The George Löf house, which was destroyed earlier this year (see earlier blog entry), is credited to architect James Hunter. In my discussion of the Löf house in the book, I wrote: "Late in his life Löf said that Tician Papachristou, who worked in Hunter’s office at this time and later partnered with Marcel Breuer, had performed considerable design work, but all other evidence points to Hunter as the designer."
I want to give the issue a little more clarification. Hunter's office produced the construction documents, and Hunter is the architect of record. Normally in cases like this, Hunter's "authorship" would be accepted as a matter of fact.
But Löf, the client and engineer, surprised me when I interviewed him in July 2009. I was asking him about working with Hunter, and he said:
"The actual fellow who did most of the designing was... his name was... (long pause) he became a pretty well-known architect in New York..."
Then, minutes later, Löf interrupted himself:
"Oh I remember the name of the fellow that did the... Papachristou. Pa-pa-chris-tou. And the first name was Tician. And he went to new York and I understand that he got to be quite a prominent architect in New York."
Me: "So he was Hunter's draftsman?"
Löf: "Yeah, he was working with Hunter and I think most of the design actually was done by him."
This certainly complicates the issue of who designed the house. It is not clear what Löf meant by "designing" or "design" --- he very well might have meant "drafting," which is not normally a claim to authorship. Hunter had about 6-8 employees in his office in the 1950s*, and so it is likely that Hunter had a complex process of exchanging sketches and ideas with his draftsmen. In any case, the construction documents are not initialed, and I am not quite familiar enough with Papachristou's (or Hunter's) 'hand' to identify who made the drawings. I would like to revisit Hunter's archive, study the schematic design documents, and see if I can clarify this issue further.
Only rough outlines of Papachristou's biography can be pieced together. After leaving Hunter's office, Papachristou designed a few notable houses in the greater Denver area, including the 1958 Sampson house in Boulder---not a solar house but nevertheless extraordinary:
Papachristou went on to work with Marcel Breuer in New York. He was the co-author of Marcel Breuer: New Buildings and Projects, 1921-69 (1970). In 1971 (and probably earlier) he was listed as a partner of Breuer & Associates, and he remained a partner (with three others) until 1981 when Breuer died. In 1990 he was affiliated with Architects, Designers, and Planners for Social Responsibility.
Papachristou lives in New York. I attempted to correspond with him a few years ago (after the Löf interview), but did not receive a reply.
* “The Architect and His Community: James M. Hunter, Boulder Colorado,” Progressive Architecture (December 1953).