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Exactitude: Speakers

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Ada Tolla

Ada Tolla and Giuseppe Lignano are architects, co-founders and principals of LOT-EK. They studied architecture in Naples, Italy at the Universita’ Degli Studi Federico II and completed their post-graduate in New York at Columbia University, GSAPP.

In 1993 Ada and Giuseppe established LOT-EK, an award-winning studio that makes sustainable and soulful architecture through the transformation of industrial and infrastructural objects. We make the ordinary extraordinary. Our practice is experimental, ecological, and technological.LOT-EK’sprojects, across architecture and art, include commissions in the US and abroad for major cultural institutions and museums such as MoMA, the Whitney Museum, the Guggenheim and the MAXXI. LOT-EK’s recent monograph, O+O: OBJECTS + OPERATIONS, was published by The Monacelli Press.

Besides heading their practice, Ada and Giuseppe have been teaching at the graduate level for the past 20 years. They are professors at Columbia University’s GSAPP and lecture at universities and cultural institutions worldwide.

Abstract

Because the work of LOT-EK is simple, crude, and unoriginal, it speaks in a particular way to a discourse of exactitude in architecture. To be sure, the work is simple, crude, and unoriginal in a way that also requires it to be complex, subtle, and unprecedented. One discourse of exactitude in architecture is to propose that the original and specific inspiration of the architect—which generally comes to her with a seeming uncertainty and mutability that are easy to mistake for imprecision...(Read More Here)

   
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Giuseppe Lignano

Ada Tolla and Giuseppe Lignano are architects, co-founders and principals of LOT-EK. They studied architecture in Naples, Italy at the Universita’ Degli Studi Federico II and completed their post-graduate in New York at Columbia University, GSAPP.

In 1993 Ada and Giuseppe established LOT-EK, an award-winning studio that makes sustainable and soulful architecture through the transformation of industrial and infrastructural objects. We make the ordinary extraordinary. Our practice is experimental, ecological, and technological.LOT-EK’sprojects, across architecture and art, include commissions in the US and abroad for major cultural institutions and museums such as MoMA, the Whitney Museum, the Guggenheim and the MAXXI. LOT-EK’s recent monograph, O+O: OBJECTS + OPERATIONS, was published by The Monacelli Press.

Besides heading their practice, Ada and Giuseppe have been teaching at the graduate level for the past 20 years. They are professors at Columbia University’s GSAPP and lecture at universities and cultural institutions worldwide.

Abstract

Because the work of LOT-EK is simple, crude, and unoriginal, it speaks in a particular way to a discourse of exactitude in architecture. To be sure, the work is simple, crude, and unoriginal in a way that also requires it to be complex, subtle, and unprecedented. One discourse of exactitude in architecture is to propose that the original and specific inspiration of the architect—which generally comes to her with a seeming uncertainty and mutability that are easy to mistake for imprecision... (Read More Here)

   
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Thomas de Monchaux

Thomas de Monchaux is an adjunct assistant professor of architecture at Columbia University GSAPP, who contributed to LOT-EK: OBJECTS + OPERATIONS, a recent monograph on the work of LOT-EK, with whom he is a longtime collaborator and contributor. His writing about design has appeared in The New York Times and The New Yorker, as well as in such journals as Log and n+1, where he is an architecture critic. Thomas has been a guest editor of the SOM Journal, a recipient of Graham Foundation and other awards, a past Bellazoug Memorial lecturer at Yale; and was the inaugural recipient of the Winterhouse Award for Design Writing and Criticism.

Abstract

Because the work of LOT-EK is simple, crude, and unoriginal, it speaks in a particular way to a discourse of exactitude in architecture. To be sure, the work is simple, crude, and unoriginal in a way that also requires it to be complex, subtle, and unprecedented. One discourse of exactitude in architecture is to propose that the original and specific inspiration of the architect—which generally comes to her with a seeming uncertainty and mutability that are easy to mistake for imprecision... (Read More Here)

   
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Alejandro Zaera-Polo

Alejandro Zaera-Polo (born Madrid, 1963) is an accomplished contemporary architect. His work has consistently merged the practice of architecture with theoretical practice, deftly integrating architecture, urban design, and landscape architecture in his projects. His practice has produced critically acclaimed and award-winning projects for the public and private sector on an international scale. 

He trained at the Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de Madrid, graduating with honors, and went on to do a master’s in architecture (MArch II) at the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University, where he graduated with distinction. He worked at OMA in Rotterdam between 1991 and 1993, prior to establishing Foreign Office Architects in 1993 and AZPML in 2011. 

