Steven Holl

Steven Holl (born December 9, 1947) is a New York-based American architect and watercolorist. Among his most recognized works are the 2019 REACH expansion of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts,[1] the 2019 Hunters Point Library in Queen in New York,[2] the 2007 Bloch Building addition to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri,[3] and the 2009 Linked Hybrid mixed-use complex in Beijing, China.[3] Holl is not a recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize [4] which is viewed by some in his profession as an omission. [5]

Steven Holl
Steven Holl in 2008
Born (1947-12-09) December 9, 1947
Alma materUniversity of Washington
Architectural Association School of Architecture
AwardsAlvar Aalto Medal (1998)
BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award (2008)
AIA Gold Medal (2012)
Praemium Imperiale (2014)
The Daylight and Building Component Award (2016)
PracticeSteven Holl Architects
BuildingsKiasma Contemporary Art Museum, Helsinki, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Linked Hybrid, Beijing, Knut Hamsun Center, Hamarøy, Norway


Family and Education

Holl was born on December 9, 1947 and grew up in Bremerton and Manchester, Washington.[6] Holl graduated from the University of Washington and pursued architecture studies in Rome in 1970. In 1976, he attended graduate school at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London and established his offices in New York City. For ten years after moving to New York, Holl slept in his office on a plywood shelf above the entry, showering at the nearby YMCA.[7][8] Steven Holl leads his 40-person office with partners Chris McVoy, Noah Yaffe, and Roberto Bannura. Holl has taught at Columbia University since 1981. He is married to the architect Dimitra Tsachrelia and they have one daughter.[9]


Holl's architecture has undergone a shift in emphasis, from his earlier concern with Typology to his more modern style of Phenomenology. He has been inspired and influenced by philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty and architect-theorist Juhani Pallasmaa.

Recognition and awards

In 1998 Holl was awarded the prestigious Alvar Aalto Medal. In 2000, Holl was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In July 2001, Time named Holl America’s Best Architect, for "buildings that satisfy the spirit as well as the eye." Other awards and distinctions include the best architectural design in New York for The Pace Collection showroom in 1986 from the American Institute of Architects, the New York American Institute of Architects Medal of Honor (1997), the French Grande Médaille d’Or (2001), the Smithsonian Institution’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award in Architecture (2002), Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects (2003), the Arnold W. Brunner Prize in Architecture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the 2008 BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Arts category.[10] In 2007, Steven Holl Architects received the AIA Institute Honor Award and the AIA New York Chapter Architecture Merit Award for Art Building West for the School of Art and Art History (University of Iowa, Iowa City). The Higgins Hall Insertion at Pratt Institute (Brooklyn, New York) and the New Residence at the Swiss Embassy both received the AIA New York Chapter Architecture Honor Award in 2007. In 2010, Herning Museum of Contemporary Art, (Herning, Denmark) was awarded the RIBA International Award. The Horizontal Skyscraper-Vanke Center received the 2011 AIA Institute National Honor Award, as well as the AIA NY Honor Award. In 2011, he was named a Senior Fellow of the Design Futures Council.,[11] and Holl was named the 2012 AIA Gold Medal winner.[12] In 2014, Holl was awarded the Praemium Imperiale Prize for Architecture.[13] In 2016, Holl was named the 2016 laureate for The Daylight and Building Component Award for Daylight in Architecture.[14]


Holl is a tenured professor at Columbia University, where he has taught since 1981[15] with Dimitra Tsachrelia.[16] He frequently teaches on the relationship between music and architecture.[17]

'T' Space

In 2010, Holl founded 'T' Space, a multidisciplinary arts organization in Rhinebeck, New York. The core aim of 'T' Space is to create educational fusions of art, architecture, music, and poetry of the 21st century. The organization operates a summer exhibition series and an emerging architects summer residency in pursuit of their mission.[18]

The 'T' Space Synthesis of the Arts Series explores the intersection of art, architecture, and ecology through 2 to 3 exhibitions of work by emerging and established artists and architects. As of its 2019 season, 'T' Space has exhibited architects José Oubrerie, Tatiana Bilbao, and Neil Denari,[19] as well as artists such as Ai Weiwei, Pat Steir, and Brice Marden.[20]

