USA Architecture and Design Panel for 2007
Designer and President, YEOHLEE, New York, NY
Principal, Carlos Jimenez Studio, Houston, TX
Director, Miami Art Museum, Miami, FL
Partner, Antenna Design, and USA Target Fellow 2006, New York, NY
Brooke Hodge (Chair)
Curator of Architecture and Design, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA
Statement by Brooke Hodge
The close of the first decade of the twenty-first century marks a critical turning point for architecture and design. The presence of the computer in schools, design studios, and workshops is more powerful than ever, yet we are beginning to see younger practitioners make use of its capabilities and potential in ways that are fresh and exciting. We are also witnessing the coming-of-age of the first generation of architects and designers to be educated in schools that welcomed the dawn of this new digital era. They are striding toward the future, confident in their ability to build the remarkable forms and spaces that would have been just fantastical visions only twenty years ago.
One of the pleasures of serving as a United States Artists panelist this year was seeing the wide spectrum of architecture and design that is being practiced today in America. It was gratifying to see the evolution of the computer into a design tool that is used with ease in myriad ways. And it was surprising to realize that its full potential hasn't even begun to be tapped. But perhaps what was most pleasing was seeing that the joy of making things by hand can coexist happily with and, indeed, be complemented by the use of the computer as a design tool. It would be daunting to try to enumerate everything the computer can do in a design studio, but let's start with its ability to draw complex geometric forms in a fluid manner, calculate insanely complicated algorithms, and direct routers, millers, and laser cutters to fabricate detailed models and an almost endless variety of prototypes.
Architects and designers today are not using digital design just for form making; they are using it to solve problems. For some young architects, most clients aren't adventurous enough to embrace the forms they design, which may seem too radical or futuristic. And in many cases the building industry hasn't yet caught up to the rapid advances made possible in the design phase. Product design has provided a way for architects to test ideas and construct complex forms at a scale that is more manageable and affordable. And, conversely, some product designers have ventured into architecture, perhaps out of the desire to have creative control over the total environment of a home, restaurant, or hotel. This marriage between architecture and design was common in Europe, with modernist architects such as Aldo Rossi or Mario Bellini also designing appliances, flatware, and furniture, but it has been less common in America. Today we are much more likely to see architects and designers cross the threshold into each other's creative territory to borrow fabrication technologies, forms, and materials.
The USA Fellows in Architecture and Design for 2007 demonstrate in their work and the nature of their practices that boundaries between architecture and design and, indeed, other creative disciplines are becoming increasingly blurry. Their work also demonstrates the presence of digital design and a mature understanding of its capabilities and applications. These young design partnerships exemplify the very promise that United States Artists was established to recognize and support. They are the future of architecture.