Reflections on James van Sweden

from Suman Sorg, FAIA
September 2011

Suman SorgI met Jim van Sweden in 1987 when we collaborated on the first project I undertook after launching my own architecture practice in Washington, DC. I didn’t know then that this collaboration would last for the next 25 years on commissions from Washington to Nepal and that I would gain a great friend and neighbor in the process.

Though we have collaborated on projects all over the world, the most fun we had was designing Jim’s house and garden on the Eastern shore of Maryland. The result of our work together has always been a fine balance between architecture and landscape architecture, and this project was its perfection. The process, though, got a little intense at times. I remember that during design, Jim was so worried about the ceiling height of the living room, he called me at 2am from London to “discuss”. I told him it was fine and that he should go back to bed.

From traveling together to Paris for the State Department to sitting in his living room at the shore on a summer day, I have been truly privileged to share in Jim’s unique humor and knowledge and friendship.