*Zoom* VISION Keynote- The Middle Front

  • June 18, 2020
  • 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
  • Virtual Event

Organization: AIA Cincinnati

The Levy home in Fox Point, Wisconsin, by La Dallman Architects

Program Description

*Zoom* VISION Keynote – The Middle Front

ADVANCE REGISTRATION REQUIRED – before noon on June 17, 2020

Learn more here.

LA DALLMAN’s keynote, Middle Front, articulates a position of architecture practice thriving in the land of the “in between.” At some moments, retreat from both avant-garde culture and its banal counterpart is the most radical position one can assume. Deprived of both aesthetic novelty on one side and functional assurance on the other, the Middle Front asks what we might recognize today as architecture– distinct from spectacle, sculpture, construction, or real estate?

This question is grounded in the premise that “exceptionality” has currently become the least common denominator in a transforming, eclectic, and fragmented field. The Middle Front considers architectural realities that are neither explicitly exceptional, nor properly ordinary, acknowledging a vantage point in the middle, from which quotidian typologies (bridges, street furniture, public buildings, houses) silently, yet forcefully serve at the forefront of shaping the city. We might ask, therefore, how to produce architecture within the neglected realm of the middle? This theoretical and practical stance addresses the challenges facing the architectural discipline today.

The keynote will draw from excerpts of Grace La and James Dallman’s forthcoming book, the Middle Front, which is currently in progress. The talk will share the initial formations of this thinking, as well as thoughts on practice, and reflections on the discipline of architecture as a transformative act.

Learning Objectives

  • Discuss strategies to improve comfort and safety through management of materiality
  • Learn strategies and potential of responsive, intervention thinking vs. conventional mega-scale, master-plan thinking
  • Develop community engagement strategies in design processes that target components of healthy communities and respond to neighborhood character and context
  • Understand opportunities for design in interdisciplinary projects that leverage multiple constituencies and social concerns
Speaker: Grace La

Grace La is Professor of Architecture, Chair of the Practice Platform, and former Director of the Master of Architecture Programs at Harvard University Graduate School of Design.  She is also Principal of LA DALLMAN Architects, internationally recognized for the integration of architecture, engineering and landscape.

Cofounded with James Dallman, LA DALLMAN is engaged in catalytic projects of diverse scale and type. Noted for works that expand the architect’s agency in the civic recalibration of infrastructure, public space and challenging sites, LA DALLMAN was named as an Emerging Voice by the Architectural League of New York in 2010 and received the Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence Silver Medal in 2007. In 2011, LA DALLMAN was the first practice in the United States to receive the Rice Design Alliance Prize, an international award recognizing exceptionally gifted architects in the early phase of their career. LA DALLMAN has also been awarded numerous professional honors, including architecture and engineering awards, as well as prizes in international design competitions.

LA DALLMAN’s built work includes the Kilbourn Tower, the Miller Brewing Meeting Center (original building by Ulrich Franzen), the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) Hillel Student Center, the Ravine House, the Gradient House and the Great Lakes Future and City of Freshwater permanent science exhibits at Discovery World. The Crossroads Project transforms infrastructure for public use, including a 700-foot-long Marsupial Bridge, a bus shelter and a media garden. LA DALLMAN is currently commissioned to design additions to the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts (original building by Harry Weese and landscape by Dan Kiley), the 2013 Master Plan for the Menomonee Valley and the Harmony Project, a 100,000-square-foot hybrid arts building for professional dance, which includes a ballet school, a university dance program and a medical clinic. The National Endowment for the Arts awarded the Harmony Project a grant in support of the design process in 2012.

LA DALLMAN’s work has been featured in many publications including Architect, a+t, Architectural Record, Azure, Praxis and Topos, as well as in books released by Princeton Architectural Press and Routledge. Architect profiled the firm’s design culture in June, 2012. LA DALLMAN’s work has been widely exhibited, including at the Heinz Architectural Center in the Carnegie Museum of Art. La is coeditor and author of Skycar City (Actar, 2007), featuring the inaugural Marcus Prize Studio, which was exhibited at the 2008 Venice Biennale. She is also the cofounder and three-time editor of UWM’s Calibrations and a member of the editorial board of the Journal for Architectural Education.

Previously, La served as a faculty member in the School of Architecture and Urban Planning at UWM, receiving tenure in 2005. She served as the Chair of the Planning and Coordinating Committee, where she led efforts in the department’s strategic planning, curriculum reform and hiring initiatives. La also served as a Design Critic in Architecture at the GSD (2010) and a Visiting Critic at Syracuse University (2011). She has delivered lectures at prestigious universities and cultural institutions including the New Museum in New York City, the National Building Museum in Washington DC and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.

La’s teaching, research and prototype design work were funded byKI, exhibited at Discovery World, and featured in the annual Metropolis Conference at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (2010). Demonstrating a unique ability to link the profession and the academy, the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture has bestowed La with four Faculty Design Awards, which honor outstanding projects that advance the reflective nature of practice and teaching. Additionally, she has received numerous teaching awards including the 2005 UWM Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award. La is a member of the United States General Services Administration (GSA) National Registry of Peer Professionals (class of 2010), which is comprised of the nation’s most distinguished private sector leaders in art, design, engineering and construction. She has also served as an adjudicator for the National Endowment for the Arts, the US Artists Fellowship and several AIA Design Awards Programs.

Grace La received her professional MArch with thesis distinction from the GSD, winning the Clifford Wong Housing Prize. She graduated with an AB, magna cum laude, from Harvard College in Visual and Environmental Studies.

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