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Art and Architecture: Public Natures | Marion Weiss, Michael Manfredi, Stan Allen, Alexandra Lange, David van der Leer | Architectural Explorations in Book Series Event

October 7, 2015

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FREE - Auditorium doors open at 5:30 p.m.

Rail lines, bridges, highways, waterways, and off-ramps—larger than life but part of it, infrastructural systems are the enduring forms of urban evolution, multiplying as cities grow and requiring expanding swaths of territory to accommodate more and more monofunctional requirements. What if the very hard line between landscape, architecture, engineering, and urbanism could find a more synthetic convergence? Join Marion Weiss, Michael A. Manfredi, Alexandra Lange, Stan Allen, and David van der Leer in a discussion that explores the potential to shape a new public realm.

Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology spread
Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology spread

In the foreword by Barry Bergdoll, he writes: “In Weiss/Manfredi’s work in the dense grids of cities, or at the fragile edges of their encounters with larger natural realms, the architects see a blurred territory that becomes for them the petri dish for both new design solutions and new types of public colloquy.”

In Weiss/Manfredi’s new book, Public Natures: Evolutionary Infrastructures (Princeton Architectural Press, 2015), Weiss and Manfredi speculate that a new paradigm for infrastructure might erase the hard lines between landscape, architecture, engineering, and urbanism, suggesting a more synthetic definition of infrastructure that is entirely public in nature. The book’s essays, roundtable discussions, and their selected architectural projects identify new terms, conditions, and models that insist architecture must evolve to create more productive connections between landscape, infrastructure, and urban territories.

In the book, they write: "While infrastructure is often incorrectly perceived as hard and inflexible, we see great potential for alternative strategies that structure more lateral, resilient, and pliable systems capable of hosting unpredictable uses and activities, absorbing cycles of flooding, accommodating variable traffic volumes, and generating cultural value. By bending the loose ends of architecture, landscape, and engineering together, we imagine an alchemy that transcends the limitations of single-use infrastructures, generating a more bountiful and inhabitable interpretation of its potential."

Brooklyn Botanic Garden spread
Brooklyn Botanic Garden spread

Copies of Public Natures: Evolutionary Infrastructures  (Princeton Architectural Press 2015) are available for purchase and signing at the end of event.

Weiss/Manfredi is a multidisciplinary design firm in New York City known for its dynamic integration of architecture, art, infrastructure, and landscape design. Founded by Marion Weiss and Michael A. Manfredi, their projects include the Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle, the Women’s Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, the University of Pennsylvania’s Nanotechnology Center, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden Visitor Center, and the Barnard College Diana Center. They are currently redesigning the United States Embassy campus in New Delhi, India and a building for Cornell NYC Tech’s new campus on Roosevelt Island. Weiss/Manfredi has won numerous awards and their work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, the Venice Biennale, the Louvre, and the Guggenheim Museum.

Stan Allen is an architect working in New York and George Dutton ’27 Professor of Architecture at Princeton University. From 2002 to 2012 he was Dean of the School of Architecture at Princeton.  He holds degrees from Brown University, The Cooper Union, and Princeton. His architectural firm SAA/Stan Allen Architect has realized buildings and urban projects in the United States, South America, and Asia. Responding to the complexity of the modern city in creative ways, Stan Allen has developed an extensive catalogue of innovative design strategies, in particular looking at field theory, landscape architecture, and ecology as models to revitalize the practice of architecture. His most recent book is Landform Building: Architecture’s New Terrain, published in 2011.

Olympic Sculpture Park
Olympic Sculpture Park

Alexandra Lange is the architecture critic for Curbed and an Opinion columnist at Dezeen. Her essays, reviews, and features have appeared in Architect, Domus, Dwell, MAS Context, Metropolis, New York Magazine, the New Yorker online, and The New York Times. During academic year 2013–2014 she was a Loeb Fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. She is the author of Writing About Architecture: Mastering the Language of Buildings and Cities (Princeton Architectural Press, 2012), as well as the e-book The Dot-Com City: Silicon Valley Urbanism (Strelka Press, 2012). She is co-author, with Jane Thompson, of Design Research: The Store that Brought Modern Living to American Homes (Chronicle Books, 2010).

David van der Leer is an urban thinker and activator, and the Executive Director of the Van Alen Institute in New York City. Since arriving at Van Alen in 2013, he has conceived a new mission statement, developed a comprehensive fundraising framework, initiated engaging thematic programming, and launched a competition for a recently completed street-level space for the organization. He was previously Associate Curator, Architecture and Urban Studies and Curator, BMW Guggenheim Lab at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

In its seventh year Architectural Explorations in Books, initiated and organized by Arezoo Moseni, is a series of engaging programs delving into the critical role that architecture publications play in the understanding of contemporary urban developments and structures. The events feature book presentations and discussions by acclaimed architects, critics, curators, designers, photographers and writers.

Events at The New York Public Library may be photographed or recorded. By attending these events, you consent to the use of your image and voice by the Library for all purposes.

The photographs on this page feature the work of Iwan Baan at the Olympic Sculpture Park and Albert Večerka / Esto at the University of Pennsylvania and Brooklyn Botanic Garden.