Education of an Architect, Lisa Tilder: Drawings 1985-1993

Banvard Gallery
August 21, 2018 - 9:00am to October 26, 2018 - 5:00pm

The Banvard Gallery will host the memorial exhibition Education of an Architect, Lisa Tilder: Drawings 1985-1993 beginning Tuesday, August 21, 2018. 


Lisa Tilder (1968-2015) was an architect, designer and beloved educator who taught at the The Ohio State University Knowlton School for close to a quarter century. An entire generation of young architects remembers her energy and enthusiasm for architectural design both through the studios she taught but also for the many projects, seminars, conferences and texts she produced. Lisa taught in all areas of the Knowlton School’s curriculum but she was particularly well known as a coordinator of the study abroad program in Rome, Italy and most critically as the longtime director of the architecture honors program; a program that was influential in setting the tone of undergraduate research at the Knowlton over the course of the past decade.

Education of an Architect, Lisa Tilder: Drawings 1985-1993 is a memorial exhibition focusing on the work Lisa Tilder produced as a student attending the Pennsylvania State and Ohio State Universities. The intention of the show is not only to honor Lisa by illustrating her remarkable early design efforts but also to provide students with a window onto a critical understanding of the historicity of their own educational experience by demonstrating the persistence and influence of one’s formative years on their later development. The exhibition highlights the ways in which the disciplinary preoccupations of the day influence and shape one’s identity as students emerge from the academy and enter the broader discipline. In Lisa’s case the early work exhibited here continued to strongly influence her thinking right up until she succumbed to cancer in 2015 just months after teaching her final Architecture Honors studio. The exhibition presents this story by highlighting salient moments along Lisa’s own educational path. The selection focuses primarily on her drawn work and presents examples from her earliest undergraduate exercises and thesis work at the Pennsylvania State University, her graduate work at Ohio State University, and her first substantial early academic work, the winning submission to the NY Young Architects Forum done in collaboration with her partner Stephen Turk.

As an undergraduate student she encountered an environment heavily influenced by the practices of Venturi Scott Brown and John Hejduk. Particularly important to her formation was her encounter with a number of instructors who were students of John Hejduk and Daniel Libeskind at the Cooper Union and Cranbrook programs of architecture. The overall pedagogy of the Penn State Architecture program was caught in the transition in which the influence of Postmodernism was declining and that of the neo avant-garde was increasing. This was reflected in the profession by the transition during the 80’s of architects such as Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas and Thom Mayne from experimental academics to practitioners completing their first large commissions.

At the Ohio State University in the early 1990’s she encountered a very different (though she would come to learn related) educational environment. One that emphasized less the phenomenological and material issues of her undergraduate years and instead focused on abstraction, formalism and an attention to the broader transformations occurring in the sciences and computation. Her graduate work at Ohio State with Peter Eisenman, Jeffrey Kipnis, Jose Oubrerie, and Sanford Kwinter reshaped her early experience and sent it in a new direction; one in which she strove to reconcile the two traditions of her education. While in the program she participated in studios that worked on several important Eisenman commissions from the period. Included in the exhibition are Lisa’s scheme for Eisenman’s Emory University project and two images Lisa produced for Eisenman’s seminal Rebstock Park project. In these last images one can see Lisa’s early use of the computer modeling software Form Z which had been developed at what was then known as the OSU Department of Architecture. The studio’s use of this novel technology for their project drawings, particularly as reflected in Lisa and her teammate’s version of the scheme, had an influence on the final version of the project in Eisenman’s office.

Finally, the exhibition’s title is of course a reference to the first chapter of Vitruvius’ De architectura which presents the classical understanding of the profession’s pedagogical ideal; an ideal that would influence the formation of the Western notion of the liberal arts. But more specifically, the title refers to the influence on Lisa’s thinking by the pair of books of student work published by the Cooper Union bearing that name. The second volume covering the years 1972-1985 was published in 1991 while she was in graduate school. The publication of this book was of particular interest to Lisa as it opened a self-conscious understanding of her own development and seemed to provide a coda for her own educational experience. It in many ways led to her choice to devote herself to the education of future architects, one she would pursue at the Knowlton School for the next quarter century.


Stephen Turk, Sandhya Kochar, Samuel Tibbs, Alex Oetzel, Andre Banerjee, Jessica Sprankle, Ali Sandhu, Kymberly Ware, Chris Strasbaugh


The Banvard Gallery is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The Gallery is located on the first floor of Knowlton Hall on the campus of The Ohio State University.