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Signature architecture "worries me" says new IIT architecture dean Wiel Arets

Signature architecture "worries me" - new IIT architecture dean Wiel Arets

News: Dutch architect Wiel Arets (above), the new dean of the architecture college at the Illinois Institute of Technology, has set out his vision for the school, rejecting fashionable form-making in favour of greater concern for the public realm.

In an interview with Chicago Business, Arets expressed concern over the signature architecture of recent years. “What we saw [during the boom] was that people first made a shape and then said, 'What can we do with it?' ” he told the publication. “That worries me. There should always be a relationship between form, concept, programmatic forces and sustainability. Form should not be autonomous. It should not be a fashionable thing."

Arets was appointed dean of the IIT College of Architecture in August and is the first non-American to head the school since Mies van der Rohe, who ran the institution in the 40s and 50s and also designed the university's South Side Campus.

However in recent years the school has lost influence and Arets is promising to shake up the curriculum to reflect the changing world in which architects operate.

“Architecture in the next few years will be much more of an interdisciplinary discipline,” he said in the interview. “A city is not only about this or that building. It's a conglomerate, a total ensemble. As architects, we have to [be concerned with] the public condition, the public realm. The world is becoming one big metropolis with a lot of neighborhoods. How these changes will look I have no clue, but I think a school like this should try to think about it.”

“For me, theory is always important,” he added. “I'm looking forward to seeing how the structure of the school, the curriculum, can change.”

Referring to his illustrious predecessor, Arets said: “What [Mies] did was [to create] this methodical, step-by-step approach to design where everything is thought out down to the last tenth of an inch. You have to make choices. You cannot do everything. And the things you do undertake you have to do as well as possible.”

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