Posts tagged with "University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning":

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Ten architecture shows to see in 2018

2018 is shaping up to be a solid year for striking and thought-provoking architecture exhibits. From Yugoslavian architecture to California design, here are ten shows not to miss: The Arsenal of Exclusion & Inclusion: New York Edition Center for Architecture 536 LaGuardia Place Through March 31 Curated and designed by Interboro Partners, The Arsenal of Exclusion & Inclusion: New York Edition presents 156 “weapons” used by political groups, developers, and community organizations to restrict or increase access to urban space. Inside the Walls: Architects Design Friedman Benda 515 West 26th Street Through February 17 This January, Friedman Benda gallery presents its annual guest-curated exhibition Inside the Walls: Architects Design, a survey spanning over a century that will encompass a broad range of architects from across the globe. The exhibit will feature the works of such architects as Philip Johnson, Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies van der Rohe and Luis Barragán, through the mediums of archival photographs and historical ephemera. Mark McDonald, a pre-eminent dealer of 20th-century modernist design, curated the sweeping exhibition. Arakawa and Madeline Gins: Eternal Gradient Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation 1172 Amsterdam Avenue March 30, 1:00 p.m. The opening of Arakawa and Madeline Gins: Eternal Gradient includes a half-day conference with speakers such as Adrienne Hart, Steven Holl, Momoyo Homma, Lucy Ives, Andrés Jaque, Thomas Kelley, Leopold Lambert, Carrie Norman, Spyros Papetros, Irene Sunwoo, and Miwako Tezuka. The exhibit features the work of the former artistic and architectural partnership between Madeline Arakawa Gins and Shusaku Arakawa. Copy + Paste: Hall of Architecture  Carnegie Museum of Art 4400 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh Through May 6 The Carnegie Museum of Art's Hall of Architecture possesses almost 150 facades, monuments, and architectural details sourced from across the world, which are predominantly cast and assembled in plaster. Copy + Paste explores this tradition of recreation through the investigation of augmented reality, 3-D printing, and potential robotic applications in the art of replication. The Open Workshop: New Investigations in Collective Form  Yerba Buena Center for the Arts 701 Mission Street, San Francisco March 9–July 15 Based in the Bay Area, The Open Workshop is an interdisciplinary design workshop focusing on urbanism, politics, and infrastructure. Featured as part of the Center’s The City Initiative, the group looks to create provocative and daring works within the urban environment. The Open Workshop founder Neeraj Bhatia is an architect and urban designer from Toronto and an assistant professor of architecture at the California College of the Arts. Designed in California San Francisco Museum of Modern Art 151 3rd Street, San Francisco Through May 27 Over the 20th century, California emerged as leader in design in both the United States and the world. Designed in California focuses on the output of design addressing socioeconomic and environmental awareness. The exhibit also examines the role of the digital revolution and the transformation of the consumer to digital user, one connected by the Internet of Things. Drawing Codes: Experimental Protocols of Architectural Representation University of Michigan Taubman College 2000 Bonisteel Boulevard, Ann Arbor, Michigan March 7–March 28 The use of innovative technologies in the realms of design and production has opened new avenues for architectural drawing and rendering. Through the use of 24 experimental drawings, Drawing Codes: Experimental Protocols of Architectural Representation examines the engagement between architectural drawing and design within the constraints of coding, be it zoning ordinances or technological scripts. The intended goal of the exhibit is to display the many approaches available for designers when confronted with a diversity of rules and restraints. Then, Now, Next: Evolution of an Architectural Icon Denver Art Museum 100 W 14th Avenue Parkway, Denver Through February 25 Architect Gio Ponti designed the Denver Art Museum and this exhibit traces the history of Ponti’s work featuring his historical photos, original architectural sketches, building models, and project renderings to tell the story of the North Building’s evolution. Not to Scale: Highlights from the Flys Eye Dome Archive Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art 600 Museum Way, Bentonville, Arkansas Through March 28 This exhibit features drawings, models, and concept sketches from the architect Buckminister Fuller during his work on the project Fly’s Eye Dome. Not to Scale: Highlights from the Fly’s Eye Dome Archive illuminates the work of Fuller and his collaborators, engineer John Warren and architect Norman Foster. Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948-1980 The Museum of Modern Art 11 W 53rd Street October 10, 2018–January 13, 2019 This exhibit will feature more than 400 drawings, photographs, models, and film reels from across the former Yugoslavia, depicting the unique Brutalist style that developed in that sprawling Balkan state. Toward a Concrete Utopia will be the first exhibit of its kind to focus on Brutalism across the Balkan peninsula.
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Over 40 practices imagine the post-human, post-natural world

