Graduate Architecture

  • Temple Island

RESCHEDULED: The Cunningham Lecture: Michael Webb

Wednesday, October 7, 2020 6:30pm
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Meyerson Hall, 210 South 34th Street, B1

Due to new guidelines for public gatherings issued by Penn in response to the coronavirus outbreak, this event was rescheduled to October 7 from its original date of March 25. Thank you for your understanding.

Michael Webb was born in Henley-on-Thames, England, in 1937. He studied architecture intermittently at the then Regent Street Polytechnic School of Architecture (now the University of Westminster) between the years 1953 and 1972; a somewhat lengthy student career. A project he designed during his fourth year at the Polytechnic found its way, owing to a curious set of circumstances, into an exhibition at MoMA New York entitled "Visionary Architecture" in 1960. The following year his thesis project for an entertainments center in the middle of London was repeatedly failed at the Poly; nevertheless it became widely published, and was featured in November 2009 at the "First Projects" exhibition at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London.

In 1961, he was invited by Sir Peter Cook to be part of an assortment of young architects who referred to themselves as the Archigram group, publishing a magazine with the same title. The group rebelled against what it saw as the failure of the architectural establishment in Britain to produce buildings reflecting the dynamic changes, both technological and social, the country was then undergoing. For the last 26 years a large exhibition of the group’s work has been touring world capitals; and in 2006 Archigram was awarded the Gold Medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects.

Webb emigrated to the USA in 1965. He sees his raison d'etre as deriving from the drawings he has produced over the years: among these being the Temple Island Study, which resulted in an eponymously titled book published by the AA in 1987; and the Drive-in House series. A monograph entitled Two Journeys was published in 2018. His writing has appeared many times in Architectural Design magazine, Daidalos, and in the Journal of Architectural Education.

He has had one man shows at the Cooper Union, Columbia University, the Storefront Gallery in NY, the Architecture League in NY, the University of Manitoba at Winnipeg, and the Art Net Gallery in London. He was a fellow at the CCA in Montreal in 2010 and 2011 and has been honored with grants from the New York State Council on the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.

He has taught design studios and drawing at Virginia Tech, the Rhode Island School of Design, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Pratt Institute and the Cooper Union, where he occupied the Charles Gwathmey chair.

In memory of Barney Cunningham, this lecture will honor his high standards and commitment to building construction, technology, professional practice and ethics. It is free and open to the public.