I’m interested in creating moments of surprise and delight, moments that give people a new perspective and inspire them to engage with our world in a different way.
A maker at heart, Blair Payson is an architect who revels in the details. From large cultural projects such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center to temporary design interventions, Blair is able to distill large, complex projects into distinct culminating moments that both inform and excite. He credits this appreciation of key design details to his formative years as an architect working under Renzo Piano in Paris. Since joining Olson Kundig in 2004, Blair has gravitated towards architectural projects with the power to transcend time and thereby alter a user’s trajectory. As he puts it, “I’m interested in creating moments of surprise and delight, moments that give people a new perspective and inspire them to engage with our world in a different way. I want to pull back the veil of reality, just for a moment, and reveal something special behind it.”
Blair seeks to inspire through the poetic, yet his designs are informed by a deep appreciation of history. A rigorous researcher, Blair attributes this interest in history to his father, a newspaperman who encouraged Blair’s early love of reading. Stories that captivated him as a child continue to inform Blair’s work, as he aspires to evoke the same sense of imagination with his buildings that he found as a young reader in novels by Roald Dahl.
In addition to design work on culturally significant institutional projects at Olson Kundig, Blair has often focused on more transitory installations that fuse art and architecture. As of late, his research has taken him on site visits to a subterranean cavern deep underground in one week, to hundreds of feet above an urban landscape the next. This demonstrates not only the wide scope of Blair’s interests, but also his proclivity towards the risky and the experimental. Blair holds a Bachelor of Architecture from Rice University, and he is the recipient of several design and architecture awards for his work on the Gates Foundation Visitor Center, among other projects.
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