Architecture connections between past and present
To many of the architecture students at Pratt Institute, the Cold War may not be the first thing they think of when studying the buildings around them. But the connection between architecture of that period and today is exactly what professors Catherine Ingraham of Pratt and Pedro Ignacio Alonso of Pontificia Universidad in Chile attempt to show in their current exhibit COLD War COOL Digital, currently at Pratt’s Hazel and Robert Siegel Gallery.
“The project has been under development about a year,” said Ingraham at a recent symposium featuring prominent international figures in architecture. “Pedro teaches in Santiago but also for the Architectural Association in London – they run the workshops during our winter break in Chile. So I went and took some Pratt students there, and I just butted into Pedro’s workshop. He had a small exhibition on at that time of some of his models, which is where we connected for this exhibit.”
Kicking off the symposium to delve further into the exhibit, Professor Adrian Forty of the University of London presented on the history of buildings as systems through examples of Soviet, French, and British complexes. He was followed by a presentation from James Garrison, an adjunct associate professor at Pratt and head of Garrison Architects. Garrison’s firm is now using some of the older approaches discussed by Forty to complete projects such as the fast-paced reconstruction of New York City beaches and the Atlantic Yards project.
In one of the most unusual presentations, Professor Tom Wiscombe of Southern California Institute of Architecture discussed some of his projects which are modeled on the irregularities of design found in nature. He showed pictures of his smooth, spiking, curving, and amorphous projects around the world, which were fascinating and bizarre.
Alonso and Hugo Sagredo, doctoral candidate at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, made the final presentation on prefabricated systems and their connections during the 50’s through South America, the Caribbean, and Eastern Europe. Their presentation held most closely to the exhibit the symposium was meant to accompany, which featured a collection of 20 prototypes of several prefabricated construction systems, all printed on 3D printers.
“We used ZCorp 3D printers, a big one and a small one. They all broke down all the time! We were pressuring them quite a bit,” said Ingraham on making the prototypes. “We printed the models here at Pratt. A few of them came on the airplane with Pedro.”
Those interested in seeing the prototypes themselves have until March 20 to visit. “Many of the questions that were raised in the ‘50’s are still there,” said Alonso. “So we want to connect the questions of the ‘50’s to those of today.”