Amale Andraos is Dean of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation and a co-founder of WORKac, which has achieved international recognition for projects such as the Centre de Conferences in Libreville, Gabon and the New Holland Island Cultural Center masterplan in St Petersburg, Russia. She has taught at many institutions including Princeton, Harvard, and the American University in Beirut. Her books include 49 Cities and the forthcoming Architecture and Representation: The Arab City. Andraos was born in Lebanon. She serves on the board of the Architectural League of New York and on the faculty steering committee for the Columbia Global Centers | Middle East.
Date of presentation14 Apr, 2015
Amale Andraos, a Lebanese born architect practising through the office WORKac in the Big Apple and newly appointed dean of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation in New York City, gives an introduction to her office’s most prominent projects and her contribution as professor Columbia University. While the talk entitled “context” seeks to establish a relation between the global practise of contemporary architecture offices and local circumstances, Ms Andraos distances her work from reductive notions of cultural identity and clichés of tradition that many global building projects stage today. The emphasis herein lies not on cultural specificities but on a negotiation of environmental transformation. Global Warming would force us to reread history and dismiss our present state placelessness that has taken over since Postmodernity. Together with inevitable environmental change, a reinterpreted relationship of the natural, rural and urban, derived from Ebenezer Howard’s Garden City ideals, constitute this new “context” WORKac places their work in. After illustrating this argument with some of the practices prominent projects in St. Petersburg and the USA, Ms Andraos turns to her strategies for transforming the Department of Architecture at Columbia as the new dean, which she sees deeply intertwined with her experience as an architect. Here again she proposes a negotiation, a synthesis of past influences at the school to adapt to the complex necessities of a globally active architect. Previously isolated theoretical discourse finds itself reconnected to the canon of architectural practise through exhibitions and publications and global awareness is pursued through increased student travels and a growing network of institutions. The curriculum’s goal is to form a broad understanding of an architect's profession, an embedding into a multi-facetted context of global engagement in our discipline.