Designer Spotlight: Craig Copeland
Craig Copeland is an architect, sculptor and industrial designer who is the Associate Partner in the New York City studio of Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, and founding partner of Situcraft in Long Island City, New York. Born on 14 February, 1964, he grew up the son of a naval officer and lived all of his childhood on military bases along the US east coast, including 4 years in Puerto Rico. Moving every 2 to 4 years, Copeland grew up developing an acute appreciation for the richness of change in the variety of locations and cultures he lived. This became a foundation to his emerging philosophy of openness in his design approach, always seeking to understand the essence of any new situation or design response.
Copeland acquired his fondness for drawing at a young age. His subjects were the military landscapes of ships and ports as well as tunnels, bridges and steel mills that he saw when visiting his grandparents and cousins in his parent’s hometowns near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Copeland’s affection for such expressive machinery led to his fascination with Leonardo da Vinci’s drawings. And through da Vinci, Copeland discovered the richness of cross-pollinating approaches between art, design and architecture. Towards the end of high school, with abiding interests and facility in math and physics, he even contemplated mechanical engineering as a possible career. Copeland decided upon architecture as the best subject to ground a wider array of interests in the creative arts.
Copeland began his undergraduate studies at the University of Florida. He learned architectural fundamentals under a demanding Bauhaus design methodology led by Bernard (Bernie) Voichysonk, who had completed fine arts graduate studies under Joseph Albers, and believed in the rigor of Yale’s Schools of Art and Architecture. As such, Voichysonk recommended select students to pursue graduate architectural studies at Yale, including Copeland.
During his architectural studies at the Yale School of Architecture, Copeland met Cesar Pelli who had been the dean. Towards the end of his second year of studies, in 1988, he joined Cesar Pelli & Associates part-time. In his third and final year at Yale, Copeland was one of eight architecture students paired with each of eight art students in a collaboration design studio conceived and created by Frank Gehry and Claes Oldenburg. In the studio, Copeland was teamed with the painting student William Steiger. The experience reintroduced the importance of cross-pollinating design thinking, team design, and art making to Copeland.
Private residence in Wyoming
Copeland joined Cesar Pelli and Associates full-time following Yale. His first two years at CPA were working on a contemporary wilderness retreat that was completed in 1993 and received an Honor Award from the American Wood Council’s Wood Design Award Program. This private residence in Western USA completely captures the rustic feel of a cabin in the woods while its modern amenities provide its dwellers the comfort and luxury of a city dwelling.
Copeland joined Cesar Pelli and Associates full-time following Yale. His first major projects collaborating as a studio designer were a 60-story skyscraper for what would become the Bank of America Headquarters in North Carolina, and a large private residence in Wyoming.
These two projects introduced Copeland to the philosophies and methodologies of Cesar Pelli and his predecessor, Eero Saarinen, approaching every design project as a new and unique opportunity. At the same time, still inspired from the Yale collaboration studio, Copeland began formal training in fine art with classes at the Creative Arts Workshop in the evenings and on weekends. Within two years, he opened his first art studio in Erector Square.
Fullbright Fellowship, American Academy in Rome and Italy
In 1996, Copeland was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship in Rome, and subsequently a Visiting Artist studio at the American Academy in Rome, Italy. Copeland’s study of Etruscan funeral urns, shaped like huts, led to exhibition and excavation invitations in Italy, and together became the foundation of his art making and design pursuits in Tuscany.
New York City
Copeland moved to New York City at the start of 2001, during the first year launch Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects’ New York studio. In New York, Copeland was the design team leader for several nationally awarded projects. Most recently these have included the New Entry Pavilion and Reconfigurations at Brookfield Place (formerly the World Financial Center).
Entry Pavilion, Brookfield Place, New York City
1214 Fifth Avenue, New York City
Copeland has also been the design team leader for numerous high-performing, sustainable institutional and residential projects, including: the Business Instructional Facility for the College of Business at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the Visionaire, in Battery Park City, Lower Manhattan, and 1214 Fifth Avenue, Upper East Side, New York City. Copeland is presently working with both Cesar and Rafael Pelli on the design of the Miramar in Santa Monica, a mixed use, residential tower and five-star hotel resort.
Copeland carving Anello Eco in Rapolano (Siena) Italy, Anello Eco
In 2006, Copeland began carving stone. He took a leave of absence from PCPA to participate in a four month studio residency of Renzo Maggi, in Pietrasanta, Italy. Based on connections he made while in Pietrasanta, Copeland began over a decade of annual design collaborations with a variety of Italian stone companies, including his award-winning designs for Henraux, the stone company where Henry Moore, Isamu Noguchi, and Tony Cragg have worked.
In 2016, Copeland opened his stone carving and design studio in New York City, and launched a furniture company focused on stone design, Situcraft.
Flexible Hybrid Stone and wood furniture for Henraux by Craig Copeland
Pelli Clarke Pelli Architect’s (PCPA) Cabin Stack for Revolution Precrafted
Craig Copeland, along with Cesar Pelli and Rafael Pelli, is part of an exclusive group of architects to make high-design attainable for Revolution Precrafted. The Cabin Stack is a prefabricated home designed to meet this generation’s demand for modern and sophisticated homes that are quick to install and adaptable to any location and climate.
Banner image credit: Craig Cohen