The Walker Art Center series
Drawn Here: Contemporary Design in Conversation
continues in February and March with two architects featured in the exhibition Worlds Away: New Suburban Landscapes, premiering February 16–August 17. On Thursday, February 28, at 7 pm, Teddy Cruz discusses his critically acclaimed projects that engage issues of community, sociability, and immigration; and on Thursday, March 6, at 7 pm, Sean Griffiths of FAT (Fashion.Architecture.Taste), introduces the quirky, allusive work of his London-based firm. Free tickets for both programs, part of Target Free Thursday Nights, are available from 6 pm at the Bazinet Garden Lobby desk.
Drawn Here: Teddy Cruz, Estudio Teddy Cruz
Thursday, February 28, 7 pm
In a society increasingly obsessed with policing borders and erecting boundaries, architect Teddy Cruz operates in the zone between countries, disciplines, and cultures. “We should be turning our attention away from the wall and towards the landscape, the ecology, and the communities,” says Cruz. He has followed that admonition with projects of passion, gaining critical acclaim for engaging issues of community, sociability, and immigration, and for collaborating with community-based nonprofit organizations on affordable, sustainable housing and its potential to transform urban policy.
Born and reared in Guatemala, Teddy Cruz moved to San Diego with his mother and American stepfather in the early 1980s, after a military coup in his home country. Cruz’s ideas about architecture and urbanism have been profoundly influenced by the experience of living in proximity to the United States–Mexico border, and by the border’s physical consolidation and growing symbolic presence as issues about security and immigration figure ever larger in public discourse. Cruz employs a process-oriented practice that is grounded in community engagement, embraces existing physical and urban conditions, and seeks reconciliation of patterns of spatial occupation and social interaction with often unsympathetic zoning and planning regulations.
As part of the exhibition Worlds Away: New Suburban Landscapes, Cruz examines the reciprocal influences across the US-Mexico border between San Diego and Tijuana. Entitled Cross-Border Suburbias, Cruz’s installation documents the dismantling and shipment of San Diego’s older suburbs—its housing detritus—as it is recycled into new housing settlements in outskirts of Tijuana. At the same time, Cruz looks at the changes wrought by new Latin American immigrants living and working in suburban San Diego and how culturally-specific practices are transforming neighborhoods.
Cruz was awarded the Rome Prize in Architecture in 1991 and in 1997 received his master’s degree at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. He presented the inaugural James Stirling Memorial Lecture on the City in 2004. He is a professor in the visual arts department of the University of California, San Diego.
Drawn Here: Sean Griffiths, FAT (Fashion.Architecture.Taste)
Thursday, March 6, 7 pm
FAT (Fashion.Architecture.Taste), as its name implies, pushes for a more inclusive architecture that is responsive to contemporary culture. FAT’s quirky, allusive work challenges the profession’s notions of acceptable taste and operates from the premise that architecture is a form of communication that should speak the language of its users. London-based FAT has developed a reputation for making buildings, installations, and interiors that are memorable, engaging, and embrace a more populist sensibility, which is manifest in easily recognizable forms, the use of decoration and ornament, and a vibrant palette of color and material. The now-iconic Blue House (London, 2002), with its billboardlike expression of the building’s home and office components, exemplifies this approach. Established in 1995, FAT’s innovative building and urban design projects range from the creation of a new “summer village and hobby park” in a suburb of Rotterdam (on view in Worlds Away) to the transformation of a former Gothic church into the offices for advertising firm Kassels Kramer in Amsterdam, to designs for trailer homes for artists in northern Scotland.
FAT’s design for the Sint Lucas Art Academy (Boxtel, the Netherlands, 2006) received the prestigious European Award from the Royal Institute of British Architects and was also nominated for the Mies van der Rohe Award. In 2003, FAT was unanimously chosen by the future
inhabitants of Woodward Place Social Housing (New Islington, Manchester) in a competition sponsored by the Royal Institute of British Architects, and its proposal for refurbishment and expansion of a 1960s high-rise housing block was selected in a competition sponsored by the London Borough of Newham. The firm was awarded second place in Building Design’s Architect of the Year program in 2003 and was included in the Architects’ Journal’s 40 Under 40 exhibition in 2005.