Alejandro Zaera-Polo has also had an extensive involvement in education at an international level since 1993. He is a tenured professor at Princeton SoA. He was the dean of Princeton SoA in 2012–2014 and of the Berlage Institute in Rotterdam from 2000 to 2005, where he held the Berlage Chair at the Technical University in Delft, the Netherlands. He was the inaugural recipient of the Norman Foster professorship at Yale University School of Architecture between 2010 and 2011, and has been a visiting critic at Columbia GSAPP and UCLA School of Architecture. He led a Diploma Unit between 1993 and 1999 at the Architectural Association in London.  

In addition to his professional and academic roles, Alejandro Zaera-Polo is recognized as an original theorist and thinker of contemporary architecture, with a sharp capacity to identify social and political trends and translate them into the architectural discourse. His texts can be found in many professional publications such as El Croquis, Quaderns, A+U, Arch+, Log, AD and Harvard Design Magazine.  

Abstract

Beyond becoming a global catastrophe, COVID-19 has confirmed the radical effects of nonhuman populations (viruses in this case) in the design of cities, and the brutal relevance of scientific determinations on architecture and urbanism: social distancing (the enforcement of proxemics!), confinement, the physics of airborne VOCs, and other ruthless biopolitics suggest what we had long suspected: that architectural and urban “cultures” are an irrelevant efflorescence of the true forces of... (Read More Here)

   
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Alicia Imperiale

Alicia Imperiale, architect, MFA, PhD, is a currently a Visiting Associate Professor of History and Theory at Pratt Institute. She also teaches graduate Urban Design studio at the Yale University School of Architecture and is works with the Yale Center for Ecosystems in Architecture. From 2017-2018 she was Visiting Professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where she taught undergraduate and graduate history and theory lectures and seminars. In 2016-17 she was a Cornell University, Society for the Humanities Fellow and was Visiting Assistant Professor at the Cornell University School of Architecture, Art, and Planning. In Spring 2016 she was Visiting Professor at Università deli Studi Roma Tre, Studi Umanistici for a three-day workshop. Previously she was Assistant Professor of Architectural Design and Modern Architectural History and Theory in the Architecture Department at Tyler School of Art, Temple University where she taught architectural design studios and architectural history and theory courses from 2009-2016. She has also taught at Pratt Institute, Parsons School of Design, Cornell University, Princeton University, Barnard College, Columbia University, and Southern California Institute of Architecture. She holds terminal degrees in the three larger areas in art and architecture studies and is able to teach across departments and students in architecture, studio art, and architectural, urbanism and art history. She holds a Bachelor of Architecture with Highest Honors from Pratt Institute, attained professional licensure as an Architect in New York State, holds an M.F.A. in Combined Media from Hunter College/City University of New York, and an M.A. and the Ph.D. in Architectural History and Theory from Princeton University with the dissertation, Alternate Organics: The aesthetics of experimentation in art, technology & architecture in postwar Italy.

Her scholarly work focuses on the impact of technology on art, architecture, representation, and fabrication in contemporary architecture and is a scholar of postwar Italian architecture. She is author of New Flatness: Surface Tension in Digital Architecture (Birkhauser, 2000). Other essays include "Digital skins: architecture of surface" in SKIN: Surface, Substance and Design (Princeton Architectural Press, 2002),“Territories of Protest,” in Log 13, “Seminal Space: Getting under the Digital Skin,” in RE: SKIN, ed. Mary Flanagan, (MIT Press, 2006), “Dynamic Symmetries” in Anne Tyng: Inhabiting Geometry (ICA, 2011), “Stupid Little Automata” in Architecture & Culture (2014), “Organic architecture as an Open Work,” (MAXXI Museum, Rome 2018), “An Ineluctable Geometric Character: Luigi Moretti and a prehistory of parametric architecture” (Log, 2018) and “Paolo Soleri’s Teilhard de Chardin Cloister,” in Modern Architecture and Religious Communities, 1850-1970: Building the Kingdom (London: Routledge, London, 2018) among other essays. Her book projects underway include Alternate Organics: the aesthetics of experimentation in art, technology & architecture in postwar Italy and Machine Consequences: Origins of Output. Her work has been supported by the American Academy in Rome (AFAAR, Affiliated Fellow of the American Academy in Rome), The Center for the Humanities at Temple University Faculty Fellowship, a Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts Research Grant, and a Cornell University Society for the Humanities Fellowship among others.

