What Inspires Me: John Carney – Architect

By Lila Edythe / Photography by Cole Buckhart

“I see myself being an architect until they take me out in the proverbial pine box,” says John Carney, who founded Carney Architects—later Carney Logan Burke Architects—in 1992 in Jackson and, this spring, after selling his shares in CLB Architects, opened PROSPECT Studio. “Approaching my 70th birthday, I started thinking about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life,” he says. “I knew I didn’t want to retire, and came to the realization that I was more interested in being involved in projects than in being in a leadership position.” During his time at CLB, the firm did more than 250 projects including private residences, the Jackson Hole Airport expansion, the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve, and several prominent buildings at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Although busy getting PROSPECT’s new office in the Aspens up and running with partner Danny Wicke, Carney took time to share some of the things and places that inspire him.

I still draw by hand and not on a computer, so I love my Mont Blanc fountain pen and mechanical pencil. There’s nothing quite like the flow of ink on tracing paper. There is the theory that you think with your hand; the connection between hand and eye is a vital part of the whole creative process. I typically like sepia ink and 0.7mm HB lead, which is midway between the H (hard) and the B (soft) leads.

The Hootenanny [at Dornan’s in Moose] is such a great institution, and being able to perform there in front of such a welcoming, accommodating audience is pretty fun. I’ve played there more than 300 times. There is definitely a connection between music and architecture for me. And then, talk about an inspiring landscape: In winter, you’re standing on a stage looking out Dornan’s giant windows facing the Tetons, and in summer you’re under an open pavilion. The Hoot is free at 6 p.m. Mondays at Dornan’s in Moose, 12170 Dornans Rd., Moose.

We have “Hanging Canyon,” by photographer Alexander Lindsay, in the new offices. It’s of a spot in Grand Teton National Park. Last summer, a show of his Grand Teton National Park images—the first time they were exhibited in the U.S.—was held in the Bridger Gondola barn at the top of the Bridger Gondola at [Jackson Hole Mountain Resort]. alexander-lindsay.com.

I love furniture designs by Charles and Ray Eames and the entire Vitra design collection. Some of the classics, such as the Eames [lounge] chair, which Elaine and I gave ourselves, just don’t get any better. The only complaint one could have is that it is hard to get out of—it’s very low. But I’ll make sure I have everything I need to work—my computer and a glass of water—and get in the chair and I just won’t get up. From $5,295, dwr.com.

Rustic barns, hay ricks, sheds, and agrarian architecture in general inspire me, likely stemming from summers of my youth spent on a ranch in Cora. The Bircher Barns, of which there are seven in the valley, are particularly great examples of functional yet beautiful structures. The Hardeman Barn, now part of Teton Raptor Center and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is the most visible of Wesley Bircher’s barns; he designed/built them all in the mid-1900s. Visit the Teton Raptor Center at 5450 W. Highway 22. Wilson.

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