Art from a Different Angle

September 2013

Jeffrey Kalban is a name that anyone with even a passing familiarity with the world of contemporary architecture will recognize as an individual whose talent for structural design has graced numerous locations with aesthetic enhancements that meld form and function into practical fabrications that exude intrigue, beauty, and artistic awareness with delicate finesse.

Although Kalban works with his company, Jeffrey M. Kalban and Associates Architecture, Inc., to design urban models of magnificent appeal, he is as much an artist as he is an architect, and believes that the two disciplines are, and always have been, so interwoven with him that he could be considered a painter of buildings and a designer of art.

In describing the great pioneer of modern architecture Le Corbusier as an influential figure, Kalban told us, “Le Corbusier’s passion to ‘study for the reason of things’ and his poetic compositions made him a total artist. His architecture, painting, sculpture and furniture were one aesthetic.” These are the qualities that Kalban considers of immense value in his own creative process.

With a personality that could be considered mathematically inclined, systematic, and focused, it is evident that Kalban applies his natural disposition to a creative process that, although seeded in a free-forming imagination, is detailed by incisive application of geometric discernment that results in designs of impeccable accuracy, balance, and elegance.

Dedication to the task at hand is of paramount importance to Kalban, and this was underscored when we quizzed him about whether he had ever had a “dream project” in his mind. He replied, “It is always my current project. We take on projects that interest/challenge me either because of the site, or the client, or the limitations imposed on it.  As long as I am answering new questions or meeting new challenges I feel that’s what I want to be doing.” This laser-direct approach was reiterated when we asked him if he could host a dinner party with several individuals of his choice, who would he like to be at the table? His simple answer, “I approach our dinner parties the way I approach my architecture and art.  As long as the space is right, that no detail is ignored, and people feel comfortable, then good things happen. Our wide range of friends and acquaintances all bring a unique perspective about life and work that always opens up new ideas and solutions. This excites me.”

In our exchange, Kalban shared that one of the questionable aspects of societal thinking is the apparent lack of real and expressed appreciation in aesthetics. This level of profundity of thought was also directed inwards with Kalban’s admission that even though he has undoubtedly reached the most elevated pinnacles of achievement in his craft, and has always “quietly focused…on the issues of our clients and the aesthetic resolution of programs, regulations, and gravity,” he still feels lacking in his ability to effectively promote his achievements. This humble ingredient in his character suggests a gentleness of ego that is born out of realism and sincerity as opposed to any kind of trend-centric emotional commodity.

Finally, we asked Kalban if his life were a movie, what would the title be? “It’s a Wonderful Life,” was his instant response. We have a sense that just like George Bailey in the movie, Kalban and his work have touched many, many lives.

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