Join us for a full-day of stimulating presentations and conversation with five highly acclaimed speakers: Liane Lefaivre, Alexander Tzonis, Marlon Blackwell, Merrill Elam and Frank Harmon.
“One error must be guarded against, and this is the notion that the regional should be identified with the self-sufficient or the self-contained. As far as sociologists can find out, there has never been a human culture that was entirely self-contained in both time and space: those cultures which have been nearest to this condition have been extremely primitive and have ranked low in their capacity for self-development. This is another way of saying that every regional culture necessarily has a universal side to it. It is steadily open to influences which come from other parts of the world, and from other cultures, separated from the local region in space or time or both together. It would be useful if we formed the habit of never using the word regional without mentally adding to it the idea of universal—remembering the constant contact and interchange between the local scene and the wide world that lies beyond it.” —Lewis Mumford, The South in Architecture, 1941
Coffee and refreshments
“The Architecture of Regionalism in the Age of Globalization in the Southeast”
Three sequential presentations by Marlon Blackwell, Merrill Elam and Frank Harmon on their work and the theme (two AIA learning units, approval pending)
“Transmutations of Place” , Marlon Blackwell, FAIA, is a practicing architect in Fayetteville, Ark., and serves as distinguished professor and department head in the Fay Jones School of Architecture at the University of Arkansas. Working outside the architectural mainstream, his architecture is based in design strategies that draw upon vernaculars and the contradictions of place, strategies that seek to transgress conventional boundaries for architecture.
“Work + Work”, Merrill Elam is principal in the firm of Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects, Atlanta, Ga. With Mack Scogin, she received the 2012 Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award for Architecture, the 2011 Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize in Architecture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the 1995 Academy Award in Architecture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the 1996 Chrysler Award for Innovation in Design and a 2008 Honorary Fellowship in the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).
“Native Places”, Frank Harmon, FAIA, is principal of Frank Harmon Architect PA in Raleigh, N.C., and professor in practice of architecture at N.C. State University’s College of Design. He is a nationally recognized leader in modern, sustainable, regionally appropriate design, specializing in environmental education centers. Harmon’s work ranges from small sheds and studios to 70,000-square-foot corporate headquarters. He has been published in many national and regional periodicals and books on the subject, and he has exhibited in the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.
Lunch and Alumni Awards Recognition, McClure Courtyard, Lee Hall, Clemson
Lunch sponsored by the CAF. Registration requested.
Keynote Lecture: “Peaks and Valleys of the Flat World: Regionalism in the Age of Globalization”
Keynote lecture by Alexander Tzonis and Liane Lefaivre
(1.5 AIA learning units, approval pending)
Liane Lefaivre and Alexander Tzonis have been collaborating since 1973 and are among the most accomplished architectural historian-theorists at work today. Their first joint paper on “The Populist Movement in Architecture” was written in 1973 and introduced the concept of populism in architecture. In 1981, they introduced the concept of “critical regionalism.” They have since co-authored numerous books, including The Origins of Modern Architecture (1984), Classical Architecture: The Poetics of Order (1986), Architecture in North America since 1960 (1995), Movement and Structure in the Work of Santiago Calatrava (1996), Architecture in Europe since 1968 (1997), Aldo van Eyck: Humanist Rebel (1999), Tropical Architecture: Critical Regionalism in an Age of Globalization (2001), The Emergence of Modern Architecture (2003), Critical Regionalism (2003), and Architecture of Regionalism in the Age of Globalization: Peaks and Valleys in the Flat World (2011). During the past 30 years, they have delivered lectures jointly in the U.S., Europe, China, Taiwan, Singapore, Israel and Brazil. They live in Delft and Vienna.
Roundtable discussion, “Regionalism in the Age of Globalization”
The roundtable discussion includes all speakers and will be moderated by Liane Lefaivre.
(1.5 AIA learning units, approval pending)
After the symposium, put on your dancing shoes and join us for food and fun at the Beaux Arts Ball! Tickets may be purchased at the door.
