Yesterday, Iñaki Abalos was announced as the new Chair of the Department of Architecture at Harvard GSD; he will begin on July 1st, 2013.
Abalos is a renowned Spanish architect, with much experience in both the academy and the professional field. He started his career together with Juan Herreros at the highly acclaimed firm Abalos + Herreros (1984-2006), and has been working since 2006 with Renata Sentkiewicz at Abalos+Sentkiewicz.
His work always tries to find a balance between technical precision and the integration with the environment and landscape. This has evolved into the concept of “Thermodynamic Beauty”, a concept embodied in his buildings and constantly evolving throughout his academic efforts, which have included the authorship of several books and professorships at the ESTA Madrid, Harvard, Columbia, EPF Laussane, Princeton, Cornell and the BIArch Barcelona. At the GSD he was acting as Professor in Residence, leading studios, lectures, and seminars related to his focus on technology and history, the thermal properties of architecture and the integration of natural elements.
Abalos will soon lead one of the most influential architecture schools in the world, a tremendous responsibility given the challenges of architecture education, which we discuss in this interview. He also talks about how architects lost their authority after post-modernism, and suggests that we could get it back by cultivating a problem solving expertise on the world’s greatest challenges: climate change, the high density of the cities, and more.
I first learned about Preston Scott Cohen’s work when I read about the Goodman House, a simple and elegant operation of a concrete shell housing an ancient Dutch barn frame. But after further investigation, I was surprised to see a constant spatial and formal research of his work, that we have witnessed in the latest three public buildings from his office and featured on ArchDaily.
On one side we have the Nanjing Performing Arts Center, a curved roof related to the surroundings with a tower that anchors the project on the extended landscape. Also in China, the Taiyuan Museum (under construction) continues the geometric explorations with a tessellated surface that wraps a series of different spaces which alternate with courtyards that maintain a relation with the exterior.
When we visited Preston in Boston for this interview we had the chance to see a preview of his latest work, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art (also shown during construction at AD), recently completed and now in final preparations to receive the art pieces and finally be open to the public. The exterior geometry of the building has a dynamic look, due to the changing shadows, while the interior features a careful use of natural light in the exhibitions spaces thanks to a lightfall that crosses the building.
Preston is also the Chair of the Department of Architecture of Harvard GSD, a role that allowed us to talk about the challenges of architectural education.
Our profession is very particular. We react very fast to current issues with our ideas, yet our buildings can take quite some time to be erected. For example, the project of the Shenzhen Stock Exchange building by OMA in China was the physical image of the new Chinese economy back in 2006. Five years later this new economy has taken the world by storm yet the building is still under construction.
Also, the exchange of knowledge in the age of information has made our profession move at an unprecedented speed, and thanks to the Internet the new ideas are not coming from the usual centers (New York, Milan, London) but rather from Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe.
In this new panorama, architectural education has to move faster, and smarter. It’s not about teaching how to use the latest tools, bur rather how to be part of a new world.
When we visited Preston Scott Cohen, Chair of the Architecture Department at Harvard GSD, we asked him about the challenges that architectural education is facing today, such as how our field is expanding to work on areas that were totally out of our scope until a few years ago.
With more than 120 architecture schools in the US, there are several perspectives about this. It would be great if you could tell us your opinion about this important matter.
Through May 17th, Tomas Saraceno’s ‘Cloud City’ at the Carpenter City is one of three major works of the Harvard University Graduate School of Design exhibition, The Divine Comedy. The Divine Comedy is an “exploration of the emerging domain of experimental spatial practice where the concerns of art, design, and activism are powerfully converging today.”
Curator’s Statement from Sanford Kwinter
In the project presented here on the terrace of the renowned Le Corbusier–designed Carpenter Center, Saraceno will erect and dock an air-filled, 7-meter-tall, 14-sided, irregular, transparent structure loaded with solar cells, sensors, recorders, and transmitters intended not only to record the environment but to incorporate and be integrated into it as well.* In collaboration with various space agencies and local amateur operators, the apparatus, or a confederacy of others like it, has the potential to be launched into free space to interact with the urban ocean above.
