Private Lives Public Places

Maya Lin

Since her precocious 1982 professional debut, designing the Vietnam Veterans' War Memorial while still an undergraduate at Yale University, architect and artist Maya Lin has applied her minimalist aesthetic and love of nature to buildings and sculptures throughout North America. Most recently she completed the American Express Financial Advisors Client Service Center in Minneapolis, where water runs down glass walls in summer and makes changing ice formations in winter. Lin has exhibited her artwork at Gagosian Gallery in Los Angeles; current architectural projects include a chapel for the Children's Defense Fund in Clinton, Tennessee, and a sculpture center in New York's Long Island City.

A MUSEUM TO REMEMBER The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebaek, Denmark. As you walk through you really feel you're walking along sea cliffs. It gives you a feeling of being outside inside.

TOP TEMPLE Ise Shrine in Japan. It's amazing. Every 20 years a full temple compound is built. Over the next 20 years an identical twin is constructed. The minute it's finished, the earlier one is burned to the ground. This has been going on for centuries.

MY FAVORITE HOTELS are always the grand, older ones that have preserved the history of a place, like the Ritz in Paris or Madrid. I also love the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver. It still feels like part of the West.

A FEAST FOR THE EYES AND THE PALATE The Jules Verne, at the top of the Eiffel Tower. Especially for lunch. It's right out of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Very rarely does a place give you both a spectacular view and a delicious meal.

A TRUE RETREAT Manka's Inverness Lodge in northern California. It's an ideal little hideaway, very intimate and secluded.

WHERE I SUMMER Very low-key Colorado, near Telluride. We're on the edge of a national wilderness area, so our neighbors tend to be bears, mountain lions, and elk.

MOST SURPRISING RECENT WORK OF ART Conceptual artist James Turrell's Roden Crater, outside Flagstaff, Arizona. Turrell bought a crater in the middle of the desert and tunneled into it. As you walk through your perception of light changes dramatically. You end up outside, in the middle of this pure, natural observatory. It's one of the most brilliant things I've ever seen.

I NEVER FLY WITHOUT a window seat. Or a sketchbook: It can be anything—any scrap of paper—but it has to be small. I do my best sketching and thinking on airplanes, especially looking down at a landscape, whether it's natural or manmade. I'm interested in geology and different terrains.

BEST PART OF A TRIP Arriving at any European train station has to be one of the most exhilarating sensations ever—a welcoming, human experience, and a real celebration of a city.

NEXT ON MY LIST • The Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, built entirely out of ice. I hate the cold, but you get these parkas to wear, and you sleep under heavy blankets. • I'd love to see the Nazca lines—ancient drawings scratched into the ground in the Pampa region of Peru—which are actually more discernible from an airplane.