Posts tagged with "Obituary":

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Adolfo Natalini of Superstudio dies at 78

Adolfo Natalini, one of two founding members of the Italian avant-garde architecture firm Superstudio, died today at the age of 78 in Florence, Italy. Born in Pistoia, a picturesque town one hour northwest of Florence, Natalini graduated from the University of Florence in 1966 with an initial interest in painting. Shortly after graduating, however, his formative interactions with Cristiano Toraldo di Francia led to the two co-founding Superstudio and were later joined by Gian Piero Frassinelli, Alessandro Poli, and brothers Roberto and Alessandro Magris.
Skeptical of the conventions in the fields of architecture and design that had become widely accepted by the 1960s—corporate modernism, suburbia, and the rampant consumption of natural resources—Superstudio first made a name for itself by exhibiting subversive illustrations of alternate modes of planetary inhabitation. The firm’s renderings of impossibly-scaled mirrored pyramids and continuous gridded landscapes, devoid of the conveniences of modern-day life, were later referred to as “anti-architecture,” or what today might be described as an architecture of degrowth. Superstudio teamed up with other like-minded groups, including the Florence-based firm Archizoom Associati, to present their criticisms as far and as wide as possible for a firm practicing on the fringes of the field. After Superstudio dissolved in 1978 following a 12-year run, Natalini entered private practice the following year to apply his singular vision to built projects throughout Italy’s historic centers. His designs for the Edificio Per Office ad Alzate Brianza in Como (1978) and the Teatro della Compagnia in Florence (1987), for instance, exemplify the architect's ability to reframe pre-modern sites with bold postmodern design (often using grid designs first employed while as a member of Superstudio). He then became a full professor at his alma mater and established Natalini Architetti with Fabrizio Natalini in 1991, one of the last projects of which was the partial renovation of the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo in Florence (2009).
The news of Natalini's death comes five months after news of Cristiano Toraldo di Francia's death in August 2019.
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Steven Holl remembers Antonio Monestiroli

On Dec 8, 2019, Antonio Monestiroli, the great Milanese architect, theorist, and teacher departed our world. Antonio, who I knew for 40 years, was a teacher with a deep knowledge of architecture. He was also a builder who realized several important works according to his deeply held principles…so very rare in our time. Recently the website Socks reviewed his design for Les Halles, Paris 1979. His brilliant entry to that competition shaped a great urban park, with the severity of the spirit of Mies, fused with a deep urban commitment. Antonio was a rare man of didactic clarity, followed by his many students. He had an elegant gravitas but with a sense of humor. In his book, The Metope and the Triglyph: Nine Lectures in Architecture (November 2005), Monestiroli lays out a clear reflection on the separation of nature, technique, and history in architecture. Architecture from nature was shown by Le Corbusier’s Ronchamp. Architecture grounded in history by the work of Adolf Loos. Architecture grounded in technique by the work of Mies van der Rohe. The famous casa dello studente in Chieti, a 1976 collaboration with Giorgo Grassi, or the Concorso per una piazza in Ancona, 1978, both in Italy, are examples of the inspiring uncompromising severity of his architecture. They stand among many other works in contrast to his gentle human nature as a teacher. Antonio was an inspiring example of uncompromising idealism in our time of commercial frivolity. He will be missed. The above article was also copublished by Domus.
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Controversial conservative architectural commentator Sir Roger Scruton dies

