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Stan Allen / Stan Allen Architect

October 10, 2012 - 5:30pm


Stan Allen, Dean of the School of Architecture at Princeton University and principal of SAA/Stan Allen Architect, will present the lecture "The Geological Turn” at 5:30PM, Wednesday, October 10 in Knowlton Hall's Gui Auditorium. 

For the past two decades, the dominant working metaphor in advanced architecture has been biological: a desire to make architecture more lifelike: fluid, adaptable, and responsive to change. Working from D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson’s description of natural form as a “diagram of forces,” advanced computer technology has been used to simulate the active forces that shape biological form.  A parallel trend looks not to the biology of individual species but to the collective behavior of ecological systems as a model for cities, buildings, and landscapes. But the rate of change in a city, landscape or an ecological system is far slower than that of an individual living body. Buildings––like the ground––are hard, stubborn, and slow. Architecture is situated between the biological and the geological––slower than living beings but faster than the underlying geology. Resistance and change are both at work in the mineral realm of the city: the hardness of the rock and the fluid adaptability of living things. Through recent projects, Allen will present an argument for the renewed relevance of the geological today.

This lecture is free and open to the public, and has been approved for one Learning Unit of continuing education credit for AIA members. AIA member attendees will receive credit if they sign the AIA Course Attendance Form (include AIA membership number, name and e-mail address) located outside of the main entrance to the Auditorium.


Stan Allen became Dean of the School of Architecture at Princeton University in 2002. From 1989–2002, he taught at Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, where he was also the Director of the Advanced Design Program. After working for Richard Meier and Partners in New York and Rafael Moneo in Spain, he established his own practice in 1990. Allen's built work to date includes galleries, gardens, workspaces and a number of innovative single-family houses. Responding to the complexity of the modern city in creative ways, Allen has developed an extensive catalogue of urbanistic strategies, in particular looking at field theory, landscape architecture and ecology as models to revitalize the practices of urban design. His urban projects have been published in Points and Lines: Diagrams and Projects for the City, and his theoretical essays in Practice: Architecture, Technique and Representation. Landform Building: Architecture's New Terrain, a book based on the conference held at the School in 2009, was published in 2011.

From 1999–2003 Allen worked in collaboration with James Corner/Field Operations. The work of this interdisciplinary collaboration was recognized with first prizes in invited competitions for the re-use of Fresh Kills in Staten Island (2001), and the Arroyo Parkway in Pasadena, California (2002). In 2000 they won the competition for a garden at the French Consulate in New York (now complete), and were finalists in the competition for the 320-acre Downsview Park in Toronto. In 2007, SAA/Stan Allen Architect won the international competition for the redesign of the Taichung Municipal Airport in Taiwan, which is now being implemented. Recently completed buildings include the Sagaponac House, Salim Publishing at Paju Book City and the CCV Chapel in the Philippines. The firm has recently been recognized with P/A Awards for the Taichung Airport and the Yan Ping Waterfront in Taipei, AIA Awards for the CCV Chapel and Salim Publishing, and an Architecture Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The recently completed Taichung InfoBox won both AIA andP/A Awards. He lectures and publishes extensively, both in the US and abroad, and participates in numerous international design conferences and symposia. In addition to design awards and competition prizes, he has been awarded Fellowships in Architecture from the New York Foundation for the Arts, The New York State Council on the Arts, a Design Arts Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Graham Foundation Grant, a President's Citation and the 2009 John Hejduk Award from The Cooper Union. In a ceremony held in New Orleans in May, Stan Allen was elevated to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects.


Download the PERSPECTIVES: Stan Allen poster.