Design Forum XIV: In Praise of Shadows

The sixteenth biennial Virginia Design Forum XIV: In Praise of Shadows embraces this theme through an exploration of craft and materiality. The program, which is intended to challenge and stimulate design and creative thinking, takes place on March 27–28, 2020, at the recently-opened Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Through a series of conversations, the Design Forum showcases the work of talented individuals whose shared craft extends beyond the calculated and strictly quantitative into more holistic practice — whose leading-edge preoccupation with light and shadow extends the diversity of approaches to how designers seek beauty through form, space, and materiality.

Register online.

This is 2020

Happy 2020! I hope that your year is off to a great start!

I’m very excited about serving as your AIA Virginia president this year. I look forward to working closely with our EVP, Corey Clayborne, his stellar staff of Rhea, Cathy, Keesha, and Judy, and my fellow Board members to accomplish many things in 2020.

Beth Reader, FAIA

I’ve been active in the AIA since I joined in 1991 and am co-founder and principal at Reader & Swartz Architects in Winchester.

Some of the items I’m looking forward to us accomplishing, as a team, in the key areas of governance, education, outreach, advocacy, and member services are:

  • Adopting our Strategic Plan in early 2020. Our new Strategic Plan will act as our roadmap and will guide our Board of Director’s and staff’s work over the next three years.
  • Hosting our always thought-provoking, biennial Design Forum, which is one of my favorite AIA Virginia events. This year’s forum will be held in March in Richmond and will feature Steven Holl as our keynote speaker. Registration is now open!
  • Exploring ways to invigorate and improve our members’ annual Architecture Exchange East experiences. We are always working to enhance the value of this signature event, so if you have any suggestions please send them my way.
  • Launching a digital Inform magazine. It’s been several years since we published a hard copy of Inform, and I’ve missed keeping up with all of the beautiful projects being built around the Commonwealth.
  • Investing in the future of our young professionals by helping our Associate members gain access to ARE prep materials.
  • Advocating for the establishment of a statute of limitations for state projects.
  • Strengthening our connections to AIAS in our universities.
  • Exploring the creation of a new Virginia chapter of NOMA.

Again, I am looking forward to working with the team and our members on these and many more items. If you’d like to share your input, feel free to reach out to me at beth@readerswartz.com

Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, and professionally fulfilling 2020!

Beth

Design Forum Explores Shadows, Craft and Materiality

Junichiro Tanizaki, in his book In Praise of Shadows writes, “In darkness, immutable tranquility holds sway.” Designers integrate this interplay of light, color, and shadow in the spaces they imagine — navigating the clarity that light brings alongside the ephemeral mystery of the shadows.

Inspired by this 73-page homage to “well-placed darkness,” the fourteenth biennial Virginia Design Forum: In Praise of Shadows embraces this theme through an exploration of craft and materiality. The program, which is intended to challenge and stimulate design and creative thinking, takes place on March 27–28, 2020, at the recently-opened Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University. 

Through a series of conversations, the Design Forum showcases the work of talented individuals whose shared craft extends beyond the calculated and strictly quantitative into more holistic practice — whose leading-edge preoccupation with light and shadow extends the diversity of approaches to how designers seek beauty through form, space, and materiality. Register online.

The work of the speakers embodies those essential connections.

About the Speakers
These thought leaders come from diverse cultural and professional contexts, yet their work shares the power and nuance of how architects and allied professionals shape form through light. Through engaging the continuum of dim to bright, these designers shape our experience.

Steven Holl, FAIA (Steven Holl Architects | New York, NY)
Steven Holl is widely recognized for his ability to blend space and light with great contextual sensitivity and to utilize the unique qualities of each project to create a concept-driven design. He specializes in seamlessly integrating new projects into contexts with particular cultural and historic importance.

Kirsten Murray, FAIA (Olson Kundig | Seattle, WA)
Throughout her 30-year tenure at Olson Kundig, Kirsten Murray has created buildings and spaces that strengthen and enrich communities. Long inspired by Scandinavian modernist traditions, her architecture emphasizes warmth, natural materiality, tactility and refinement. By translating the innate conditions of a site—its nature, culture, topography and history—into built form, Murray’s designs create new interpretations of place that remain relevant over time.

Herve Descottes (L’Observitoire International, New York, NY)
In 1993, Hervé Descottes co-founded the lighting design firm L’Observatoire International in New York City after eight years of design practice in Paris, France. Descottes creates the lighting concepts for all projects designed by L’Observatoire, and oversees project development through project completion. He has been recognized numerous times by the lighting design and architectural community.