Abstract

Computer numerical control (CNC) machines, developed to be precise to multiple decimal places in milling titanium jet engine turbines or automobile engine parts, in 3D printers used in fabricating scientific and medical equipment, or in the precise assembly of manufactured parts through the use of robotic arms, are creatively misused by artists and designers, and this in turn puts pressure on the dimensional exactitude so critical in manufacturing for industry. (Read More Here)

   
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Antoine Picon

Antoine Picon is professor of the History of Architecture and Technology at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. He is also chairman of the Fondation Le Corbusier and a member of the French Academy of Technology. His research revolves around the relations between architecture and the city on the one hand and science, technology, and society on the other. He has published extensively on this theme. Picon is the author of French Architects and Engineers in the Age of Enlightenment (1992), L’Invention de l’ingénieur moderne (1992), La Ville territoire des cyborgs (1998), Les Saint-simoniens (2002), Digital Culture in Architecture (2010), Ornament: The Politics of Architecture and Subjectivity (2013), Smart Cities: A Spatialised Intelligence (2015), and La Matérialité de l’architecture (2018), among other works. 

Abstract

In recent years, artificial intelligence has often been presented as the future of design. What does this perspective imply? In order to address this question, the lecture will begin by questioning the enduring fascination exerted by automation in the design field. In many respects, the rise of artificial intelligence represents the latest episode in a long history marked by various attempts to automate not only fabrication but also the design process itself. To what extent is artificial intelligence...(Read More Here)

   
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Christopher Benfey

Christopher Benfey is Andrew W. Mellon Professor of English at Mount Holyoke College. He is the author of five highly regarded books about the American Gilded Age, including The Double Life of Stephen Crane (1992) and A Summer of Hummingbirds, which won both the 2009 Christian Gauss Award of Phi Beta Kappa and the Ambassador Book Award. Benfey is a frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books and the New York Times Sunday Book Review. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has held fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. In 2013 he won the Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, which is given to a writer whose work merits recognition for the quality of its prose style. 

Abstract

It is difficult to come to grips with the notion of exactitude without wrestling with its various opposites, or discontents. High on the list of these, at least as far as architecture is concerned, is the weather. No matter how precisely the plans are drawn on paper, or on the computer screen, weather has a way of making itself part of the proceedings. The Life of Buildings in Time is how Mohsen Mostafavi and David Leatherbarrow subtitled their book On Weathering. The implication is that...(Read More Here)

   
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Cynthia Davidson

Cynthia Davidson is co-founder and executive director of the nonprofit Anyone Corporation, an architecture think tank in New York City, and editor of the international architecture journal Log, which she launched in 2003, and the former ANY magazine, an architecture theory tabloid (1993–2000). She is also responsible for more than 40 books in print, including 24 books in the Anyone project’s Writing Architecture series, published with MIT Press. She co-curated “The Architectural Imagination,” an exhibition of speculative projects for Detroit shown first in the US Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale, and started the pop-up architecture gallery Anyspace in New York in 2017. Davidson also teaches writing in the Graduate Architecture and Urban Design program at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and Cornell University’s College of Architecture, Art and Planning program in Manhattan. The American Academy of Arts and Letters recognized her work with its Architecture Award in 2014.

 

   
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Eric Höweler

Eric Höweler, AIA, LEEDAP, is an architect, designer, and educator. He is currently Associate Professor in Architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, where he has taught since 2008. Additionally, he serves as Area Head of the Energy and Environment MDes area group at the GSD. Eric’s design work and research focus on building technology integration and material systems. Eric is co-founding Principal of Höweler + Yoon Architecture LLP, a research-driven studio of 20+ designers working between architecture, art and media. HYA has a reputation for work that is technologically and formally innovative, and deeply informed by human experience and a sensitivity to tectonics. Prior to co-founding HYA in 2005, Höweler was a senior designer at Diller Scofidio + Renfro in New York, and an Associate Principal at Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates. He is the co-author of Expanded Practice (Princeton Architectural Press 2009), author of Skyscraper,Vertical Now (Rizzoli/Universe 2003), and co-author of 1,001Skyscrapers (Princeton Architectural Press 2000). Höweler received a Bachelor of Architecture from Cornell University with the AIA Henry Adams Certificate in 1994, and a Master of Architecture from Cornell University in 1996.

Abstract

VIF, Verify in Field, is a notational convention employed on architectural drawings indicating that the information on the drawings is incomplete and further field verification is necessary. VIF, as a technical notation, reveals the gap between architectural representation and the built reality—the field, with its codes, contingencies, knowns, and unknowns. The term acknowledges the disciplinary investments in the instruments of design: drawings, models, and prototypes that are the discipline’s... (Read More Here)

   

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Francesca Hughes

Professor Francesca Hughes is Head of the UTS School of Architecture, Sydney. She previously taught at the Architectural Association and the Bartlett School of Architecture in London for over two decades. Sheis the author of numerous books and essays, includingThe Architecture of Error: Matter, Measure and the Misadventures of Precision(MIT Press, 2014), The Architect: Reconstructing her Practice(MIT Press, 1996)and most recently, Architectures of Prediction(ARQ docs 2019).

