Angewandte competition symposium: Why Bother? (October 11, 2012)

Eric Owen Moss explains that the discussion was supposed to start with a discussion by Jeffrey Kipnis of the entries to the competition for the expansion of the Universität für angewandte Kunst/University of Applied Arts in Vienna. But as Kipnis is delayed, Hernan Diaz Alonso will begin questioning the participants. Noting that the competition was for an school of architecture, Diaz Alonso notes that there have been only a few schools, such as the Bauhaus and IIT, whose building expressed their design sensibility. He asks the participants if this is necessary, or is some degree of disassociation inevitable and OK.

Patrik Schumacher responds that the Angewandte under Wolf Prix‘s leadership had a uniquely clear direction, and the selection of Wolfgang Tschapeller’s entry spoils a great opportunity to build a manifesto.

Wolf Prix clarifies that the Angewandte is a school of several disciplines, including architecture. He points out that during his tenure at the Angewandte his attempts to collaborate with the other local architecture programs were rebuffed. He stresses decisions like the competition result can destroy a carefully cultivated cultural atmosphere.

Moss adds that Prix attempted to replace authoritarianism with dialogue at the Angewandte, and the competition decision reads like an attempt to return to that earlier state. Kipnis discusses entries to the competition for the expansion of the Universität für angewandte Kunst/University of Applied Arts in Vienna, including those of Wolfgang Tschapeller, Asymptote, Coop Himmelb(l)au, Reiser + Umemoto, Next Enteprise, and Eric Owen Moss.

Prix expresses his exasperation with the bureaucratic mentality which obstructs new architecture in Vienna. Kipnis responds by stressing the importance of architectural discourse, about which bureaucrats have no control. Moss contrasts the deliberate obstructionism of Vienna with the indifference of Los Angeles.

Diaz Alonso asks if architecture as a cultural discipline is really so fragile. And if it is, what weapons can it develop. Prix sees the expanding power mediocrity. Kipnis counters with the example of the Soviet avant-garde, which is still relevant despite being short-lived and limited in built works. At his mention of the state of contemporary classical composers, Schumacher objects that his goal is to try to translate the internal discourse into something public. Moss adds that part of the task of extending the discourse is engaging new audiences. The panelists respond to a question about how schools might train architects to deal with obstructionism, and the necessity of building.

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