically awarded for an architect’s first work. A few weeks after that, I won another competition for an industrial facility for the city of Paris – a water treatment plant. It was interesting because the brief for the building was very typical, but the lasting impact was on the site as a whole.

COMPETITIONS: Who were your mentors when you were receiving your education and who were your major influences along the way?

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