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

MoMA Curator to Speak at Design Forum

Photo courtesy of Architect Magazine.
Photo courtesy of Architect Magazine.

The Virginia Design Forum has gotten even more compelling with the confirmation of Terence Riley, AIA, as the opening night keynote speaker. He has been at the center of critical thinking in architecture from the very beginning of his career and will offer his insight into Dwelling: The Art of Living in Century XXI. The Forum will be held in Charlottesville on April 11-12, interwoven with the UVA Founder’s Day and the Tom Tom Founder’s Festival events.

Renowned for his museum curatorial work yet, by his own description, primarily an architect, Terence Riley, AIA, co-founded Keenen/Riley in 1984. The K/R architectural studio is widely recognized for its designs for art museums, galleries, artists, and collectors. An acclaimed author and contributor to journals and other publications on design, he lectures frequently and has taught at the Harvard GSD, among many other schools of design.

Riley served from 1991 to 2006 as the Philip Johnson Chief Curator for Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) where he curated critical exhibitions on both historical figures—Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe—and contemporary architects—Rem Koolhaas, Jacques Herzog and Pierre DeMeuron, and Bernard Tschumi. From 2006 until 2010, he was director and design consultant for the Miami Art Museum (MAM), leading the institution through its transformative process of planning and designing its new waterfront facility.

Riley has advised a number of important cultural institutions in their strategic planning—in addition to his roles at MoMA and MAM—including the Reina Sofia National Museum in Madrid and the Museum of Latin American Art in Buenos Aires. K/R has provided master planning and programming for the Museum of Art, Design, and the Environment (Murcia, Spain), the Hangzhou Urban Cultural Center (Hangzhou, China), and the Oficina Francisco Brennand (Recife, Brazil). He was the Chief Curator of the 2011 Shenzhen-Hong Kong Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture.

Riley currently serves on the editorial board for the Architect’s Newspaper and is a past Van Alen Institute trustee.

On Saturday, the program features presentations by Kai-Uwe Bergmann, AIA, principal, BIG, with offices in Copenhagen and New York City; Peter Gluck, principal of the New York City design-build firm GLUCK+; Jeff Kovel, founder of Skylab, Portland, Ore.; and Ma Yansong founder of MAD Architects. Each of these firms is known for outstanding residential architecture as well as a focus on community and environmental health and well-being. Register >>

Please help us thank our sponsors for their generous support of the Virginia Design Forum:

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

The Shockey Companies

Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc.

Save the Date: Virginia Design Forum

Save the Date, April 11-12, for the VSAIA Design Forum

“Dwelling—The Art of Living in Century XXI”

In his keynote presentation at the 2013 ArchEx, architect, educator, and architectural critic Bernard Tschumi, FAIA, expressed his opinion that there is no over-arching architectural style at the moment, save for what he calls Iconism (aka, in some camps, the Guggenheim Effect), but …

Four wildly successful architects will gather in Charlottesville April 11-12, 2014, to put forth their own work as evidence that there is indeed a new set of principles that inspire the most-noticed architects in the world today. These are principles that foster aesthetic originality and client-centric problem-solving approaches; principles that address the challenges and opportunities that face every urban planner, architect, landscape architect, and constructor currently in practice. How do you plan, design, and build today for the lifestyles, technologies, and natural and anthropogenic uncertainties of tomorrow? This current architectural “style of the present for the future” is contextual, sensitive to the needs of all people, and predicated on the co-existing goals of restoring both environmental and economic vitality.

The Friday evening Keynote Presentation by Ma Yansong, founder of mad architecture, will kick off with a topic and speaker introduction by national AIA EVP/CEO Robert Ivy, FAIA.

The program all day Saturday, April 12, includes presentations by Kai-Uwe Bergmann, AIA, principal, BIG, with offices in Copenhagen and New York City; Peter Gluck, principal of the New York City design-build firm Gluck+; Jeff Kovel, founder of Skylab, Portland, Ore.; and Ma Yansong. Each of these firms is known for outstanding residential architecture as well as a focus on community and environmental health and well-being.

Come to Charlottesville in the spring, immediately following the University of Virginia Founder’s Day observances and just before Thomas Jefferson’s 271st birthday and Architecture Week to enjoy remembrances of the past and explore the dawning of a new future in Dwelling. Register here>>

The Virginia 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.

Mark S. Orling, AIA

Edwin J. Pease, AIA

Reader & Swartz Architects

Riverside Brick & Supply

Design Forum Focuses on Façade Innovation

Jovanovic Residence, LOHA. Photo by  Michael Weschler
Jovanovic Residence, LOHA. Photo by Michael Weschler

Recently, Inform Magazine had the opportunity to interview speakers from the Virginia Design Forum X about their work and their philosophies. The bi-annual event organized by the Virginia Committee on Design will take place on March 16-17, 2012, at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

Keynote speaker, Kim Herforth Nielsen, MAA, RIBA, of 3XN in Copenhagen discusses how architecture shapes behavior.

Panelist Lorcan O’Herlihy, FAIA, of Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects, in Los Angeles, talks about ROI on high-design façades. Marc Simmons, of Front Inc., in New York City chats about client values and Lisa Iwamoto of IwamotoScott Architecture, in San Francisco discusses innovations in envelope systems.

Registration is still open for the Virginia Design Forum. More>>