Richard Serra's 'Weight and Measure' exhibition at the Tate Gallery in 1993 was a turning point - an epiphany - in my education as an architect (I was already qualified at that time and registered with the Architects Registation Board). I happened to hear Serra speak about his work at the opening of this exhibition and had a moment of epiphany about the relationship of form to context. The ability to organise space among a group of objects and to relate an object to its site is, I believe, a fundamental part of architecture.
Serra told an amusing story that, I believe, distinguishes artists and architects. The solid cast steel objects in 'Weight and Measure' were too heavy for the gallery floors, and the Tate asked him if he could make the objects hollow. He refused, and the Tate subsequently had to reinforce the gallery floors substantially. This attitude seems to distinguish artists and architects, as, in my experience, architects would immediately acquiesce to such a request. Fortunate indeed is the architect who can resist such calls.
Serra's talk, and his attitude, gave me the confidence to establish a firm direction for my Degree Unit at the University of East London, when we immediately engaged in studies and design projects relating objects to themselves and to their sites, and later in my Year 4 Design Research Unit: Landscape:Architecture at the University of Dundee, where, freed from any functional necessities, we happily played with form and space. In fact the aesthetic of form and space can be found in the real world, as I discovered at Rhodes Welding outside Lamesa, Texas.