Ambiguous Territory: Architecture, Landscape, and the Postnatural posits that ambiguity, rather than certainty, is what drives intellectual and aesthetic inquiry. The exhibition, which was first shown at the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, takes on the question of complex contemporary environmental and humanitarian issues, and the role that architects, landscape architects, and artists play in addressing them. Organized and curated by Kathy Velikov, Chris Perry, Cathryn Dwyre, and David Salomon, the show originally ran in September and October, but will also be on display in New York in the coming year. Divided into three categories, Ambiguous Territory brings together an exhaustive list of over 40 young practices working along the blurry edges of the architecture field. The categories include “I. Above: The Atmospheric,” “II. On: The Biologic,” and “III. Below: The Geologic.” In each case, contributors were asked to show work that specifically engaged with the "post-natural era." This includes addressing climate change, concepts of the Anthropocene, and artificial and altered ecologies.  As the show’s title hints, these categories are understood in decidedly ambiguous terms. The work in each engages with much more than the physical or scientific connotations implied by the category titles and many projects span multiple, if not all the groupings. This intermixing of ideas is at the core of the show, which hopes to engage with the contemporary sensibility of bringing together "unlike things into singular forms or images." As such, visitors to the show will find everything from remote sensors, robots, and satellite imagery, to plant languages, rock piles and point clouds. Considering the wide range of often invisible, and sometimes ephemeral, forces and concepts, contributions to the show dabble in an equally wide range of representational and annotative techniques. In many cases, drawings and image-making techniques are borrowed from a number of fields and pushed beyond their conventions to visualize concepts that are often hardly visible. The three-dimensional objects in the show take a similar approach to fabrication, producing a number of uncanny, if not unsettling forms which defy typical descriptions. In the “Above” category the work of contributors such as Sean Lally, Mark Nystrom, and Lateral Office & LCLA, looks at the movement and capturing of atmospheric conditions, such as wind and heat, are address. Other offices, such as NaJa & deOstos and Kallipoliti & Theodoridis, look more directly at the impact and possibilities of architecture and its relationship with the atmosphere. Offices working in the “On” category explore biological conditions that are either affected by or which affect humans. Works by firms such as The Bittertang Farm, Future Cities Lab, and pneumastudio each provide spatial constructs for species, living or extinct, other than humans. On the other hand, Terreform ONE’s In Vitro Meat Habitat and Office for Political Innovation’s Landscape Condenser mediate the relationship of humans to constructed biological systems. The “Below” category is filled with practices exploring the more substantial aspects of the show through material and geology. Firms Smout Allen, The Open Workshop, and Design Earth each look to the future of the subterranean, while Formlessfinder, Lisa Hirmer, and Alexander Robinson examine physical material properties through crushing, piling, and vibrating. The first showing of Ambiguous Territory was accompanied by a symposium, which included discussions by many of the show's participants as well as keynote addresses by Liam Young and David Gissen. While the show closed in Michigan in October, it will be remounted at the Pratt Manhattan Gallery, New York, from December 2018 through January 2019.
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The University of Michigan completes new architecture wing

This semester, architecture and urban planning students at the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan are in for a rare treat, a new school wing. The school has added 36,000 square feet with the completion of the A. Alfred Taubman Wing. In addition, the older building was renovated and reconfigured as part of a $28.5-million project. The new wing was designed by Cambridge-based Preston Scott Cohen, with Troy, Michigan-based Integrated Design Solutions (IDS) as architect of record. Rather than just adding more space, the expansive wing is designed to transform the relationship between students and faculty in the school. With a focus on communal and collaborative spaces, the design is meant to account for changes in architecture pedagogy. While studio spaces still account for much of the active space in the building, large gathering spaces have become the heart of the school. The most notable of such spaces is a 5,700-square-foot double-height commons. Wrapped in ramps which service new faculty offices, the commons is designed to be a place where all of the school’s community can meet. Large enough for major events and installations, the space will be where end-of-year final reviews will take place, and faculty and students can display large-scale works. “More than anything, we were looking for new models of collaboration,” Preston Scott Cohen explained to AN.  “The donor, Alfred Taubman, had envisioned that we should completely change the relationship between students and faculty in the building. We have demolished the old faculty wing, and the new configuration of offices is that they are strung along the perimeter of the studios. Now the faculty doors open directly into the studios.” This change, along with the movement of staff offices to look out directly into studio spaces, is designed to facilitate more connection between students and faculty. Classroom and studio space has also been expanded. Over 5,000 square feet of new studio means an additional 20 percent space per student, and a new 2,400-square-foot state-of-the-art classroom can handle large classes that may require unconventional workspace organization.  Eight smaller “capstone” and group study rooms also increase flexibility, and provide dedicated space for the school’s journals, Dimensions and Agora. A new student lounge and a reading room also provides space for students to step away from their desks, to work in a less formal setting or to take a moment to relax. The exterior of the building is defined by its large saw-tooth roof line, which hearkens back to the region's industrial past, while bringing soft reflected light into the studio spaces. At the ground floor, the building is held off the ground, creating yet another space to make and gather.  A bike parking lot underneath the building also helps connect students to the rest of the sprawling campus. The school’s new dean Jonathan Massey discussed his hopes for the future of the school and architectural education as a whole with AN. “I think that architecture education is ripe for re-imagination. With a college of this scale, with this robust of a community, I hope that Taubman can become a convener of ideas in things like gender equity and inequities in practice and conversations about the way we work. We can prototype and test new approaches to architectural education that can be more equitably accessible to people, regardless of gender or cultural background. There are all kinds of ways this space we are sharing together will help open up architecture learning and practice to more people.”
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Jonathan Massey named dean of University of Michigan Architecture and Urban Planning

