Watch Jeanne Gang tell you about her new book (while cycling to the office)
Studio Gang’s resistance to the comfort of a defined style has made it possible for the US architecture practice to incorporate both the lessons of the past and the possibilities of the future.
After all, as we all know, to experiment is to take risks, to open oneself to the vagaries of the unknown and the unpredictable. A bit like cycling through the streets of Chicago perhaps? One thing's for sure: without experimentation there is no discovery; and Jeanne Gang, who founded this New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Paris-based practice twenty years ago, has discovered a lot.
Our new book Studio Gang: Architecture, is the first comprehensive monograph on the practice and brings together 25 signature projects over 20 years - from the award-winning Aqua Tower and Writers Theatre to highly-anticipated upcoming buildings for the American Museum of Natural History and O'Hare International Airport.
Over that period of time, Gang and her colleagues have methodically built up an impressive portfolio of projects of different scales and budgets. These projects exhibit the same dedication to experimentation as they do to implementation—the art of realizing architectural concepts through construction. This is a rare feat, since most architecture focused on the quality of building construction relies on knowledge gained from repetition not experimentation.
As Jeanne Gang herself says, “'Actionable idealism' is a phrase I have often used to convey the intention of our studio’s practice. At first glance the term might seem to be an oxymoron, if it’s assumed that pursuing ideals is inherently unrealistic. But together these two words embody the dual challenge at the heart of our work: to articulate the big ideas that move us, and to find a way to methodically pursue and accomplish them using design."
Gang’s desire to live in a world where humans not only coexist, but also actively support one another as part of our planet’s greater network of living things is, of course, admirable - though a huge and ongoing challenge - as she outlines in our new book.
“To work toward this world in this way takes a relentless kind of optimism, determination, and even courage. It also demands that we engage in a range of architectural pursuits that include, but are not limited to, the design of new buildings. Among our studio’s 'extra-building' activities are conceiving and developing self-initiated projects that may have no client; conducting research that is not directly related to buildings; writing essays for the purpose of sharing knowledge; taking positions and rendering opinions in various forums; and running ongoing experiments in the hopes of making specific discoveries and satisfying curiosity."
And if that means cycling through the streets of Chicago every once in a while to bring a little attention to a great book who are we to argue? Watch the video above and look out for our series of stories on this great contemporary architecture practice with a big difference. If you like what you see, head into the store to buy Studio Gang: Architecture here. With a rich variety of visual materials and short essays by Jeanne Gang, the book elegantly captures the creative sensibility and trajectory of an architecture practice driven by pressing twenty-first-century questions.