Architecture Students Participate in Sean Lally Workshop

Two dozen architecture students took part in a workshop run by Sean Lally, February 17-20, in Knowlton Hall. Workshop attendance was split 50/50 between graduate and undergraduate architecture students. Lally is founder of WEATHERS/Sean Lally LLC, a Chicago-based office that explores new opportunities for how we design and build the environments that we live in. He was at Knowlton as a speaker in the spring semester Baumer Lecture Series, Atmosphere, in which he presented the lecture “Let’s Touch” on February 17.

This workshop sought to re-imagine the shapes of architecture. To do this, workshop participants explored not only to the evolution of the environment (materials that build physical space) but also the public themselves (their physiological bodies).

The chemical, geologic and biological components of the environments in which we build “architecture” are in a continual state of change. As discussions continue as to what comprises sustainable building and what the current ramifications of climate change will be, a common misconception is that the answer entails stopping the clock on four billion years of history in favor of perpetuating a single snap-shot of our recent past. This is because conversations regarding what is best for the environment, and the creatures living in it, have directly tied together the notions of a sustainable existence with the act of conservation.

Instead, it is likely that for humans to live environmentally responsibly, the images we carry of the green environment as well as the human body itself might need to evolve. This will likely require a “mutation of our values” tied directly to the political and ethical responses of current synthetic biology, climate modification and environmental engineering already underway. What this crisis ultimately produces is the opportunity for architecture to define new environments, capable of being “responsibly” lived in.  This requires an expanded notion of what a building material is and how they will be used to define physical boundaries, aesthetic shapes and spatial organizations of these new environments/architectures.

Workshop attendees concluded the event with a wrap-up review on Saturday, February 20 with workshop organizer Andrew Cruse, Jeff Kipnis, Curtis Roth and a guest reviewer from SCI-Arc, John Bohn. The review brought to light many of the invisible and transient aspects of architectural space—light, sound and other energy flows. It provided the students a way to think about these typically under considered aspects of design through new diagramming and drawing techniques.

Related People