Architects Convene in Midland for Design Conference

(In the video above, Midland architect Mark Wellen, AIA, discusses “Architecture in the Hinterlands”)

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The conference, Feb. 17-18, will explore the theme of “Architecture in the Hinterlands” with a focus on how significant design work is created and nurtured in regions far removed from major urban centers. Continuing education credits (not HSW) are available. Another highlight of the weekend will be tours of early residential design by Frank Welch, FAIA. His work will also be the subject of a panel discussion.

The conference’s keynote speaker is Brian MacKay-Lyons, a principal of MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Also presenting is architectural historian Edward Bosley, the executive director of the Gamble House in Pasadena, Calif.

Below is an excerpt from the first chapter of Welch’s unpublished memoir:

In 1935, an MIT graduate, Sam Zisman, introduced modernism to A&M. He was a brilliant, Jewish intellectual who put his stamp on the school during the 10 years he taught there. Under the Beaux Arts system at most architecture schools, students spent their time copying classical examples—exactly. They would make beautiful drawings, copies of classical floor plans.

But a sea change had taken place. A building should now respond to its particular place, design should be both rational and functional. Architecture, coupled with technology, could improve peoples’ lives. Modernist design might have been urbane and sophisticated, but also it appealed to the practicality of an agriculture and engineering school.

My first architecture design classes were held in a temporary building, a one-story barracks, near the campus’s North Gate. My teacher was Jason Moore, who taught fundamentals of design. Jason was tall and thin and slightly stooped and dedicated to the principles of modern design as inherited from the teachings at the Bauhaus. His job was to indoctrinate us in modernism regardless of our individual histories and predilections toward building design. I’m sure most of us considered a Southern Colonial house as the ideal model. Moore drilled us in his quiet way to think rationally not subjectively. Ornament was “sinful”; buildings had to be functional and express it in their designs. We worked on abstract patterns with drawings and paper collages and finally a three-dimensional articulation of an eight-inch cube of space. The first design problem I had was in the second year, for a piece of furniture: I submitted a lounge chair of tubular metal with each tube, forming a sitting surface, encased in foam rubber.

Continuing reading here