Photos and artist’s renderings courtesy of Adam Scott Cook
Adam Scott Cook has worked his way up in construction architecture for the past fifteen years, from intern to construction worker, to architect-in-training, to project manager, now handling millions of dollars worth of orders for materials, labor and fixtures to complete several major projects at Harbor East in Baltimore.
In the midst of this fast-paced career trajectory, he also works to create original designs of innovative sculptures for public and private spaces. His art is inspired and informed in part by the architecture and technology in which he is immersed during the typical 85-hour work week.
The idea of sculpture as the creation of three-dimensional objects can include architecture and art. Perhaps the distinction is a matter of scale, and a question of project scope and the number of people involved.
“We have clients, contractors, lighting designers, a broad unifying community, bringing together so many different participants in this to build a neighborhood together,” says Cook. “It’s amazing to work with these visionaries and see what they’re pushing for to ultimately make this neighborhood come about.”
As an artist, Cook, 33, is interested in the ‘auteur’ concept, most closely associated with filmmakers. Auteurs are actively involved in every aspect of a project with a high level of creative control, even as they collaborate with many other artists who work in specific trades to the best of their ability.
Coming from a family of teachers, living well north of the beltway in beautiful rural surroundings, he has engineered a busy and creative life including family, art, work and a long commute, and has built up a portfolio of intriguing sculptures. His concepts will continue to take shape as he balances his intensive career with the ability to design and build new work in the studio.
Over the years, he has developed and sold numerous original sculptures of metal and wood. He works in a spacious barn studio that he and his father built on their property.
Last winter he was completing the paint work on a piece that required a very fine finish, and the optimal temperature for applying that paint and letting it dry properly was around seventy degrees.With outside temperatures in the twenties and below, he finished the sculpture surrounded by an array of heaters going full-blast in order to get it done.
A thick curtain of red plastic gives the studio the appearance of an art installation, but simply serves to prevent sparks getting from the metal shop to the wood shop.
Cook’s high-end development projects include several properties at Harbor East, the additional construction of ten floors of condominiums on top of the existing Four Seasons hotel, and the new Harbor Point site. The pursuit of excellence required for this level of achievement pervades his life and career, yet in person he seems down-to-earth, relaxed and at ease with the pressures of the job.
“In construction architecture,” says Cook, “you focus on permits and construction process rather than design, but you personally have to understand how the building works, and be immersed with the wide range of talents of everyone on a project. At the beginning, you focus on getting out of the ground. From that point on there is a lot of creativity and problem solving.”
Cook works with many colleagues and clients who also strive for perfection, not least the staff of the Four Seasons, where the current project requires a full-scale construction site on top of a functioning luxury hotel whose mission is to cultivate the pinnacle of perfection in all of its services.
He has been working on projects at Harbor East since the turn of the millennium, and is well-acquainted with high-tech design tools, but was also “taught by old-school architects to draw by hand.”
With a sculpture degree from Towson University and architectural training from University of Maryland, Cook is deeply involved in the intersection of art and technology, collaborating with a programmer on integrating sculptures with augmented reality applications that can make the pieces into enhanced interactive conduits of information for viewers.
Cook has documented a profusion of edgy images and stylized project work on his web site.
“I spend plenty of time behind a desk, but I am also walking around on site as much as possible,” says Cook, “so I can be involved and communicate with people directly. At one point I was pouring concrete on top of the building. I like to get my hands dirty. I write down everything, in a notebook of ideas and concepts. The ideas are always coming.”