Sir Roger Scruton has passed away at the age of 75. Scruton, former chair of the Building Better, Building Beautiful housing commission in the U.K., died of cancer on Sunday, January 12 after a six-month battle with the disease. Scruton was born in February 1944 and studied at Cambridge. According to an interview with the Guardian, his conservative political leanings emerged when in Paris during the 1968 student protests, which he viewed as an “unruly mob of self-indulgent middle-class hooligans” professing “ludicrous Marxist gobbledegook.” His career traced many ups and downs and was not without controversy. In 2016 he was knighted for his services to philosophy, teaching, and public education; two years later he became a housing adviser only to be fired one year into the job amid alleged racist comments said while speaking to the New Statesman. Scruton was reappointed, however, after it was realized his comments were taken out of context and misrepresented. As Chair of the commission, Scruton was accused of re-igniting architectural style wars, fueled by his loathing of modernism and penchant to classicism. In April 2018, as AN's reported, Scruton suggested that one of the 9/11 hijackers, who had studied architecture in Hamburg, was “taking revenge on an architectural practice which had been introduced into the Middle East by Le Corbusier.” In 1982, Scruton launched the Salisbury Review, a journal promoting and celebrating conservatism for which he was the founding editor. Later, he visited dissidents in communist Czechoslovakia as part of a series of excursions where he smuggled across books, supported banned artists, and provided courses in subjects suppressed by authorities. He was eventually caught, however, being detained in Brno in 1985 before being kicked out and banned from the country. Never one to stay out of trouble, Scruton was sued by the Pet Shop Boys after he wrongly said in his book, An Intelligent Person's Guide to Pop Culture, that the band's songs should be credited to sound engineers rather than them. In another book, On Hunting, he also discussed his passion for fox hunting. In a 2001 article for New York’s conservative City Journal magazine, Scruton claimed that being gay was just as bad as smoking and knocked 10 years off of the lives of LGBTQ individuals. Scruton had also taken fire for his close association with Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and over comments many interpreted as antisemitic and Islamaphobic. “It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Sir Roger Scruton, FBA, FRSL. Beloved husband of Sophie, adored father to Sam and Lucy and treasured brother of Elizabeth and Andrea, he died peacefully on Sunday 12th January,” read a statement on his own website, posted on Sunday. “His family are hugely proud of him and of all his achievements.” Tributes have also come in from U.K. architects and the political sphere. “Deeply sorry to learn of the death of Sir Roger Scruton. His work on building more beautifully, submitted recently to my department, will proceed and stand part of his unusually rich legacy,” tweeted Secretary of State for Housing, Communities & Local Government Robert Jenrick. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, meanwhile, said: “RIP Sir Roger Scruton. We have lost the greatest modern conservative thinker—who not only had the guts to say what he thought but said it beautifully.” Robert Adam, director of ADAM Architecture, a firm which specializes in classical and traditional architecture and urban design, told the Architects' Journal, “[Scruton] was always prepared to argue a point in a balanced and sensible manner but was often met with prejudice and hysteria. As a philosopher, he understood that people would have different views and that this was not a matter for opprobrium but for debate. He was a great thinker and a great author and his work will have a lasting legacy but, for me, it is the principle of reasoned and courteous debate, without personal acrimony, with those with whom you disagree, that will live on.”
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Blade Runner and Tron futurist designer Syd Mead dies at age 86

Sydney “Syd” Mead, the industrial designer, concept artist, and futurist, has died at the age of 86, according to the Los Angeles Times Born in 1933, Mead began his career in the late 1950s and early 60s at Ford Motor Company before going on to create designs and illustrations for brands like U.S. Steel, Phillips, Sony, and others, including architecture firms. He is perhaps best known, however, for his enduring, iconic designs on sci-fi films like Tron, Star Trek, Alien, and most famously, Blade Runner. His elaborate cars, spaceships, robotic suits, and cities—all hand-drawn and colored—presented futures that were utopian and dystopian at the same time, sleek and gritty, fantastical and real. As he told Curbed in a 2015 interview: “I painted architecture as a visual romance.” Not just popular in commercial design and cinema (he also influenced numerous video game designers), Mead was well-regarded in art, architecture, and fashion circles. His first solo show at documenta 6, the contemporary art exhibition, was held in 1973 and exhibited repeatedly in the following decades. In 2016, Mead collaborated with Opening Ceremony on a futuristic fashion line. Numerous books of his work have been published as well and Mead reportedly continued working up until his retirement this past September. He is survived by his husband and business partner Roger Servick, his sister Peggy, and several nieces and nephews.
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Looking back on the great architects, designers, and curators we lost in 2019

