Vassar Quarterly - Spring 2018 - 18
he traditional view of an architect as a solitary
genius who hands his or her blueprints to an
engineer to "make it so" is becoming increasingly
out-of-date. Architecture today has become a much
more holistic pursuit, with new technologies
encouraging collaboration with engineers and planners. "It
used to be that architects got a contract and then pulled everyVan Lengen '73, Professor and former Dean of Architecture at
the University of Virginia. "Students are no longer interested in
that; they are interested in creating networks."
Conversations about technology and materials occur as plans
are drawn, and concerns about how a building will fit into its
environment are considered at the outset, not as an afterthought.
According to Van Lengen, architects today are like the master
builders of medieval cathedrals, both conceiving of a design and
coordinating a vast team of collaborators to birth it into being.
Only, instead of treadwheels and cranes, they are using sophisticated computer algorithms and three-dimensional printing to
create their collective visions. We spoke to 11 different Vassar
alumnae/i who are experts and architects practicing in the field,
to get their take on how architects build today.
Previous page: The impressive glass façade of
the OMA-designed Pierre
Lassonde Pavilion at the
Musée national des beauxarts du Québec boosts
energy efficiency by
allowing in natural light.
Above: OMA used similar
principles in its design
of Milstein Hall, a space
befitting Cornell's College
Right: Columbia University
Medical Center's Vagelos
Education Center, designed
by Diller Scofidio + Renfro,
bucks the trend of the
boxy skyscraper with
forms that tumble along
an exposed staircase.
Previous page, Bruce Damonte / This spread, Iwan Baan
one in and said, this is my vision, make it work," says Karen