artist of the day #56: Lebbeus Woods

You know a building is going to be interesting when the blueprints could easily be mistaken for storyboards to next summer’s sci-fi multi-billion dollar blockbuster. Lebbeus Woods might hold the title of architect, but he holds the mind of a rebellious philosopher. I think he just happens to be really good at math and has the patience of a pack of monks, so the architecture thing panned out for him. Without these two things he might have just been preaching to some impressionable college kids in the neighborhood coffee shop. Luckily he took the path away from being a cult leader and instead is probably one of the most revolutionary architects of our age.

His work is often about both histories and futures that might have been. He is very concerned with reinventing metropolitan centers. He is often trying to improve on structures and areas that have taken a turn for the worse. He abandoned traditional approaches to architecture in the mid-70’s and since has almost exclusively worked on experimental ideas. With this he co-founded the Research Institute for Experimental Architecture in 1988. He is well-known for designing quasi-utopian visions through 2 sets of series known as Centricity and A-City.

Given the fact that his first name is Lebbeus, and that his art is so unusual, I would have guess at him being from some obscure European country like Belarus, but it turns out he’s from good ole Lansing Michigan. His father was an accomplished military engineer, so the eyes and attention to detail must run in the family.

He has been a guest lecturer and professor at universities all over the place, but currently works mostly for the institute he co-founded. Perhaps as important as his visual contributions, is his work to be a spokesperson for his cause. He maintains his own website and blog which archives relevant information, discussions, and debates surrounding his type of work. For someone born in 1940, that is impressive. And beyond it all, his work is stunningly beautiful. Even if it wasn’t filled with ideas of how to give shelter to homeless people in New York, it would still be just as visually engaging. And did I mention some of his designs have actually become buildings in both China and Cuba. And since he has been working like a fiend since the 70’s, he has a TON of work. Currently some of it is on display at the Friedman Benda Gallery in New York. If you can’t make it there, at least check out his site lebbeuswoods.net. I couldn’t attach every cool image to this if I tried.

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