Following the conversation, there will be light refreshments available for attendees on the Gund Front Porch.
American Architecture (Model) foregrounds the mythical cornerstone of American constitutional democracy—freedom of expression. Evoking the tradition of a soapbox or public square, the pavilion provides a dedicated space for communal discourse and debate. At a time when the United States is experiencing a convulsive paradigm shift pushing the country toward necessary social change on so many fundamental issues—racial justice, gender equity, class privilege, climate change, and the right to health care, to name a few—the prevailing online discourse around these subjects has only incited deeper ideological divides and a cacophony of fierce opinion that is often fueled by misinformation. The instantaneous and limited format of expression on social platforms, their lack of accountability, and the minimal mechanisms for their regulation often lead to abuse of free speech. The revival of a real public space—as opposed to a virtual one—challenges how these urgent issues are addressed. It is our hope that this project will help to foster the kind of productive dialogue and exchange that this divided country so urgently needs right now. Notwithstanding emotional disagreements, personal encounter remains the basic trigger of the human condition, encouraging collective efforts to define our common values without falling into the abyss of pure partisanship. This project is a modest contribution to that effort.
American Architecture (Model) formalizes the current social, technological, and ecological urgencies by means of an architectural project. This is the recurring theme of the ongoing series of architectural studios titled American Architecture, which have been taught by Kersten Geers and David Van Severen of OFFICE. Geers and Van Severen were both appointed Kenzō Tange Design Critics at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD) in 2019–2020, and to mark this occasion OFFICE has designed the inaugural Kenzō Tange Chair Pavilion. American Architecture (Model) is a simple structure: a horizon of lights that demarcates a public space. It presents a model of an accumulation of technological tropes—solar panel and a technical box—next to the iconic image of the United States flag. The pavilion will remain installed in front of Gund Hall, at the GSD, for one year.
OFFICE Kersten Geers David Van Severen is a Brussels-based practice founded in 2002. OFFICE is renowned for its idiosyncratic architecture, in which material realizations and theoretical projects stand side by side. OFFICE has received numerous honors and awards, including the Belgian Prize for Architecture, the Silver Lion at the 12th Venice Biennial of Architecture, and the Aga Khan Award for Architecture.
American Architecture (Model) was generously supported by the endowed fund established for the Kenzō Tange Visiting Chair in Architecture and Urban Design at the GSD.
OFFICE Design team
Kersten Geers, David Van Severen, Inga Karen Traustadóttir, and Leander Venlet, with the assistance of Marc Dessauvage
Dan Borelli, Harvard GSD
Util Structural Engineering; Paul Kassabian, Harvard GSD & Blaise Waligun, Simpson Gumpertz & Heger
Donation by PreciseLED
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