Jonathan Massey, dean of architecture and professor at California College of the Arts, has been named the next dean of the University of Michigan's Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. He will follow Dean Monica Ponce de Leon, who is now the architecture dean at Princeton, and Robert Fishman, professor of architecture and urban planning, who has been serving as interim dean. "Taubman College has excelled by taking Detroit, the Great Lakes region and other sites around the globe as frameworks for research on the challenges and opportunities posed by processes of modernization," Massey said. "I am excited to work with U-M students, faculty and staff to generate architecture and planning strategies that expand economic opportunity, increase equitable access to resources, design better health and create the operating system for smart cities." Massey earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, summa cum laude, from Princeton University. He earned a Master of Architecture degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a doctoral degree in history and theory of architecture from Princeton. Massey has worked for architecture firms including Frank O. Gehry and Associates and has taught at Barnard College, Parsons School of Design and Pratt Institute, and Syracuse University, where he served as chair of the Bachelor of Architecture program from 2011-2014. He is the author of the book, "Crystal and Arabesque: Claude Bragdon, Ornament, and Modern Architecture," and in 2006, Massey co-founded the Aggregate Architectural History Collaborative, "a team of scholars focused on how buildings shape processes of political, economic and social transformation." He also edits The Aggregate Website.
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Milton S. F. Curry, associate dean at Taubman College, on race, class, public education, and the future of architecture

