Saitowitz, Stanley

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SAITOWITZ, STANLEY (1949– ), U.S. architect. Saitowitz was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, and became professor of architecture at the University of California. Known in California for a variety of buildings, especially lofts, and home design, as well as the award-winning New England Holocaust Memorial (1995) in Boston, Saitowitz's wide-ranging works also include schools, synagogues, skate parks, a house for the drummer of Metallica, and the San Francisco Embarcadero Promenade. He experimented with fusing elements of modernism with classicism. He was cautious in his use of computer-assisted designs, preferring to maintain the conceptual integrity of his designs. Speaking at Yale University in 2004, Saitowitz described his theory of "expanded architecture" to mean that he tends to focus on air rather than substance in his designs, in order to create a world of what he called "constructed emptiness." His buildings are constructions of bars and rectangles characterized by wide, empty expanses and light. From his early houses in the Transvaal to his recent urban loft structures in the Bay area, he has focused on bringing light into his interiors. His loft buildings seem to squeeze remarkable spaces into densely crowded urban spaces. The Yerba Buena Lofts, south of Market Street in San Francisco, is a 300,000 square foot building containing 196 loft and live-work units, plus ground floor commercial space. His work has been described by Robert A.M. Stern, dean of the Art and Architecture School at Yale, as a "free-wheeling modernism." He is conscious of the environmental effect of his buildings. For example he designed a house in Napa Valley, ca, whose rusted walls were meant to reflect the seasonal changing of the colors of the landscape. Such characteristics suffuse the New England Holocaust Memorial in Boston, which depends on air and light, and their opposite, darkness and shadow, for their dramatic effects. Situated in the very heart of downtown Boston, the Memorial has an open and airy feeling that contrasts sharply with its underground component and its fiery pit. The design features six 54″ high glass towers lit from within. Their sides are etched with six million numbers suggesting the tattoos on the arms of murdered Jews. A black granite path passes under the towers. At the base of each tower, there is a stainless steel grate that covers a six foot deep chamber where the names of the primary Nazi death camps are inscribed. Smoldering coals at the base of each pit illuminate these names. Saitowitz hoped to convey the ungraspable nature of the Holocaust, as well as survival and hope.


G. Wagner (ed.), Stanley Saitowitz: A House in the Transvaal (1995); M. Bell (ed.), Stanley Saitowitz (1995).

[Betty R. Rubenstein (2nd ed.)]