Art Forms Architecture's Live/Work/Space at UMass Amherst

Live/Work/Space, Artists’ Studios 2010–2021 at University of Massachusetts Amherst, Design Building Gallery, Nov. 9–Dec. 10, 2021. 

In his classic 1996 book exploring the phenomenology of architectural space, Finnish architect and theorist Juhani Pallasmaa writes, “Architecture is our primary instrument in relating us with space and time, and giving these dimensions a human measure. It domesticates limitless space and endless time to be tolerated, inhabited and understood by humankind.” 

In the live/work artist studio, the sequencing of undifferentiated time and space becomes especially acute, giving structure to places the body occupies both day and night. The tailoring of such an environment to the lifeways of the individual or artist couple involves an extended conversation about the client’s desires, habits, work methods, and aspirations for happiness and well-being, giving them form through drawings and, eventually, a built structure. 

Live/Work/Space documents this conversation through five artists’ studios designed by Grigori Fateyev’s Art Forms Architecture between 2010 and 2021. Represented through rough sketches, watercolor paintings, architectural drawings, detailed illustrations, 3D renderings, models, and photographs, the exhibition displays the artifacts of built projects—and two in progress—at the intersection of Fateyev’s imagination and that of the artist clients. 

The drawings serve to share ideas with clients, modifying them in response to feedback, meet the code requirements of building inspectors, specify to contractors how to realize the structure, and, here at the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Design Building Gallery, offer students, educators, and the public a view of the process of commissioning, designing, and constructing purpose-built and renovated structures for artists to live and work. 

As a set of projects, each offers distinctive characteristics in terms of program and building typology. They include a new standalone work space for a painter in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, a live/work loft and exhibition space in a renovated 1890s textile mill in Housatonic, Massachusetts, a purpose-built studio and residence with living and working spaces for a painter-and-sculptor couple in Hudson, New York, a studio and residence in two overlapping volumes for a multidisciplinary artist in the Hudson Valley, and a duplex townhouse in Hudson divided into two-story living space and top-floor video production facility. 

In his drawings, Fateyev’s use of black-and-white ink, pencils, charcoal, colored markers, and watercolor, as well as elevations, floor plans, and renderings, provides insight into various stages of the design process and the possibilities of architectural drawings as a form of both communication and expression. It’s notable that Fateyev started school in theater set design in St. Petersburg before gravitating toward art and eventually architecture at Cooper Union, and that his architectural education was rooted in both figure drawing and conceptual studies, where he fell under the influence of John Hejduk, a beacon of so-called Paper Architecture, in which the expressive possibilities of drawings to share ideas became, in many cases, an end in itself. 

Yet Fateyev, as he approaches the threshold of his mid-career, has already demonstrated considerable facility in realizing sensitively built structures that take seriously the critical concerns of construction, such as quality of material, energy conservation, climate conditions, and experience of the users. The photographs of his completed work in Live/Work/Space capture the beauty and function of the eventual projects in texture, color, and detail, as well as in relation to their surroundings. As much as they’re designed for the clients’ programmatic needs and desires, the buildings resonate with their natural and vernacular context, combining a passion for the techne of architecture and the mechanics of buildings with an intuition for structuring and embodying the time and space of experience.