Architecture symposium explores role of technology

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Photo by Annelisa Leinbach.

This weekend, the School of Architecture hosted a symposium that focused on the role of technology in design and construction.

The event, titled “Digital Post-Modernities: From Calculus to Computation,” brought together renowned architecture theorists and practitioners from all over the world. The two-day symposium aimed to foster discussion about the role of digital technology in architecture and examine its origins, impact and future. The event was organized by Mario Carpo, a visiting professor at the school.

School of Architecture Dean Robert Stern ARC ’65 called the symposium “the biggest event of the spring semester,” adding that the diversity of views which the event gathered enhanced the quality of the discussion.

Friday’s session began with a panel led by School of Architecture professor Greg Lynn, followed by conversations with experts such as Alejandro Zaera-Polo from Princeton University and Frédéric Migayrou from the French Centre Pompidou in Paris. The scholars discussed a variety of topics, including the impact of deconstructivism — a movement within postmodern architecture that began in the late 1980s — as well as the evolution of design toward non-linear architectural forms.

On Saturday, an audience comprised of students, professors and professionals gathered to discuss technological advances such as 3D printing and computational architecture with Paola Antonelli, an expert from the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and Alisa Andrasek from the University College London’s Bartlett School.

Peggy Deamer, assistant dean of the School of Architecture, said the speakers examined the digital turn of architecture as a postmodern condition, adding that she considers the event a success.

Many of the panelists took a philosophical angle, which Deamer said she found particularly interesting, as it allowed them to analyze the role technology has played in building the radically disorganized, complex forms that have emerged from the growth of deconstructivism in architecture. She noted that she thinks a sense of historical, cultural and intellectual confluence enveloped the event.

“One thing that was identified was that deconstructivism demanded computation to happen, and whether or not there is a socially intellectual dimension to that and whether this dimension has continued,” Deamer said.

Phillip Bernstein ’79 ARC ’83, a lecturer at the School of Architecture and vice president of Autodesk, Inc., a firm that creates design software, said he thinks the symposium was an opportunity to put ideas into a broader context, something which he said architects often struggle with. He emphasized that the event facilitated an investigation of how digital tools are fundamentally changing the architecture profession, not only on the level of architectural theory but also with respect to the design and construction of buildings.

The symposium coincided with a School of Architecture exhibition by Lynn, the professor who led the Friday panel, entitled “Archeology of the Digital,” which focuses on the evolution of the use of technology in architecture dating back to primitive computers and floppy disks. Stern said he thinks this thematic overlap enriched the symposium.

“This exhibition is typical of [what] Yale tries to be as an institution – avant-garde, at the forefront of what is happening, a place where ideas come to form and architects are trained,” Bernstein said.

The exhibition “Archeology of the Digital” will be on display until May 3.

 

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