As 2019 draws to a close, we’re looking back on some of the events that made it memorable. We’ve rounded up this year’s funniest, most important, and most controversial stories, as well as homages to some of the people we lost. The world is a little less bright without these iconic designers, but from the Louvre pyramid to a series of architecturally-diverse cancer care centers, their legacies live on. I.M. Pei  Louvre pyramid designer I. M. Pei passed away at 102, bringing an epic career of international acclaim to a close. Born in 1917 in Guangzhou, China, Pei moved to the U.S. to attend architecture school at the University of Pennsylvania and later MIT, following by the Harvard Graduate School of Design. He founded Pei Cobb Freed & Partners (formerly I.M. Pei & Associates) in 1955 and decades later won the 1983 Pritzker Prize for projects such as the Mile High Center in Denver, Colorado. Among Pei’s other notable projects is the National Gallery of Art, East Building, in Washington, D.C., and the Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong. Kevin Roche Legendary Irish-born American architect Kevin Roche passed away at age 96 in March. His namesake firm, Roche-Dinkeloo, was founded in tandem with partner John Dinkeloo after the death of their boss and mentor Eero Saarinen in 1961. A modernist architect trained by Saarinen and Mies van Der Rohe, Roche designed over 200 buildings in his lifetime including the Ford Foundation headquarters in Midtown Manhattan and the Oakland Museum of California. He was the 1982 Pritzker Prize Laureate and won an American Institute of Architects Gold Medal in 1993.  Florence Knoll Bassett Midcentury modern designer Florence Knoll passed away at age 101 this January. Considered one of the most influential furniture designers in history, her sleek and minimal pieces became commonplace throughout American postwar office spaces and later in homes. In 1955, she took over Knoll Inc, the company started by her husband Hans in 1938, which continues to manufacture furniture by designers such as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Eero Saarinen, and Knoll herself, among others.  Phil Freelon Phil Freelon, one of the lead designers of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, died at 66 this July. The Durham, North Carolina-based architect founded his eponymous firm, The Freelon Group, in 1990 and was responsible for projects like Atlanta’s National Center for Civil and Human Rights, the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco, and Houston’s Emancipation Park. The studio was acquired by Perkins+Will in 2016 and Freelon stepped in to lead its regional office. Henry Urbach  Former SFMOMA curator Henry Urbach passed away at 56 this summer, and his friends and family are opening new dialogues on the subject of mental health in his memory. Urbach, who more recently served as director of Philip Johnson’s The Glass House, suffered from Late-Onset Bipolar Disorder. He was an accomplished curator, having started his own New York-based experimental design gallery in 1997 in which he hosted over 55 exhibitions. At SFMOMA, he accumulated hundreds of works for the museum’s permanent collection and collaborated with Diller Scofidio + Renfro on one of his most famous shows, How Wine Became Modern: Design + Wine 1976 to Now Cristiano Toraldo di Francia Superstudio cofounder and iconic Italian architect Cristiano Toraldo di Francia died in July. In his 78 years, his work helped shape generations of avant-garde designers such as Rem Koolhaas and Zaha Hadid. Best known for starting the radical collective Superstudio in the late 1960s, Toraldo di Francia produced highly regarded drawings, videos, and lithographs through the practice, eventually exhibiting work in the Milan Triennale, the Venice Biennale, and at the Museum of Modern Art, among other institutions. Up until his death at age 78, Toraldo di Francia designed and built several projects throughout Italy and taught at various universities throughout Europe, Japan, and the U.S.  César Pelli  César Pelli passed away in July at the age of 92, leaving behind the legacy of an international firm and a monumental portfolio. Considered the father of the modern skyscraper, the Argentine architect designed some of the most famous towers in the world: the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, The Landmark in Abu Dhabi, and the recently completely Salesforce Tower in San Francisco. Pelli moved to the U.S. in 1952 and worked for Eero Saarinen in Michigan for a decade. From 1977 to 1989, he served as dean at the Yale School of Architecture in New Haven. During that time, Pelli received the commission for the 1984 expansion and renovation of the Museum of Modern Art, which more or less forced him to open his own studio, Cesar Pelli & Associates. After over 20 years designing projects like the Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C., among others, Pelli renamed his practice to Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects in honor of his long-time partner Fred Clarke, and son Rafael. Charles Jencks Landscape architect and historian Charles Jencks died this October at age 80. Remembered for his embrace of theory, built practice, and connecting the cosmos, Jencks designed whimsical gardens and earthworks that promoted tranquility and play. He is best known for founding Maggie’s, a cancer research institute named after his late wife and whose patient rehab centers have attracted architects like Steven Holl, Frank Gehry, and Zaha Hadid. In the middle of his career, Jencks authored several books on the subject of "Post-modernism" before taking up landscape design. Stanley Tigerman Chicago architect and theorist Stanley Tigerman died in June at 88 years old. Known as a member of the Chicago Seven—a group of architects that rebelled against the doctrine of modernism—his design style was fairly eclectic in his early years, gaining a reputation as an iconoclast, until later when he adopted a more organic approach to architecture. He established his own eponymous firm, Stanely Tigerman and Associates (later renamed Tigerman McCurry Architects), in the early 1960s and completed over 175 buildings in his six-decade career. Among his most prominent works were the Daisy House in Indiana, Lakeside Residence in Michigan, the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, and the POWERHOUSE Energy Museum in Zion, Illinois.
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Dion Neutra, son and longtime partner of modernist icon Richard Neutra, dies

