Marvin Goodman

Marvin Goodman, FAIA, FJIA is a New Jersey born Architect who has been practicing Architecture & Planning in Jamaica since 1961. He is the Principal of Marvin D. Goodman & Associates and a visiting lecturer at the Caribbean School of Architecture. He was gracious enough to take time out of his busy schedule for an interview with Architecture Caribbean. Today we feature the successful West Harbor Project done by Marvin Goodman & Associates, and an article on Waterfront Development. We hope these inspire and further inform you about Waterfront Development.
Architecture Caribbean: Who is Marvin Goodman?

Marvin Goodman: Architect

Architecture Caribbean: Where did you study?
Marvin Goodman:University of Florida
Architecture Caribbean: What was your first architecture job, doing what?
Marvin Goodman: Assistant to Chief Engineer during last year of construction of UNESCO Building in Paris.
Architecture Caribbean: Who (or what) were the biggest inspirations for your career?
Marvin Goodman: Surrounded in Europe by the great historical and modern works of buildings, parks, streets and public squares was and has remained an inspiration.
Architecture Caribbean: How did you end up in Jamaica?
Marvin Goodman: I was invited to come to Jamaica for 6 months to finish a hotel then under construction. Work went on for another year and then I was being asked to do some other jobs so I stayed for a while longer. I have remained now for many decades. I am married to a Jamaican and feel completely at home in my adopted country.
Photo Courtesy: Marvin D. Goodman & Associates
Architecture Caribbean: What do you read and/ or do for inspiration?

Marvin Goodman:Inspiration comes in a variety of ways. Listening to music, reading about people’s lives, looking at similar or completely different projects, good or bad.

Architecture Caribbean: Who are your favorite architects (International and Caribbean) and what do you admire about their work?
Marvin Goodman:Frank Lloyd Wright, Oscar Niemeyer, Eero Saarinen, I.M. Pei
Architecture Caribbean: What are key factors in your work?
Marvin Goodman: Nature, energy and the environment
Architecture Caribbean: How do you define successful design?
Marvin Goodman: Successful design must reflect the same precepts that Vitruvius set out several millennia ago. Firmness, Commodity and Delight.  It must be structurally and mechanically sound, it must fulfill the needs of its owners and be financially viable and it must bring delight and beauty to the world.
Photo Courtesy: Marvin D. Goodman & Associates
Architecture Caribbean: Are there important projects in your body of work which you've designed that haven't been built, or plans that haven't carried out?

Marvin Goodman: One project I would like to see re-appear is a Hotel I did for Caesars at Rose Hall. It was very Caribbean, incorporated water and nature throughout

Architecture Caribbean: What do you think are the JIA's (Jamaican Institute of Architecture) biggest challenges, if any?

Marvin Goodman:I believe there are several things the Jamaican Institute of Architects and similar Organizations can do:

  1. As a large body of trained Professionals, they should take the lead in guiding the policies and actions of the government in matters that affect the built environment. By public forums and publications, they should, working with the Caribbean School of Architecture, take the lead and become the center of the debate on planning and development.
  2. They should also take the lead in the design of energy efficient and environmentally correct buildings. This will require study on the part of all Architects and Engineers but it must be done.
  3. They should lobby the Government to ensure there is a level playing field and that Architects from abroad must follow the same rules and regulations as the locals including taxation.
They should publish documents illustrating the works and qualifications of their members so potential clients be they government agencies, local developers or foreign investors are aware of the skills that are available.
Architecture Caribbean: What would you say is the most valuable contribution you have made or would like to make to the Caribbean, Planning and Caribbean Architecture?
Marvin Goodman:I believe I have made an important contribution in the implementation and the publicizing of energy efficient design and Green Architecture. This has included the example of my own work and the publishing of papers on the subject, sitting on national committees that are involved with energy and the teaching of an annual course at UTech.
Architecture Caribbean: What advice would you give to Architecture students?
Marvin Goodman: My advice to students in Architecture is
  1. Travel. Looking at the built environment in many places will open your eyes
  2. Learn (don’t just talk) about Green Architecture in all its facets. It is not that easy; good design is very complicated and requires balancing any number of inputs to come up with a useful solution.
Learn to draw. Travelling and sketching is the time-honored way to actually ‘see.’ The computer is an indispensible tool but it also gives the illusion that the design is understood when it is not. Many schools are now banning the use of computers in the first two years of study.
Photo Courtesy: Marvin D. Goodman & Associates
Architecture Caribbean: What makes you happy outside the business world, what makes you feel relaxed?
Marvin Goodman: Whenever time is available (most weekends), I go to my house by the sea in San San and spend time walking, reading and swimming.
Architecture Caribbean: Our Theme for the launch of Architecture Caribbean is RHYTHM. What does Rhythm mean to you?
Marvin Goodman: Architecture has been called frozen music. Certainly in designing, the proportions of the elements, the spacing of such things as columns will always create a rhythm that in my case I prefer to be classical and harmonic rather than dissonant. I have always liked syncopation and using it in the development of facades or rooflines will often add interest and diversity.
Architecture Caribbean would like to thank Marvin Goodman for such an informative interview. We look forward to staying in touch and keeping up to date on his projects.
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