The Architecture of Ana Escalante, AIA
By Kimberly Nichols
Palm Springs carries a worldwide reputation as California's laboratory for architectural experimentation where the greats such as Schindler, Neutra, Lloyd Wright, Quincy Jones, Wexler, Williams, Porter Clark and Frey exercised their explorations in testing new ideas beneath an extreme climate amongst a natural, raw terrain. The architecture of the desert is uniquely rooted in a sense of place where a seamless merge between structure and geography represents the relationship between man and nature that is inherent in all desert living.
Building upon these principles, Ana Escalante has established her own reputation; one in which this sense of place inspires every project in both choices of materials and consideration to the client's lifestyle.
Escalante's signature architectural language is made up of the collaboration between the indoor and outdoor lifestyles that are unique to the desert; a collaboration of utilizing honest, sometimes brutal materials, within the context of stark contemporary lines to create a synergy of modest environments where people can live, play, reflect and relax among the juxtaposition of seasons that range from biting winters to torrid summer to mild springs. With each client in mind, she works to capture their essence while maintaining the integrity of her architectural principles, so what emerges is a symbiotic relationship between client and architect, culminating in an autobiographical statement within the context of the desert aesthete.
Also important in Escalante's design is the consideration of sustainability; a consideration that applies itself to every aspect of her projects from the site planning, to using passive means to achieve a sense of comfort. She utilizes local materials and recyclable or prefabricated products such as light metal panels, steel, glass and concrete block in its raw form, in addition to, photovoltaic panels, solar heating and carefully planned louvered panels. What emerges are clean lines, water features, deep overhangs, natural shading, and cantilevered volumes that are placed lightly on the land in unobtrusive constructs.
From the most humble, minimalist structures to the multi-million dollar project, Escalante's principles remain the same. Her mission is not to be nostalgic about modernism, but rather to use the principles as a point of departure, in order to develop a methodology that allows the building to emerge in its own individual form; to reveal itself to her as a statement on architecture at any given point in time; thus remaining an object of timeless significance.