The Los Angeles Times has reported that Dion Neutra, son of modernist architect Richard Neutra, died this weekend at age 93.  Well-known for aggressive stewardship over the family’s architectural legacy, Neutra campaigned heavily throughout his life for the preservation of his father’s work and other modernist buildings. In the early 2000s, he fought to save many of the high-profile and pricey Neutra houses that populated Southern California. At the time, while they were being bought as design “fetish objects,” the younger Neutra believed people also had plans to remodel or demolish them Neutra was also an accomplished architect in his own right. Dion Neutra was born in 1926, just after his father immigrated from Vienna, Austria, and rose to prominence in L.A. for his now-iconic local dwellings. By the time the younger Neutra was 17 years old, the two began collaborating and spreading their distinct aesthetic influence all over the city. Even in his own projects later in life, Dion Neutra carried forward his father’s architectural ideals, creating largely steel-frame or concrete structures with a heavy use of glass and ample outdoor space—the epitome of SoCal living.  Neutra studied architecture at the University of Southern California, graduating in 1950 and immediately going to work for his father. When Richard Neutra died in 1970, Dion became president of the family non-profit, The Neutra Institute for Survival Through Design. One of his most popular projects came after his father’s passing: the Huntington Beach Central Library and Cultural Center completed in 1975. According to the L.A. Times, it “remains a vibrant focal point of the community,” even after 45 years.  The last few decades years of Neutra’s life were largely characterized by his long fight to preserve Neutra architecture. In 2004, he famously strapped himself to a bulldozer that was set up to take down his father’s 1962 Cyclorama Center in Gettysburg National Military Park. By 2013, it was demolished.  Neutra's last project was a home for his son in Honduras that was completed in 2018. He is survived his wife, his brother Raymond, and his two sons and their families. 
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Ray Kappe, founding director of SCI-Arc, dies at 92

Architect and founding director of SCI-Arc, Ray Kappe, passed away yesterday at 92 due to lung failure after battling pneumonia. Kappe had been an internationally recognized architect, urban planner, and educator since 1953. Before starting the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) in 1972, Kappe founded the Department of Architecture at California Polytechnic State University of Pomona and was recognized as a pioneer in architectural theory and education. SCI-Arc is now considered one of the top architecture schools in the United States.  As both a theorist and a practicing architect, Kappe’s work played a strong role in the legacy of early Southern California Modernism. “Only one architect truly signifies the seamless combination of Modernism and canyon vernacular, and his name is Ray Kappe,” Brad Dunning wrote in the New York Times in 2004. In 2013, Kappe was honored with the L.A. Architectural Lifetime Achievement Award for over 60 years in architectural practice and education. He had also been awarded the Richard Neutra International Medal for Design Excellence and the Topaz Medal, the highest award in architectural education.  Later in his career, Kappe worked with the custom home fabrication company LivingHomes, where he practiced his extensive research and applied techniques with “warm, modern” prefab housing. Stephen Kanner, co-founder and former president of the Architecture + Design Museum in Los Angeles once said, “Ray’s own home may be the greatest house in all of Southern California.”
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Shoji Sadao dies at 92

