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Allied in Architecture and Arts

Having completed a number of museums, most recently in Denver, Brad Cloepfil, AIA, of Allied Works Architecture, delivered this year’s annual Arthur M. Rosenblatt Memorial Lecture organized by the AIANY Cultural Facilities Committee. Cloepfil walked the audience through several projects spanning the firm’s practice from residential to academic and institutional, to museums, fashion boutiques, and a concert hall. The unifying thread is inspiration in the arts and an exploration of material. Cloepfil explained that initial ideas and concepts are tested in model and material at each step of the project’s development, a kind of sounding to ensure conceptual integrity.

The title of the lecture, “Amplifiers,” references a museum’s ability to project the content within and the community from without. To set the tone for his lecture, Cloepfil showed a slide of artist Christian Marclay’s “Guitar Drag,” an amplified guitar being dragged along a road – each project that followed started with a slide of an artistic or landscape reference. Whether a video installation by Doug Aitken projected on the Dutchess County Residence Main House, or Clyfford Still paintings in the eponymous museum with a Paul Ruldolph-eque concrete exterior finish (corrugated with broken ridges – initially specified as obsidian before the financial crash), Cloepfil approaches architecture as a material structure created by, or in search of, a situation or phenomenon.

Little was said about the Museum of Arts and Design, probably because everyone attending followed the total makeover of Edward Durell Stone’s lollipop building on Columbus Circle. More interesting are projects in process, such as the National Music Centre of Canada in Calgary and the Clemson Architecture Center in Charleston. Both buildings show weaving plans, but their sections reveal spatial intricacies. The former is a pair of low buildings with concert halls, galleries, classrooms, and studios connected by a bridge; the latter’s undulating concrete ribbon walls cantilever to expose views and shield the interior. Small moves to large effect.

More important than, or as important as, final form, each project emerges through research into models and material studies that fold in the programmatic requirements to finally evolve into an architectural expression – spatially, materially, and phenomenally.

James Way, Assoc. AIA, Marketing Manager at Dattner Architects, frequently contributes to eOculus and has worked at the Guggenheim Museum and the Getty Museum.

Event: 2014 Rosenblatt Lecture: Brad Cloepfil, AIA, Amplifiers
Location: Center for Architecture, 10.20.14
Speakers: Brad Cloepfil, AIA, Founder, Allied Works Architecture
Organized by: AIANY Cultural Facilities Committee