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Columbia University to Host “Engineered Transparency”
Start Date 26/09/2007
End Date 28/09/2007
Location Columbia University 
Country United States 
Description Conference Explores Use of Glass in Architecture and Structural Engineering

Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation and Columbia’s Department of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics will partner with The Technische Universitat Dresden’s Institute of Building Construction to host a three-day conference on advancements in glass design and engineering from September 26-28, 2007. Over 300 participants from around the globe will attend as architects, engineers, scholars and industry experts discuss major innovations and opportunities for the future use of glass in the built environment. The conference is made possible by the generous support of Oldcastle Glass.

After the last century’s call to radical new architecture and urban life, glass architecture is today more ubiquitous than ever. A deeply engineered product, glass has re-emerged in a new light as a seemingly more culturally accepted material in design and construction. Its new appearance however reveals a virtually new product replacing the glass used even twenty years ago. The innovations are observable and have direct use.

Offering new modes of visual pleasure and spatial experience to occupants, glass has also been the beneficiary of major advances in engineering that are decidedly less visible. There are structural innovations, new control and design engineering at the level of optics, thermal properties, and fabrication limits as well as installation have quietly re-configured the extent and reach of glass applications. “We are so continually surrounded by such discretely functioning glass, that we don’t even see it,” said Mark Wigley, Dean of the School of Architecture. “This interdisciplinary conference aims to bring an ordinarily extraordinary material back before our eyes.”

“Engineered Transparency” will begin with an evening keynote address by renowned Japanese architect Kazuyo Sejima on September 26, 2007. Ms. Sejima and her firm SANAA received rave reviews for their recently completed Glass Pavilion at The Toledo Art Museum. Widely considered the most advanced firm working in glass today Sejima will also present an array of cutting edge works in Japan and Germany that push glass technologies to new limits. “Engineered Transparency” will also include lectures by Matthias Schuler and Guy Nordenson, the mechanical and structural engineers who collaborated on the Glass Pavilion. This will be the most in depth presentation of the technology behind the most important glass building in years.

Topics that will be covered at the all-day conference sessions on September 27 and 28 will include panel discussions on issues such as: What are the critical implications of glass in building in the next decade? Will energy issues force a major change in transparent architecture? What are the new limits of glass – as technical instrument or social and political metaphor? Is it possible to consider glass architecture a frontier project for new generations of architects and engineers? How can advancements in glass engineering effect climate engineering. What are the latest improvements in optics, light conversion and security and safety glass?

Some of the world’s brightest architectural and engineering minds will discuss these issues in eight separate panels scheduled over the two-day conference. Speakers and moderators will include: Michelle Addington, Michael Bell, Roberto Bicchiarelli, Albrect Burmeister, James Carpenter, Beatriz Colomina, Elizabeth Diller, Graham Dodd, Kenneth Frampton, Laurie Hawkinson, Robert Heintges, Gunther Henn, Steven Holl, Ulrich Knaack, Wilfried Laufs, Scott Marble, Reinhold Martin, Detlef Mertins, Christian Meyer, Guy Nordenson, Scott Norville, Joan Ockman,Tosihiro Oki, Antoine Picon, Susanne Rexrodt, Tom Richardson, François Roche, Jens Schneider, Matthias Schuler, Hans Schober, Robert Smilowitz, Werner Sobek, Richard Tomasetti, Bernhard Weller, and Mark Wigley.

Columbia University plans to record and publish the conference proceedings. The “Engineered Transparency” conference publication will be available in late 2008.

An exhibition titled “Through Glass” that documents the use of glass in architecture through the ages will accompany the conference. Curated by Rosana Rubio-Hernandez, the show will be on display at Avery Hall’s 200 level from September 24-October 12, 2007.

For further information and program details on the “Engineered Transparency” conference, please visit

Conference on advancements in glass design and engineering
Leading architects, engineers, scholars and industry experts
Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP), Wood Auditorium, Avery Hall, Columbia University’s Morningside Heights Campus between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue
Wednesday, September 26: 6:30 pm
Thursday, September 27: 9:30 am – 6:00 pm
Friday, September 28: 9:00 am – 5:30 pm


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