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Cornell University

August 26, 2011

Jim Williamson, a visiting associate professor of architecture, has coedited and contributed to an anthology of essays about the influence of religion on Western modern and contemporary architecture. The book, The Religious Imagination in Modern and Contemporary Architecture: A Reader, published in February by Routledge, examines the relationship between religion and architecture from the late 19th century to the present. Williamson and his coeditor, Renata Hejduk, view the book as a challenge to the perceived secularity of modern and contemporary architecture. 

Williamson, a faculty member at Cornell since 2001, is also coeditor and contributor of the forthcoming book The Architecture of Disbelief. He recently published an essay in the online journal Places titled "What Passes for Beauty: A Death in Texas," which describes his assignment to design a gravesite while a young intern at an architectural firm in Midland, Texas.

Mark Cruvellier, associate professor of architecture, recently published the second edition of his textbook, The Structural Basis of Architecture (Routledge). Cowritten with Arne P. Eggen and Bjørn N. Sandaker, the book is concerned with how to “see” structural forms as an integral part of architecture, and with exploring the link between mechanical forms and conceptual ideas inherent to the art of building. The authors analyze structural principles behind works by Alvar Aalto, Le Corbusier, Charles and Ray Eames, Frank Lloyd Wright, Rem Koolhaas/OMA, Sir Norman Foster, SANAA, Zaha Hadid, Snøhetta, and Santiago Calatrava, among others. This new edition is completely updated and rewritten, covers an expanded range of topics, and includes many worked-out examples inspired by built projects.

Two newly appointed tenure-track professors of architecture are joining Cornell University’s Department of Architecture this fall. Caroline O’Donnell will be an assistant professor of design, the first under the Richard Meier Professorship of Architecture endowment, and Jenny E. Sabin will be an assistant professor of design and emerging technologies.

O’Donnell, has been a visiting faculty member in the Department of Architecture since 2008 and is editor-in-chief of the Cornell Journal of Architecture. She is the principal of CODA, an experimental design and research studio operating at a range of scales from the urban to the architectural. From 2006 to 2008, O’Donnell was project leader at Eisenman Architects in New York City, where she directed the design teams for several projects, including Hamburg Library and Pompei Santuario Railway Station. She received her bachelor of architecture from the Manchester School of Architecture, England and her master of architecture from Princeton University.

O'Donnell has already taken important strides in establishing herself as an eminent architect, educator, and scholar – achieving recognition in the 2010 Europan 10 Competition, teaching at both Cooper Union and Princeton before coming to Cornell, and writing for numerous architectural publications.

Established in 2010, the Richard Meier Professorship of Architecture endowment is named in honor of alumnus Richard Meier (B.Arch. ’57), whose commitment to design excellence is a hallmark of Cornell’s architecture program.

As an educator and principal of Jenny Sabin Studio, Sabin’s research, teaching, and design practice focuses on the intersections of architecture, computation, and biology. She is a collaborator on an NSF-funded project employing design computation to develop materials for integration into environmentally responsive building skins. She was a co-recipient of an Upjohn research grant administered by the AIA and was recently awarded a Pew Fellowship in Design and Architecture. Her work has been published in A+U, American Journal of Pathology, Science, the New York Times, and Wired Magazine. She has coauthored Meander, Variegating Architecture with Ferda Kolatan. She holds a B.F.A. and B.A. from the University of Washington and an M.Arch. from the University of Pennsylvania.

“Her work primarily lies at the intersections of architecture and art and of architecture and science. Her visualization of cell structures provides innovative groundwork in developing models for bio-mimetic design strategies and 'informed' form. Similarly her research into digital looms and textiles provides insights and opportunities for courses integrating design tooling and material technologies with advanced fabrication,” says search committee chair Associate Professor Andrea Simitch.

Sabin and O’Donnell will be primarily based in Ithaca and teaching studios starting in fall 2011.

Edgar Tafel, a noted architect, former visiting instructor, and, before his death in January, the last surviving member of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin Fellowship, has made a $3.8 million gift through his estate to Cornell University and the College of Architecture, Art and Planning (AAP). The gift establishes the Edgar A. Tafel Professorship in Architecture and the Edgar A. Tafel Lecture Series.

Tafel’s gift comes at an ideal time for the college, as the architecture department launches its newly accredited graduate program and expands its intellectual territory with the addition of new faculty. Funding for professorships and visiting critics is one of the highest philanthropic priorities of the college, and through new hires made possible by gifts like Tafel’s, the college will continue its leadership in architectural and design education.

As a member of the Taliesin Fellowship, Tafel served as project architect for many of Wright’s most famous buildings, including Fallingwater in Pennsylvania, the Johnson Wax headquarters in Racine, Wisconsin, and Herbert F. Johnson’s residence, Wingspread. He also authored two books on Wright.  

Tafel had his own architectural practice in New York City from 1945 to 1986, where he designed 80 homes, 35 religious buildings, and three college campuses. He served on his local community planning board and was president of the Washington Square Association, a fellow of the American Institute of Architects, and an associate of the National Academy of Design.  

“Edgar’s gift is a profound expression of trust in our commitment to offer the very best education for future generations of AAP students,” says Dean Kent Kleinman. “We are deeply grateful for his support and thoughtful planning.”


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