The Arthur Ross Architecture Gallery at Columbia GSAPP presents The Other Architect, an exhibition of architects who expanded their role in society to shape the contemporary cultural agenda without the intervention of built form. On display are twenty-three case studies dating from the 1960s to today that illustrate how international and often multidisciplinary groups applied experimental attitudes and collaborative strategies to invent new tools and alternative methods outside of traditional design practice.
The architects included in the exhibition challenged the concept of individual authorship in favor of establishing networks and partnerships with permeable roles: AD/AA/Polyark, AMO, Anyone Corporation, Architects Revolutionary Council (ARC), Architectural Detective Agency (ADA), Architecture Machine Group (AMG), Art Net, Atelier de recherche et d’action urbaines (ARAU), Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP), CIRCO, Corridart, Delos Symposion, Design-A-Thon, Forensic Architecture, Global Tools, Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies (IAUS), International Laboratory of Architecture and Urban Design (ILAUD), Lightweight Enclosures Unit (LEU), Multiplicity, Kommunen in der Neuen Welt, Pidgeon Audio Visual (PAV), Take Part, and Urban Innovations Group (UIG).
Beginning in the 1960s, it is possible to identify a range of experiences that pushed beyond the established domains of academia and the usual dynamics of editorial and institutional activities to develop architecture as a field of energetic, critical, and radical intellectual research.
The exhibition includes documents that illustrate their ways of thinking and working, manifested in a range of forms including letters, books, drawings, photographs, budgets, tactics for accessing resources, videos, mission statements and manifestos, surveys, posters, meeting minutes and organizational schemes, T-shirts, questionnaires, boats, and buses. Tracing the development of these unusual creative processes allows us to consider how these different ways of defining architecture can be applied today.
The Other Architect, like the case studies it examines, is a research project in its own way, contributing to a new reflection on the role of the architect and inspiring and proposing unexpected ways of practicing architecture today. It responds to the question of how we can position architecture beyond building, as an original site for the production of ideas.
The exhibition presents key introductory documents or main manifestos of each group along the gallery walls to give an overview of the range of material and ideas. A series of tables houses additional documents that give more insight into the specific operation of each group’s project. Unless otherwise noted, the objects in the exhibition are on loan from the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA), Montreal.
Urban Innovations Group is a clinic
Urban Innovations Group (1971–1993) was established in Los Angeles, USA, by Harvey Perloff as a design and research laboratory at UCLA to give students real professional experience and professors the opportunity to conduct work in a more research-based setting. It pioneered the field of urban planning as a common ground between planners and architects. The exhibition mainly focuses on the founding of the group and the period when Charles Moore was director (1974–84), when UIG contributed to major urban projects such as Piazza Italia, New Orleans (1974–79). The material is on loan from The Alexander Architectural Archive at the University of Texas; The Charles Moore Foundation, Austin Texas; and UCLA Architecture and Urban Design.
ILAUD is a laboratory
ILAUD (1974-2003) was conceived by Giancarlo de Carlo in Urbino, Italy, and involved participants like Peter and Alison Smithson and other former members of Team X, as well as Charles Moore, Donlyn Lyndon, Melvin Charney and others, and students from universities around the world. Its two month-long seminars and other projects opposed the rigid methodologies of the modern movement and favored anti-authoritarian, participatory approaches. Textual documents and drawings mainly on loan from the ILAUD Archive at Biblioteca civica d'arte Luigi (Modena, Italy) and from the Peter and Allison Smithson Archive at the Frances Loeb Library, Graduate School of Design, Harvard University, illustrate how the Laboratory operated, and how the international network of universities was able to develop a specific approach towards urban issues with professors and students researching and designing on the same site. ILAUD continues today as a globally-connected network of universities.
AMO is an observation
AMO was established by Rem Koolhaas and Dan Wood in 1999 to operate as a think tank both within and independently of the architectural practice Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. The exhibition represents early projects by AMO including the work done for the fashion company Prada (starting 1999), the research project for the identity of the European Community (2001), and ideas for magazines such as Wired (2003) (courtesy of OMA). These examples make evident the way in which AMO applied “architectural thinking” outside of built form and how it experimented with a new role for an architectural office.
IAUS is a halfway house
IAUS (1967-1983) was instigated by Peter Eisenman and founded in New York City, USA, to offer an alternative to academic studies and bridge the gap between theoretical and pragmatic aspects of architecture. Among its many outputs were exhibitions, planning projects, educational programs, books, and magazines. The exhibition includes the early urban research projects of IAUS on Harlem, New York (1968), which expresses the unique commitment of the Institute to establish prototypes and methodologies for urban intervention through a combination of teaching, research, and applied projects. The material has been selected from the Institute of Architecture and Urban Studies fonds in the CCA Collection.
