Ben van Berkel Investiture as an Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Architects – USA

June 1st, 2013 by

Ben van Berkel, photography courtesy of UN Studio

Friday, June 21, 2013

The AIA Jury of Honorary Fellows announced that Ben van Berkel has been elected as an Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Architects. Ben van Berkel will receive the Honorary Fellowship and medal during the Investiture of Fellows and Honorary Fellows to be held on Friday, June 21, 2013 at the AiA National Convention in Denver. The AIA Honorary Fellowship program was developed as the international counterpart to the Fellowship program. Honorary fellowship is bestowed on architects of esteemed character and distinguished achievements who are neither U.S. citizens nor U.S. residents, and who do not primarily practice architecture within the domain of the Institute.

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Ben van Berkel lectures at Sci-Arc and A+D Museum – Los Angeles, CA

February 19th, 2013 by

Ben van Berkel, courtesy of UN Studio

Wednesday, February 20, 2013, 7pm (Sci-Arc)
Thursday, February 21, 6:30pm (A+D Museum)

Sci-Arc is pleased to present the lecture “Architecture and its Future” by Ben van Berkel, with an introduction by Eric Owen Moss. The profession of architecture has expanded and now finds itself in a position to engage with a broader series of cultural references. The architect can now refer to film, fashion, literature, philosophy, music, art etc. and as such greatly enrich the cultural side of the profession. However with such an exclusive focus, the functionality of architecture – the rational and scientific side of the profession – is sometimes forgotten. The architect today however has to increasingly optimize his or her buildings in order to make them both more affordable and more responsible. As there is still much to discover in these more pragmatic areas of the practice, I believe that in the future the profession will become increasingly oriented towards knowledge and expertise – not simply through transforming knowledge into new design techniques, but through the cross-combination of information and knowledge so that architecture and design will be replaced by what I refer to as “trained judgement.”

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The historic Battery in New York City needs help!

November 13th, 2012 by

The Battery suffered 14 feet flood surges that brought salt water to its gardens

November 13, 2012

As reported in the news, the historic Battery, the birthplace of New York, got hit hard by hurricane Sandy on Monday night October 29 with an unprecedented storm surge of almost 14 feet of seawater. The gardens were covered with salt water, the fountain was flooded and they lost several mature trees. In addition, The Battery Conservancy offices at One New York Plaza were completely submerged and everything has been destroyed, in total 18 years of archives and history of its work is completely gone.

On November 9 the Netherlands Consulate in NY volunteered at The Battery by remediating Piet Oudolf’s “Gardens of Remembrance” with a new layer of top soil

Throughout the history and present, the Government of the Netherlands has been a great friend to the Battery, the area that Henry Hudson explored in 1609. In 1926 a flagpole was donated by the Dutch now called the Netherlands Memorial, in testimony of ancient and unbroken friendship. Almost ten years ago the Battery began its revitalization with the work of the famed Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf who created the Battery Bosque Gardens and the Gardens of Remembrance as part of his masterplan for the Battery to be completed in 2015. The historic Battery has sustained severe damage throughout and needs funds and volunteers to help recover. Last week, a volunteer crew of the Dutch Consulate General spent a day helping out with the  recovery of the gardens. View our complete photo gallery of the day on our Facebook page.

Please show your support and volunteer at one of the upcoming recovery events or donate.

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The Battery Conservancy needs support due to devastating damages from the storm Sandy

October 31st, 2012 by

October 31, 2012

We received a plea for help from our dear friends of The Battery Conservancy, the wonderful organization that has worked tirelessly to restore and improve The Battery, including the The Gardens of Remembrance by Piet Oudolf, the wonderful New Amsterdam Plein & Pavilion by Ben van Berkel of UN Studio, and so much more. The historic Battery has sustained severe damage throughout, but even more heartbreaking is the news that the Conservancy’s offices are completely flooded. They suffered a complete loss of office space, electronics, furnishings, but more importantly their archives, and history of 18 years of work. Here is a plea for help from The Battery Conservancy:

“As you have seen on all the network news and cable channels, the historic Battery took the full force of Storm Sandy as it hit Lower Manhattan Monday evening.