Morten Schmidt, Intl. Assoc. AIA (Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects | Copenhagen, DK)
Since cofounding Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects in 1987, Morten Schmidt has developed a diverse portfolio of work and expertise in the planning and design of major libraries and cultural facilities across the globe, bringing an innovative, rational and clear design leadership to many of the practice’s highest profile projects. His work exhibits a deep commitment to the Nordic architectural traditions based on democracy, welfare, aesthetics, light, sustainability and social responsibility.

David J. Lewis, AIA (LTL Architects, New York, NY)
David Lewis is founding principal of LTL Architects, a design intensive architecture firm founded in 1997 with Paul Lewis and Marc Tsurumaki, located in New York City. LTL Architects develops solutions that work within project constraints to inform the design trajectory, exploring opportunistic overlaps between space, program, form, budget, and materials.

Introduced and moderated by:
Kendall Buster
Kendall Buster earned a BFA from the Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington, D.C. and an MFA in Sculpture from Yale University. Her work has been exhibited in numerous venues nationally and internationally.

The Design Forum is generously sponsored by:

Platinum
Clark Nexsen

Gold
Virginia Tech College of Architecture and Urban Studies

Sterling
Moseley Architects
Quinn Evans

Silver
Reader & Swartz Architects

Bronze
Gulf Seaboard General Contractors, Inc.
Pella Windows of Virginia
Pyrok, Inc.

About the Schedule

Friday, March 27, 2020
5–7 p.m.

Opening Remarks and Keynote Address
Kendall Buster
Steven Holl, FAIA

7–8 p.m.
Reception

Saturday, March 28, 2020
8:30 a.m.–4 p.m.

David Lewis, AIA
Morten Schmidt, Intl. Assoc. AIA
Kirsten Murray, FAIA
Herve Decottes
Panel Discussion

Registration

AIA/Allied Member: $185
Assoc. AIA Member: $60
Non-member: $225
Friday Keynote Only: $90
Student: $30 (students actively enrolled in a degree program are eligible)

Earn up to 8 AIA/CES learning units.

Register online.

Interested in becoming a sponsor? Contact Judy Cheadle.

Reflections: Design Forum XIII

BLUR: The Shifting Boundaries between Art, Technology, and Architecture… and why they matter for the practice of the future.

Virginia Design Forum XIII | April 6-7, 2018 | Taubman Museum of Art

By Ed Ford, AIA

It was, as Michael Gibson reminded us, the thirteenth such occasion since the first Design Forum held in Hot Springs in 1994, a series of events that has brought us a widely diverse group of presenters in its 24-year history. This year’s theme was BLUR, in this case the blurring of boundaries between disciplines. At a time when art’s traditional connection to architecture seems to be waning in some quarters, it gratifying to see it was very much alive in the work presented in Roanoke. Jack Davis’s Introduction elaborated on the theme by reminding us of an old argument — Richards Serra’s contention that architecture can never be art and Harry Seidler’s belief that it cannot be anything else. All of this year’s presenters are involved in redefining, erasing and transgressing the definitions of and boundaries of architecture, art, design and science — of those things which we call disciplines, which as Jack defined them, are those things that require craft, skill, and philosophy.

An important connection was made later in the program by Doris Kim Sung who reminded us that as Maurice Merleau-Ponty said, we learn through experience and not intellect, and the interplay of the perceptual and the “real” was a repeating theme over the course of the Forum. Much of the work dealt with creative tensions between real space and perceived space or the idea of space at all. But while much of the work both in ideological origin and execution is both driven and inspired by the current acceleration of technological change, many saw their work growing out of longstanding art traditions that they were extending into the digital realm. Many presenters began their careers in other disciplines, often traditional ones, whose outlook had informed their architectural work. Space and form defined by light was a common theme, but at the same time, some of the most compelling projects were made from traditional materials and the work presented ranged from forms of pure light to meticulously joined wood to apparently jointless masonry structures.

 

Eric Howeler

Eric Höweler, AIA, of Höweler + Yoon Architecture, Harvard GSD

Eric Höweler in his keynote explained that he sees his firm as working across media — trespassing and bootlegging — defining architecture in the broadest of media. Much of their work deals with public space but Eric notes, “the notion of public and private has been fundamentally altered by a technologically expanded sense of commons that extends across media formats and channels,” Times Square being an obvious example.

Their most interactive project and least conventional in terms of the traditional tools of architecture is probably “Swing Time,” an interactive playscape in a park near the Boston Convention Center that takes the classic park swing into new territory. It is composed of twenty illuminated ring-shaped swings, large circular halos made of welded polypropylene with internal LED lighting controllers that change the illumination depending on the frequency and intensity of their movement. When stationary they emit a soft constant light. When the swings are moving the colors change from color and increase in intensity.

