At long last, Jose Ignacio Ábalos Vazquez has been announced as the incoming chair of architecture at the GSD. This has been widely rumored for over a year around school, but only now has been made official and public.
The announcement was low-key and almost content-free: Dean Mohsen sent an email to the school this morning, asking us to meet with him in the "pit" for an announcement at 12:45. Dean Mohsen loves to set up these kinds of encounters, prioritizing intimacy and excitement over, say, seating, egress, and (though not a problem in the Pit) ventilation. But it was a quick, warm, and fun moment. (See my live blog from a small talk Ábalos gave last semester.)
[our incoming chair of architecture, Iñaki Ábalos]
From Dean Mohsen's follow-up email:
"I am pleased to announce the appointment of Iñaki Ábalos as Chair of the Department of Architecture as of July 1, 2013. As Professor in Residence of Architecture at the GSD, he leads option studios, lectures, and seminars that are grounded in both technology and history. His courses on the thermal properties of architecture and the integration of natural elements include Air in Motion and Thermodynamic Madrid."
..."A founding member of Ábalos + Sentkiewicz Arquitectos (since 2007) and Ábalos and Herreros (1984-2007), his work is broadly interdisciplinary, integrating theory and practice and focusing on the interaction of architecture, technology, landscape, and culture. Ábalos + Sentkiewicz’s design work incorporates social and emerging cultural values, specializing in highrise buildings, cultural equipment, public spaces, and collective housing."
"In addition to his internationally recognized practice, Ábalos has written extensively on architecture. Together with Juan Herreros, he authored Le Corbusier Skyscrapers (City of Madrid, 1988); Tower and Office (MIT Press, 2003); and Natural-Artificial (Exit LMI, Madrid, 1999). Ábalos edited Nature and Artifice (Editorial Gustavo Gili, Barcelona, 2009), and wrote The Good Life (Editorial Gustavo Gili, Barcelona, 2000); Picturesque Atlas (Editorial Gustavo Gili, Barcelona, Volume I, 2005, Volume II, 2007); and the monograph Alejandro de la Sota with Josep Llinàs and Moisés Puente (Fundación Caja de Arquitectos, Barcelona, 2009)."
It's a big change for our department, as Ábalos and Cohen are quite different. Ábalos is European, while Cohen is very American; he's softspoken, whereas Cohen is more expressive and forceful; and their approaches to architecture and pedagogy seem to be quite divergent. What they share, I suppose, is an attitude towards digital culture, contemporary design, and fabrication that is qualified and complicated--though in quite different ways. Ábalos deepens contemporary thought and practice through his focus on thermodynamics, and experiential, cultural, and technical modes of performativity; whereas Cohen takes a focused view of the discipline through the most intellectual and rigorous kind of formalism, steeped in geometry, representation, fabrication, and a history of architectural discourse. So it will be interesting to see the department's new directions, even as Cohen's significant legacy will, to be sure, continue.
Thanks for reading!
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