We are here to report that the Park survived this unprecedented storm surge of 13.88 feet of sea water. To date we have lost three mature trees, the fountain is flooded and our 92,000sf of gardens were covered by salt water until the surge receded.  Top soil has been lost but no plants were uprooted and the gardens beds are all intact.  If there was a glimmer of hope it was the sight of a completely dry sub structure basement of our amazing SEAglass.  That brought a smile to all our weary faces.

But we do have heartbreaking news to report, our main offices at One New York Plaza, Plaza Shop Level are completely submerged in flood waters.  We have lost everything.  All our electronics, furnishings and most importantly our archives and history of 18 years of work are gone. Much critical information is on back up servers but the materials and memories of our journey til now have been literally washed away by the sea.

We are looking for temporary space to keep our work force together and progressing.  All gifts of hands, hearts and funds will be most gratefully appreciated”

Click here if you wish to help The Battery Conservancy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, created in 1994 to revitalize The Battery, the park at the southern tip of Manhattan.

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Ben van Berkel – Kenzo Tange Chair extended for 3 years at Harvard University Graduate School of Design – Cambridge, MA

August 7th, 2012 by

Ben van Berkel, courtesy UN Studio, photo © Inga Powilleit

August 7, 2012

In 2011 Ben van Berkel was awarded the Kenzo Tange Visiting Professor Chair at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Following the studio carried out in the Fall semester of the same year, the Kenzo Tange Chair has been extended to Ben van Berkel for a further period of three years.  Broadening the scope of the initial studio, which addressed the question of knowledge spaces, and how such spaces facilitate the generation and dissemination of information, the upcoming studio, ‘Unfinished Work’, will investigate the relationship between architecture and emerging modes of production. The studio and research agenda will explore how changing ideas about work alter the demands and performance of space. New methods of production which are reshaping the work environment will be used for case studies into how these models alter the ways in which people work, communicate and problem solve.

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Ben van Berkel speaks at Columbia University – New York, NY

March 31st, 2012 by


Ben van Berkel / UN Studio, Burnham Pavilion, Chicago, 2009, courtesy UN Studio
Ben van Berkel / UN Studio, Burnham Pavilion, Chicago, 2009, courtesy UN Studio

April 4, 2012, 6:30 PM

What happened to architectural objectivity? UNStudio’s Ben van Berkel says: “In both art and science objective observation has of course always been paramount to understanding the nature and behaviour of that which is being observed. However, objective observation does not in itself lead to progress. It is in how we apply the knowledge gained from our observations, in how we translate, redefine and apply this knowledge, that true transformation can occur. In architecture we not only have to engage in depth with the objective, but we have to find a balance between the subjective-objective relationship in order to create well balanced architectural concepts and solutions.”

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Ben van Berkel lecture at Carnegie Library Lecture Hall – Pittsburgh, PA

February 24th, 2012 by

Ben van Berkel / UN Studio, Burnham Pavilion, Chicago, 2009, courtesy UN Studio

Wednesday, February 29, 2012, 6pm

Ben van Berkel will present the lecture “The New Understanding” as part of The Carnegie Mellon School of Architecture’s Spring 2012 Lecture Series, cosponsored by The Heinz Architectural Center at Carnegie Museum of Art.

Today, the discipline of architecture is wide open to the possibility of radical change. The narratives of gain and growth that explained, legitimized and propelled forward so much architecture in the past decades have been interrupted. The focus now is on articulating new conceptualizations of possibly all the vital considerations at the core of the field.

