MDC 2011 Speakers: Our Conversation with Jeanne Gang, FAIA_Part II

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When we interviewed Jeanne Gang back in July, we didn’t we know we were on the line with a woman about to be named a MacArthur Fellow. Not that we needed an excuse to post this second part of our conversation.

Gang speaks at the Monterey Design Conference this October, so one thing we wondered was: what was the one question she wished an attendee would ask her. Her answer might surprise you.

It’s not something that I want them to ask me, but I’d love to discuss with other participants: how do we, together, share ideas about practice and how to reinvigorate practices. I’m always interested to hear from others—I don’t necessarily want to have them ask me that question. [She laughs.] We’re all trying to do the things that we love and at the same time run our businesses. I would be happy to talk about what we do [at Studio Gang], but I’d be curious to learn more from others. I’m excited about it, and looking forward to going to another part of the country.

What building typology do you think is the most important use of Studio Gang’s time right now?
We’ve got vertical and horizontal going on. [She laughs.] I can’t really tell you one is more important than another. They’re integral.

Vertical building–it’s important because it’s a growing trend all over the world. Cities are growing and people are moving from country to cities, and we need the housing. I see the tower as a building type that’s about urbanity and compact living, about lifestyle. It’s important that tall buildings be beautiful, not generic, but architects must consider more than aesthetics—designing towers also means thinking about living inside of them and outside of them, inhabiting them in multiple ways.

For us, horizontal building means planning for closed loops systems–bringing architecture, landscape, urban design, and ecology together, exploring how all of them interconnect in culture.

On the horizontal plane, we’re doing cultural projects like theaters and even landscape theaters. We’re working on a music venue for the Northerly Island, which we designed with JJR.. The master plan for the island brings demonstrative ecosystems to the landscape that people can experience, while including the music venue produces the revenue to build that landscape. There’s an economic loop to the project. Overall, it’s exciting work because it’s about completing a big piece of land near the center of the city. We’re also designing a nature center with SCAPE Landscape Architecture in the Blue Ridge Mountains, called the Blue Wall Center.

Studio Gang has really embraced Twitter. How did that come about?
People asked us to do it, and then we realized that we could use it to communicate to all of our staff, current and past. If somebody has some news, they can put it up. So it organically became part of our context.

Then, when we created our new website with Bruce Mau Design, their designers came up with the concept of having a landscape on the site that included different types of information—“people,” “works,” “events,” “tweets,” etc. —so it become one of those elements, and became more prominent that way.

Less than ten days to register to hear Jeanne Gang and the renowned architects of Monterey Design Conference 2011 speak (and get all your continuing ed credits.)



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