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ISU College of Design Architecture Advisory Council Lecture
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When: 9/5/2014
5:45-7:00 PM
Where: Kocimski Auditorium, 101 Design
Presenter: Iowa State University

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Department of Architecture's annual fall kickoff celebration includes a student scholarship and awards ceremony and introduction of the Class of 2014, faculty and Architecture Advisory Council members. Event to be followed by Architecture Advisory Council Lecture by Thomas Leslie, FAAR, Pickard Chilton Professor in Architecture, and opening reception for the Rome Spring '14 exhibition, “The Tevere; and Beyond: Architecture and Landscape Architecture Multidisciplinary Projections” in Gallery 181.

Beauty's Rigor: Patterns of Production in the Work of Pier Luigi Nervi


Pier Luigi Nervi's work is often cited for its adherence to structural “truth,” but his astonishing spans and roofs also were the results of cleverly conceived and efficiently executed fabricational processes. His experimental yard in southern Rome was a laboratory for lightweight concrete construction-ferrocemento-that took advantage of the peculiar economic and material realities of Italy before and after World War II. Born out of autarchic restrictions on steel under Fascism, ferrocemento was first used by Nervi for wartime ship hull commissions. These hulls inspired similar shapes that formed individual components in Nervi';s folded plate roofs, breaking long spans down into modules based on manual, algorithmic construction. Such techniques enabled crews of minimally skilled laborers to erect these spans quickly, but their visual effects elevated Nervi';s roofs beyond their impressive construction achievements into spaces that are, even half a century later, astonishing and sublime.

About the Speaker

Thomas Leslie, AIA, FAAR, is the Pickard Chilton Professor in Architecture and the director of graduate education in the Department of Architecture at Iowa State. His research and teaching focus on the relationships between design and technology, both in history and in contemporary practice. Leslie received degrees in architecture from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (1989) and Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation (1992), where he was the recipient of the annual History/Theory award for his master's thesis on the design history of Kennedy Airport in New York. 

Leslie practiced for seven years with Foster and Partners, working on the Joslyn Art Museum (1994), the Al Faisaliah Center (2001), and the Stanford University Center for Clinical Sciences Research (2000). Since joining Iowa State he has been the author of Louis I. Kahn: Building Art, Building Science (2005) and Chicago Skyscrapers, 18711934 (2013), and coauthor, with colleagues Jason Alread and Rob Whitehead, of DesignTech: Building Science for Architects (2006, 2014). His research has been supported by the Graham Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the American Philosophical Society, and he has held visiting faculty positions at the University of Technology Sydney, the Bauhaus Universitat in Weimar, Germany, and the McCormick School of Engineering at Northwestern University. He was the 20132014 recipient of the Booth Family Rome Prize in Historic Preservation.

Leslie';s lecture is part of “Spatial Geographies,” the Fall 2014 ISU Architecture Advisory Council Lecture Series. The Iowa State University Department of Architecture is celebrating its centennial in 2014.

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