CUP is an urban educator
CUP was founded in 1997 as a nonprofit organization in New York, USA, with the aim of using design to improve civic engagement. Publications, exhibitions, and community events demystify urban policy and make complex issues or laws accessible through simple visual and multilingual explanations. Their different activities (courtesy of Damon Rich) are exemplified through the presentation of research exhibitions such as Building Codes: The Programmable City (Storefront for Art and Architecture, 2001), educational projects like “Garbage City” (2002), or through the use of specific tools like YouTube videos and games, which illustrate how CUP was able to establish a new field of intervention: urban pedagogy.
ARAU is an alternatives coalition
Atelier de recherche et d’action urbaines (ARAU) was founded in 1969 by sociologist René Schoonbrodt, priest Jacques Van Der Briest, and architect Maurice Culot as a residents’ committee in Brussels, Belgium. It represented residents’ rights and influence on post-war urban planning in Brussels, with an emphasis on education, public awareness, and the creation of counter proposals. Posters, publications, a hat in the form of a building (on loan from AAM archives, Brussels) show their activist activities and commitment to preserve the historical city.
Corridart is a street museum
Corridart was a large-scale outdoor exhibition staged in Montreal, Canada, as the arts and cultural component of the 1976 Summer Olympics. The project, curated by architect Melvin Charney, included artworks that critically engaged with historic and contemporary social and economic problems of Montreal, and was destroyed by city officials before the opening of the Olympic Games. The documents (from the Melvin Charney fonds at CCA, and on loan from Concordia University Archives - Special Collections, Montreal) showcase how the format of an exhibition in the public space can be a tool for highlighting the contradictions of a city and its administration.
Architectural Detective Agency is an inventory
Architectural Detective Agency (1974–1986) was founded by Terunobu Fujimori and Takeyoshi Hori in Tokyo, Japan with the goal of documenting unnoticed or abandoned early-modern buildings through photography, sketches, and maps in order to establish a new method of writing architectural history. The thorough photographic and annotated documentation (courtesy of Terunobu Fujimori and Takeyoshi Hori, Tokyo) illustrate how field research and inventory can reveal the city in new ways.
Take Part is a workshop
Take Part (1971–1976) was a choreographic workshop series held in different cities such as San Francisco, Fort Worth, New York, and Cleveland, USA, organized by Lawrence Halprin & Associates with the intention of establishing new models of participatory design and alternative ways of moving, seeing, and thinking about the natural and built environments. These workshops were based on early experimental methods developed by landscape architect Lawrence Halprin and choreographer Anna Halprin in the 1960s. The documents and images on loan from the Lawrence Halprin Collection, The Architectural Archives at University of Pennsylvania focus on how these workshops were designed and performed to foster community participation and conversations on urban issues, and to trigger environmental awareness.
Kommunen in der Neuen Welt is a pilgrimage
Kommunen in der Neuen Welt (1969–1976) was conceived by Liselotte and Oswald Mathias Ungers as a series of research trips to study the lifestyles, customs, and architecture of commune settlements across the USA. Their photographs, maps, and observations (on loan from Ungers Archiv für Architekturwissenschaft) were published in magazines, pamphlets and the publication Kommunen in der Neuen Welt.
AD/AA/Polyark is a bus tour
AD/AA/Polyark bus tour was organized in 1973 by Peter Murray at Architectural Design magazine, the Architectural Association, and Cedric Price (Polyark). Its aim was to expand educational formats and increase communication among schools of architecture across England through mobility, physical interaction, dialogue, and sharing of recordings and images. A special emphasis is given to the organization of the tour, the transformation of the double-decker bus into a video library, and the implementation of a television and video distribution (from the Cedric Price fonds at CCA, the personal archive of Peter Murray, and loans from the Architectural Association Archives, London).
Design-A-Thon Is a televised charrette
Design-A-Thon (1976–1984) was an hour-long live television show about urban design studies produced by the firm Moore Grover Harper (Chad Floyd with Mark Simon, Jeff Riley, and Charles Moore). The show served as a series of workshops that brought citizen participation to public projects in Virginia, Ohio, Massachusetts, and New York, USA. The textual documents and archival television footage of the program (from Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library) illustrate the way television was used as an urban planning tool to broadcast the concerns and opinions of architects on topics of real public interest.
