When architects marry other architects it's no longer just a job. Their work becomes a rebuttal to the myth of the solitary architect and a reminder that no one creates in a void. Robert Venturi protested when his wife and lifelong collaborator Denise Scott Brown didn't win the Pritzker Prize with him. Michael Manfredi and Marion Weiss, both left-handed architects, draw all over each other's work. From Seattle's sprawling Olympic Park to a curvaceous lounge chair made in Finland, here are 16 objects that contain both a life's work and love.
1. Alison and Peter Smithson, House of the Future
Presented at the 1956 Ideal Home Show in London, Peter and Alice Smithson's house of the future had one aim: predict 1980. Made in the image of the midcentury airplane, each room in their House of the Future was molded from one continuous and gyrating piece of plastic. Peter and Alice met in 1949, were at the vanguards of Britain's post-war experimentation, and were married until their deaths.
2. Massimo and Lella Vignelli, St. Peter's Church
When Massimo Vignelli died in May of last year, he was hailed as the grandfather of contemporary graphic design. That was wrong. Yes, Massimo Vignelli brought a sharp and unpretentious modernism to everything from New York's subway to the interiors of Barney's. No, he didn't do it alone. Massimo was married to Lella Vignelli for 57 years and, for 54 of those years, they ran Vignelli Associates as partners. Commissioned to design the interiors of Saint Peter's Church in New York, Lella and Massimo considered everything from the church pews to the seemingly trivial design for the Sunday newsletter. Massimo Vignelli writes, "One of the walls houses a columbarium; there our ashes will find their resting place."
3. Ray and Charles Eames, Eames Storage Unit
Furniture design power couple Charles and Ray Eames met at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, in Michigan, and in 1941, Charles proposed by letter ("I cannot promise to support us very well — but if given the chance I'll sure in hell try.") Their partnership gave rise to some of the most iconic furniture items in American history, including the Eames Storage Unit, a lightweight object made of plastic-coated plywood with a steel frame.
4. Billie Tsien and Tod Williams, American Folk Art Museum
Tod Williams and Billie Tsien met in 1977 when she applied for a job at his firm. She was a recent architecture school graduate, and he was a divorced bachelor 11 years her senior. Although their relationship blossomed into a creative and prolific partnership, Tsien spent years worrying that she would never be taken seriously due to their relationship. However, the duo was chosen for the first major post 9/11 project, the American Folk Art Museum; the resulting design was beautiful, idiosyncratic, and had a façade of white bronze panels. It broke their hearts when the Museum of Modern Art began demolishing the celebrated museum last year.
5. Aino and Alvar Aalto, Model 41 Lounge Chair
In 1923, Aino and Alvar Aalto met when she moved to the Finnish town of Jyväskylä and began working in his office. They got married two years later, and began designing distinctive homes and furniture pieces that would later become icons of Finnish modernism. The laminated birch Model 41 Lounge Chair from 1929 is credited solely to Alvar, but it's widely assumed that Aino had a hand in most, if not all, of his oeuvre.
6. Meejin Yoon and Eric Höweler, Swing Time
After four years of studying together at Cornell's architecture school, something finally clicked, and Meejin and Eric went out on a date in 1994. The couple, who now run the firm Höweler and Yoon Architecture in Boston, quickly began collaborating on angular contemporary homes and the book ''1,001 Skyscrapers." They tied the knot in 2002, and chose the Oscar Niemeyer-designed concrete city of Brasília, Brazil for their honeymoon. In 2014, they filled a Boston park with 20 illuminated ring-shaped swings for their "interactive playscape," Swing Time.
7. Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi, Olympic Sculpture Park
Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi have one especially important thing in common: they're both left-handed architects. "There are drawings where I don't know which is my mark and which is Marion's," Manfredi admits to New York magazine. In 2007, their Olympic Sculpture Park put to rest Seattle's public space problem when they transformed eight-and-a-half acres of brownfield on the Puget Sound waterfront. Confronted with a railway and highway on the property, they did the unthinkable and extremely logical thing—built their park right over them.
8. Denise Scott Brown and Robert Venturi, Queen Anne Side Chair
"Insofar as you have in mind a retroactive award of the prize to Ms. Scott Brown, the present jury cannot do so," were the words uttered by the chair of the Pritzker committee, when he decided not to grant Denise Scott Brown the highest honor in architecture. These words became a lightning rod for activists, architects, and anyone who cared about fair play: Denise deserved a Pritzker just as much as her husband Robert Venturi, who had just been awarded one. Denise and Robert had collaborated on projects for five decades and founded a firm together based on their own maxim "less is a bore." One of the couple's smallest projects, the pastel-laden Queen Anne side chair, both mocks and lauds the classical motif it sprang from.