In 2017, 'T' Space began offering a summertime residency program for young architects and artists.[21] Program participants design purpose-built architecture for rural communities, with curriculum emphasizing the ecological outcomes of design. During project development, the residents participate in pin-ups, field trips, and a public lecture series, from architects including Christian Wassmann, Christoph Kumpusch, Tamas Nagy, and Holl himself.[22][23]

In addition to its arts and educational programming, 'T' Space maintains a publication program and a 30-acre nature reserve with outdoor installations of art and architecture. In 2019, construction was completed on 'T' Space's architectural archive and research library, which will come to house Holl's work as a watercolorist, as well as models, drawings and other architectural materials developed in Holl's 40-plus years as principal of Steven Holl Architects.[24]


Early works

Holl won first prize in the Amerika-Gedenkbibliothek International Library Design Competition in 1988, an expansion and renovation of the American Memorial Library in Berlin. In February, 1989 Holl's work was exhibited in a solo show at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City. MoMA later purchased twenty-five works by Holl for the museum's permanent collection. In the 1992 competition for a new contemporary arts museum in Helsinki, Finland, Holl's entry, entitled "Chiasma," won first prize out of more than five hundred international entries. The museum opened to the public in 1998, having permanently adopted the name "Kiasma," the Finnish translitteration of "chiasma."

In designing the Chapel of St. Ignatius (built 1994-1997), Jesuit chapel at Seattle University, Holl addressed the campus's need for green space by siting the chapel in the center of a former street and elongating the building plan. New green campus quadrangles were formed to the north, west, and south, and a future quadrangle is planned to the east.[25] The plan of the chapel won a design award in the American Institute of Architects of New York. Holl designed the Chapel around St. Ignatius's vision of the inner spiritual life, "seven bottles of light in a stone box", by creating seven volumes of different light. Each volume represents a different part of Jesuit Catholic worship, and has differently colored glass so that various parts of the building are marked out by colored light. Light sources are tinted both in this way and by indirect reflection from painted surfaces, and each is paired with its complementary color.

Significant works

Hybrid BuildingSeaside, Florida1988
Void Space Housing, Nexus WorldFukuoka, Japan1991
Stretto HouseDallas, Texas1992
Storefront for Art and ArchitectureNew York City1993
Chapel of St. Ignatius at Seattle UniversitySeattle, Washington1997
Cranbrook Institute of ScienceBloomfield Hills, Michigan1998
Kiasma, Museum of Contemporary ArtHelsinki, Finland1998
Sarphatistraat OfficesAmsterdam, Netherlands2000
Bellevue Arts MuseumBellevue, Washington2001
Ralph Rapson Hall, College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, University of MinnesotaMinneapolis, Minnesota2002
Simmons Hall, Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridge, Massachusetts2002
Pratt Institute Higgins Hall InsertionBrooklyn, New York2005
Lake Whitney Water Purification Facility and ParkNew Haven, Connecticut2005
Turbulence HouseNew Mexico2005
Planar HouseParadise Valley, Arizona2005
University of Iowa School of Art and Art HistoryIowa City, Iowa2006
Residence of the Ambassador of SwitzerlandWashington, DC2006
Bloch Building expansion of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of ArtKansas City, Missouri2007
Linked HybridBeijing, China2009
Knut Hamsun Centre (Hamsunsenteret)Nordland, Norway2009
Herning Museum of Contemporary ArtHerning, Denmark2009
Horizontal Skyscraper - Vanke CenterShenzhen, China2009
Cite de l'Ocean et du Surf, in collaboration with Solange FabiaoBiarritz, France2011
Daeyang Gallery and HouseSeoul, South Korea2012
Sliced Porosity Block - CapitaLand Raffles City ChengduChengdu, China2012
Sifang Art MuseumNanjing, China2013
Campbell Sports Center at Columbia UniversityNew York, New York2013
Seona Reid BuildingGlasgow School of Art2014
University of Iowa Visual Arts BuildingIowa City, Iowa2016
Princeton University Lewis Center for the ArtsPrinceton, New Jersey2017
Maggie's Centres BartsLondon, United Kingdom2017
Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU)Richmond, Virginia2018
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Glassell School of ArtHouston, Texas2018
John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, The REACH additionWashington, DC2019[26][27]
Hunters Point Library Queens, NY 2019
Institute for Advanced Study Rubenstein CommonsPrinceton, New Jersey2020 (in construction)
Franklin & Marshall College Winter Visual Arts CenterLancaster, Pennsylvania2020 (in construction)
ChinPaoSan NecropolisTaipei, Taiwan2020 (in construction)
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Nancy and Rich Kinder BuildingHouston, Texas2020 (in construction)

Competition selections

Selected publications

Along with Pallasmaa and Alberto Perez-Gomez, Holl wrote essays for a 1994 special issue of the Japanese architectural journal A+U under the title "Questions of Perception: Phenomenology of Architecture." The publication was reissued as a book in 2006.


