Chicago Architect January/February 2013 : Page 50

A Z Answers to Zurich Photo by Darris Lee Harris SHORTLY AFTER WIEL ARETS TOOK HIS POST AS DEAN OF THE ILLINOIS INSTI-TUTE OF TECHNOLOGY COLLEGE OF ARCHITECTURE THIS FALL, HE MET WITH ZURICH ESPOSITO IN CROWN HALL. Arets steps into the shoes of Donna Robertson, FAIA. Following her notably progressive 15-year run as dean, Robertson, a tenured IIT faculty member, will teach and continue practicing architecture. Arets has comfortably, perhaps aggres-sively, straddled the academic and profes-sional realms. He has held teaching positions at the Architectural Association (AA) in London, Berlin’s Universitat der Künste, and Columbia University. From 1995 to 2002, he served as dean at the Berlaga Institute in Amsterdam, where his own active fi rm is headquartered. With additional offi ces in Berlin, Maastricht and Zurich, Arets is quick to point out that he doesn’t recommend separating academia from the practice—to himself or to others. Zurich Esposito: Even though architecture faculties are full of practitioners, people complain of a disconnect between the academic world of architecture and the practice itself. How separate or connect-ed do you think they should be? Wiel Arets: I personally think there should be no differentiation between them. For me, the academic world and my life as an archi-tect are completely connected. The things I’m doing—writings, buildings, teaching—can’t make me two different persons. The schools are like a laboratory. To architects who don’t teach, I wonder how do you develop your thoughts without teaching? I see the academic world as an environment where you can do research that’s not always easy to do in offi ces. I like to bring practicing architects and academics together in a mix. The Positivist ZE: Are there any broad goals or expectations that you or IIT have already established? WA: IIT is a very renowned school, always looking at the city at large, at innovative ways of dealing with and using architecture. I would like to bring into the debate the idea that the world is becoming rather small, with all new and greater technologies and access. I would like to do research here on what the new city could be and which innovation, technology and strategies could be devel-oped for that. ZE: Are these thoughts and goals also the themes you presented in Autobiographi-cal References , a new book on your work? I’m particularly curious about the section called “A Wonderful World,” where you describe redefi ning the “Map of the World.” What does “wonderful world” mean here? WA: When we think about the history of the last 5,000 years and see what we’ve achieved, you see we’ve achieved a lot. We are living in a world that has incredible capabilities. And the relatively greater access to knowledge presents possibilities that make the world much richer. The world will have dreams and America is a fantastic place to be—where dreams come true. I’m a positivist. It’s not making sense to be negative. There’s so much to discover. And architects should be at the center of the dialogue about the future. That’s what a school like IIT should be about. C A 50 Chicago Architect jan | feb 2013

A To Z

<br /> Answers to Zurich<br /> <br /> SHORTLY AFTER WIEL ARETS TOOK HIS POST AS DEAN OF THE ILLINOIS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY COLLEGE OF ARCHITECTURE THIS FALL, HE MET WITH ZURICH ESPOSITO IN CROWN HALL.<br /> <br /> Arets steps into the shoes of Donna Robertson, FAIA. Following her notably progressive 15-year run as dean, Robertson, a tenured IIT faculty member, will teach and continue practicing architecture.<br /> <br /> Arets has comfortably, perhaps aggressively, straddled the academic and professional realms. He has held teaching positions at the Architectural Association (AA) in London, Berlin’s Universitat der Künste, and Columbia University. From 1995 to 2002, he served as dean at the Berlaga Institute in Amsterdam, where his own active firm is headquartered. With additional offices in Berlin, Maastricht and Zurich, Arets is quick to point out that he doesn’t recommend separating academia from the practice—to himself or to others.<br /> <br /> Zurich Esposito: Even though architecture faculties are full of practitioners, people complain of a disconnect between the academic world of architecture and the practice itself. How separate or connected do you think they should be?<br /> <br /> Wiel Arets: I personally think there should be no differentiation between them. For me, the academic world and my life as an architect are completely connected. The things I’m doing—writings, buildings, teaching—can’t make me two different persons. The schools are like a laboratory.<br /> <br /> To architects who don’t teach, I wonder how do you develop your thoughts without teaching? I see the academic world as an environment where you can do research that’s not always easy to do in offices. I like to bring practicing architects and academics together in a mix<br /> <br /> ZE: Are there any broad goals or expectations that you or IIT have already established?<br /> <br /> WA: IIT is a very renowned school, always looking at the city at large, at innovative ways of dealing with and using architecture. I would like to bring into the debate the idea that the world is becoming rather small, with all new and greater technologies and access. I would like to do research here on what the new city could be and which innovation, technology and strategies could be developed for that.<br /> <br /> ZE: Are these thoughts and goals also the themes you presented in Autobiographical References, a new book on your work? I’m particularly curious about the section called “A Wonderful World,” where you describe redefining the “Map of the World.” What does “wonderful world” mean here?<br /> <br /> WA: When we think about the history of the last 5,000 years and see what we’ve achieved, you see we’ve achieved a lot. We are living in a world that has incredible capabilities. And the relatively greater access to knowledge presents possibilities that make the world much richer. The world will have dreams and America is a fantastic place to be—where dreams come true.<br /> <br /> I’m a positivist. It’s not making sense to be negative. There’s so much to discover. And architects should be at the center of the dialogue about the future. That’s what a school like IIT should be about.

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