The following letter was sent to The Architect’s Newspaper in response to the current debate, at local and national levels, about public education, in and out of the field of architecture. The author, Milton S. F. Curry, is the Associate Dean at the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning and the Director of Michigan Architecture Prep ARCHITECTURE AND PUBLIC EDUCATION: CULTIVATING CREATIVE POTENTIAL In University of Michigan President James B. Angell’s Commencement Address on June 26, 1879, he stated  “The most democratic atmosphere in the world is that of the college. There all meet on absolutely equal terms. Nowhere else do accidents of birth or condition count for so little.” Ezra Cornell stated in his address at the opening of Cornell University on October 7, 1868, “I hope that we have laid the foundation of an institution which shall combine practical with liberal education, which shall fit the youth of our country for the professions, the farms, the mines, the manufactories, for the investigations of science, and for mastering all the practical questions of life with success and honor.... I trust we have laid the foundation of [a] university—‘an institution where any person can find instruction in any study.’” These words are not merely rhetorical flourishes, they are ideological imperatives that buttress some of our superb world-class public and private universities and institutions and by extension our collective belief in an egalitarian system of public education that educates all, no matter what one’s lot in life. The Michigan Architecture Preparatory Program—an architecture enrichment program based in Detroit and supported by the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning—leverages the institution’s public ethos by engaging high school juniors in a studio-based architecture and college preparatory academic program. The program—one of the few of its kind to commit to a half-day full semester program with high school students—is an exemplar in leveraging university-level thinking towards enriching the secondary education of students in a large urban public school district. The field of architecture is expected to grow by 17 percent between now and 2022 (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Yet as of 2008, only 1.5 percent of American architects were African-American, despite comprising 12 to 13 percent of the total U.S. population. This fact alone—virtually unchanged since I was a junior in high school, accounting for population growth and demographic growth among minority populations since the 1960s—should precipitate crisis-level response from our educational and professional institutions and accrediting bodies. But it hasn’t. Attracting diverse students, retaining them and supporting their academic success and professional development is challenging in architecture for several reasons: 1) unique residential segregation by class and race in the U.S. which leads to sizable gaps in academic achievement by twelfth grade—evidence shows that residential segregation and segregation in the nation’s public school system has gotten worse since the 1970s when desegregation plans were enforced by state and federal offices for civil rights; 2) lack of sufficient cultivation of “successful mindsets” among underrepresented minorities and marginalized populations and groups, 3) lack of “critical mass” of underrepresented minorities and other marginalized groups—making it more difficult to develop a sense of well-being and belonging, and 4) the focus on “identifying talent” versus “cultivating potential” in trying to articulate and sell the value of an architecture education to minorities and marginalized populations. The discipline of architecture alone cannot alter the systemic and exclusionary forces that have resulted in the current situation in which architecture students, and top-tier university students as a whole, are much wealthier and more ethnically and racially homogeneous than the population at large. Yet precisely because of our legacy of studio-based educational pedagogy and the capacious way in which architects can receive a broad liberal arts education while simultaneously becoming experts in visual and spatial aspects of conceptualizing and making physical and virtual objects at all scales, we are uniquely qualified to make substantive interventions in the public education landscape at this moment in American history. Detroit students, like so many students in large urban school districts, need more opportunities to expand their creative horizons beyond the traditional classroom. At a time when the twin forces of efficiency and technocracy translate into more mechanized test-taking and quantitative metrics of evaluation, an architectural way of thinking and making can unleash creative potential in students who have been all but written off because their way of learning and their cultural forms of expression and knowledge exchange do not comport to middle-class values and norms. Our democracy depends upon quality public educational institutions to educate the country’s diverse population. Privatization and defunding of public education strike at the heart of our social compact and our racial history as a nation. Our current political debates about the growth of charter schools and voucher schemes and the privatization of public schools as alternatives to underperforming public schools must be subjected to fact-based analysis. As U. S. Senator Elizabeth Warren stated in her January 9, 2017, letter to U. S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, “Today’s voucher schemes can be just as harmful to public school district budgets, because they often leave school districts with less funding to teach the most disadvantaged.” With just 58 percent third-grade reading proficiency in Detroit Public Schools, as reported by the Detroit Chamber of Commerce State of the Region Report 2016-17, clearly there is a necessity to improve performance in Detroit and other urban school districts. But this urgency need not result in opportunistic formulations that lead to random shuttering of neighborhood schools or a turn to online education as a panacea for the problem of effective knowledge exchange in K-12 education. The collective energy and monies spent trying to influence politicians and create a parallel system of unregulated publicly-funded private charter schools would be better spent facilitating smaller classrooms, empowering quality teachers to teach meaningful content as opposed to ‘teaching to the test,’ and paying teachers for the value that they are expected to provide. Individual and collective identities—understood in the context of historical legacies of exclusion and marginalization—are directly connected to life outcomes. Detroit students, like so many students in large urban school districts, need more opportunities to expand their creative horizons beyond the traditional classroom. Without a critical mass of representation from women, Black Americans, Latinos and Hispanics, and others who have been systematically underrepresented in the discipline of architecture, the discipline will continue to underserve not only the communities from which these persons emanate, but the entire polity. The context for the production of art and architecture today is shifting—because people want to understand themselves as not only having a stake in the cities they live in—and they want to be involved in how they are designed and developed. I anticipate a new generational critique of the exclusion of our disciplines to underrepresented minorities and lower-class citizens globally; and a renewed sense of participation in thinking anew about the very institutional structures that enforce elitism and exclusion. Detroit Public Schools Community District students who participate in the Michigan Architecture Preparatory Program—unlike the caricatures of them that get publicized in the media—are motivated to learn and eager to be intellectually challenged. I have witnessed this with my own eyes. They—many of the over 130 students who have matriculated through our program—are better equipped to succeed in college and better prepared for the cultural shift from an urban high school to a top-tier public or private university. How do I know? I know this because we have students who have matriculated through the program who are now enrolled at the University of Michigan, Lawrence Technical University, Michigan State University and other institutions, and they tell us that our program helped propel them to grow their mindsets and to more quickly assess the own “knowledge landscape” for gaps and to correct for those gaps quickly and proactively. Project-based learning coupled with focused basic proficiencies can more quickly propel motivated and unmotivated students to aspire to their own academic achievement—this is what we have found in our five semesters of operating the Michigan Architecture Preparatory Program. Smaller class size, intense student-teacher interaction, and iterative-based design projects that incorporate applied geometry and visual arts are the core of our program. Their design projects are infused with lesson plans on social movements and the relationships between the visual histories of social movements and the space of the city—the integration of humanistic thought, social issues of concern to them and their families, and the study of architecture. Our relative success suggests that these pedagogical innovations can and do work, and that those of us in higher education can learn from them as well as apply many of these design-centered pedagogical approaches into the university context —in architecture and design-related fields but also in the humanities, social sciences, and engineering. Students in our program are not acutely aware of the history of race and class that pervades the city of Detroit. They are not consumed by the massive loss of jobs, the rampant corruption at the hands of countless emergency managers for their school district and for the City of Detroit. They are interested in seeing—that is, believing in—a vision of the future for themselves that is possible and achievable. They are less interested in platitudes like ‘individual responsibility’ or ‘pulling yourself up by your bootstaps’ than in personal narratives of persons like them who have started their own business or charted a nonlinear path from high school to a seat in an architecture firm doing what they love and what they are passionate about. As Marshall Brown stated in our Fall 2016 Graduation Ceremony, “Architecture can take you places—geographically, mentally, and intellectually.” When I was the age of our students—a high school student growing up in Central California to upper middle class parents, yet living among working class Black Californians, and being bused to predominantly white public schools during the heyday of school desegregation—I valued diversity even though it meant enduring psychological trauma at the hands of racist teachers. The wager that was available for me, my parents, and so many of my contemporaries was to seize the high level of intellectual content accompanied by abject racism or settle for low-quality educational options with a homogeneous Black community (largely poor and working class). With Black wealth at fractional percentages of white wealth, the Black middle-class today, 2017, is relegated to the many of the same schools and school districts as their working class and poor counterparts. Because of my background of inhabiting several worlds simultaneously, I celebrate cross-class and interracial learning environments as some of the most stimulating forums of cross-cultural knowledge exchange and one in which the research has shown are best at producing a leveling of the playing field in terms of matching Black and Latino academic achievement with their white counterparts. The methodology of public education—one that used to be focused on high-performance and outcomes that provide a pathway to college—has shifted to become more focused on accepting society’s conception of poor and working class and minority students as irreparably damaged by their station in life and their own bad luck. What flows from these conceptions are a tamping down of expectations and a “settler” mentality that these students should be educated, but the threshold of education that they deserve is related to the individual choices that their parents made and on the available resources that society is willing to part with to help them along. This is not helped by an accelerated white flight currently taking place whereby white families are fleeing schools with the largest minority student populations.  To counter these efforts, universities must become more engaged in leveraging their resources and intellectual capital to create expanded opportunities for the nation’s most vulnerable children—those in high-poverty and monolithically minority-populated urban metro areas and those in rural areas. Based on our experience at the University of Michigan, this is the best way to extend our values and assist in what has to be a massive crisis-level response to the failure of our public educational system to live up to our aspirations as well as the historical success that was achieved in other periods of our history—when public schools were very good and when public university systems were recognized and funded as a public good. More information on the University of Michigan Michigan Architecture Preparatory Program can be found here.
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2016 Venice Biennale U.S. Pavilion to go on display in Detroit

