has accomplished a lot in his 20-year career. He’s co-founded with partner Wayne Norbeck, completed a tower that straddles Manhattan’s High Line, and won design competitions for health-focused housing in Haiti, an arena for the New Jersey Devils, a pedestrian bridge, and park in midtown Manhattan. He’s designed and fabricated scenic sets for television and stage, helped realize the Louis Sullivan Award winning historic Carbide & Carbon Building renovation as well as the AN Best Renovation Project 100 Barclay, and designed and overseen over twenty high-end residential and commercial projects in New York City. Among 40 current projects Jordan is currently working on, there are a number of socially-minded endeavors underway, including the development of an orphanage in Zambia, a health-focused community in St. Marc, Haiti and the renovation of multiple derelict buildings in Detroit being turned into campuses for performance and visual artists. Most recently, Jordan and DXA finished the interiors for residential units at the acclaimed 242 Broome Street, located in the Essex Crossing development on NYC’s Lower East Side. Jordan is currently a visiting Professor of Practice at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Chief Architect & Design Officer at Residential Connected Health, and proud father of three amazing children with his wife Laura. He’s taken some time out of that busy schedule to share a few favorites that keep him inspired for today’s Friday Five.
I fall short in just about every metric relative to my heroes. Reading about the likes of Lincoln, Michelangelo, DaVinci, Franklin, and Vermeer among others helps put the adversity they all faced, the genius they exhibited in overcoming it, and their leadership and/or creativity into perspective and helps push me to be better. While I don’t think I’ll ever come close to catching up, their stories make the daily trivialities I face stay that way and add fuel to my creative fire. I also enjoy reading about impossible projects, like the building of the Brooklyn Bridge and the original Penn Station. And if you ever want to truly understand why New York is so messed up with its relationship to its airports and how destructive endeavors like the BQE and Cross Bronx Expressway happened, look no further than the Power Broker by Robert Caro. This epic book about Robert Moses and his increasingly grim vision for the city is one of the best books I’ve ever read.
Since I was little, I have identified with drawing and painting as the most natural means by which to express myself and explore the big ideas. I have filled hundreds of sketchbooks with ideas, most only interesting to me, but some with seeds that have led to some of DXA’s better projects. A majority are pen and ink drawings, but when time allows I turn to watercolors and oil paints. Before having kids my wife and I spent marvelous Saturdays with renowned painter Marvin Mattelson learning the art of portrait painting. What is more difficult than painting people’s faces? The thrill that you feel when you capture some tiny detail that brings everything together is indescribable and addictive. A recent method of sketching has been the new iPad Pro with the Concept and Adobe Sketch apps. Just scratching the surface with them, and it’s been a lot of fun.
3. The Met/The Attic
While I am a modernist at heart, I favor the Met over MoMA. To understand modernism you need to understand all that came before. At the Met, much of human history is on display and the evolution of craft and expression through time is thrilling no matter how many times you have walked through its halls. Seeing the paintings of Sargent and Bougereau up close is a thrill, and a reminder of just how far I still have to go to even venture to call myself a painter. Most recently it has been the couple of Willem de Kooning paintings, Easter Sunday and The Attic, that I’ve spent a lot of time with. DXA has been working on a renovation and addition to de Kooning’s studio near Union Square, so exploring a way to celebrate his work and contributions to both New York City and the world of art have been a focus for the duration. The Attic in particular seems to capture the energy of the city. It is a painting you can spend quite a bit of time observing and exploring, going from space to space across its canvas.
On one of my earliest projects in New York I had the pleasure of collaborating with the High Line Team as the tracks of the NY Central Railroad, the tableau for the High Line, passed through the building I was working on. From that collaboration came a friendship with the incredibly talented horticulturalist/landscape designer Patrick Cullina. When I renovated my townhome he stepped in to design its gardens. Watching them evolve these past few years has been a joy, and they have served as the focal point of the entire home, from planting seeds with the kiddos in the spring to hosting long summer and fall dinners with friends and family. It is the heart of our home.
Over the past 7 years we have been taking frequent trips to the North Fork of Long Island. It is truly a respite from the torrid pace of the design and construction worlds of New York City. We are trying to spend more and more time there of late. It has wonderful beaches and waterways, and the Sound summons memories of the cliffs of Scotland from the days of being an itinerate architecture student. From outdoor meditations, to sailing, to lounging with friends on the beach, it is a place of restoration and serenity that I am becoming increasing dependent upon.