Last night Rafael Moneo, Madrid-based architect and Harvard Graduate School of Design professor, kicked off Columbia’s third annual conference on architecture, engineering, and materials with a keynote lecture on his Northwest Corner Building, a new interdisciplinary science facility between Chandler and Pupin halls. This year’s conference is titled Post Ductility: Metals in Architecture and Engineering, and though Moneo’s building isn’t scheduled to be completed until the fall of next year, there may not have been a better time to discuss its materials or its contribution to the campus. Unfinished, the building can be seen as the engineering marvel that it is, with 300 tons of structural trusses enabling it to float above the gym beneath it. (Here's a video we posted of them being installed.) Fitting neatly with the conference’s theme, Moneo’s discussion of interpreting what McKim, Mead, and White would have wanted for a New York campus in this century presented the building as less of a departure and more of an entrance. To critics who would say the building doesn’t meld with the university’s architecture, he cautioned, “Use of a material doesn’t guarantee the true continuity you are looking for.” The Post Ductility conference runs through Friday and will conclude with a discussion by GSAPP dean Mark Wigley, and Werner Sobek, Steven Holl, and Matthias Schuler. Next year's conference theme is slated to be Polymers: Plastics in Architecture and Engineering.