Olafur Eliasson’s ‘Three to Now’ is part of the Harvard University Graduate School of Design exhibition, The Divine Comedy. On display at Gund Hall through May 17th this major work is a piece of an “exploration of the emerging domain of experimental spatial practice where the concerns of art, design, and activism are powerfully converging today.”
Curator’s Statement from Sanford Kwinter
It may be said that Eliasson, like Duchamp, does not produce works of art. Rather, he organizes and transforms conditions of experience. The widely known Weather Project at the Tate Modern in London in 2003 is a primary example. Every Eliasson work entails the production of a machine that activates other machines—in particular, the sensation-producing body-machines of the viewers themselves. In the exhibition presented here are displayed 54 experiment-machines (they could also be called “perceiving machines”) that each explores an aspect of how the human body and nervous system orients itself in space and time by tapping clues implicitly or explicitly from its environment, from which it innovates its own irreducibly unique “life in space.”
Running through May 17th at the Northwest Labs, the much anticipated Harvard University Graduate School of Design exhibition, The Divine Comedy, features major works including Ai Weiwei’s ‘Untitled’. The Divine Comedy exhibition is an “exploration of the emerging domain of experimental spatial practice where the concerns of art, design, and activism are powerfully converging today.”
Curator’s Statement from Sanford Kwinter
The work Untitled, presented here, makes public the findings of a year-long “Citizens’ Investigation” of the May 2008 Sichuan Province earthquake initiated by the Ai Weiwei Studio on behalf of the thousands of student victims of the disaster.* The survey covered 150 schools in 74 towns to amass the names of the deceased children, their birth dates, and the name of the schools they attended and in which they were killed. The investigation uncovered the subsequently widely reported fact that the defective “tofu construction” of school buildings played a principal role in the disproportionately high mortality rate of schoolchildren, a fact that was strenuously covered up by government authorities. Five thousand three hundred thirty-five backpacks are arrayed here, each in commemoration of a child documented by the “Citizens’ Investigation.” In a sound piece accompanying the work titled Remembrance, the names of the victims are recited.
This coming Thursday, May 5th Harvard University Graduate School of Design will host Jacques Herzog, of Pritzker Prize winning Herzog de Meuron. The lecture, from 4pm-5pm, will be held at the Piper Auditorium and is free and open to the public. It will also be streaming live on the GSD webcast page. Further information about this upcoming lecture can be found here.
In recognition of his contributions to architecture in both theory and practice Fumihiko Maki was recently named the 2011 AIA Gold Medal Winner. Maki, arguably one of Japan’s most distinguished living architects, will be honored with the award in New Orleans at the AIA National Convention.
“He has a unique style of Modernism that is infused with an ephemeral quality and elegance which reflects his Japanese origin. What stands out most about Mr. Maki is the consistent quality of his work at the highest caliber and the creation of ineffable atmospheres; his buildings convey a quiet and elegant moment of reflection,” colleague Toshiko Mori, FAIA, said of Maki.
Also noteworthy is Fumihiko Maki’s close working relationship with each employee. Forty architects, urban planners, and administrative personnel, make up the staff of Maki and Associates, which is the type of working environment where each member is involved in and responsible for all aspects of projects. Maki himself is at the head of each commission and maintains the leadership role through to completion, including construction supervision. Established in 1965 Maki and Associates throughout its 42 years has been based in Tokyo, Japan. Maki studied at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and Cranbrook Academy of Art, but has spent the majority of his life in Japan.
Examples of Maki’s work include:
The Spiral in Tokyo, Japan
The Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, California
The Kaze-No-Oka Crematorium in Kyushu, Japan
Triad in Nagano, Japan
The Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Maki is the 67th AIA Gold Medalist and joins a prestigious list including Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan, Renzo Piano, I.M. Pei, Cesar Pelli, Santiago Calatrava and last year’s recipient, Peter Bohlin, FAIA.
He has received numerous awards including the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1993.
Harvard University Graduate School of Design hosts some great lectures featuring some of the world’s most important architects. Here are some of their May events:
May 3 / Ecological Urbanism Book Launch Reception
May 6 / Jaime Moreno lecture
May 6 / Michael Rock of 2×4, “A Brief History of Screens”
May 7 / Bob Peck, Commissioner, Public Buildings Service, General Services Administration, Loeb Fellow ’78, “From the Federal Government and here to help”
May 8 / Palladio Oggi: Palladio and the Present Symposium (*in New York City)
You can find more on each event on the GSD official website, which is constantly adding new events. Every event is free and open to the public.