9. Jing Liu and Florian Idenburg, Pole Dance
This Dutch-Chinese architect couple met in 2001 while they were both working on the Japanese starchitecture firm SANAA's glass pavilion for the Toledo Museum of Art. They lost touch for two years, but then (clearly fate), Jing Liu spotted Florian Idenburg at the New Museum in New York, and within a few years they got married and launched their new firm, Solid Objectives. In 2010, the pair won the MoMA PS1Young Architects Program prize for a group of swaying 25-foot poles with canopies that they installed in the museum's courtyard, entitled "Pole Dance."
10. Raili and Reima Pietilä, Finnish Embassy in Delhi
Reima and Raili Pietilä, like Aino and Alvar, were Finnish architects with a penchant for alliteration. Their firm, founded in 1963, came of age during the last notes of high modernism; Corbusier had just finished his Notre Dame du Haut and the Aaltos had just unveiled the Säynätsalon Town Hall. The Pietilä-designed Finnish Embassy in New Delhi, which is both unapologetically emotive and geographically sensitive, was a clear rebuttal of rigid functionalism. After Reima's death, Raili said to Metropolis, "As a couple we often took our work with us: for a walk, in the kitchen, and in the evenings."
11. Hans and Florence Knoll, Low Credenza
Hans Knoll was the son of a well-regarded German furniture maker, Florence Knoll (née Schust) was an orphan who happened to attend a Michigan school for girls that was right next to the famous Cranbrook Academy of Art. She became close friends with Eliel Saarinen there, and later went on to study with Marcel Breuer, Walter Gropius, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. In 1941, Florence moved to New York, where she met Hans, who was launching his furniture company. Florence joined him in this pursuit, and the two went on to create some of the century's finest pieces of American modernism, like the low credenza with a marble top from 1954.
12. Liz Diller and Ricardo Scofidio, Blur Building
Liz Diller and Ricardo Scofidio, also known as Diller Scofidio + Renfro, don't like to talk about their personal lives. However, we do know that they initially bonded over arguing with others. The pair met in the 1970s when Diller was studying at the Cooper Union School of Architecture, and Scofidio was a professor there. In 2002, the two decided to build right on the waters of Lake Neuchatel for the Swiss Expo. Their teammates thought that was too risky. Liz and Ricardo were right and that's how the Blur Building was born—a temporary exhibit emitting a constant stream of fog over the water that appeared, to the observer, as a man-made cloud.
13. Anna Castelli Ferrieri and Giulio Castelli, Componibili storage system
Anna was an industrial designer working with Le Corbusier, Giulio was a chemical engineer obsessed with plastics; in 1966, they became Kartell. Giulio reigned over Kartell's clean, modern, and plastic products, which left Anna to design the Kartell headquarters. Stackable and modular, Kartell's Componibili storage system was a rare 1967 collaboration for the couple.
14. Coren and William Sharples & Gregg Pasquarelli and Kimberly Holden, Google Inc. Offices
Everyone who works at über-hot New York firm SHoP is either married to each other, or twins. Three of the principals – Christopher, William, and Coren – share the last name Sharples (Coren and William are married), while the firm's other couple, Gregg Pasquarelli and Kimberly Holden kept their own names but are just as much a part of the love-in. As of late, SHoP has built a neon-colored office for Google's senior management team and engineers, and debuted an ambitious design for Google's first ground-up project, a 310,000-square-foot research and development campus.
15. Aline and Eero Saarinen, University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance
In 1953, architecture critic Aline Bernstein was sent to profile midcentury starchitect Eero Saarinen for the New York Times Magazine. The connection they forged during the hours-long interview in Detroit ran deep, and the two married the next year. After the wedding, Aline Saarinen spent her time pitching her husband's famous projects to design magazines, and in addition to designing some of the 20th century's most notable buildings, like the TWA terminal, Eero continued to write her wonderful love letters. After the architect's death from an operation for a brain tumor in 1961, Aline stayed with the firm and oversaw his unfinished projects, like the new music building for the of the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance, which had zero 90-degree angles.
16. Dan Wood and Amale Andraos, Blaffer Art Museum
In the offices of Work Architecture, married founders Amale Andraos and Dan Wood's ideas are so entwined that they are known as Danamale. Andraos is the dean of Columbia's Graduate School of Architecture, and Wood has taught at Columbia, Yale, and Princeton. The couple met while working at OMA under Rem Koolhaas; Dan was six years her senior and at first Amale was "self conscious" and "insecure" when around the more seasoned architect, but soon they were married and designing projects together as equal partners, like the dramatic renovation of the Blaffer Art Museum in Houston in 2012.
Additional reporting by Rachel B. Doyle