| Nov 5, 2009 |
Ralph Lauren establishes Gwathmey professorship at Yale School of Architecture
Boh staff
By Staff

Ralph Lauren and his wife, Ricky Lauren, have established a professorship at the Yale School of Architecture in memory of the late architect Charles Gwathmey, Yale University President Richard C. Levin has announced.

The Laurens were very close friends of Gwathmey and his wife, Bette-Ann, and set up this professorship for prominent senior design faculty as an enduring legacy in his name, according to Yale School of Architecture Dean Robert A.M. Stern.

“Charles was one of the most distinguished graduates of our School of Architecture. By establishing this professorship, Ralph and Ricky Lauren honor Charles’ achievements and affirm the eminence of each incumbent named to the chair,” said Yale University President Richard C. Levin.

“The Charles Gwathmey professorship acknowledges the contributions Charles made as an architect, as well as his unique abilities as an educator to motivate young people. It is also a tribute we pay to an extraordinary artist and a dear friend,” said Ralph Lauren.

Gwathmey ’62 M.Arch, who died on August 3, was celebrated for the geometrically complex and meticulously detailed buildings he designed in a signature Modernist style. Along with fellow architects John Hejduk, Richard Meier, Michael Graves, and Peter Eisenman—known collectively as “The New York Five”—Gwathmey was identified as a champion of High Modernism, even as many architects, planners and designers were turning away from its strict tenets.

He first came to public prominence with the house and studio he created for his parents in Amagansett, Long Island, and while the firm he founded with Robert Siegel in 1968 boasts many award-winning non-residential projects, Gwathmey continued to be most identified in the public mind with the houses he designed for a distinguished clientele. However, he was also the designer of critically acclaimed institutional projects including the International Center for Photography, the Museum of the Moving Image and the addition to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim Museum in New York, and the Fogg Art Museum in Cambridge. He enriched the Yale campus, the city of New Haven, and the architectural world with what might be considered his crowning achievement: the Yale arts complex. The project consists of the restoration and expansion of the landmark Art + Architecture Building (now renamed Paul Rudolph Hall), a new facility for the history of art department (the Jeffrey H. Loria Center for the History of Art) and, weaving these two structures together, a comprehensive arts library (the Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library). His universally acclaimed restoration of Paul Rudolph’s storied masterpiece had particular poignancy for Gwathmey who had worked with Rudolph on the design of the building when he was an architecture student at Yale.

“No architect of our generation had such a mastery of geometry and such a gift as a constructor, whose every building was considered in terms of specific materials selected, and construction techniques pursued and explicitly expressed. That sense of architecture as a builder's art was central to his work and set him apart from his contemporaries,” said Stern at the memorial for his late friend and colleague held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in September.

Dean Stern has announced that renowned theorist, educator and visionary architect Peter Eisenman has been named the first Charles Gwathmey Professor. Currently, the Louis I. Kahn Visiting Professor of Architectural Design at YSOA, Eisenman is the principal of the New York-based Eisenman Architects. He has designed large-scale housing and urban design projects, innovative facilities for educational institutions, and a series of inventive private houses. His haunting Holocaust Memorial in Berlin was inaugurated on May 10, 2005, 60 years after the end of World War II. His projects include a stadium for the NFL Arizona Cardinals, opened in 2006, and a six-building City of Culture of Galicia in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, now under construction. Eisenman has taught at Cambridge University, Harvard University, Princeton University, Ohio State University, and The Cooper Union. His many books include “Eisenman: Inside Out,” “Selected Writings 1963–1988”; “Blurred Zones: Investigations of the Interstitial, Eisenman Architects 1988–1998”; and “Giuseppe Terragni: Transformations, Decompositions, Critiques.” From 1967 to 1982 he was the director of the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies in New York City, which he founded.

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