U.Va. Architecture Symposium to Explore Relationship Between Intention, Improvisation

April 08, 2014

The University of Virginia School of Architecture will present “INTENTION + IMPROVISATION: FOUR PROVOCATIONS” at Campbell Hall on April 19.

The symposium will include four separate, yet interrelated, “provocations,” developed and led by Ghazal Abbasy-Asbagh, Cammy Brothers, Jeana Ripple and Kim Tanzer, members of the School of Architecture faculty. It will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Shure Studio on the second floor of Campbell Hall, adjacent to the Elmaleh Gallery

This symposium seeks to bring together architects, researchers and practitioners studying four aspects of contemporary practice and the role of architectural improvisation, defined as “masterful play within a field of pre-defined possibilities.” Before the first writings on the discipline that became architecture in the 15th century, improvisation was the byproduct of the less-established distinction between architect and master-builder. Contemporary design allows for more precision, demands faster production of options, enables direct design to fabrication, and includes legally binding roles and documents. The symposium’s organizers ask, “Where within today’s design process is the opportunity for architectural improvisation?”

In coordination with the symposium, the 2014 Michael Owen Jones Memorial Lecturer, Jen Maigret, assistant professor of architecture at the University of Michigan’s Taubman College, will present “Constellations,” with MAde Studio partner and co-founder Maria Arquero. A reception will follow. The lecture will be delivered April 18 at 6 p.m. in Campbell Hall, room 153, with parking available in the Culbreth Road garage.

The annual lecture, which showcases young design professionals, is made possible by the Michael Owen Jones family.

The April 19 symposium will open with “Provocation C: Notational Pattern” and includes presentations from Abbasy-Asbagh and Peter Lu, a post-doctoral research fellow at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

The symposium will continue with “Provocation M: Experimental Drawing” and presentations from Brothers and Kim Ackert, founder of Ackert Architecture and a faculty member at Parson School of Constructed Environments in New York.

In the afternoon, Ripple and Julie Dorsey, professor of computer science at Yale University, will respond to “Provocation Y: Improvisation and System Notation.”  

“Provocation K: Timebleed,” the fourth and final focus, includes presentations from Tanzer and Robert Pietrusko, lecturer of urban planning and design and landscape architecture at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design.  

All provocations will be followed by brief responses from professionals considering issues of design, representation and improvisation, and an open Q&A discussion.  

Ingeborg Rocker of the Harvard Graduate School of Design will provide a keynote address at 6 p.m. in Campbell Hall, room 153 and then moderate a closing plenary discussion among speakers and attendees.

In coordination with their personal research, symposium coordinators collaborated with U.Va. architecture students on design experiments to more fully explore the relationship between drawing, fabrication, representation and imagination. The finding of these projects will be shared at the symposium and featured in the forthcoming publication.

“INTENTION + IMPROVISATION” is made possible with the support of 1975 alumna Mary McCarthy and U.Va.’s Data Science Institute.

More information is here.


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Robert Hull

Media Relations Associate Office of University Communications