By David Battersby, BattersbyHowat Architects
I met Peter when I was in my mid-20s through my close friend Michael Kothke, who was working with him at the time. As a young architect, I was in awe of Peter and envious of my friend’s opportunity to work with someone held in such high regard. Over two decades of becoming acquainted with Peter, I came to understand that he, for good or bad, completely dedicated his life to architecture and design in a way that most people could not imagine nor have the energy for.
A portrait of Peter Cardew in our August 1984 issue.
For almost a decade, his office had been less than a block from ours. Heather [Howat] and I would see Peter almost daily, often at the crack of dawn. Occasionally he would suggest we go for lunch. He would have one thing or another he would want to talk to me about. Questions like: What is a reasonable per-square-foot cost on a house these days? What is the going rate for a young architect’s salary? These inquiries would always make me chuckle, but the fact that he directed them at me filled me with pride.
Listen, we love wood and concrete as much as the next West Coaster. But it’s always a thrill to remember that you can’t box us in—and this gleefully postmodern home by Peter Cardew, featured in our August ’84 edition, is the perfect example. White, boxy and industrial, it’s a true swerve from the rustic romanticism of the time, but Cardew, of course, stuck the landing.
Peter’s work was an inspiration to the end. You could see Peter in everything he did—put together as he always was personally as well, clearly and rigorously ordered, never too much nor too little. Heather and I deeply admired this in Peter’s design work. He never lost himself to trends or gimmicks. His work has a characteristic humility, an always recognizable yet timeless style.
“For all of its Modernist intent, it’s not an ice palace at all,” reported writer (and later WL editor-in-chief) Carolann Rule. “How can something so perfect be a step in the wrong direction?”