Abstract

Italo Calvino’s conflict between “bodiless rationality” and the “density and continuity of the world” is echoed in that between the predictive actions of the universal laws so central to the scientific method and big data’s current unseating of the former’s abstraction (indeed its very universality) via predictive simulation and the vertiginous promise of Roland Barthes’s dream of a “science for each object”. This latest iteration of a conflict that defines us is predicated... (Read More Here)

   

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Mark Wigley

Mark Wigley is a professor of architecture and Dean Emeritus at ColumbiaUniversity. His books include Passing Through Architecture: The 10 Years of Gordon Matta-Clark(Power Station of Art: 2019); Cutting Matta-Clark: The Anarchitecture Investigation(Lars Müller, 2018); Are We Human? Notes on an Archaeology of Design(written with Beatriz Colomina; Lars Müller, 2016); Buckminster Fuller Inc.: Architecture in the Age of Radio(Lars Müller, 2015); Constant’s New Babylon: The Hyper-Architecture of Desire(010 Publishers, 1998); White Walls, Designer Dresses: The Fashioning of Modern Architecture(MIT Press, 1995); and Derrida’s Haunt: The Architecture of Deconstruction(MIT Press, 1993). He has curated exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, the Drawing Center, Columbia University, Witte de WithCenter for Contemporary Art, Het Nieuwe Instituut, and the Canadian Centre for Architecture. Most recently he curated“Passing Through Architecture: The 10 Years of Gordon Matta-Clark” at the Power Station of Art, Shanghai(2019–20).

Abstract

There is much talk of exactitude in architecture today. All the thousands of elements in even the simplest building are seen to be defined by ever more precise computation in design, modelling, analysis, testing, selection, sourcing, budgeting, specification, fabrication, transportation, assembly, installation, fastening, monitoring, maintenance, and representation. It is as if Architecture itself is now suspended in clouds of digital precision. Buildings have become the visible tip of vast...(Read More Here)

   

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Sunil Bald

Sunil Bald is associate dean and professor at the Yale School of Architecture, where he teaches design, visualization, and theory. Sunil is also a founding partner of the architecture and design firm studioSUMO. In 2015 SUMO was awarded the Annual Prize in Architecture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. SUMO’s work, which ranges from installations to institutional buildings, has been exhibited in the National Building Museum, MoMA, the Venice Biennale, the Field Museum, the GA Gallery, and the Urban Center. In addition to practice, Sunil has an enduring research interest in modernism, popular culture, and nation-making in Brazil, for which he received fellowships from the Fulbright and Graham Foundations and published a series of articles. Sunil has an MArch from Columbia and a BA in biology from the University of California at Santa Cruz. 

Abstract

Architecture privileges “grounded-ness”—as an entity in conversation with gravity; as a locus to situate and explore place; and in the clarity of its manifestation. Central to this grounded-ness is a clear connection to context, whether in the working process of the architect or as an ambition to respond to those who inhabit it. For the past fifteen years, studioSUMO has explored floating, and consequently “ungrounded-ness,” in a series of projects in Japan. While designing... (Read More Here)

   

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Teresa Stoppani

Teresa Stoppani is an architect, architectural theorist, and critic based in London, where she lectures in History and Theory Studies at the Architectural Association School of Architecture. She studied architecture in Venice (MArch and Architetto, IUAV) and Florence (PhD Arch&UD), and has taught architectural design and theory in Italy (IUAV Venice), Australia (UT Sydney, RMIT Melbourne), and the UK (Architectural Association, University of Greenwich, University of Brighton, Leeds Beckett University). Teresa’s research interests are the relationship between architecture theory and the design process in the urban environment, and the influence on the specifically architectural of other spatial and critical practices. Her writings have been published internationally in edited volumes and academic journals. She is the author of Paradigm Islands: Manhattan and Venice (Routledge, 2010) and of Unorthodox Ways to Think the City (Routledge, 2019), and co-editor of This Thing Called Theory (Routledge, 2016). She is an editor of the Journal of Architecture (RIBA/Routledge) and the instigator of the international architecture research collective ThisThingCalledTheory. 

Abstract

There are words in architecture that perdure beyond definitions, cultures, and times. They don’t change, they change. Malleable, stretchable, they reset themselves each time, to adhere to something that continuously changes—life. It is because they don’t change that they change. It is in the space between the word and the thing/space that the project of architecture becomes possible and remains active. It is the words that perdure which allow us to plot continuities and transformations... (Read More Here)