Earlier this year I shot portraits with a new dancer friend, Remy Fernández-O’Brien. He invited me to join a six-week-soccer league, where I met his brother, Durán.
Durán’s first name, which you may be thinking isn’t typically a first name, is indeed an old family surname. That’s powerful stuff, being named for an ancestor (or many of them) and he travels it well. Like his brother, Durán feels a powerful connection to Puerto Rico, where their family still lives. He was on the island just a few weeks before we met. He talks about it with the unmistakable clarity of someone who loves their ancestral home. It doesn’t take many words, and you’re there.
When I got to his house on a warm February morning, he was boiling beans for a regular Sunday potluck. We set up in a room brimming with Arturo Torres prints, and talked about everything. He’s been drawing since his early double-digits, and architecture seemed like a natural fit. He prefers the small flourishes to the large swaths—the parts of a space feel special. I get that. I almost always have to back up and look around for the big picture.
Come to think of it, I’ve never met an architect who couldn’t transport me. Maybe I’m biased, given how much time I’ve spent with the great Levi Romero, but both Levi and Durán have a way with words and spaces. Each come from special, shielded places, which have been plundered in the latter 20th century, and fight for their cultures still now.
If that’s bias, call me biased. That’s the room I want to work in.