Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania have been at the forefront of the education of American architects since the late 19th century. This past weekend, the University’s School of Design held a two day conference, Architecture Education Goes Outside Itself, on the evolution of architecture education in the past century-and-a-half from the first “school”—a correspondence course created in nearby Scranton, PA.
A group of young scholars selected, and perhaps inspired, by Penn professor Joan Ockman (whose important new book, Architecture Education: Three Centuries of Educating Architects in North America, thoroughly covers the subject) presented papers on America’s always-evolving efforts to initiate and rethink the education of architects.
It has just been announced that the Shenzen Biennale will be jointly curated by former NAi head Ole Bouman who will serve as Creative Director and American Jeffrey Johnson and Chinese scholar Li Xiangning, who will act as Academic Directors. The theme of the biennale which opens in December 2013 will be urbanization “outside the mainstream” and will take place in multiple sites around the region.
Bouman will be responsible for curating the exhibition, “focusing on forward-looking design practices, and large-scale works” while Li Xiangning and New York-based Jeffrey Johnson will be responsible for a curatorial review and theoretical research. The last Shenzen Biennale (2011) was curated by Terence Riley and was one of the most interesting architecture exhibitions of the year.
Cooper Union’s John Q. Hejduk Award for Architecture has been given to Michael Morris and Yoshiko Sato at the schools Founder’s Day ceremony. The two architect’s both attended Cooper Union graduating in 1989. In addition to teaching at Cooper, Columbia, Harvard and Parsons, the pair were well known for their design, lectures, and research for Dupont’s Corian products (including the design for Corian’s New York showroom) and collaboration with NASA’s Johnson Space Center on human habitability projects for future missions and life beyond earth. Morris accepted the award for himself and Sato who died last year and was given the award posthumously.
There is some good news coming out of Oklahoma City where the effort to save the late John Johansen‘s iconic 1970 Mummers Theater has taken a positive—if tentative step—towards preservation. AN last wrote about the theater on May, 11, 2012 when a recent flood in the building seemed to doom an effort by a local group to purchase the facility and turn it into a downtown children’s museum. We’ve kept up with the preservation effort periodically over the past year and always heard that its was a hopeless cause and would soon be destroyed and replaced by a new building. But the building which Johansen himself said “might be taken visually as utter chaos” has a compelling joy in its elevation and plan that makes it unique and certainly the most important structure in Oklahama City.
The architecture scene in Italy operates around groups and individuals tied to various cities and regions. In the late 1960s Florence was the liveliest and most compelling venue for architecture with groups like Superstudio, Archizoom, UFO all coalescing around the city’s university. But Venice, with its IAUV academy and stellar faculty that included Manfredo Tafuri and Aldo Rossi, was also a center until a few year ago. Milan too with its dynamic post war economy and lively design tradition was and is still a place for creation of new architectural ideas. Rome on the on the other hand, though it was the home of Bruno Zevi and Paolo Portoghesi and their lively publication programs, was never a place one thought of as central to the debate on the future of architecture.
The University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design has announced that Australian Richard Weller has been appointed Chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture. Penn Dean Marilyn Jordan Taylor believes that Weller is just the person to build on the department’s well known legacy of research and teaching since it was founded over 50 years ago by the legendary Ian McHarg. The department has been directed by Field Operation’s James Corner since 2000 who asserts that Weller is a “leading edge figure in our field.” Weller has been teaching at the University of Western Australia and was director of both the Australian Urban Design Research Centre and the design firm Room 4.1.3. His current research concerns ways of “conceptualizing, representing and designing cities a mega-regional scale.” In March of this year Weller will release his latest book, Made in Australia, that focuses on the long term future of cities.
Alex Moulton, 92, died on December 9th at his home in Bath, England. His New York Times obituary on December 20th didn’t mention that he designed an object loved by the entire architecture profession. Moulton an automotive engineer and entrepreneur designed, built, and manufactured the Moulton foldable, collapsable mini bicycle. The bicycle was made famous-at least to architect’s by Reyner Banham who commuted daily on his Moulton F-frame and famously used a photographed on his mini for his books dust jacket.
The outpouring of positive and thoughtful reflections by architects around the world to the passing of Lebbeus Woods on social networking sites has been gratifying to those who long recognized his importance to contemporary culture. We will have an obituary by Peter Cook in the next print edition of the paper but a Woods fan Carlos Brillembourg brought a fascinating talk between Raimund Abraham and Woods to our attention. In fact Woods’ Blog was one of the most compelling architecture sites on the web and if you have never read it do yourself a favor and spend a few hours reading his posts.
John Johansen, a creative force in New York City architecture for nearly 50 years years, died at his home in Wellflett, Mass on October 26. A member of Walter Gropius’ first class at Harvard starting in 1935 Johansen was a confirmed modernist but committed to a highly personal, idioysynctatic, and artistic version of the style.
He was also a member of the New Canaan Five (Marcel Breuer, Philip Johnson, Landis Gores, and Elliot Noyes) and a celebrated designer during this period, but in recent years many of his best known designs like the Mechanics Theater in Baltimore and the Mummers Theater in Oaklahoma City have come under attack and are threatened with demolition.