Harvard University Graduate School of Design hosts some great lectures featuring some of the world’s most important architects. We will be telling you about their events on a monthly basis, so here are the dates of their April events.
April 1 / Science and Democracy Lecture Series: Can We Leave the Bauxite in the Mountain? / Arundhati Roy
April 2-3 / Critical Ecologies / Colloquium, Keynote Speakers Sanford Kwinter, Piet Oudolf, Richard Wrangham
April 6 / Now? Territories and Territoriality / Martha Rosler in conversation with Mohsen Mostafavi
April 6 / Form / John Portman + Jack Portman with Mack Scogin
April 7 / Daniel Urban Kiley Lecture: Color is not a Decoration / Claude Cormier
April 8 / On the Future of Landscape History / John Dixon Hunt in conversation with Mark Laird
April 12 / Architectural Agency: The Case of Elemental / Alejandro Aravena with Andres Lepik, Toshiko Mori, Hashim Sarkis
April 13 / The Return of Nature: The Nature of Architecture / Peter Eisenman, Jorge Silvetti, Sarah Whiting
April 14 / Discussions in Architecture / Peter Eisenman with Preston Scott Cohen
April 14 / REAI Lecture / Adolfo Carrion, Director of the White House Office on Urban Affairs
April 15-16 / Inside/Out: Exploring Gender and Space in Life, Culture, and Art / Conference
April 16-17 / Cambridge Talks IV: Design Politics / Symposium
April 20 / Digital Culture in Architecture / Antoine Picon
April 21-23 / Design, Infrastructure Sustainability, and Social Responsability / Conference
You can find more on each event on the GSD official website. Every event is free and open to the public.
Harvard University Graduate School of Design hosts some great lectures featuring some of the world’s most important architects. We will be telling you about their events on a monthly basis, so here are the dates of their March events:
March 23 / Unsmooth Work / Homa Farjadi
March 24 / Now? Works and Humanitarian Activities / Shigeru Ban in conversation with Mohsen Mostafavi
March 24 / “Fear in a Handful of Dust”: Topographies of Accumulation, Excess and Waste / Cindi Katz
March 30 / On how difficulties-contingencies improve the work of the architect / Rafael Moneo
March 31 / The Return of Nature: The Nature of Information / Elizabeth Diller, Antoine Picon
You can find more on each event on the GSD official website.
The book is the result of a series of seminars Moussavi taught over 2 years at the GSD, and in over 500 pages it describes the most common material systems and its sub-systems: Grids and Frames, Vaults, Domes, Folded Plates, Shells, Tensile Membranes and Pneumatic Membranes.
Each of these systems are presented first on its most basic unit, which is then tessellated into three directions (horizontal, vertical, curved) exploring the full potential of these combinations, either trough completed buildings, proposals or just proposed structures by the author and her team.
For example, the Diagrid (interconnected support beams that form a diagonal grid) one of the systems included in the book, starts with the basic unit (as seen on a photo below) with a description of the forces and how flexible the system is in terms of scale, angles, depth, profile, etc. Then, it is described in its horizontal tessellations exemplified through the Smithsonian Reynolds Center for American Art by Foster + Partners, the Milan Fair Center by Fuksas, or the Great Court at the British Museum by F+P. On the vertical, we have 30st Mary Axe by F+P, the Hearst Tower by F+P, the Lotte Super Tower Hotel by SOM, Elisabeth House by FOA and even the Glass Pavilion by Bruno Taut, among others. Every example has very good drawings and explanations (see photos below).
Also, the matrix incorporates affect, defined by Deleuze “as the pre-personal intensities transmitted by forms”, ranging from freedom to centrality, and other several terms that further extend our conception of these systems.
This exercise, starting from the basic unit and then expanded according to its possibilities, repeated in a rigorous matrix for all the systems, makes this book a valuable resource for almost everyone: from students, to architects who need to deal with a structure in early stages of design, up to someone dealing with parametric tools for complex structures, because at the end the systems are the same: from Bruno Taut to SOM, to FOA.
More info after the break.