Francine Houben

Mon, Apr 17    6:30pm

People, Place, Purpose
Francine Houben
Discussion with Jorge Otero-Pailos, Director Historic Preservation Program, and Iris Weinshall, Chief Operating Officer, New York Public Library

With People, Place, Purpose, Francine Houben will present Mecanoo’s designs based on these three fundamental elements. Each project is carefully considered in terms of its cultural setting, place and time, amounting to a unique design statement embedded within its context and orchestrated specifically for the people who use it.


Francine Houben is the founder and creative director of Mecanoo Architecten. Her work ranges from theatres, museums and libraries to neighborhoods, housing and parks. Selected works include Delft University of Technology Library, Delft (1997), Library of Birmingham, UK (2013), Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building, Boston, US (2015) and National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts, Taiwan (to be opened in 2017). Currently, Francine and her team are working on the renovation of the New York Public Library and the central library of Washington, DC. She has held professorships in the Netherlands and abroad. In 2010 she was granted lifelong membership to the Akademie der Künste in Berlin. In 2015, Queen Máxima of the Netherlands presented her the prestigious Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds Prize for her entire oeuvre.

Jorge Otero-Pailos works at the intersection of art, architecture and preservation. He is Professor and Director of Historic Preservation at Columbia GSAPP. His work has been commissioned by and exhibited at major museums, foundations and biennials notably, the 53rd Venice Art Biennial, Victoria and Albert Museum, Louis Vuitton Galerie Museum, Artangel Trust, Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Otero-Pailos is the founder and editor of the journal Future Anterior, author of Architecture’s Historical Turn (2010) and contributor to scholarly journals and books including the Oxford Encyclopedia of Aesthetics and Rem Koolhaas’ Preservation Is Overtaking Us (2014).

Iris Weinshall is The New York Public Library’s Chief Operating Officer, responsible for the Library’s expense and capital budgets, its $1 billion endowment, and all construction projects across the system’s three boroughs. Additionally, she has oversight over the institution’s operational departments, including Finance and Investment, Human Resources, Capital Planning and Construction, Facilities Operations, BookOps, and Government Relations. Prior to this role, Weinshall served as the vice chancellor of facilities planning, management, and construction for the City University of New York, where she was responsible for overseeing the university’s multi-year capital construction program across 24 campuses in the five boroughs. She served as commissioner of New York City’s Department of Transportation from 2000 to 2007, and was responsible for all daily operations, including the agency’s expense and capital budgets, both totaling well over $100 million.

About the Paul S. Byard Memorial Lecture

The Paul S. Byard Memorial Lecture celebrates the legacy of Paul S. Byard, Director of Historic Preservation at Columbia GSAPP from 2000-2008.

"Every act of preservation is inescapably an act of renewal by the light of a later time, a set of decisions both about what we think something was and about what we want it to be and to say about ourselves today." The Architecture of Additions: Design and Regulation

Paul Byard began his career as a lawyer at Winthrop & Stimson, and worked for the New York State Urban Development Corporation to develop public housing. In 1977, Byard received his Master of Architecture at Columbia University, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. During his graduate studies, Byard supported the legal defense of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Law. The work culminated in 1978 when the US Supreme Court decision in the Penn Central Transportation Co. vs. The City of New York upheld the constitutionality of historic preservation laws. From 1968 to 1989, while serving on the board of the Municipal Art Society, Byard was the primary author of briefs amicus curiae that helped facilitate the security of the New York Landmarks Law during the Supreme Court Case that saved Grand Central Station.

Paul Byard joined the James Stewart Polshek & Partners architecture firm, and was made a partner in 1981. In 1989, Byard joined Charles A. Platt Partners (later known as Platt Byard Dovell White). He brought his legal experience to Columbia’s Historic Preservation Program by teaching a Preservation Law class. His book, The Architecture of Additions: Design and Regulation, was published in 1998, as a critical review of architectural additions as a creative paradigm, and more specifically, “what ought to happen when architecture is added to distinguished buildings protected by law”. In 2000, Paul Byard was appointed Director of the Historic Preservation Program at Columbia, where he served until his death in 2008.

Organized by Columbia GSAPP Historic Preservation Program.