Inspiration Board | Burton Baldridge

For architect Burton Baldridge, compiling an inspiration board was a difficult task.

"I am not much of a consumer," he says. "I like things that are utilitarian and still beautiful. They're objects where form and function meld so completely that it is hard to separate the two." As an example, Baldridge points to the sleek wall handrail that guides people upstairs and into his firm's office. He acknowledges that some of his answers are a bit esoteric. "This sounds like I am being pretentious, but we all have a sense of this as we collectively attempt to replace a simple 60-watt A19 bulb."

Baldridge is currently working on a number of "substantial" residences and commercial spaces, including a new Kimber Modern Hotel on Rainey Street, a hotel on East Cesar Chavez, and the highly anticipated Gardner restaurant on East Sixth from Contigo owners Andrew Wiseheart and Ben Edgerton. "We weren't an obvious choise because we are so modern, and we'd be throwing a lot of disparate elements into a pot, making them work together," Baldridge admits. Until recently, the resulting "chimera" has been public curiosity, much like Baldridge's white, signless, unabashedly modern office behind the aesthetically frenetic Austinbikes Service Station on West Lynn. Baldridge's office is beautiful, utilitarian, and when it comes to objects, one of his most beloved.


The Complete Works of Peter Zumthor — "As we collectively chase commerce and comfort, I think some of the potential of architecture is getting lost. Zumthor's work is so elemental. He isn't working with things like walls and square feet. It's about mass, solidity, texture, atmosphere, and light."

DodoCase — I have always loved beautiful packaging. Some times more than the contents. This is the place where Steve Jobs had my number. I love products by DodoCase. It's a San Francisco book binder that makes these lovely tablet and phone cases. There is a real tactile quality there that masks the impersonal nature of the ubiquitous tech within.

My Canon EOS 5D — "It's an old camera now and pretty well worn. I love it for its own sake, but it's the ability to look at things through a marginally skewed lens that allows you to see differently."

Natural materials — "I love natural materials—a piece of knotty walnut, a piece of travertine—that are durable and that possess character and depth. Much of what we use is so milled, composited, veneered, and laminated. It's all so flat. There is a place for that, my office being an example, but a more natural expression is where my head is now."

My office — Both the physical space and the talented people I get to work with. I love its uncluttered simplicity and the energy of working together in a single room. The natural light interferes with the monitors, but it is so lively and pleasant.

Alden Boots — They are just such solid and well-made shoes. There is a real utilitarian beauty to them. They are made to last forever.

Not pictured...

  • A blank site — "Nothing is more inspiring than a challenging site or program. There is so much potential there, and the possibilities are open."
  • Austin — "I have spent about 25 years of my life here. It has always had an outsized importance relative to its size, and it has always been filled with hustle and creativity—a place where the baristas have Ph.D.'s. I feed on the energy."
  • My children — Elena (11) and Dylan (15). "Watching them experience space and architecture has been such an education. I have turned my entire family into a bunch of design snobs, but to see them experience new spaces with me is more inspiring than you might think."


Photography by Bill Sallans

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