The University as Patron of Cutting Edge Architecture (Part Two)

moderator: William J. Mitchell, MIT Media Lab, School of Architecture + Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT
author: Frank O. Gehry, Gehry Partners, LLP
author: Robert Venturi, VSBA, Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates inc.
author: Kyong Park, Slowlab
author: John R. Curry, HURON consulting group
published: Aug. 13, 2010,   recorded: May 2004,   views: 184
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Description

William Mitchell opens this session by describing MIT as an “enormously critical place.” The Stata Center, during its design and construction, fed the campus “attitude of not taking anything for granted and rethinking premises.” So it’s no surprise that debate and some sparring ensue during this spirited panel. Frank Gehry describes imbibing Talmudic learning from his grandfather, a constant inquiry which leads to the “final essence—the Golden Rule.” He believes his design process follows this rule: “being a good neighbor, respecting the architecture around me.” Robert Venturi apologizes for being grouchy, then reminds his audience that “campus is a community and not a stage set….Down with the old romantic idea of the artist as being original in order to be good.” Venturi then proclaims his love for the earliest MIT buildings. Gehry responds, “You sound like you’re fitting in well to the resurgence of fundamentalism.” The two find common ground in their respect for clients that manage to establish, in Venturi’s words, “a feeling of trust, mutual understanding” in spite of the “Byzantine complexity” of their projects. Kyong Park calls for a movement in architecture that can, post 9/11, “be part of bringing back to the future hope and possibility.” John Curry describes presiding over a series of dialectical processes in the course of bringing the Stata Center to fruition -- “between sustainability and style,” “between commons versus cloisters,” and “between the cheap and the durable.”

ABOUT THE MODERATOR: William Mitchell is the former Dean of Architecture at MIT; he also serves as architectural advisor to the President of MIT. As such, he has been a crucial advocate for commissioning innovative architecture for the campus. His most recent book is Me++: The Cyborg Self and the Networked City.

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