The Architectural Imagination, the exhibition from the U.S. Pavilion of the 2016 Venice Biennale, is returning to the United States. Opening on February 11th at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, the exhibition will bring the 12 proposed projects for Detroit back to their home city. Organized by the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, and curated by Cynthia Davidson and Monica Ponce de Leon, the exhibition was first shown at the 15th Venice Architecture Biennale. The show advocates for the power of architecture to construct culture and catalyze cities, with Detroit as the setting for a larger conversation about world cities. Projects in the show are presented through large models, drawings, and interactive virtual reality. The show includes work by; A(n) Office, Detroit, Michigan Marcelo López-Dinardi; V. Mitch McEwen BairBalliet, Columbus, Ohio; Chicago, Illinois Kelly Bair; Kristy Balliet Greg Lynn FORM, Los Angeles, California Greg Lynn Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects, Atlanta, Georgia Mack Scogin; Merrill Elam Marshall Brown Projects, Chicago, Illinois Marshall Brown MOS Architects, New York, New York Hilary Sample; Michael Meredith Pita & Bloom, Los Angeles, California Florencia Pita; Jackilin Hah Bloom Present Future, Houston, Texas Albert Pope; Jesús Vassallo Preston Scott Cohen Inc., Boston, Massachusetts Preston Scott Cohen SAA/Stan Allen Architect, New York, New York Stan Allen T+E+A+M, Ann Arbor, Michigan Thom Moran; Ellie Abrons; Adam Fure; Meredith Miller Zago Architecture, Los Angeles, California Andrew Zago; Laura Bouwman The opening of the exhibition will include an introduction by Dean Robert Fishman of the Taubman College and a presentation by exhibition curators Cynthia Davidson and Monica Ponce de Leon. The exhibition will be on show from February 11th through April 16th, 2017, and will be free to the public at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, 4454 Woodward Ave., Detroit, Michigan.
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University of Michigan exhibits the work of Archigram

Through February 20th, the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning is exhibiting the work of 1960s avant-garde architecture group Archigram. The show, organized by Archigram member Dennis Crompton, presents exhibition pieces, collages, drawings, and films from the group of six young architects. "In architecture, nothing ages so quickly as visions of the future. But somehow after more than a half-century, Archigram is still ahead of us—still amazing us with its explosive mixture of the carnival and the computer,” said Taubman College’s Interim Dean Robert Fishman. “One of the rare true collaborations in architecture, Archigram’s six founders deployed graphics borrowed from advertising and sci-fi comics to upset the solemnity of 1960s corporate modernism. They conceived the city as a basic power and transportation grid into which people 'plugged-in' a constantly-changing array of mass-produced modules. In this urbanism of constant flux, everyone is an architect." The exhibition fills the two-story space of the university’s Liberty Research Annex. Over-sized drawings backdrop framed original pieces, while large banners hang from the ceiling. Multiple projections play videos made by the group, and mannequins wear bright graphic clothes printed with the group's imagery. The gallery is located at 305 W. Liberty St., Ann Arbor, Michigan and is open to the public Thursday-Sunday, 3:00pm to 7:00pm. The show will be open through February 20th, 2017.
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ACADIA 2016 showcased the diversity of cutting-edge computational design

This year’s meeting of the Association for Computer-Aided Design in Architecture (ACADIA) was hosted at the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. It was the 36th meeting of ACADIA, and was regarded to be an incredibly successful showing. The theme of the conference, Posthuman Frontiers: Data, Designers, and Cognitive Machines, was paired with the Posthuman Frontiers exhibition, featuring jury-selected projects submitted to the conference, as well as the advanced work of Taubman College faculty. The events of the conference were held at multiple venues around Ann Arbor, and were preceded by several workshops that made use of Taubman College’s digital fabrication and instruction facilities.

