But James Carpenter prefers to talk about the quality of its light. "That's the thing about downtown," he explained recently, sitting at a conference table in his sunny Tribeca studio. "The light down here is amazing, because there's all this atmospheric moisture."
It's an unusual and quiet observation, characteristic of a man who's made a career out of making visible the invisible. He is an artist who shares an office with engineers, an architect who works like a sculptor, and a glass craftsman who often uses steel. When the MacArthur Foundation awarded him one of their "genius" grants in 2004, it termed him a "glass technologist." He may be hard to pin down -- even his collaborators never seem sure of how to describe his role -- but this spring, Carpenter's work is defining the character of two of the most anticipated new office buildings opening in Manhattan.
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