WL: Tell me about your work at The Catholic University.
TP: For almost 15 years, I have been taking students to build abstract pieces of modern idioms in foreign countries: A snake shrine in Katmandu; a stargazing temple in Machu Picchu; a shrine to Gaelic culture in Western Island, Ireland; a shrine to Venus in southern Sicily. It has become so popular that it is now a full master’s degree called the Cultural Studies/Sacred Space concentration. We look at every culture in the world: Judeo-Christian, Islamic, Hindi, Buddhist, all the animistic worlds from the Greco-Romans, and try to bring architecture back to the poetics. This trains young architects to not just think in terms of Bauhaus boxes or nostalgic neo-traditional phony-ism or simply green. The world would be as ugly as a woman with unshaven legs and Birkenstocks on the Champs-Elysee if we only built with green style buildings.
WL: You’re also doing a global lecture tour with National Geographic.
TP: I’ll be taking people to the world’s great historic places and explaining the philosophies, which made them great. I’m beginning to get deeper into archeologically enduring architecture. Architects like Antoine Predock and Frank Gehry, they all talk about the “three lenses.” My book articulates these. The first is capturing the ecology and the landscape that exists. The second is working with the most technologically advanced building materials. The third is restoring a deep sense of the spirit of the place.