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Richard Owers

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  • Comment on: Tributes pour in for Isi Metzstein

    Richard Owers's comment 11 January, 2012 10:43 pm

    A few more rambling memories:

    Isi also taught a generation of architects at Edinburgh University from 1984-1991. I chose to study at Edinburgh in 1985 purely for Isi, and I had the last tutorial he gave there in the summer of 1991 at the end of his 6-year professorship.

    One of the few times I rendered him speechless was when he realised he had given me glandular fever in my penultimate diploma term. He admitted to carrying it in from his daughter Ruth. The upside to this was his insistence that he should conduct home tutorials from beside my sick bed to ensure I didn’t fall behind. I was able to extend my diploma through the summer to catch up and he would come to the studio every day. We designed my diploma together in what was for me a remarkable, iterative, discursive sharing of ideas that I have never experienced since. Not only would he regularly suspend his disbelief but, in his words, he would leave it “dangling perilously by a tiny thread”, until such point I would make a more reasonable suggestion.

    With his daughter as chaperone, Isi took me with a dozen students on a field trip to Berlin in the spring of 1990. We followed him tirelessly from one architectural site to another, appreciating new and old alike and learning to discern between the merely fashionable and the authentic. He avoided nostalgia and would not visit the streets in East Berlin where he grew up. I believe he did so on subsequent trips. The group of Berlin students he introduced me to became my good friends when I moved there a year later on his good advice. He regularly visited me in Berlin to make sure I was still pursuing healthy architectural ideas, and he always relished the opportunity to give a crit in the office.

    Even now as I try to compose myself, I hear his guttural advice suggesting that you should never mix “The Macallan” with pitiful tears. I’ll have another though and keep hold of lots more wonderful memories.

    Thank you Isi. I’ll miss you.

    Richard Owers