Aug '08 - Jul '09
This past Wednesday evening we had a "Visions & Voices" event at USC in Bovard Auditorium: a lecture by Ian Ritchie, British architect, artist, environmentalist, engineer, poet and all-around generally cool guy. Visions & Voices events tend to be large and open to the entire university, and I'm proud that we hosted an architect that thinks so far outside of the box for the larger student body to see.
Mr. Ritchie's lecture was long, but he had a lot to cover, and he didn't actually finish. Some highlights (for me) were his brief history of climate science vs. politics, summed up nicely in one slide:
...and his conversation after the slide show with Frances Anderton of KCRW's show "DnA" and Los Angeles editor of Dwell magazine:
During the Q&A session, Frances asked Ian about a statement that he made during the lecture, which essentially expressed his sentiment that he wouldn't build buildings that didn't need to be built; this amounted to a staggering amount of work that he had refused, something in the neighborhood of 640 projects, to only 40 buildings that he had, in fact, actually gotten built. This reinforced to me what is a hallmark of being an environmentally-friendly designer, much to the chagrin of many architects: the truth is, the ultimate act of building sustainably is not building anything at all.
Ian went on to gleefully tell a story about a huge mall project that he had refused in London's west side, and unfortunately for everyone in the auditorium, the evening ended shortly after that. Fortunately for me, however, Ian came back for "Round 2" with a small group of grad students and professors in our studio the next afternoon. We talked for 2 hours; he sat next to me, uploaded his lecture on my computer and finished it! And he so loves to talk about this stuff - for a nerd like myself who enjoys talking about building and the environment and so forth, it was a great way to spend the afternoon.
Ian let me have a copy of his lecture, from which I took a couple of photos of his "favorite" project that he's done so I can show it to you. It's the Terrasson Cultural Greenhouse, "Jardin de L'Imaginaire" in France, done by Ian Ritchie Architects, K. Gustafson, and Arup between 1992-1994.
The building is a very simple structure of gabion walls that go from a couple of meters wide at the bottom to only a foot or so wide at the top, and the roof structure is made of glass and steel.
The roof was actually supposed to have a system of interior shades that could be drawn in the hot summer sun, but the client apparently took a while to install them.
So there you have it. I feel lucky to have gotten to spend an afternoon talking to Mr. Ritchie about his work. And no, I don't have any pictures proving that he sat next to me and talked to us for 2 hours but I didn't want to be creepy! You'll just have to take my word for it. :o)
PS. I just found out that people actually read my blog, so I wanted to give a big shout out to Zelda and Eric at the Architectural Guild! Thanks for stopping by!