At the same time, some of their most compelling projects proved to be the least digital, such as a reinterpretation of the Chinese courtyard typology-the Skycourts housing and office complex in Chengdu, China, and the beautifully contrasting Corten and stone walls of the exterior.

The Collier Memorial is also executed in more conventional architecture materials but used in a technologiacally innovative way. The Memorial marks the site on MIT’s campus where a police officer was killed in the aftermath of the 2013 Marathon bombing. The Memorial, formed by a series of interlocking walls, takes the form of both a star and an open hand embodying the concept of “strength through unity.” It is composed of thirty-two blocks of granite that form a five-way stone vault. Each block supports the other to create a covered space.  A mortarless, zero-tolerance stone structure, it requires the perfect joinery of thirty-two stone blocks to transfer loads in pure compression from stone to stone.

 

Doris Kim Sung

Doris Kim Sung, dO|Su Studio Architecture, University of Southern California, 

While Doris is very much an artist, her education began with the study of biology and her process is based on her understanding of the biological world, such as the ways termite mounds accommodate themselves to thermal changes. Her work is very much focused on materials, what she calls “Metal that Breathes” or more broadly “Taming Smart Materials to Behave.” Her current focus is on thermal bimetals, a material that expands and contracts with temperature swings — the basic principle of a thermostat. Her work includes multiple iterations of these small units in multiple types of assemblies that can be used as sun shades, privacy screens and ventilation systems that change automatically with temperature, light and other climate variations without the use of electricity. Despite the mechanical characteristics of these devices, she sees them in an organic way — what she calls the skin of architecture. This typically takes the form of various curtain wall configurations in combination with glass, but other projects go beyond the building skin to become free standing structures-crustaceans. “Bloom,” an installation at the Materials and Application Gallery in Los Angeles is a large freestanding vortex composed of hyperbolic paraboloids. It is also constructed of smart thermobimetal and as the sun heats the surface it opens to ventilates that areas of the shell.

 

Nathan King

Nathan King, Lead Research Strategist at the Autodesk BUILD Space

 Nathan King is well known to many of us from his pioneering robotics work during his time at Virginia Tech in projects such as the “Breathe Wall.” Nathan’s primary focus at present is his work as lead Research Strategist at the Autodesk BUILD Space. He began his career as a painter and his work, however technologically driven, still informed by a painter’s sensibility. To him, a brush and a robot are both tools. Much of his work employs traditional materials — wood and steel — but with radical fabrication techniques, particularly robotics. The Lo-Fab (locally fabricated), Pavilion on the Rose Kennedy Greenway in Boston, Massachusetts was created by Virginia Tech faculty and students working with the MASS Design Group. It is a robotically fabricated structure something like a dome that requires a variety of tapered wood struts and multi-flanged steel connectors. It is a project that demonstrates not just the technical sophistication of robotics, but that it is a technology that can be used not just to hide joints but to beautifully articulate them.

 

David Freeland

David Freeland, FreelandBuck, Los Angeles, Sci Arc 

Like Nathan and Rafik, David sees his firm’s work grounded in certain traditional art forms, an extension of the trompe-l’oeil spaces of history such as the ceiling of the church of St. Ignatius in Rome. This however is only one aspect of the blurring of the real and the representational in their work. Also like Rafik and Eric, they work with light and illusion but in a far more literal way, exploring the boundaries of the two-dimensional and three-dimensional as well as blurring scales and types of representation in the process.  David notes that, “The Renaissance tradition of Trompe l’oeil ceilings uses the illusionary depth of perspective to project what is not there; a dome that was never built or an attic filled with angels.” All of their work is representative, but with varying levels of representation.

Their offices for Hungry Man Productions is a project closer to traditional architecture — a series of cubicles that creates an environment and flexible working configurations. Some of the cubicles are functional. Some are purely representational. They are filled with furniture, some of which is also real and some of which that is not.

Out of the Picture” is their proposed installation for the MoMA 2018 PS 1, Young Architects Program Competition. The streets and facades of Long Island City surrounding the PS1 courtyard are both literally and scenographically projected on to a series of vertical surfaces in the courtyard.

Parallax Gap” is their competition-winning installation at the Smithsonian and makes the strongest connection to the great illusionist ceilings of historyThe installation is a “ceiling” hung in the Grand Salon of the Renwick Gallery.  It is a collage of domed, coffered and beamed roofs of familiar American buildings-from Federal Hall in New York to the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco-in greatly reduced size, are color printed onto plastic but are also given real three-dimensional configurations.