Architecture Machine Group Is an interface
Architecture Machine Group (1967–1985) was established at MIT by Nicholas Negroponte and Leon Groisser as a multi-disciplinary model for teaching, developing, and communicating computer-aided architecture. Its work resulted in hardware and software prototypes as well as exhibitions and publications. The material (drawn from Negroponte’s personal archive and MIT Museum; MIT Libraries, Institute Archives and Special Collections; and MIT Archives, Boston) illustrates AMG’s idea of providing more democratized access to architecture through the use of computers and conversational interfaces.
Forensic Architecture Is an evidence agency
Forensic Architecture was initiated in 2011 by Eyal Weizman at Goldsmiths, University of London, England, with support from the European Research Council. A team of architects, artists, filmmakers, activists, and theorists conduct research that gathers and presents in legal and political forums spatial analysis that reconstructs and visualizes past events, primarily those involving human rights violations and war crimes. Three main investigations are on view (courtesy of Forensic Architecture): Rafah in the Gaza Strip, 2014-15; Nakba Day protest, 2014; Mir ali and Miranshah drone strikes, 2013, represented through videos that show the use of architectural expertise to produce evidence.
Lightweight Enclosures Unit is a bibliography
Lightweight Enclosures Unit (1969–1986) was founded by Frank Newby and Cedric Price in London, England, to conduct research and design related to lightweight air structures. It resulted in extensive photo documentation and bibliographies alongside project designs. The Lightweight Enclosures Unit is part of the Cedric Price fonds in the CCA collection.
Art Net is a chatshop
Art Net (1973–1979) was a gallery in London, England, created and directed by Peter Cook. As a non-commercial place, it provided a venue and unfamiliar formats tor the exhibition and discussion of art and architecture – and their relationship, borrowing elements from both fields. In order to reach an audience outside of London, Art Net documented all exhibitions and events through photography and video for eventual publication. The materials shown (from the CCA Collection and on loan from Architectural Association Archives, London) emphasize the witty character of the gallery.
Global Tools is a crafts school
Global Tools (1973–1975) was founded by a group of radical Italian architects and designers in Milan. They reacted against the industrialization of design processes and promoted the study and use of natural materials and non-technological methods in workshops, courses and publications. The documentation (courtesy of Ugo La Pietra, Davide Mosconi, Adolfo Natalini, and Piero Brombin and Valerio Tridenti) focuses on the founding of the group, their bulletins, and the outcomes of some of their workshops on the topic of the body and the issue of communication.
CIRCO is a thought exchange
CIRCO was founded in 1993 by architects Luis Moreno Mansilla, Luis Rojo de Castro, and Emilio Tuñón in Madrid, Spain, as a publishing initiative to freely exchange essays on architecture in pamphlet form and to encourage discussion of critical theory. The publications emerged at a time of transition between analog and digital tools in the architectural office of Mansilla and Tuñón. It was designed simply and printed on single A4 pages. The editors folded, stamped, and mailed each booklet themselves. In addition to many issues of the magazine, the exhibition includes humorous and personal postcards from CIRCO archives that people sent to request free subscriptions.
Pidgeon Audio Visual is a lecture kit
Pidgeon Audio Visual is an audio-visual collection created by Monica Pidgeon in London, England, in 1979. The illustrated talks by architects, designers, and engineers were meant to support education by giving architecture schools access to the most important practitioners from around the world. As of 2009 Pidgeon Digital makes these and new resources available online. The correspondence between Pidgeon and many architects illustrates her process of selecting, researching, editing, and publishing (from the CCA Collection and on loan from RIBA Archives, London).
Delos Symposion is a charter
Delos Symposion (1963–1972) was a forum for discussion held annually on a boat in the Aegean Sea, hosted by its organizer, Constantinos Doxiadis. The inter-disciplinary discussions addressed topics related to population growth, resource management, and the role of science and technology in the planning of the built environment. Unpublished notes edited by Jacueline Tyrwhitt during the cruises, along with the final statements (Delos Declarations) and photographic documentation of the cruises (on loan from the Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives, Athens) testify to the intensity of the debate and the global scale of its scope.
Anyone Corporation is a dialogue
Anyone Corporation (1990–2000) was established as a think-tank to foster debate on architecture, which took the form of ten annual conferences organized by editor Cynthia Davidson and held in Los Angeles, Yufuin, Barcelona, Montreal, Seoul, Buenos Aires, Rotterdam, Ankara, Paris, and New York. Photographic documentation of the conferences, post-conference exchanges with the editor, and textual documents on the organization showcase the formation and the scope of this institution. The Any Corporation archive is held at the CCA.