Japan Transfer

In an era characterized by instant global communication and transfer ofinformation, architecture remains a powerful and tangible instrument of cultural exchange. To explore this proposition more fully, this studio willbe coordinated with a seminar, and a study tour in Japan. The design problem will be a new building for the Japan Society in Boston.While the Japan Society has a well-known Center in New York, designed byJunzo Yoshimura in 1971, the Boston Society lacks a visible architecturalpresence in this city. In the near future, it will be seeking sites andsupport for its own building whose major spaces include a reception hall,auditorium, education center, members spa/onsen, and a garden. The studiowill anticipate that effort with the study of proposals on two prominent andchallenging downtown sites.Students taking this studio will be strongly encouraged to enroll in theweekly seminar \”Modern Japanese Architecture\” taught by Mark Mulligan. Theseminar will provide an historical survey of Japanese modern architecture,exploring the impact of Japan\’s contact with Western nations with focus onconstruction methods and aesthetic expression. Lecture topics and researchassignments will be coordinated with studio design development. Together, Leers and Mulligan will lead studio participants on a study tour toJapan, with funding contribution by the Reischauer Institute for US-JapanRelations. The tour will allow students access to the reality of Japanesespace and construction- to experience differences in the treatment of light,the expression of structure, the communicative aspects of material anddetailing choices, and the sophisticated uses of intermediary space betweenexterior and interior. The pedagogical objectives of this combined effort areto explore the architecture of cultural transfer and to develop anarchitectural vocabulary in which construction logic is fundamental toaesthetic expression. Program and SiteThe Japan Society is an institution promoting cultural exchange between theU.S. and Japan through conferences and exhibitions by scholars, artists, andpublic figures; it also offers programs addressing U.S. Japan business andpolitical relations. It is a principal center for classes in Japaneselanguage, and it offers assistance to scholars and organizations workingbetween the two countries. Originally established in 1904, the Society reflected a long-standingconnection between Massachusetts and Japan. In the late 1700\’s, whalingboats from Massachusetts fished in the waters of Japan, and in 1799 anexcursion to Nagasaki retrieved some of the artifacts on display today in thePeabody-Essex Museum of Salem. In 1841, a young Japanese fishermman, ManjiroNakahama, was rescued in Fairhaven, and returned to Japan to play animportant role in educating the Japanese leaders about Western culture. Inthe 1870\’s, Bostonians Edward Sylvester Morse, and Ernest Fenellosa exploredJapan immediately after its opening to the West, and brought back the core ofthe collection of Japanese art at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. In thesame era, Dr. William Clark of the Massachusetts Agricultural School, now theUniversity of Massachusetts, founded an agricultural school in Hokkaido innorthern Japan to introduce modern agricultural methods to Japan. Giventhese ties, it is not surprising that the first Japan Society in America wasestablished here in Boston. The new building will provide a setting for public lectures, exhibitions,films, and conferences. Its activities will be closely coordinated with thearea universities, frequently co-sponsoring speakers and visitors. A sampleof recent and upcoming presentations include \”Love