 

Refik Anadol

Refik Anadol, Director UCLA Department of Design Media Arts

Refik Anadol is a media artist and a recipient of a Microsoft Research’s Best Vision Award. Refik brings his boundless energy and enthusiasm to a self-invented profession that defies categorization. It is architecture but it is architecture of light and images. But Refik is, in his own way, a traditionalist. Like others he sees his work connected to the traditions of art, in this case modernist ones — to James Turrell, Dan Flavin, and the Light + Space movement of the 1970s — and the influence of Turrell is apparent in his “Cube” project.

Much of Rafik’s current work involves what he calls “Making data visible” by means of parametric data sculptures. The lobby of an SOM office building in San Francisco is the location of his “SF data” project a 40-foot-wide screen with constantly changing images-a series of “data sculptures” based on a publicly-available data. He explains, “Through sensors, databases, information is collect on the city: sound, light, air quality, acoustics, human movement, ecological dimensions, social preferences. The installation uses the public dataset, as well as social network data, which are translated into images. Often, this materializes as trompe-l’œil illusions that play with the depth of the screen.” Some images architecture-specific. Some are quite concrete. Others are nebulous.

His most conspicuous and most ambitious work is his sound light/video/installation at Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall. Music is converted into digital imagery, breaking the art/ architecture boundaries in a number of ways. “The dynamic visual program uses custom-built algorithmic sound analysis to listen and respond to the music in real time, using architecture as a canvas and light as a material. Additionally, the movements of the conductor, are captured by Microsoft Kinect hardware and 3-D depth camera analysis to inform the visuals displayed.”

Doris Kim Sung, David Freeland, Refik Anadol, Nathan King

We closed with a Panel Discussion speculating on the variety of ways designers can cross these boundaries whether in theoretical or practical realms.

 

Design Forum 2018 is a Wrap!

Design Forum XIII: BLUR was held April 6-7, 2018 at the Taubman Museum in Roanoke. Attendees enjoyed presentations from Eric Höweler, Doris Kim Sung, Nathan King, David Freeland and Refik Anadol. Thank you to those who attended!

 

We would also like to take this opportunity to again thank our sponsors who made this event possible:

College of William and Mary, Art & Art History
Clark Nexsen
Hanbury
University of Virginia School of Architecture
BCWH
Moseley Architects
Ascent Engineering Group, Inc.
Mark S. Orling, AIA
Skanksa USA Building
Pella Windows of Virginia
HBA Architecture + Interior Design
Virginia Tech School of Architecture & Design
Forrester Construction
RMF Engineering
Dunbar Milby Williams Pittman & Vaughan
Reader & Swartz Architects, P.C.
PMA Architecture
AIA Central Virginia
Pyrok, Inc.
Shade & Wise, Inc.
Gulf Seaboard General Contractors, Inc.
AIA Northern Virginia
The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company
Anonymous
Hays + Ewing Design Studio
LKH Architects

And the AIA Virginia Design Committee members:

C. Michael Gibson, AIA
Andrea Quilici, AIA
Camilo Bearman, AIA
Jack Davis, FAIA
Ed Ford, AIA
Allison Ewing, AIA
Mark Orling, AIA
Matthew Pearson, AIA
Edwin J. Pease, AIA
Rob Reis, AIA
Roberto Ventura

Design Forum – Save the Date

Design Forum XIII is coming to Roanoke!

Taking place on April 6-7, 2018 at the award winning Taubman Museum of Art, Design Forum XIII will continue the trend of showcasing thought-provoking and inspiring work.

With the setting being southwestern Virginia’s preeminent art museum and with Virginia Tech around the corner, Design Forum XIII will be focusing on Art and Architecture, how the two often play a delicate dance with each other, and how emerging construction methods continue to allow creators to make what we thought was impossible.

We hope to see you in Roanoke in April in 2018!

Design Forum XII Registration Open

This year’s Design Forum focuses on how the locale, diverse community, and geography present a compelling opportunity to explore DESIGN TRANSFORMATION – how design itself is transformed in the wake of a changing climate, and, equally important, how meaningful changes are enacted by design.595x423design_forum-WEB_PR

In response, The Design Forum XII two-day conference will present thinkers and practitioners who are committed to solving tomorrow’s most pressing challenges. Lead by a dynamic moderator, Z Smith of Eskew Dumez Ripple, presentations from OMA, Playlab, and Kieran Timberlake, among others, will explore the intersection of design and transformation. These speakers offer a shift in thinking about how we work, what we build, how we affect change.