Peter L. Laurence, PhD
In 1950, the great British architectural critic J.M. Richards took up a challenge familiar to those engaged in centennial projects: he looked back 50 years, reviewing how architectural practice and thinking had developed since the turn of the century, and he looked ahead 50 years, into the century’s second half, imagining in what direction modern architecture might go.
The historical context for Richards’ speculations and his prescient conclusions are relevant to us today, both here at Clemson and as architects and scholars living in a highly connected world. Those years, like ours, were characterized by challenges requiring creative thought and solutions. One of these was that while modern architecture had achieved great public acceptance, Richards wrote, “Although modern architecture has come to stay, the way forward is not clear; the present is a moment of crisis, not any longer because we need modern architecture, but because we have got it.” The “International Style” had become very popular, but neither the wholesale internationalization of modern architecture nor its stylization was desirable.
What Richards went on to propose as “the next step” for modern architecture was a refinement of its original mission—a “functionalism of the particular,” which he explained as follows:
There is no call to abandon functionalism in the search for an architectural idiom capable of the full range of expression its human purposes require; only to understand functionalism itself, by its very nature, implies the reverse of what it is often allowed to imply: not reducing everything to broad generalizations—quality in architecture belongs to the exact, not the approximate—but relating it ever more closely to the essential particulars of time and place and purpose. That is the level on which humanity and science meet (“The Next Step?” The Architectural Review 107 (Mar. 1950), 181.)
Modern architecture, in other words, could be more than the form-follows-function slogan: It could include attention to place, people, history and even the neglected venustas (beauty) component of Vitruvius’ essential conceptual triad as part of its charge. While this philosophy was a little too vague and a little too unconcerned with the architectural image to quickly replace modernist dogma, it captured the spirit of the time and the enduring spirit of modern architecture. And it included the spirit of what Richards also described as “a new empiricism,” a regionalist approach to modern architecture.
J.M. Richards was not the only person to advocate a regionalist modernism. In The South in Architecture (1941), Lewis Mumford opposed the cultural and technological universalism of the International Style in favor of such an approach. Mumford wrote, “The forms of building that prevail in any region reflect the degree of social discovery and self-awareness that prevails there... Our climate, even apart from our social needs, requires such flexible forms of construction: yet for lack of regional insight our mechanical ingenuity has gone into absurdities like our present air-conditioning systems, which, if they were widely adopted, would in most parts of the country make an impossible demand [on our resources].”
Mumford’s words remind us of Lee I (originally not air-conditioned) and Lee III (for its exemplarily low-energy demands). However, the last 50 years of Clemson architecture’s history correspond quite neatly with Richards’ view from 1950. As a whole, Lee Hall—named for founder Rudolph “Pop” Lee—reminds us of the school’s Beaux-Arts era and the transition from that International Style to the modern one and the move from Riggs Hall to Lee. And although that shift took place in 1958—around the time that a new generation of modern architects declared CIAM (The Congres Internationaux d'Architecture Moderne) and old ways of thinking about modern architecture dead—McClure’s Lee Hall, like Phifer’s, transcended contemporary expectations by embracing a “functionalism of the particular” and the delicate balance between the regional and the global.
Modern architecture did not die in 1959, when CIAM was disbanded, or in 1972, when Charles Jencks declared that modern architecture was dead. Indeed, today some speak of a second modernism. But we should not wish for a repeat of the first. As Alexander Tzonis, Liane Lefaivre, Marlon Blackwell, Merrill Elam and Frank Harmon have shown us, modern architecture will not and cannot die. Their work reminds us of Mumford’s and Richards’ manifestos for a modern architecture that transcends time: Architecture that finds the difficult balance between the regional and the global, and the place where humanity and science meet.
“It takes generations before a regional product can be achieved. So it is with architectural forms. We are only beginning to know enough about ourselves and about our environment to create a regional architecture. Regionalism is not a matter of using the most available local material, or of copying some simple form of construction that our ancestors used, for want of anything better, a century or two ago. Regional forms are those which most closely meet the actual conditions of life and which most fully succeed in making a people feel at home in their environment: they do not merely utilize the soil but they reflect the current conditions of culture in the region.” —Lewis Mumford, The South in Architecture, 1941