10 Things You Didn’t Know about Mario Botta

Mario Botta

Born in 1943, 74 year-old Mario Botta is a famous Swiss architect who is known for his dynamic sense of style with his building designs. Botta has won a number of awards and acknowledgements for his work through the years, not only in his home country of Switzerland, but also in the US, Argentina, and others. His love of architecture extends far beyond just the designing and constructing of a building. He designs buildings with certain beliefs and objectives. Botta explains his objective where he has been quoted; saying, “offer good quality living values as opposed to merely aesthetic images. The search for a better quality of life is ongoing through the search for a better space for life”. Botta’s architecture also extends beyond commercial buildings. He has designed some amazing religious buildings as well, and each and every building is uniquely and thoughtfully designed with his strong sense of architectural detail and balance. You may already be familiar with Mario Botta and his architecture. But here are ten things you didn’t know about Mario Botta, and they quite possibly may make you appreciate his building designs even more.

1. He started designing buildings at sixteen

At sixteen, Mario Botta was already an architect in the making, designing his first buildings, which consisted of two-family homes. Although the layouts weren’t the most practical with how he constructed the usage of space, there were certain aspects in his design that would go on to be some of the biggest design elements he is most noted for, such as his love for creating deep recessed windows.

2. His primary designs start with geometric shapes

Botta designs his buildings using bold geometric shapes, giving them a unique, modern appeal. They are all distinct in their looks and shapes with many boasting sharp edges and grand angular designs. They all draw attention and command respect for the exactness in their design. You can’t help but recognize a building designed by Botta. They are all so intriguing and in symmetrical order.

3. He has a primary material for his designs

Botta has a primary material he prefers to use in his architectural designs, and that’s brick. Although he prefers brick over other materials, he does use a wide variety of materials. If you ask him, he will tell you that his favorite material is masonry, not steel and not glass. And with every design, you’ll find ample space throughout. When he does use other materials, it is typically unique.

4. The architectural design isn’t all that matters to Botta

Botta has often explained that at the very basis of each design is the architectural site. He explains that the site on which the building will sit plays a big role in how the building will look when it’s completed. Light around the environment that he chooses to build also plays an integral role and should always be taken into account This is because, he believes, the light that accompanies the site is what helps to create a certain balance in the structure and completes it. It is his belief that architecture isn’t simply about constructing a building. It’s also about “where” you construct it that will make it as grand as you envision.

5. His first project outside of houses and churches

In 1988, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) needed a new home and Botta was summonsed to do the job. There were a lot of high expectations with the project and he was determined to give the museum the recognition it deserved. The uniquely designed building was constructed among dilapidated buildings and was said to be the largest building dedicated to art, in the American West, (225,000 sq. ft.), and over all, the second largest in the country, withi New York’s Museum of Modern Art still claiming that title.

6. All his work is connected to spirituality

Botta links all of his work through a form of spirituality. This spirituality he feels is towards architecture of the past. He believes that each architectural structure is an expression of human memory, memory and respect of where our architecture of today has come from. Botta has an objective that goes into each of his designs, and his objective has been found quoted and that is to “offer good quality living values as opposed to merely aesthetic images. The search for a better quality of life is ongoing through the search for a better space for life,”

7. One of few architects to have built churches for different religions

Botta has been so sought after when it comes to his ability to create such magnificent structures that religious entities have also enlisted his talent for designing new churches. There have only been a few architects that have designed religious buildings and churches for multiple monotheistic religions, and Botta is one. He has designed churches, synagogues, and now, has been called upon to design a Mosque in China.

8. Botta’s work does not fit any real category of design

There hasn’t really been a category to firmly put Botta’s designs in. It’s hard to categorize his work as strictly modernism, yet that is a lot of what his work exhibits. But if you ask Critic, Paul Golderberger, Botta’s designs also boast the sleekness of late modernism. Without totally classifying his work, he now is typically recognized as being a top architect in “Postmodern” designs.

9. He’s been awarded for his work many times over

It goes without saying that Botta has claimed many awards through the years for his unique architectural designs. Some of the most notable awards he has received include, (1986) Chicago Architecture Award, the Prize Javier Carvajal by the Universidd de Navarra in 2014, the International Committee of Architectural Critics (CICA), International Biennial of Architecture, Buenos Aires in (1989 and 1993), the Swiss Award (2003), the European Award for Culture, Karlsruhe (1995), and the Milan Triennale (2015), just to name a few.

10. He designed his first spa in 2006

With the well-rounded architectural projects Botta has been involved with, from libraries to museums and even religious buildings, Botta did not try his hand at designing a spa until 2006. The Bergose Spa in Arosa, Switzerland was his first spa ever, and it officially opened in December of 2006. It was estimated at costing CHF 35 million to construct,


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