13 Pages

Contested fields: perfection and compromise at Caruso St John’s Museum of Childhood

ByMhairi McVicar

The constructed work of Caruso St John Architects is shaped by precise control; in a

recent interview, partner Peter St John defined a good architect as one who makes

fewer compromises (St John 2009). In contemporary architectural practice, architects

are professionally advised to avoid compromise by quantitatively defining all aspects of

a project prior to construction. Yet as any architectural project progresses from the

precise predictions of the office to the inherent ambiguity of the field, it is inevitably

subject to compromise. Following the progress of one detail from concept to construc-

tion, this chapter examines what even the most seemingly inconsequential of details –

in this case, a 25-mm offset in a brick façade above Caruso St John’s 2006 Museum of

Childhood entrance addition – reveals about contestations between perfection and

compromise in the field.