Architect shares expertise with students
Architecture professors Botond Bognar, Paul Armstrong, Kevin Erickson and Kathryn Anthony (counterclockwise from lower left) met with Japanese architect Kengo Kuma (lower right) on Feb. 25 to critique student designs for a hypothetical new Krannert Art Museum. Kuma, one of Japan’s leading architects whose designs have been built throughout the world, is the UI School of Architecture’s Plym Distinguished Professor for 2007-08. As such, he has visited Illinois several times throughout the year to lecture and meet with students. During spring break, he will lead a group of UI students on a one-week study-abroad trip to Tokyo and Osaka, where they will visit design projects by Kuma and other noted contemporary architects.
Kuma, who established the firm Kengo Kuma & Associates in Tokyo in 1990, has designed art museums in Japan and Germany. While on campus last month, he reviewed plans and models for the “fantasy” art museum designed in just a week by students in studio courses taught by Anthony, Armstrong and Bognar.
According to Kuma, designing an art museum – whether real or imagined – is not an easy assignment.
“It is challenging because it’s not just a building,” he said. “A museum can change anything for a campus.” And, he noted, “the role of the 21st-century museum has changed” compared with the way it functioned in the past.
Visiting professor Erickson is writing a monograph that will examine Kuma and his body of work at length. He also is assisting with the organization of a fall 2008 exhibition highlighting Kuma’s designs at the UI’s Chicago gallery, I space. In addition to past projects, the exhibition will feature an on-site tea house.