For those of us on the outside looking in (in our lesser moments, perhaps), the ACADIA community might easily be misconstrued as a group of architects obsessed with robots, or possessing an interest in complicated shapes made in Grasshopper for their own sake. However, the three days this author spent among their ranks at this year’s conference were some of the most inspiring in recent memory. Yes, there were moments of geometric fetishism, and yes, there were a considerable number of time-lapse videos of robot arms in progress. But when taken in aggregate, these projects, papers, and talks reframed and made vibrant the essential ingredients of what we work on as architects: the arrangement of solid and void, the cultural effects of form, and the possibilities of what we might craft in the built environment.

It must be said that the range of work presented was dramatic. Even within the more immediately applicable papers and projects were sober arguments for parametric design in space planning, a smart device for lowering cooling costs in office spaces, newly designed plugins to optimize the unfolding of 3-D meshes, and progress-in-training robots to lay tile in order to relieve the strain on human bodies.

Caress of the Gaze from Pier 9 on Vimeo.

Reaching into more radical territory, we saw prototyped near-body architectures operating on the politics of the posthuman in Behnaz Farahi’s “Caress of the Gaze,” an actuated garment which tracks—and responds to—the eye movement of those regarding the wearer. We saw installations that build intimacy and a sense of cooperative play between humans and digital entities. There was work which adopted uncommon material alliances of “programmable matter,” such as in Jane Scott’s intertwining of hydrophobic fibers that writhe and retract when exposed to water vapor (one of several fabric-oriented works), and too many others of note to mention them all.

But some of the most memorable moments from this conference were the keynote addresses, as they punctuated the proceedings with disparate tones and positions that illuminated the diversity of this community. Theodore Spyropoulos led the charge on Thursday with a talk entitled All Is Behavior (a play on Hans Hollein’s claim that “All are architects. Everything is architecture.”) It quickly became clear that Spyropoulos sees the future of cities, and indeed, that of humanity, in a technologically positivist light. He envisions self-organizing and aggregating structures which allow for adaptivity in the face of changing climatic or social conditions, and seeks to bring us into more sympathetic forms of interaction with robotic and digital entities.

The evening of the same day found the participants exposed to other visionary work, in a dreamy—and at times titillating—conversation between Philip Beesley and Iris Van Herpen, whose ongoing collaborations are advancing both Van Herpen’s work at the forefront of couture, and Beesley’s at, perhaps, the architectural equivalent. Lucidly expressive, Beesley’s tone was one of wonderment—of proposed, barely imaginable relationships between humans and matter. In fact, Beesley’s role is most easily understood, and his work is most easily appreciated, when it is placed in the context of couture, the goal of which is to push the bounds of what is possible in clothing.

Mario Carpo’s discussion of the cultural implications of searchability was a thoughtful meditation and provocation that ultimately concluded the conference Saturday evening, but the real climax of ACADIA 2016 was a keynote lecture Friday evening by Elizabeth Diller, as she was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Despite a playful hesitance to engage with the foreboding finality of “Lifetime Achievement,” Diller generously outlined some of the more seminal works of Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R), one of the most influential practices in the world over the past 25 years. Early in the talk, Diller emphasized her interest in the fields adjacent to architecture, a propensity for smaller scale works, and a persistent fascination with “the encounter.” By the end, however, she was in a mode of pure architectural shoptalk, sharing in-progress photos of the recently manufactured steel struts and enormous wheels that will comprise The Shed, currently in construction in New York’s Hudson Yards development. Diller concluded her remarks with some reflections upon the way culture has shifted since some of DS+R’s early work. In the present day, she claims:

“...the speed of obsolescence makes technology a liability. Dumber is better than smarter and the best thing to do for culture in the future is to secure real estate. It’s as basic as that.

Then: Systems theory, game theory, cybernetic control systems were tools to democratize culture.

Now: Digital technologies allow culture to be open source, dispersed, and on-demand. However, with democracy comes the ubiquitous condition of being monitored, so it’s a different time.…

Then: Kit of parts and kinetic systems produce flexibility.

Now: Flexibility is a paradox. The more flexibility is built in, the more predetermined, leaving nothing but empty space (this is related to ‘dumb is a virtue’).

Then: Disciplinary borders had to be broken.

Now: Despite academia’s parsing and classification, the richly indeterminate contours of interdisciplinarity, intradisciplinarity, multidisciplinarity, transdisciplinarity, cross-disciplinarity—we actually have to push to make these things happen, because somehow, the real world divides everything up again. Because that’s where money comes from—different places. And it’s going to take a long time to change the system.

Then: Government support for culture was assumed.

Now: To avoid the vicissitudes of the economy, the cultural institutions must produce their own financial security.

Then: The architect was a generalist that gathers research from subcommittees.

Now: Professionalization turns the architect into a director/producer that relies on a rolling cadre of subconsultants who bring an ever-widening depth of expertise to ever-more adventurous problems. So, then and now, the architect gets to push the agency of the profession to invent a cultural and civic project on both scores.”

