Farshid Moussavi: Lecture

W.M. Keck Lecture Hall

March 28, 2016 at 7:00pm
Farshid Moussavi Headshot

What is the function of style today? If the 1970s were defined by Postmodernism and the 1980s by Deconstruction, how do we characterise the architecture of the 1990s to the present? Some built forms transmit affects of curvilinearity, others of crystallinity; some transmit multiplicity, others unity; some transmit cellularity, others openness; some transmit dematerialisation, others weight. Does this diversity mean there is no shared style, but rather individual responses to the market or a consequence of eclecticism? Or perhaps the problem lies in our existing definition of 'style' being too outdated to be able to identify a coherence underlying this diversity in contemporary architecture? Farshid Moussavi will argue that the impact of the internet and globalization on architectural practice since the 1990s have radically altered the process of design, and have opened up a new way of thinking about buildings that requires a different approach to the question of style.

Farshid Moussavi is an internationally acclaimed architect and Professor in Practice of Architecture at Harvard University Graduate School of Design. She was previously co-founder of the London-based Foreign Office Architects (FOA). Moussavi has completed her first USA commission, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland (2012), its installation at the 13th Architecture Biennale in Venice (2012), The Victoria Beckham Flagship Store in London (2014) and as well is currently working on a wide range of prestigious international projects including residential complexes in the La Défense district of Paris and in Montpellier, as well as a department store in Paris, France; and an office complex in the City of London, UK.

At her previous practice (FOA), she co-authored many award-winning projects including the Yokohama International Cruise Terminal and the Spanish Pavilion at the Aichi International Expo in Japan; the John Lewis Department Store and Cineplex in Leicester, UK; in Spain, the South-East Coastal Park in Barcelona, the Municipal Theatre and Auditorium in Torrevieja, and the Carabanchel Social Housing in Madrid; as well as the Meydan Retail Complex in Istanbul, Turkey. The work of FOA has been widely published and exhibited, and represented Britain at the 8th Venice Architecture Biennale in 2002; and the firm has received numerous awards including the Enric Miralles Prize for Architecture, six RIBA Awards, the 2004 Venice Architecture Biennale Award and the Charles Jencks Award for Architecture.

Farshid Moussavi trained at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, University College London and Dundee University. She has subsequently taught at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, the Architectural Association, the Berlage Institute and the Hoger Architectuure Instituut, and in the United States at Columbia, Princeton and the University of California at Los Angeles. Since 2006, she has been Professor in Practice of Architecture at Harvard University.  She is the author of The Function of Ornament (2006) and The Function of Form (2009), based on her research and teaching at Harvard. Both books have been translated into several languages. Her new book The Function of Style will be released in Autumn 2014.