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Knowlton set to welcome prize-winning architect, lecture

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Grace Farms is an artistic community in New Canaan, Connecticut designed by Ryue Nishizawa. Credit: Courtesy of Kieran Smith.

Grace Farms is an artistic community in New Canaan, Connecticut designed by Ryue Nishizawa. Credit: Courtesy of Kieran Smith.

Robert Livesey, professor and section head of architecture at Knowlton School of Architecture, said that the school only brings the most distinguished architects to lecture at Ohio State, including Ryue Nishizawa.

Based in Tokyo, Nishizawa has award-winning buildings there and around the world. He has two firms and is the youngest-ever recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, the architectural equivalent of the Pulitzer.

Nishizawa is this semester’s Herbert Baumer Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Knowlton School. In the recurring event, the school invites distinguished architects to come to the university to educate both architecture students and the general OSU community.

“We chose him for a number of reasons,” said Ashley Schafer, professor and Graduate Chair of the Knowlton School of Architecture. “He’s a prize-winning architect. In his work, he engages in both intellectual issues and a high degree of refinement.”

Schafer said that while she normally doesn’t call architecture “beautiful” she has to break her rule with Nishizawa and his firm’s works.

“It’s really, exquisitely, very refined, and incredibly crafted, detailed and created,” Schafer said.

She said Nishizawa and his team work with hundreds of study models before they decide how they are going to build a structure. With myriad options, it allows them to devise inventive concepts.

Sejima and Nishizawa and Associates, a firm Nishizawa co-founded with fellow architect Kazuyo Seijma has completed several well-known works around the world, including within Ohio. His team recently completed a glass museum in Toledo.

Livesey said the lecture will be a great opportunity to hear Nishizawa talk about the building, and then go see it for themselves and see how it relates to themes in his other work. He added that consistent themes in Nishizawa’s work include transparency and  integrating outdoor and indoor elements.

Schafer said a lot of themes of Nishizawa’s work have to do with humans’ relationships with nature, ecology and how people interact with their city.

“His work has really been influenced by Tokyo. The city is really interesting in its extreme size and density,” Schafer said. “In that way, it’s almost a chaotic, old city in its layout, and a new city in its architecture. There’s an interesting embrace of contradictions in Nishizawa’s work as well.”

While both Schafer and Livesey said they think Nishizawa has much to teach Knowlton’s students, they also agree that his lecture is valuable for the entire OSU community.

“Architecture isn’t about the building,” Schafer said. “It’s about its relationship to the city, to the environment, and issues of the natural, social, cultural and political environment. And I think these are issues that are interesting and applicable to all of us, as citizens of the world.”

Nishizawa will lecture at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday in Knowlton Hall’s Gui Auditorium. The lecture is free and open to the public.

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