Alex Anmahian and Nick Winton met in studio during their time at Harvard’s graduate school. Their paths crossed under the stewardship of studio leader John Tuomey (now of O’Donnell + Tuomey), when they collaborated on a project together. Shortly after, in 1992, they set up Anmahian Winton Architects in Cambridge with just the two of them at the helm.
Now with 12 associates, each project, Anmahian said, is approached with a mix of “anxiety” and juvenile zeal. From the outset, they have deterred from adhering to any set style or preconceived aesthetic principles. Rather, their ethos, if anything, derives from the cultural context of the site, financial constraints, and client demands.
Speaking about their most recent project, an observatory in New Hampshire, Anmahian describes how the abstract form “came from analyzing the contextual language that came from the site, as well as tending to the need and aspirations of the client. The form developed as an outgrowth of the rock we were building on.”
A glimpse at their work further reflects this philosophy. Through typology alone, one can see how the practice is continuously looking for something new, while maintaining a sense of honesty and well-being, and this mindset is what has been a catalyst to the duo’s success. “All projects have different character quality and are very specific and highly personalized to our client,” said Winton.“We don’t try to express ideologies, and we don’t have a style. What we bring is a way of thinking,” Anmahian added. “Instead, we ask: Does it represent and absorb its cultural context? Hence, the results are unique.”
They thoroughly enjoy the processes of design and are constantly eager to try new challenges—as revealed in the variety of their work, which ranges from basketball benches to observatories and bamboo-based offices. “We’re not specialized in terms of typology; what has remained the same is the sense of trepidation,” said Anmahian.
Anmahian and Winton also express how their work focuses on the “rituals of everyday life,” and in doing so, delve deeply into their clients’ operations. “We take every space seriously. Obviously there is still hierarchy in the work, but we don’t leave things unturned or focus on one space and let the others feed off [of it].”
Where next? Neither Anmahian nor Winton are quite sure, but both are aware of how far they’ve come. “We look back on our first project with nostalgia while wincing [at the] missed opportunities.” Being self-critical has allowed the firm to progress and adapt to their own growth. “We think globally with our projects; we work internally without specialized employees,” said Anmahian. “In our office, the collaborative
aspect of it has expanded a lot.”