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

05/08/2004 11:30 AM 26-100
William J. Mitchell, Alexander W. Dreyfoos Professor of Architecture and Media Arts and Sciences
; Director, Smart Cities research group, MIT Media Lab; Frank Gehry, Architect; Robert Venturi, Architect; Kyong Park, SM '87, Founder/Director of International Center for Urban Ecology ; John Curry, Executive Vice President, MIT

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."

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.

Frank Gehry designed the Ray and Maria Stata Center for MIT, as well as The Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Spain. His buildings have received more than 100 national and regional AIA awards, including the Pritzker Architecture Prize (1989), the premier accolade of the field. Gehry's vision for the Ray and Maria Stata Center for MIT is to stimulate invention and the exchange of ideas across many disciplines.

Robert Venturi's major campus buildings include five at Princeton University, three at Dartmouth University, and five at the University of Pennsylvania. His numerous awards include the Republic of Italy's Commendatore of the Order of Merit (1986), the Presidential National Medal of the Arts (1992) and the Pritzker Architecture Prize (1991).

Kyong Park is an artist and architect, and the Founder/Director of Storefront for Art and Architecture (1982_98), an experimental forum and exhibition space in New York City. Park was also a commissioner of the international section of the Kwangju Biennale in Korea (1997), where he organized Images of the Future: The Architecture of a New Geography.

John R. Curry was formerly Vice President for Business and Finance and Chief Financial Officer of the California Institute of Technology. He was also the Administrative Vice Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer of the University of California, Los Angeles. The author of numerous articles on academic finance and management, Mr. Curry is a Trustee of the National Association of Colleges and University Business Officers, and he chairs the Board of the Future of Higher Education.

RESOURCES: Stata Center Dedication Ceremony

Host(s): Office of the Provost, MIT List Visual Arts Center

Tape #: and T18675.

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MIT World — special events and lectures

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