Events, People

William Baker and Kent Jackson to Lead Superlatives Workshop at the Venice Biennale

SOM Structural and Civil Engineering Partner William Baker and Design Director Kent Jackson will lead a public workshop on the topic of “Superlatives” at the U.S. Pavilion at the Venice Biennale on Saturday, September 6.

The event accompanies the ongoing OfficeUS exhibition, which has been on display at the U.S. Pavilion since June. Baker and Jackson’s talks and related discussions with the on-site curators, staff, and visitors will address the limits of what is possible in architecture today: from the aesthetic to the technical to the managerial.

Baker’s talk, titled “Tall Iconic Structures — The Need for a Critical Dialogue,” will explore the ways in which recent advances in computer-aided design have led to greater freedom in form-making. Baker will question whether these new designs are examples of inspired creations or examples of willful excess. When designing tall buildings in the new era, Baker will argue, a critical dialogue must occur between architects, engineers, owners, and society at large, not only addressing the questions, “Can this be built?” but also, “Should this be built?”

Jackson’s presentation will explore common themes between SOM’s monumental buildings of the past and present. Through an examination of case studies including the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library and the JTI Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Jackson will consider how geometric clarity, structural rationality, contextual relationships, and functionality create longevity in architecture. 

Following their presentations, Baker and Jackson will join the U.S. Pavilion curators and staff for an hour-long discussion titled “Future Superlatives,” which will explore the current limitations on the production of architecture and what may define the “superlative” building of tomorrow.

The OfficeUS exhibition explores the last 100 years of U.S. architectural production abroad and the ways in which American design firms have exported architecture around the globe. Dozens of landmark projects designed by SOM over the course of more than five decades are spotlighted in the exhibition. Each week, the pavilion explores a different theme — from embassies to energy to workspaces — and invites guest lecturers to lead public workshops. OfficeUS will be open to the public through November 23, 2014.

September 6, 2014
2:00 p.m.

U.S. Pavilion
The Giardini
Venice, Italy   

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