Aspen architect Harry Teague in the spotlight at the Red Brick
July 11, 2014
When architect Harry Teague takes on a client, he looks not only at the usual building criteria — scheduling, finances, site dimensions — but also at who will be using his building, their patterns of behavior, social needs and aspirations. A new retrospective at the Red Brick Center for the Arts offers a look back at Teague's work in the Aspen area over the past 40-plus years and a look inside his creative process.
The Teague show will be on display at the Red Brick through the end of August. The nonprofit arts organization is also honoring Teague on July 27 at its 2014 Artist Tribute & Benefit Dinner.
"He embraces art in how he designs and how he uses a site for architecture," said Red Brick Director Angie Callen.
Teague's four decades of building in the valley began with the Community School in Woody Creek, built in 1973. He collaborated on the log-cabin schoolhouse design with his Yale classmate Peter Stoner as the two explored the role of architecture in early childhood development.
“(Teague) embraces art in how he designs and how he uses a site for architecture.”
Director, Red Brick Center for the Arts
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With its central meeting space and construction complementing the mesa on which it is built, the school shows early indications of Teague's enduring and defining architectural signatures: encouraging socialization in common spaces, blending intimacy and openness, utilization of natural sunlight, use of local materials, and interaction between the manmade environment and its surroundings.
Teague and Stoner's original cardboard model of the school is on display at the Red Brick. More recent models in the exhibit include minutely detailed, miniature versions of his design for the Roaring Fork Conservancy, the Roaring Fork River Center, the Aspen Music Festival and School's new campus on Castle Creek Road and the Benedict Music Tent. Teague's handmade study model of the operable louvres that form the walls of the music tent is on display (you can test them out yourself).
The show also spotlights his work on private homes and progressive designs like his "upside-down" house and his "silver-metal home" in Missouri Heights.
The richest insights the show offers, however, are Teague's sketches, which display his buildings on their journey from his mind into brick and mortar. They range from rudimentary pencil drawings of buildings to his detailed, hand-painted color renderings — a lively early Harris Hall sketch includes musicians onstage and a viewing audience.
The exhibit was curated by Teague's daughter, Emily, and his Harry Teague Architects colleague Brendan Hamlet.
Callen said Emily and Hamlet dug through a storage room at the architecture office late this spring to pull together the models and sketches.
"It was filled with all these models and all this stuff," Callen said on a walk through the show.
On a brick wall in the gallery, nearly 50 of Teague's sketches are on display, with 10 of his sketch books on a shelf below, available for your perusal.
A look through the sketch books, dating back to 2004, provide a glimpse into how the gears turn in Teague's head. They include notes from client meetings alongside detail sketches and computations of dimensions for the Freight Building in Denver, the music school campus and local homes. A sketch of an apple sits on a page beside details of buildings on the music school campus.
Alongside the models and sketches of his well-known architectural work in and around Aspen, the show includes Teague's racer from the 1982 Aspen Art Cart Derby, suspended from the Red Brick ceiling. Beside the wood vehicle are two photos of Teague speeding on it down South Aspen Street from Lift 1A and his funky first-place trophy.
Callen said the Red Brick was compelled to put together a show for Teague and honor him, not only for the artistry in his designs but for how his buildings have hosted artists and musicians. His work has provided homes for music at Harris Concert Hall and at the 2000-remodeled Benedict Music Tent and for artists in his 1980 buildings on the Anderson Ranch campus.
"What he's done has been instrumental to the local arts community," Callen said.
At the show, you also can pick up a map of Teague's Aspen projects, highlighting 15 private and public buildings he designed in Aspen proper.
A walking or biking tour of his Aspen work is an illuminating companion to the Red Brick show. The tour helps illustrate the spectrum of projects Teague has taken on and his unique vision for public and private spaces. It includes stops at homes like the Gertler and Curtis family residences on the east side of town and the Benedict Commons affordable housing complex on Original Street, along with downtown commercial projects like Jimmy's restaurant and Hotel Lenado and iconic Aspen structures like the Sardy House, where Teague designed an addition, the Benedict Music Tent and Harris Hall. Within a few blocks in the West End, you can check out his Aspen Center for Physics, his addition to the Salter family home, adjoining homes on Smuggler Avenue and his brother's house on Francis Street.
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