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Press release: Pittsburgh Cultural Trust launches the Distinctively Dutch Festival – Pittsburgh, PA

January 18th, 2012 by

February 18 – May 20, 2012

[PITTSBURGH, PA] — The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, a nonprofit arts and economic development organization at the center of Downtown Pittsburgh’s revival, will host an array of U.S. and world premieres as part of an interdisciplinary arts festival: The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s Distinctively Dutch Festival. Celebrating the culture and contemporary performing and visual arts from the Netherlands, the three-month festival will feature dance, theater, music, visual art, film, literature and architecture. Events will be held February 18-May 20, 2012, throughout Pittsburgh’s Cultural District, as well as at select venues, including MCG Jazz, City of Asylum/Pittsburgh, Carnegie Museum of Art, Carnegie Library Lecture Hall, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens and Carnegie Mellon University.

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The New Amsterdam Pavilion by UN Studio in The Battery is “Building of the Day” during Archtober – New York City

October 20th, 2011 by

New Amsterdam Plein & Pavilion, UN Studio with Handel Architects, 2009-2011, image by Rendertaxi, courtesy UN Studio

Sunday, October 23, 2011, 12-1pm

As part of Archtober, visitors are welcome to join a tour of the New Amsterdam Plein & Pavilion by UN Studio with Handel Architects.

About The Battery and the New Amsterdam Plein & Pavilion
More than 70,000 daily commuters and two million annual tourists pass through the New Amsterdam Plein & Pavilion at Peter Minuit Plaza, a vibrant transportation hub where ferries, buses, trains, cars, bicycles and pedestrians merge at the tip of Manhattan. Peter Minuit, the plaza’s namesake, was the second director general of the colony of New Amsterdam c. 1626, and best known as the man who brokered the deal with the natives to “share” the island of Manhattan.

Peter Minuit Plaza was first created in 1952 when a portion of Battery Park was de-mapped to accommodate the then new South Ferry Terminal.  In 1999 when the new Whitehall Ferry Terminal was designed a portion of the park closest to the water was de-mapped and the streets in between the traffic islands were re-mapped as parkland to create once more a unified park parcel.

Today, UNStudio’s design for New Amsterdam Plein & Pavilion has created a 5,000 square-foot, carefully programmed space located within Peter Minuit Plaza, housing regional organic food by Merchants Market, as well as the Alliance for Downtown New York’s Visitor Information Booth. This highly sculptural pavilion stands as a sculptural gateway to the Battery’s park and waterfront, with an expressive, undulating roofline and curving walls—a compact little building with the authority of a major landmark, evoking a flower opening to its surroundings. UNStudio incorporated Corian, an innovative design material developed by DuPont and here thermoformed to render exceptionally daring horizontal and vertical surfaces that contribute to the Pavilion’s iconic impact.

Every night at 12:00AM midnight, the New Amsterdam Pavilion glows with an array of colors in tribute to Peter Minuit whose name translates to “midnight.” 1626 consolidated the early settlements at the tip of Manhattan—a grouping that came to be known as New Amsterdam.

New Amsterdam Plein & Pavilion
The Battery, New York City

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Ben van Berkel joins Gehry Technologies (GT) Advisory Board – New York City

October 18th, 2011 by

Gehry Technologies (GT) Advisory Board, courtesy UN Studio, photo by Richard Schulman

October 18, 2011

Ben van Berkel has joined the Gehry Technologies (GT) Advisory Board. GT today announced that that Co-founder and Chairman, Frank Gehry has brought together the world’s most distinguished architects and designers to form a strategic alliance furthering his vision to transform the building industry and the practice of design. As part of today’s announcement, this core group of renowned architects will also serve on Gehry Technologies’ board of advisors. “The building industry has been slowly but steadily moving toward minimizing individual responsibility and away from producing architecture that solves clients’ and communities’ problems,” offered Frank Gehry. “I am dedicated to giving architects better control of process so that they can deliver the fruits of their imagination, which is what our clients expect. I have gathered a group of my friends together who believe in this mission as much as I do and who can help me find the solutions that will ultimately lead to better buildings throughout the world.”

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