VA Design Forum XI

September 10, 2014

This month’s issue of Inform Magazine includes the following recap of the 2014 Virginia  Society AIA Design Forum XI written by BCWH Architect, Andrea Quilici.

DFXI: Dwelling and The Art of Living in Century XXI

As the culmination of Architecture Week 2014 in Virginia, on April 11-12 the VSAIA Committee on Design drew 190 architects, educators, students, and related professionals to Charlottesville for the eleventh Design Forum. Attendees also had an opportunity to hear a presentation by Toyo Ito for the University of Virginia Founder’s Day, and to participate in seminars and presentations associated with the annual Tom Tom Founder’s Festival.

Design Forum XI was introduced by VSAIA President Jack Davis, FAIA, who also reminded the public that the Virginia Accord will take place in Richmond this September. The opening session on Friday evening featured keynote speaker Terence Riley, AIA, principal of Keenan Riley Architects and former architecture curator at MoMA. The house is the crucible of invention, Riley argued, in a presentation that showcased how dwelling has morphed over the centuries into the very personal space of today. Riley’s analysis focused in particular on New York City multi-family condos, which have become co-ops that cater to self-selected demographics.

AIA CEO Robert Ivy, FAIA, concluded the evening with observations about the ways in which genetics, robotics, nanotechnology, and the digital world are changing our existence. Architects can put these developments in perspective, he noted, thanks to their problem-solving expertise.

After a soirée at the VMDO office co-sponsored by the Central Virginia AIA Chapter, attendees gathered Saturday morning to enjoy a talk by Jeff Kovel, AIA, founder of Skylab Architecture. Kovel spoke of his work in Portland and, most interestingly, of his use of drones for photography.

Peter Gluck, founder of the New York City architect-led design-build firm GLUCK+, continued the conversation by insisting on the importance of training architects in the art, craft, and science of planning, design, procurement, construction, and commissioning.

Kai-Uwe Bergmann, AIA, managing principal of BIG, spoke of his firm’s mantra “Yes Is More.” He underscored the value of research to understand a society’s needs. Architects must listen to people’s requests, and help them create a community in which they want to grow.

The day’s presentations came to a close with a talk by Ma Yansong, founder of MAD architects in Beijing. MAD projects are meant to emphasize both programmatic and cultural requisites, he insisted. Even very large projects must respect people’s individuality, and cut-throughs and twists can be useful architectural solutions in this respect.

The last event of the Forum was a vigorous panel discussion moderated by Ghazal Abbasy-Asbagh, a faculty member at UVA. Ma concluded the debate with a prophecy about the state of residential housing in China and the US: “The future will be global. My problems will be your problems. And the suburbs aren’t the solution.”