  1. Davidson, Justin (2019-08-20). "Steven Holl's Subtle 'Reach' Humanizes the Kennedy Center". Intelligencer. Retrieved 2019-11-04.
  2. Kimmelman, Michael (2019-09-18). "Why Can't New York City Build More Gems Like This Queens Library?". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-11-04.
  3. Lacayo, Richard. "The 10 Best (New and Upcoming) Architectural Marvels." TIME. 13 December 2007.,9171,1694467,00.htm%5B%5D
  4. "Laureates | The Pritzker Architecture Prize". Retrieved 2019-09-19.
  5. "Is the Pritzker Prize Still Relevant Today?". ArchDaily. 2018-03-06. Retrieved 2019-11-29.
  6. “Bringing It Home,” Gray Magazine, No.29, Aug/Sept. 2016, p.149
  7. Davidson, Justin. "Steven Holl, Agent of Enlightenment". Architect. Architect Magazine. Retrieved 2017-07-21.
  8. Sheftell, Jason (12 November 2010). "Get ready New York - Architect Steven Holl brings his brilliant award-winning designs to the city". New York Daily News. New York. Retrieved 12 November 2015.
  10. BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Awards Archived 2010-03-26 at the Wayback Machine
  11. Design Futures Council Senior Fellows
  12. Davidson, Justin. "Steven Holl, Agent of Enlightenment." Architect Magazine: The Journal of the American Institute of Architects. 17 May 2012.
  13. Madsen, Deane. "Steven Holl wins 2014 Praemium Imperiale Award." Architect Magazine: The Journal of the American Institute of Architects. 16 July 2014.
  14. ”Laureates." The Daylight Award. 8 September 2016.
  17. "The Architectonics of Music.
  18. "About". 'T' Space Rhinebeck. Retrieved 2019-08-20.
  19. "Architecture Archive". 'T' Space Rhinebeck. Retrieved 2019-08-20.
  20. "Sculpture & Painting Archive". 'T' Space Rhinebeck. Retrieved 2019-08-20.
  21. "Steven Myron Holl Foundation concludes summer fellowship program". 2017-08-15. Retrieved 2019-08-20.
  22. "Residency". 'T' Space Rhinebeck. Retrieved 2019-08-20.
  23. "Residency Lecture Series". 'T' Space Rhinebeck. Retrieved 2019-08-20.
  24. "Archive and Research Library". Steven Myron Holl Foundation. Retrieved 2019-08-20.
  25. Holl, Steven. The Chapel of St. Ignatius. New York: Princeton Architectural, 1999. Print.
  26. "KC firm BNIM will help design $100 million expansion of Kennedy Center". Archived from the original on 2013-04-06. Retrieved 2013-04-05.
  27. The Kennedy Center Expansion Project Website. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-07-28. Retrieved 2013-08-07.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)


  • Fred Rush, On Architecture, Routledge, London and New York, 2007.
  • Scott Drake, “The Chiasm and the experience of space”, JAE, Nov. 2005, vol.59, iss. 2, 53-59.
  • Alberto Perez-Gomez, Juhani Pallasmaa, Steven Holl, Questions of Perception. Phenomenology of Architecture, William K. Stout Pub., San Francisco, 2006 (2nd edition).
  • Alberto Perez-Gomez, “The architecture of Steven Holl: In search of a poetry of specifics”, El Croquis 93, 1999.
  • Philip Jodidio, Architecture Now!, Icons, Taschen, New York, 2002.
  • Gareth Griffiths, "Steven Holl and His Critics", Ptah, Helsinki, 2006.
  • Nancy Marmer, "Holl's Kiasma Debuts in Helsinki," Art in America, October 1998, p. 35.
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