Wendell Burnette – Architect
All content and design (c) Wendell Burnette Architects, except where otherwise stated.
Clarity of Intent/ Visual Identity
The intent of this architect’s website is in general an A-. The website does well to demonstrate what type of work the architect’s office does. From a glance it seems quite obvious that the work is usually modern and rooted in desert design. The architect also clearly displays their interest in the poetics of a building. The large simple photos help to identify the architect’s interest in clean modern design. The photos on the main page of the site also rotate to show further the architect’s work. The main issue with this website is that the identity of this website, although clearly a true portrayal of the architect’s work, is not necessarily the greatest in terms of setting this architect apart from other architects. The website itself does not speak uniquely, however the work itself does.
The site itself does not define the style of the website. I think this only further strengthens the work that is shown. By creating a more complicated background, the background could become a distraction to the work. The focus of an architect’s website of this minimalist nature should be the focus of the work itself. This is why the pictures themselves are shown one at a time and the background is simply white. When navigating through the different projects, the images are not large enough in this section. A constant narrative is shared among each page as you scroll through images. This world is visual, and although it is important to include a narrative of the project with each photograph, this narrative area uses too much space. A more successful website could condense the narrative into a single button that drops down when you hover over the title of the project, or when you click on the title of that project. This would allow the site to feel more interactive while allowing the project to truly capture your attention.
The type used is also affective in demonstrating the style of the architect.
Ease of Navigation
The navigation has been made much easier throughout the site by reducing how much text is used. The website is broken down into three categories: featured, firm, and projects. By doing this there is less distraction once again, therefore making the website easier to navigate. Also, by including the architect’s contact information on the main page along with the address, it is easy for a person interested in the firm to get a hold of the architect. This is incredibly important for any small firm, since the firm’s clients contact the architect directly and sometimes find the architect by their own means.
The navigation throughout the site is further clarified through sub categories. For example, when the user clicks on the project section, a series of sub menus pop up. What also makes this intriguing is that the page itself changes, so that there is an opportunity to see more of the work. After clicking on projects it is separated into, types of projects (international, national, local community and private residences). In this subcategory the viewer can easily click through the different projects. Once in a project it is easy to see the other menus preceding the steps through the sub categories. It is also simple to understand where you are within the menus, because the submenus are highlighted in red text to demonstrate what type of project you are viewing.
When clicking through the images of a project, it could be made easier to use if simply clicking on the image itself would move to the next image. Currently, the viewer must click on tiny images of the project that are off to the side of the main image. Also if the images faded into the next slide rather than instantly changing, it would be more consistent with the way that the titles fade and move when you click on the next menu category. This also helps to make the navigation feel more interactive.
Quality of Work
The work is very clear, modern and enticing. The work comes across as poetic. A large amount of the work however is not actually built. I think the website would actually be better if not all of this was displayed. The work that looks as if it has less credibility takes away from the projects that have been built. I think it is important to show some of the projects that have not been built so that it makes the architect look as if they are busy as well as showing that they are interested in exhibiting ideas even if the work is not built. However since many of these projects are not developed as thoroughly as the built projects, many of them could be left out. The work could also be better represented if the image quality of some of the projects was at higher resolution. The work itself is photographed artistically and well for the most part. Unfortunately a few low resolution images take away from the crisp character of the site.
Also in order to better represent the work, including plans and sections could truly help in characterizing the designs as unique not just aesthetically, but also programmatically and functionally.
In general this website is successful. It seems relatively consistent in its organization, although it could use some finesse. The website feels unique, simple, clean, poetic, and modern. I do feel that this website lacks something which pushes it into something revolutionary. It isn’t doing anything insanely unique. I do believe that the architect probably isn’t attempting to convey that about his firm as well, so this is probably to his benefit. Furthermore, people are sometimes afraid of that which is too different. Overall, I give the website an A- and the work itself an A+.