The venue in Norfolk, The Slover Library, is an absolute jewel of a building designed by the partnership of Newman Architects and Tymoff and Moss Architects,  and will offer an intimate and, no doubt, inspiring setting.

Online Registration is now closed. You can register onsite, Friday, April 1, at the Slover Library.

Read more about Design Forum XII

Save the Date: Design Forum XII

design_forum_slides-ArchEx-oma

Design Forum is a biannual conference founded in 1994 to “foreground important debates about design and the built environment.” Next spring, The Forum will take place in Norfolk, VA –the heart of Virginia’s largest metro area,  and an important site for the discussion of rising sea levels and climate change.

The locale, diverse community, and geography present a compelling opportunity to explore DESIGN TRANSFORMATION – how design itself is transformed in the wake of a changing climate, and, equally important, how meaningful changes are enacted by design.

In response, The Design Forum XII two-day conference will present thinkers and practitioners who are committed to solving tomorrow’s most pressing challenges. Lead by a dynamic moderator, Z Smith of Eskew Dumez Ripple, presentations from OMA, Playlab, and Kieran Timberlake, among others, will explore the intersection of design and transformation. These speakers offer a shift in thinking about how we work, what we build, how we affect change.

The venue in Norfolk, The Slover Library, is an absolute jewel of a building designed by the partnership of Newman Architects and Tymoff and Moss Architects,  and will offer an intimate and, no doubt, inspiring setting.

Save April 1-2, 2016 for this transformational event.
Watch for more information and registration early in 2016!

News Makers Speak at Design Forum

This year’s Virginia Design Forum speakers are making news! On March 11, The World Economic Forum named Ma Yansong, the founder of MAD Architects, a Young Global Leader for the year of 2014. Then, on March 28, Fast Company named Gluck+ among the world’s top 10 most innovative companies in architecture. Right on the heels of that announcement, Architect Magazine profiled BIG’s work on the Kimball Art Center.

The 2014 VSAIA Design Forum on Saturday, April 11 will feature presentations by:

Jeff Kovel, AIA, designer of the Twilight Movies’ Cullen House

[adrotate banner=”54″]Peter Gluck, GLUCK+, whose architect-led design-build Stack Apartments (a seven story infill in upper Manhattan) went up in four weeks

Kai-Uwe Bergmann, AIA, the worldwide business manager of BIG and managing principal of the firm’s New York City office

Ma Yansong, whose Absolute Towers built in Toronto represents the first major building competition outside of China won by a Chinese architect, and whose first anthology, MA YANSONG: From (Global) Modernity to (Local) Tradition, has just been published

Did you know:

  • The VSAIA Design Forum is one of the least expensive live events at which to earn health, education, and welfare AIA learning units?
  • The VSAIA Design Forum is the largest gathering of architects and related professionals devoted exclusively to design theory?
  • The 2014 VSAIA Design Forum is in Charlottesville, beginning immediately after the University of Virginia Founder’s Day Observances (which includes a 3:30 talk, free and open to the public by this year’s Thomas Jefferson Medal Recipient Toyo Ito, Hon. FAIA)?
  • The 2014 VSAIA Design Forum also runs concurrently with the Tom Tom Founder’s Festival, a three day series of educational seminars and festive events for the whole family focused on residential design and construction? (Only two years old, last year’s TTFF drew 17,000 people.)
  • The 2014 VSAIA Design Forum will feature opening presentations by national AIA EVP/CEO Robert Ivy, FAIA, and Terence Riley, AIA, the Philip Johnson Curator of Architecture and Design at MoMA from 1991-2006?

Time is running out to reserve your tickets. Register online today>>

Just one caveat, though. Hotel space in Charlottesville that weekend is at a premium. Get on your favorite travel accommodations website now to find a room.

The Design Forum is sponsored by:

Corporate          

Clark Nexsen

Benefactor        

HITT Contracting

College of William and Mary

Patron                 

Clark Construction Group, LLC.

EvensonBest

Forest City

Reed Construction Data

SHW Group

University of Virginia School of Architecture

Sustaining         

Va. Tech School of Architecture + Design

BCWH

Supporter          

2rw Consultants, Inc.

AIA Northern Virginia

Hanbury Evans Wright Vlattas + Company

KBS, Inc.

L. F. Jennings, Inc.

Mark S. Orling, AIA

Edwin J. Pease, AIA

Reader & Swartz Architects

Riverside Brick & Supply

RMF Engineering

The Shockey Companies

Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc.

Other

Baskervill

Hayes + Ewing Design Studio