Shoji Sadao, the architect that helped transform visionary works from both Buckminster Fuller and Isamu Noguchi into reality, has died in Tokyo at the age of 92, according to the Buckminster Fuller Institute. Sadao first met Fuller as his student while he was enrolled in the architecture program at Cornell University in the early 1950s, and the two shortly began collaborating in 1954 by developing an updated version of the Dymaxion Airocean World Map that Fuller had been personally working on since 1943. The two then became close collaborators on geodesic structures, most notably Cloud 9 (1960), a radical proposal for one-mile diameter cloud structures that would be suspended mid-air using the weight distribution of their own internal air pressure, and, after co-founding the architectural firm Fuller & Sadao Inc., the world-famous 20-story-tall U.S. Pavilion at Expo 67 in Montreal. In their practice, Fuller would often be the one to propose expansive ideas while Sadao would determine the best methods for implementing them within budget and construction timelines. Fuller wrote a letter to Sadao in 1965 citing him as “The first human being I can enthusiastically contemplate talking into design science partnership in the pursuit of my life objectives.” A second noteworthy collaboration blossomed when Fuller introduced Sadao to famed furniture designer and sculptor Isamu Noguchi in 1956. Together, Sadao and Noguchi developed numerous outdoor works including the spaceship-like Hart Plaza fountain in Detroit, the Billy Rose sculpture garden at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, and Moerenuma Park, a groundbreaking 400-acre park in Sapporo, Japan. Much like in his relationship with Fuller, Sadao brought Noguchi’s concepts to fruition without compromising the scale, detailing nor materiality the artist desired. Following Noguchi's death in 1988, Sadao oversaw the completion of Miami’s Bayfront Park, the last project the artist designed, and held the title of executive director for the Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum in Queens, New York from 1988 to 2003. Though Shoji Sadao may not be a household name, the high quality and ambition of the work he helped produce will no doubt speak for itself.
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British architect Ted Cullinan dies at 88

Edward "Ted" Cullinan, founder of London firm Cullinan Studio, has passed away aged 88. The RIBA Gold Medalist died in his sleep yesterday, Monday, November 11. The British architect was born in Islington, London, in 1931 and started eponymous practice, Edward Cullinan Architects (later Cullinan Studio) in 1965. After studying in the U.K. and U.S. at the Architectural Association and the University of California at Berkeley, he designed buildings across the U.K. in his own name after working Denys Lasdun on ziggurat-shaped student housing at the University of East Anglia. For his first project, Cullinan spent a year as a student working with a local builder to restore the decommissioned 19th-century Belle Tout lighthouse in East Sussex. The project was finished in 1956 and today you can rent it out for a holiday—worth it for the views across the South Downs alone. Other early buildings also endure, like the British Olivetti headquarters in Derby (1971) which Cullinan got the job for after being recommended by James Stirling. “Stylish and expandable” and “immediately identifiable by its big yellow plastic-clad roof” Nikolaus Pevsner’s co-editor Elizabeth Williamson once remarked, before adding her fears over the building’s maintenance. Almost 50 years since it opened and after the original tenants departed, the building has been refurbished and reincarnated as the East Midlands Logistics Center, with Stirling's influence still very much present. Cullinan’s work was also a big part of my childhood. His studio’s Charles Cryer Theatre in Carshalton, South London, was—and arguably still is—the area’s most architecturally ambitious piece of modern architecture in the area. As a former member of the council’s technical office told me, Cullinan was given a graphic account of what activities can take place in public toilets by the council’s chief electrical engineer as the theater was under construction in the early '90s. “That told him!” the engineer told the rest of the office, who had all been listening in, as he put the phone down. (It was all in good spirits, I’m told). Other notable buildings from Cullinan include the Bartholomew Villas in London; the Grade II-listed (the U.K. equivalent of having landmark status) RMC headquarters in Surrey; the Downland Gridshell, West Sussex; and the Newcastle Maggie’s Center (all featured in the above image gallery). Beyond practicing as an architect, Cullinan taught at the University of Nottingham, the Bartlett, Sheffield University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Edinburgh. Cullinan was awarded the RIBA Royal Gold Medal in 2008. “I’ve never seen anyone hold a room quite like Ted did …when he spoke, everyone listened,” a former colleague told AN. In a statement released today, the practice said:
“The inspirational founder of our practice was a true pathfinder for all architects. Ted was designing for climate change 60 years ago with a holistic vision for the practice of architecture that he described as a social act. His legacy is in the buildings and places he transformed, in his model of architectural practice, but perhaps most powerfully in the thousands of people he taught and inspired throughout his long life. We share our deepest sympathies with his family and all his many friends.”
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Sean Griffiths on the fun of debating with the late Charles Jencks

