Filmmaker Mark Noonan profiles a contemporary icon in this lovely, life-affirming portrait of Kevin Roche, one of the great architects of the modern era. An Irish immigrant who moved to the United States in 1949, Roche has presided over some of the country’s most beloved architectural touchstones: the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Oakland Museum, the Ford Foundation and many more. Noonan’s film alternates between lovingly-lensed, sun-dappled tours of his career highlights and interviews that delve into his process, philosophy and work ethic.
Roche’s work is renowned for being human-oriented, creating buildings and environments that serve the people who inhabit them before serving anybody’s ego. He’s described by his peers as a consummate problem solver, a relentlessly dedicated worker (at 94 years old he has no plans for retirement) and a humble thinker who’s always seen life and work as inextricable. The effect of this warm, graceful film is similar to that of last year’s NZIFF highlight Columbus, a love letter to architecture that doubles as a meditation on the human condition. Incidentally, most of the key buildings featured in that film were designed by Roche and his firm. — JF