The partnership of ART Architects was formed in 1996 when Jim Righter, Jacob Albert, and John Tittmann decided to pool their efforts. They haven’t looked back since. Jim’s architectural career began at Yale in the late 1960’s. Graduating from the School of Architecture in 1971, he was part of a new movement in architecture that turned its back on the limiting modernist orthodoxy of the day.
Led by architects like Charles Moore and Robert Venturi, this new vision drew form from buildings of all eras, both classical and vernacular. Central to this movement was Vincent Scully, the great Yale architectural historian who legitimized the study of history for practicing architects, reminding his students that architecture is an essential bearer of meaning. Scully introduced a generation of students to the great river of culture embodied in architecture. Jim, practicing in New Haven and teaching at Yale through the 1970s, was part of that world.
Jacob Albert was one of Jim’s students. While at Yale both in the College, and later in the School of Architecture, Jacob was also drawn to Vincent Scully, even serving as head TA for Scully’s class one year. For Jacob, the study of history and the study of architecture were naturally one and the same. Upon graduating from the School of Architecture, Jacob worked briefly for Allan Greenberg in New Haven and then followed Jim to the heart of Boston where James Volney Righter Architects had just moved and where the practice would thrive. Together, Jim and Jacob created a rich portfolio of new houses that explored classical and vernacular idioms indigenous to New England.
John Tittmann followed Jim and Jacob’s footsteps through Yale College and Yale School of Architecture where he was also influenced by the circle centered on Scully. Deeply interested in the possibilities of the Classical tradition, John took extensive sketching trips to Greece, Turkey, Italy and Spain to see Classical and Mediterranean sites first hand. On one trip, in 1987, he travelled with Thomas Gordon Smith to ancient Ionia to assist Smith’s research for a new translation of Vitruvius. In 1989 Stanley Tigerman recruited John to teach at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Architecture where he joined Smith again teaching classicism. By 1991, however, John moved to Boston, where he hung out his own shingle as Tittmann Associates.
Jim, Jacob and John, now in the same city, began sharing resources, and in 1996 decided to work together.
The firm, ART Architects, is now best known for its command of the architectural traditions of New England. The firm’s projects are fresh interpretations of a wide variety of New England architectural languages, both Classical and vernacular. In a monograph on their work published by the Vendome Press, Robert A.M. Stern describes the firms work as, “beautifully naturalized—to site, to purpose, and to tradition.” Beauty in buildings is not skin-deep; it comes when buildings speak to us of our memories, our aspirations, our humanity.