Charles Jencks possessed an authoritative but genial way of speaking that nevertheless harbored a hint of arch skepticism. The worst place to encounter it was in a hotel lobby where jet-lagged and disoriented after arriving for some conference or other, you would hear your name exclaimed in a gentle yet ominous greeting and turn around to be confronted by Charles Jencks, who, giving the impression of having comfortably settled into his surroundings some hours prior to your arrival, was already in full Charles Jencks mode. To experience this was to be subjected, in advance of having properly formulated an argument you had anticipated making, to a precise and lengthy deconstruction of said argument before you had even made it to the hotel room. Such behavior was, of course, entirely in keeping with a number of attributes that characterized Jencks’s life and work, not least among them energy, enthusiasm, erudition, precision, and good humor. Generous yet critical, serious yet funny, acutely focused yet magpielike in his ever-curious observation and appropriation of what was going on around him, he was the very personification of the multivalence and “double-coding” that he promoted in the architecture he admired. And of course, as one would expect in such a figure, the prodigious output of groundbreaking, if not uncontroversial, theorizations of architecture, which made him a figure of profound significance in the architectural discourse of the last 50 years, was interwoven with other equally important concerns, each of which on its own would amount to a considerable legacy. There was his thriving land-art/landscape practice whose commissions comprised curving and spiraling landforms, sometimes designed with his daughter, the landscape architect Lily Jencks. These were inspired by Jencks’s interest in cosmology and contemporary physics but also recalled the ancient pagan monuments of Britain, his adopted country (Jencks was born in Baltimore, Maryland). One is sited adjacent to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh. Unlike others bestowed with exotic titles, like The Garden of Cosmic Speculation, this one is modestly entitled Landform and functions, as my daughter and I once discovered, as an excellent tobogganing slope, thus perfectly exemplifying the Jencksian ambition for design to be simultaneously highly philosophical and fun. Perhaps of greater significance was his central role, alongside that of his wife, Maggie Keswick, in the development of Maggie’s Centres, the world-famous series of sanctuaries for cancer patients, each designed by an architect of note, providing sites of holistic support for those going through the traumatic process of dealing with cancer. These have become among the most highly sought-after commissions for architects across the world as well as havens for those enduring the distress of illness. Jencks’s compassion was also exemplified by his commitment to campaigns against injustice. A fierce opponent of the Iraq War and a supporter of the rights of the Palestinian people, he was nevertheless circumspect in flaunting any specific political allegiance while exuding a liberal attitude to life and culture. Despite his concomitant Post-Modernist rejection of the grand narratives of Hegelianism and Marxism, a little of the former seeped through in his famous evolutionary flow diagrams that charted and illustrated the historical development of architectural movements. These compositions were little works of art in themselves and exhibited Jencks’s determination to categorize diverse strands of architectural practice and thought under the rubric of a series of “isms.” Thus, we got Post-Modernism, Ad-Hocism, Bio-morphism, Reactionary Modernism, and so on. This ongoing process of nominalism was a corollary to the way he saw architectural meaning as being carried by linguistically-based semiotic systems of signs and symbols. Nowhere was this more evident than in the title of his most successful and famous work, The Language of Post-Modern Architecture, a truly seminal text that heralded the arrival of Post-Modernism as a serious architectural movement. But his reliance on linguistic tropes was also considered a weakness by critics who did not accept that the sociopolitical dimension of architecture was reducible to a series of visual codes whose currency was ambiguity and irony, rather than an engagement with architecture’s underlying means of production. In pursuing such a route, Jencks was a product, as well as a shaper, of his time, a period when the social democracy that had underpinned the postwar, modernist transformation of Britain and Europe was in retreat, and technologies of communication began to displace industrial forms of production as the determinants of cultural outputs. Despite this, Jencks was acutely aware of how rebellions against the status quo are eventually co-opted by the dominant ideology. In answer to his famous claim, made in The Language of Post-Modern Architecture, that architectural modernism died on July 15, 1972, with the dynamiting of the Pruitt-Igoe housing project in St. Louis, I once put it to him that Post-Modernism had subsequently died on September 15, 2008, the date that Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy and ignited a financial crisis whose political legacy we still grapple with today. Jencks, of course, demurred, pointing out that the real and “happy curtailment” of Post-Modernist architecture had actually occurred in 1987 on account of the fact that by then, most of its major protagonists had accepted commissions from the Disney Corporation. Even when acknowledging that you were right, he made sure that you knew that he had been right before you were. Charles has gone now, and the world of architecture is certainly a less interesting place as a result. Sean Griffiths is an artist, architect and academic. He practices architecture through his company Modern Architect and serves as a professor of architecture University of Westminster and as a visiting professor of architecture at Yale University. He was a founding director of art and architecture practice FAT (Fashion Architecture Taste) between 1991 and 2014. 
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Buzz Yudell reflects on the cosmic force of the late Charles Jencks

