What is an architectural folly? According to Webster’s dictionary, a “folly” in architecture is described as “a building constructed primarily for decoration but suggesting, through appearance, some other purpose or of such extravagant appearance that it transcends the range of garden ornaments.” Its roots are in the French and English landscape tradition, and a subject of regular inquiry in the fields of design and architectural education.
Renowned architect Philip Johnson was famous for the construction of a series of follies in various dimensions, scales and styles at his New Canaan, Conn. estate, developed over a lifetime of invention and experimentation in this unusual art form. In Kimmerle Group (KG)’s case, the linkage of architecture and landscape connotes a reference to sustainability and an appreciation for how architecture and the built form interacts with a site, nature and their landscape counterparts including open fields, forest edges and the places that lie in between.
Knowing that the site of our Harding headquarters presented some of these interactions, we set out this summer to introduce a design effort that focused on these issues. In June, KG launched a competition for our summer interns that involved creating a landscape sculptural element. Each intern joined a team to explore the subject and, throughout the summer, developed one or more solutions to the problem.
In mid-August, a design presentation and lunchtime review were held before the entire KG team. Along with a cash prize, the winner received a commitment from KG to construct the winning design in time for the company’s Fall Festival event in late October.
Participating interns included Olivia Birritteri, Behruz Hairullaev, Kevin Herviou and Jacqueline Schwartz. The teams were mentored by KG Partner/Principal George Kimmerle, Principal William Kimmerle and Project Manager, Jim Mensinger, along with other KG team members. When the votes were tallied, two winners ultimately emerged separated by the slimmest of margins — just one vote. Two structures were erected, one authored by Olivia B. and the other by Behruz H.
The accompanying photo album takes you through the entire process, including views of the design presentations, physical models and the final build “follies” (or sculptures). The installation will remain on-site at KG through the fall, winter and spring. We all look forward to enjoying the contrasting vision of these wonderful sculptural elements as they interact with the seasons and the changing environment.
We encourage you to stop by and experience these magnificent inventions and explorations of architecture and landscape forms.