Ricardo Scofidio

Who

Scofidio is co-founder of the hip, brainy architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro.

Backstory

Columbia grad Scofidio joined the architecture department at Cooper Union in 1965 and spent several years in private practice. He soon found himself disillusioned with business of architecture, though, and turned to teaching full-time in the 1970s. Until, that is, he met one of his students, Liz Diller. Scofidio ended up leaving his wife for Diller, and the two established the architecture firm Diller + Scofidio in 1979. For close to two decades, the firm focused most of its attention on video art, gallery installations, and other pieces that blurred the line between art and architecture.

The first project to garner major attention was their award-winning design for Slow House, a high-tech weekend home in the Hamptons. Alas, the Japanese investor who commissioned the design went under before the home was built, but the project did manage to land them a number of residential commissions during the 1990s. More fame greeted their 2000 renovation of the restaurant Brasserie, located in the Mies van der Rohe-designed Seagram building: While critics weren't terribly impressed by the food, they swooned over the eatery's futuristic design.

Now one of the city's hottest contemporary architecture firms, the erstwhile Diller + Scofidio has become a three-partner operation: Charles Renfro, who came on board in 2000, became a partner in 2003, hence the name change to Diller Scofidio + Renfro.

Of note

Diller Scofidio + Renfro has had a tremendous run the past few years. In 2004, they teamed up with Dutch starchitect Rem Koolhaas to devise an architectural plan for the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The plan was eventually shelved, but they managed to wow critics with their design for the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, which was unveiled in 2006. Today the firm, which employs more than 45 architects, is hard at work on two of the most-discussed projects in town: a redesign of Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center (they're working with Bruce Fowle's FowleFX), and the redevelopment of the long-neglected High Line in the West Village, in collaboration with the landscape-architecture firm Field Operations. Scofidio keeps up his teaching routine, too. He remains on the faculty at Cooper Union and lectures widely.

Word on the street

Often described as an "intellectual" architecture firm—Scofidio and Diller became the first architects to win a MacArthur "genius grant" in 1999—DS+R has a reputation for following their vision even if the results aren't especially practical. When an educational institution in Copenhagen invited architects to design a new facility along the city's waterfront, they proposed an "amphibious" campus that would be partially submerged under water. Needless to say, they didn't get the gig.

On the job

Scofidio's known as the quiet, pensive partner at the firm. It's Diller who serves as the firm's chief spokesperson and runs day-to-day affairs at the office.

Personal

Scofidio's first marriage, which produced four kids, ended in the late 1970s. He's been married to Diller since 1979. (Or thereabouts—neither Diller nor Scofidio are entirely sure when they tied the knot.) They live in the East Village and operate their firm from a vast, new space in Chelsea's Starrett-Lehigh Building.

Off hours

A car enthusiast—he owns a 1963 Porsche—Scofidio heads to the racetrack to do a few laps to blow off steam.