Provocateur, philosopher, and polymath Charles Jencks had a kaleidoscopic perspective on the forces and complexities of the cosmos. From his student days onward he was voracious in his interests, explorations, and speculations. At Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, he cut a swath with his precocious wit, preternatural eloquence, and confident banter. He was lanky, elegant, and a bit of a dandy and knew how to provoke, entertain, and charm. Charles never gave a lecture, led a symposium, or even held forth over lunch without changing the magnetic field forces of the space. He was a passionate teacher; powerful because he both provoked his students and invited them to jump into the scrum of debate. Once they learned that he liked nothing better than to be challenged, the whole world of analytic and critical thinking opened up to them. The force of his personality and power of his intellect was leavened by his wit, warmth, and occasional self-deprecation. Charles was determined to bridge theory and practice. He made his mark early with polemic and influential books. But wherever possible he sought to test his theoretical propositions with material challenges in situ. He used a series of small but densely composed projects to posit, test, and expand his thinking. This began with the Garagia Rotunda, a modest studio at his family’s beach house in Wellfleet on Cape Cod, where he explored the use and improvisatory opportunities of readymade components. Next, the Elemental House in Rustic Canyon, Santa Monica, California, riffed on and reworked a 1950s western ranch house while celebrating the elements of earth, air, water, and fire. He reached an epiphany of embodied symbolism with the Thematic House in London where the cycles of seasons, sun, and moon are celebrated. He often invited friends to collaborate. Terry Farrell collaborated on the Thematic House, where Michael Graves contributed to the Winter Room. Over several years Tina Beebe and I had the pleasure of collaborating with Charlie and his wife Maggie Keswick Jencks on two houses. I worked with Charlie and Maggie on the planning and architecture of the Elemental House, where Tina worked on the color and materials and Maggie led the garden design. Charles Moore contributed to the Water Pavilion. Tina then worked with Jencks and Maggie on colors and material for the London house. For Charles, all aspects of his work and life were integrated. Whether home or traveling, he was constantly writing, sketching, and testing ideas with undiminished enthusiasm and unrelenting purpose. Most of our design meetings were set at home and coordinated with drinks and meals. When in Los Angeles (where he taught at UCLA), he and Maggie hosted convivial Sunday lunches on their terrace and delighted in convening old and new friends with the most diverse interests possible. It was all part of connecting the dots and mysterious forces of the cosmos. Charles savored debate, spanning from the Socratic to the operatic. He valued disruption long before it became a meme of the tech and business worlds. And if one was reticent to partake, he would tempt and taunt until ignition was achieved. Maggie was his great muse but often an important counterpoint, as well. Tina remembers a particularly robust debate in London. Charles was making the point that every aspect and every detail of the house had to be infused with meaning. Maggie and Tina were arguing that sometimes the meaning is inherent in the experience and does not need to be literally described. As the debate got more heated, these two strong women achieved a standoff with Charlie—not an easy feat, even when double teaming. Finally, exasperated, he exclaimed: “I don’t care what it means, as long as it means something!” After a brief pause, the argument was defused over drinks and all was commodious again. Maggie also bridged theory and practice. Her poetically written book The Chinese Garden: History, Art and Architecture helped to establish the foundation for her work as a landscape designer both for herself and for commissions. At the Elemental House, she was inspired by John Milton’s poems L’Allegro and Il Penseroso, creating an imaginative garden that embodied the dualities of joy and contemplation. This partnership between Maggie’s deep understanding of the landscape and Charlie’s evolving interest in the forces and symbols of the cosmos reached new heights in their collaboration on The Garden of Cosmic Speculation at Portrack, their country house near Dumfries, Scotland. This veritable gesamtkunstwerk was organized as a cosmic narrative, which one experiences through a compelling landscape sequence and metaphoric meander through the Quark Walk, the DNA Garden, the Fractal Terrace, and other cosmic phenomena. This was a seminal work that inspired the next phase of his exploration. The project unified art, architecture, and landscape, creating environments of great lyric and choreographic beauty. It was informed and structured by theory but animated by the experiential delight of its forms and materials. The work at Portrack became the basis for a fecund new period in Charlie’s creative life. He continued his writing and teaching, but increasingly focused on a new body of commissioned landforms for museums and sites around the world. The Jencks’ wonderful daughter Lily became a collaborator and continues to lecture and design at the intersection of landscape, art, and architecture. In parallel, Jencks curated the architecture of some 22 Maggie’s Centres. Designed by eminent architects, these spaces provide healing environments and supportive care for cancer patients. They are based on Maggie’s belief that people should “not lose the joy of living in the fear of dying.” As I think of Charlie, I imagine him now fully engaged in the cosmos, extending his insatiable curiosity and deep understanding into all the forces and cycles of life. Buzz Yudell was a friend and collaborator of Charles Jencks. He is a partner at the Santa Monica-based firm Moor Ruble Yudell Architects & Planners. 
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In memoriam: Henry Urbach