These sage thoughts carried the conference into its final day, which held perhaps the most poignant moment of the proceedings, as Chuck Eastman, one of the original founders of ACADIA in 1981, received the Society Award of Excellence. Hearing Eastman describe the early days of computational design, the work that went into tasks as simple as Boolean operations, put the tools we now take for granted in perspective. It is amazing how far computational design has advanced in just a few decades, and this community shows no sign of slowing. No doubt, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab will rise to the occasion and show us the next chapter a year from now, as they are slated to host ACADIA 2017.

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AN interviews the ACADIA 2016 organizers

In just a few days, ACADIA will host its annual conference at the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. Ahead of the proceedings, The Architect's Newspaper (AN) spoke with this year’s organizers, Geoffrey Thün and Kathy Velikov—both principals of Ann Arbor, MI- and Toronto-based RVTR and faculty at Taubman Collegeto get a preview of what to expect from this year’s impressive lineup. AN: The theme of this year’s conference is Data, Designers, and Cognitive Machines. What is a Cognitive Machine, and what makes this theme especially relevant in 2016? Cognitive machines are programmed with capacities such as sensing, recognition, decision-making, problem-solving, memory, or autonomous behavior. These are not only an increasing part of interactive and responsive built environments, but are increasingly part of the design process itself. Designers are finding ways to work collaboratively with these processes and procedures, and there will be a significant number of papers at the conference where designers are engaging design and fabrication through feedback-based, co-generative approaches using computational tools. How would you characterize the range of work you expect to see from the presentations? Are there any ideological opponents, or ongoing debates for attendees to watch out for? The conference will feature cutting-edge computational design work from around the globe: ACADIA is really an international community, and we’ll have amazing work from North America, South America, the UK, Europe, Asia and Australia. Presentations will range from algorithmic design to robotic fabrication to human-robot collaboration, to interactive design, to synthetic bio-digital material research. Debate will abound—the climate of ACADIA is a respectful one, less confrontational than some venues, but it’s not a good conference unless there’s at least one heated debate, and we’ll see where exactly that will emerge. We expect that Neil Leach’s paper presentation will produce some ideological frictions. I understand that hosting the conference at Taubman College has afforded some opportunities in terms of both facilities and faculty. How did this shape this year’s offerings or conversations? The faculty members of Taubman College co-chairing the conference have been active members of the ACADIA (and broader digital design/computation/fabrication/ robotics) community for years, so hosting this conference is very meaningful to us. The Posthuman Frontiers exhibition, which is running in tandem with the conference, features large-scale interactive installations by Taubman faculty, as well as the jury-selected projects submitted to the conference. The workshops—taking place in the three days prior to the conference—benefit from the amazing fabrication facilities we have in the FabLAB. Participants will be using the digital knitting machine, possibly all five Kuka robots, the five-axis milling machine, and the digital classrooms in the Duderstadt Center. Attendees will be able to see presentations in some great spaces on the campus—Elizabeth Diller’s keynote, the Philip Beesley and Iris van Herpen lecture, and the main conference proceedings will be held outside Taubman around Ann Arbor. We’ve made an effort to knit many of the events into the town’s fabric, and to connect the proceedings with that broader community of the University of Michigan, so the key evening public lectures and events will be open to the broader public and we hope to engage them with some of the questions and obsessions of the ACADIA community.
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Exhibition on computational design and architecture opens in tandem with ACADIA conference

As part of the Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture (ACADIA) 2016 Conference held at the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, POSTHUMAN FRONTIERS: DATA, DESIGNERS AND COGNITIVE MACHINES will feature work that showcases the methods, processes, and techniques discussed at the conference. The show, held in the 3,000-square-foot Liberty Research Annex Gallery in downtown Ann Arbor, Michigan, will be divided into two sections: A “Juried Projects Exhibition” and a Curated Topic Exhibition.” The juried portion of the show will display work that was part of an open call this past spring, while the curated half of the show will be comprised of video and physical project installations. The work will also be published in a full-color catalogue. The exhibition opening will coincide with the ACADIA 2016 Conference, with an opening reception on October 27 at 7:00 p.m. at the Liberty Research Annex Gallery.

POSTHUMAN FRONTIERS: DATA, DESIGNERS AND COGNITIVE MACHINES Liberty Research Annex Gallery 305 West Liberty Street Ann Arbor, Michigan Conference: October 27–29, 2016, Exhibition: October 19–November 4

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2016 ACADIA Conference announces full keynote schedule

