Where Modern Architecture Is Headed

Nader Tehrani is a tenured Professor of Architecture at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a principal at the Boston-based architecture firm, Office dA. He has also taught at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Rhode Island School of Design, and Georgia Institute of Technology, where he served as the Thomas W. Ventulett III Distinguished Chair in Architectural Design. In the academic context, Nader Tehrani has focused on research surrounding materials, methods of aggregations, geometry and the advancement of digital fabrication. His participation in the Immaterial/Ultra-material Exhibition at Harvard's GSD is also paralleled by his installations at the Museum of Modern Art, Boston ICA, and Georgia Tech, investigating new means and methods of fabrication in wood, steel, rope and polycarbonate. As a principal at Office dA he has received numerous international awards. Office dA’s work in green, sustainable design includes Helios House, a sustainable power station in Los Angeles, and the Macallen building, a 144 unit condominium in Boston. Office dA has also worked on the Tongxian Arts Center in Beijing, the Elemental community project in Chile, and the Villa Moda Competition in Kuwait. 

  • Transcript


Question: How will architecture evolve in the coming decades?

Nader Tehrani:  It is always difficult to look forward and to imagine what the next most important thing is, but let me tell you I’m happy that we’ve made or overcome let’s say the first digital revolution and we can get past problems of visualization and even the problems of building, so we can assume that to some degree.  I’d also like the think that we can get around the hurdle of sustainability with some ease.  The notion that problems of sustainability can be assumed in the same way that railing heights and other codes may be assumed in architecture.  These don’t have intellectual stakes.  They’re merely part of the technical infrastructure that we have to deal with.  The question I guess that looms for me right now is with the accessibility to design to the larger masses, with our ability to communicate and see works across the continent, across the age groups, with our ability to publish ourselves from a blog to a site, to a book, to a magazine how is it that questions of criticism gauge in the future education of the architect?  What is a critical inquiry?  And secondly, to what degree are we able to overcome our fascination with monocular projects, projects that are only invested in sustainability or projects that are only invested in geometry?  How is it that we can imagine works of architecture that deal with the problem of integration or synthesis without the kind of overarching philosophies that we have inherited from the Fosters and the Pianos?  How do we deal with the exceptionality of the synthetic moment in inventive ways?  And that I think will separate the great architects from the masses?