Henry Urbach was a born curator. He had an eye for good design; the intellectual heft to be able to judge what was not only beautiful but also meaningful or critical to both the discipline of architecture and wider society; and the gift of gab with which to articulate all of that. He was also able to put together some of the best exhibitions on architecture of the last few decades. He was a bit of a rebel and a doubter of received notions and authority, which stood him in good stead as he developed ideas through his chosen medium of collecting and showing work in and around architecture, but which often made it difficult for him to operate within larger institutional structures. His untimely death in Tel Aviv deprives us of one of the discipline’s most distinctive talents.

With two degrees from Princeton and one from Columbia, as well as a network that reached around the globe, Urbach was able to position himself during the end of the last century as New York’s primary broker of speculative architecture. He achieved that position through the work he did at his New York gallery, Henry Urbach Architecture. Picking up where the only other gallerist to have entered the field, Max Protetch, left off, Urbach assembled a stable of young designers and artists who extended the definitions of architecture. These included not only experimental architects and practices, such as LOT-EK, François Roche, An Te Liu, Lebbeus Woods, and Jürgen Mayer H., but also many artists playing with the forms and conventions of architecture, as well as photographers who both documented and penetrated our worlds.

What Urbach showed in his Chelsea gallery, tucked up into an upper level of a warehouse on 26th Street, helped to change our perception of space and place. Much of his work focused on questions of seeing and being seen, spectacle, and the intimate relation between the body and the buildings that housed or enclosed it. He worked on issues related to queer space, and his exhibitions often had a sense of the uncanny and the slightly illicit or forbidden. They burrowed into the hidden places of the city and opened up almost operatic panoramas of what the urban scene made possible.

When I was the curator of architecture, design, and digital projects at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) in the late 1990s, I was one of Urbach’s most eager clients. I found in his gallery a treasure trove of what I thought was some of the most important architecture and design work being done at the time, and quite a few of his pieces made it into my own exhibitions, as well as into the museum’s collection. When I moved on to direct the Netherlands Architecture Institute in Rotterdam, I invited him there to curate an exhibition on the relationship between architecture and the body. When Urbach was later appointed to my old position at SFMOMA after Joe Rosa vacated it and left for Chicago, I felt that it was a perfect choice.

Urbach organized excellent exhibitions and collected important work at SFMOMA, but, in the end, clashed with the museum’s rather conservative culture. He then moved on to direct Philip Johnson’s Glass House and do more good work there, but by then, the mark of what now appears to have been late-onset bipolar disorder turned his rebellious spirit and inquisitive mind toward swings between increasing paranoia and irrational exuberance. He moved to Israel and seemed to have found a new community and purpose as an effective and much-loved teacher, but the demons that had come to haunt him (as we like to think of such diseases) ultimately got the better of him.

It is a tribute to his family and friends that they have felt it important to let us all know, in their statement about his death, about his disease. There is a difference between having a different perspective, wanting to challenge accepted notions, and seeing the potential of what is not valued or condoned and having a medical condition that skews not only your views but also your relations with other human beings. At some point, Urbach’s ability to discern what few of us could or even wanted to see, often at the heart of our chosen avocation or in the environments we loved, and to pick, highlight, and explain such work, turned into something else, something that undercut his ability to use his great talents to move architecture toward productive confrontations.

I admit to being one of those who found it impossible, in later years, to engage in what I considered normal interactions with Urbach. Not recognizing his condition, I felt alienated and confused by his ideas and modes of interaction. I am sorry that I did not work through such difficulties, as now I will never be able to do so. What is more important is that we have lost an important life, a great spirit, and an agitator for experimental architecture. For all these reasons, we will miss Henry Urbach.

Aaron Betsky is the president of the School of Architecture at Taliesin and is the author of numerous books, including Making It Modern and Architecture Matters.