Three GSD faculty members will discuss the connection of their practices, work, interests, and teaching. Discussion will be moderated by Ed Eigen, Associate Professor of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Neil Brenner is Professor of Urban Theory at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, where he teaches classes on critical urban theory, urbanization, urban/territorial governance and sociospatial theory, as well as directs the Urban Theory Lab at the Harvard GSD.
Brenner’s most recent book is Implosions/Explosions: Towards a Study of Planetary Urbanization (Jovis, 2013). In 2014, Brenner was selected as a Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher (www.highlycited.com); his publications were ranked among the top 1% most cited globally in the general social sciences between 2002 and 2012. Gary Hilderbrand is Professor in Practice of Landscape Architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and principal of Reed Hilderbrand, LLC. He is a recognized author and critic of historic and contemporary landscape architecture practice. His firm was honored this year with three awards from the American Society of Landscape Architects, for Long Dock Park in Beacon, New York, the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA, and a research project on measured performance of urban manufactured soils.
Elizabeth Whittaker is Assistant Professor in Practice of Architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. She is also the founding principal of MERGE Architects, an architectural practice that innovates through making. MERGE Architects has won multiple awards including Architectural Record’s 2014 Design Vanguard, recognizing the top ten emerging practices in the world, and sixteen American Institute of Architects (AIA) / Boston Society of Architects (BSA) Design awards, among various others. She has taught design studios in several Architecture programs including the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Northeastern University, and the Boston Architectural College.
Emerging Voices 2015
Recorded: March 19, 2015
Working at the intersection of digital fabrication and the handmade, Merge Architects seeks “invention in the ordinary.” Principal Elizabeth Whittaker, who founded the firm in 2003, describes her Boston home as a “challenging” place for contemporary architecture, resulting in a practice that seeks design innovation while remaining contextual to the city’s historic and industrial fabric. Working at scales from furniture to multi-family housing, the firm participates in the construction of nearly all its projects even as the scope and geography of the work expand.
In her Emerging Voices lecture, Whittaker offers an overview of the practice and early work before focusing on five recent projects. The firm’s first building, the Penn Street Lofts in Quincy, MA, sought to create an identity for a normally anonymous typology — multi-family housing — by “puzzling together” single- and double-height spaces that are expressed through the window and cladding treatments on the façade. The Marginal Lofts in East Boston is a nine-unit building adjacent to an operating shipyard with a steel mesh façade hand-sewn by a fisherman; when in season, plants crawl the front to create a vertical garden. A proposal for a health and wellness center at a YMCA summer camp respects the surrounding forest by using the location of existing trees to guide the massing and mimicking the patterns of the forest on the building envelope. The GrowBox, a single-family house in Lexington, MA, has a series of courtyards that weave the surrounding garden inside, conflating the interior and exterior. A proposal for the renovation of an urban village in China employs a matrix of interventions for the ancient neighborhood to create new opportunities for gathering and tourism.
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