This year’s ACADIA conference, entitled "Post Human Frontiers: Data, Designers, and Cognitive Machines" will focus on design and research that lies at the “intersection between procedural design, designed environments and autonomous machines.” ACADIA, the Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture, has recently announced it keynote line-up, which includes Elizabeth Diller, who will be accepting a Lifetime Achievement Award from the conference. The conference, which will run from October 27th through the 29th, will be held at the University of Michigan Taubman Collage in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The keynote speakers will range from academics to practitioners, each bringing their own perspective on the state of the growing field of autonomous machines for making architecture. final_diller_keynote Four keynotes will discuss their recent research and practice in the field of computer-aided design. Speaker Mario Carpo, Dr.Arch, PhD, HDR focuses his research on the intersection of architectural theory, cultural history, and the history of media and information technology. Iris van Herpen’s talk will explore her Haute Couture digital fashion, and the relationship between craftsmanship and innovation. Visual artist and architect Philip Beesley, MRAIC OAA RCA will continue the discussion of digital fabrication and design, looking at Beesley’s association with the Living Architecture Systems Group (LASG). LASG is an international consortium of academics, institutional, and industrial partners developing building techniques that have the qualities of living organisms. Director of the Architectural Association’s Design Research Lab (AADRL), Theodore Spyropoulos’s work looks at the intersection of form and communication. Elizabeth Diller, founding partner of Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R), will be awarded the ACADIA 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award and will give a keynote address. Keynote Schedule – Thursday, October 27th 1:30 pm – Theodore Spyropoulos Thursday, October, 27th 5:00 pm – Iris van Herpen & Philip Beesely Friday, October 28th 6:30 pm – Elizabeth Diller Saturday, October 29th 6:00 pm – Mario Carpo For the full schedule of events go to 2016.acadia.org.
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Detroit Resists decries lack of community representation on Venice Biennale U.S. Pavilion panels

Earlier in September, the community organization Detroit Resists submitted this essay, “Let’s get serious: “Community” and “Activism” in the Architectural Imagination,” regarding the recent controversy surrounding the U.S. Pavilion at this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale. In a follow-up, they've written this "Annotation" regarding an upcoming series of panel discussions taking place at the Biennale. A full resolution version of the image above is available here. Entitled “The Architectural Imagination,” the U.S. Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale exhibits “speculative architectural projects” authored by twelve “visionary American architectural practices” for four sites in Detroit. According to curators Cynthia Davidson and Mónica Ponce de León, these projects comprise “new work that demonstrates the creativity and resourcefulness of architecture to address the social and environmental issues of the 21st century.” Post-bankruptcy Detroit is a city shaped by violent processes of displacement in the form of mass evictions, mass foreclosures, mass water shutoffs, and mass blight removal primarily targeting the city’s working-class African-American families and communities. Taking this city as a field upon which to demonstrate architecture’s relevance, the U.S. Pavilion gestures to architecture’s long colonial tradition of appropriating sites of race- and class-based inequality as laboratories of disciplinary research. On October 1, 2016, the curators of the U.S. Pavilion will host “conversations” under the title of “Architecture and Change.” “Change” might be a very appropriate topic for the curators to address. As perhaps the most generic, value-free and depoliticized term in the historiographical lexicon, “change” offers itself up as a precious discursive resource: a word that can refer to virtually any difference over time whatsoever. Whether the architectural projects displayed in the U.S. Pavilion are posed as harbingers of “change” or consequences of “change,” conversations on “change” run the risk of displacing political understandings of historical transformation as, for example, in the form of decolonization or democratization. Repeated references to “the social” and “the political” in the description of these conversations may function as a ruse: these categories may be brought up as frames for discussion in order to elide their absence in the curatorial process itself. The circling of disciplinary wagons around the notion of architecture that the U.S. Pavilion advances is perhaps most vividly revealed in the constitution of the panels in “Architecture and Change.” The panelists are all faculty members from one of four schools of architecture in the United States, each with a deep stake in the U.S. Pavilion project: the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning is the Pavilion’s institutional organizer and direct recipient of the funding for the Pavilion provided by the U.S. Department of State, while the Princeton University School of Architecture, the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and the Southern California Institute of Architecture are official sponsors of this specific event. These schools are also employers of nine of the visionary American architects displaying work in the U.S. Pavilion. The panels, therefore, consist of the representatives of four institutions, discussing the work of faculty employed at these institutions, and funded by the same institutions themselves. As the list of the U.S. Pavilion’s sponsors reveals, most of the capital supporting the Pavilion comes from corporations that would directly benefit from the displacement of Detroit’s working-class African-American communities: Shinola is a luxury fashion company, Westin is a luxury hotel chain, and Aperol is a luxury liquor; Dassault Systemes makes Catia and other 3D software that designers use to make luxury architecture; and the Deshler group, Global Transportation Management, and GS3 are different subsidiaries of a single corporate conglomerate supplying the parts and logistics that manufacturers use to make automobiles, luxury and otherwise. The list of the U.S. Pavilion’s sponsors is itself an important text; it illustrates how the Pavilion participates in the current alignment of architectural attention and economic investment that is transforming Detroit into a city of gentrifying consumers and it points to the beneficiaries of the architectural imagination that the Pavilion stages. Who is absent from these conversations? We might suggest that the very communities these processes pretend to aid are both invoked and erased. Architecture can never change in decolonizing and democratic ways without transformative engagement with movement-based activism—the only site of emancipatory agency in our historical conjuncture. This is a proposition that the U.S. Pavilion not only refuses to grapple with but also, with all the talk of “change” floated around it, might actively attempt to displace.