Paolo Portoghesi in conversation William Menking and Aaron Levy
"I believe that modern architecture has lost the capacity to speak to the citizens, the common people. Architecture for architects is wrong, and it breaks the continuity of architectural history.
Architecture is not for architects - it's for the public. "
PennDesign and Slought Foundation are pleased to announce a rare appearance by celebrated Italian architect Paolo Portoghesi, in conversation with William Menking and Aaron Levy, on Wednesday, April 20, 2010 from 6:00-8:00pm in the lower gallery of Meyerson Hall.
Portoghesi directed what is considered to be the Venice Biennale's 1st International Architecture Exhibition. His Strada Novissima, the main exhibition of twenty façades set up at the Corderie dell'Arsenale, ushered in some of the best known architects today, including Frank O. Gehry, Rem Koolhaas, Arata Isozaki, Robert Venturi, Franco Purini, Ricardo Bofil, Christian de Portzamparc. The work opened a very lively debate on Postmodernism, becoming a symbol of the movement itself.
Portoghesi is perhaps best known for his striking mosque in Rome, Italy, built 1974/75 in the north end of the city, near Acqua Acetosa, at the behest of King Fahd of Saudi Arabia. It is said that the building strikes a balance between modernism, Roman forms, and the traditions of mosque architecture. He continues to practice: the first stone of his Strasbourg Mosque, converted from a foie gras factory in the center of the city, was laid in 2004.
The event continues a public conversation building upon Architecture on Display, a research initiative organized by William Menking, Editor-in-chief of The Architect's Newspaper, and Aaron Levy, Executive Director and Chief Curator of the Slought Foundation, who co-curated the United States Pavilion at the 2008 Venice Biennale. In the resulting London AA publication, Levy and Menking interview each of the living directors of the Venice Biennale for Architecture, including Vittorio Gregotti, Francesco Dal Co, Kurt Foster, and Kazuyo Sejima, among others.
Levy and Menking argue that the forgotten history of the Biennale offers an incipient understanding of the complex relationship between architectures of use and architectures of display. The conversants will discuss public expectations for spectacular graphic and visual display, how architecture's image of itself has changed over time, and how attempts to fuse eastern and western sensibilities enable a larger cultural dialogue. These conflicts and tensions serve as the framework for this public event as well as the larger series of conversations that comprise Architecture on Display.
This event is free and open to the public. To register, visit http://portoghesiatpenndesign.eventbrite.com/.
Paolo Portoghesi is an Italian architect, theorist, historian and professor of architecture at the University La Sapienza in Rome. He is a former President of the architectural section of the Venice Biennale (1979-92), Editor-in-chief of the journal Controspazio (1969-83), and dean of the Faculty of Architecture at the Politecnico di Milano university (1968-78). After completing his architecture studies at the University of Rome, he opened an architectural practice with architect-engineer Vittorio Gigliotti in Rome in 1964. Well-known for his teaching and researching Classical architecture, especially Baroque architecture, his interest in more contemporary architecture lies in championing a more organic form of modernism, brought to the fore in his book Nature and Architecture (2000).
William Menking, an architectural historian, writer, critic, and curator of architecture and urbanism, is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Architect's Newspaper. He is professor of architecture, urbanism, and city planning at Pratt Institute and has lectured and taught at schools in the United States and Europe. He has curated and organized international exhibitions on the visionary British architects Archigram, the Italian radical architects Superstudio, and contemporary English design. For more information, visit www.archpaper.com.
Aaron Levy is the Executive Director of Slought Foundation ('Sl-aw-t') is a non-profit organization based in Philadelphia that engages the public in dialogue about cultural and socio-political change. Collaborating with a range of partners, including artists, communities, universities, and governments, Slought Foundation encourages cultural inclusiveness and social activism that fosters the exchange of ideas and the creation of concepts. For more information, visit www.slought.org.
The Architect's Newspaper, New York