Exterior_F_1Matt Gryzwinski has fast built a reputation as an innovative architect with a passion for New York who is not afraid to work outside of the constraints of the traditional. Having already started his own firm, Gryzwinski is quickly making a name for himself, most notably for his work on the Lower East Side’s controversial Hotel on Rivington.

Architecture has always been at the forefront of my New York experience. Whether it was the fire hallowed buildings in the South Bronx or the Twin Towers, as a child I developed a relationship with our buildings. How aware are we of our structural environment when we are young?

Architecture – the built environment (or the absence of it) – is such an incredibly important part of all of our experiences. It’s the setting for all of our stories. Who among us doesn’t have vivid or embellished memories of their childhood homes, their elementary schools, their stoop or street corner? As an adult I find that the way the light hits a façade, or the materials, or the rhythm of fenestration – even styles of architecture I had no knowledge of as a child – all of these elements are powerful and often subconscious triggers of all sorts of memories, as potent as smelling the perfume of an old girlfriend. I think, as children, we also use our built environment in conjunction with our geography to define who we are and where we belong in place and in time.

You have studied at Brown and the Rhode Island School of Design. Can a school make a great architect or do you require something else?

I found school to be an incredible incubator and a nurturing force in the quest to realise creative aspirations. I think the most powerful part of the experience for me was not so much the pedagogy, curriculum, or even the Professors, as much as it was being surrounded by intelligent, motivated and hungrily creative peers, essentially for 24 hours a day. I also was fortunate to go to schools where they focused on teaching you how to see, how to learn, and how to develop and hone your own creative process, rather than following the doctrine of a handful of masters. I think the right academic experience is a great and perhaps essential first step, but the emphasis is on the fact that it is truly only a first step.