It’s not common knowledge even in Pittsburgh, but Carnegie Museum of Art has one of the best centers for the study of architecture in the U.S., along with the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Art Institute of Chicago and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
To cement this status, the museum’s Heinz Architectural Center is presenting a showcase of cutting-edge work by young (born after 1975) architects from all over the world. Opening on Saturday, June 26, The Fabricated Landscape runs through January 17, 2022.
Exhibitions of young architects are comparatively rare, notes Raymund Ryan, curator of The Heinz Architectural Center, because unlike, say, painters, it typically takes more than a decade for architects to become established in their own practices. So a “young” architect can be in their 30s and even 40s.
The 10 architects featured hail from Mexico City to Tokyo, Chile to London. More than half are women, and many of their projects are located in Latin America, Asia and Africa.
This generation has some things in common, notes Ryan, in particular, a commitment to addressing “social issues and political issues” through architecture.
“Several of the architects, rather than building fancy houses for the rich and famous — many of them spend a lot of time and energy working on less high-end projects, much more socially-driven projects,” says Ryan.
That includes Anne Holtrop’s plan to revitalize a former pearl fishing village in Bahrain, and Frida Escobedo’s proposal for sustainable multi-unit housing in Mexico.
Unlike earlier generations, these architects have worked most of their careers with computer-aided design as the standard, and are able to use it in unique and exciting ways.
“The computer has become more and more of a tool in architectural practice,” says Ryan. “And for some people, it became, maybe, the primary generator of forms.”
However, there’s a cross-current in contemporary architecture that also stands out.
“Although there is all this high-tech stuff on their computer screens, there’s also a new interest in actually making things by hand,” says Ryan.
A good example of this is German architect Anna Heringer, who worked with Rohingya women in Bangladesh, one of the poorest countries in the world.
“As well as making buildings there for communities, she’s also been working with women’s groups in making fabric,” says Ryan. Some of the fabrics will also be on display.
Projects featured range from single-family homes to projects on a massive, almost mind-boggling scale.
“So for example, there’s a group UMWELT from Chile,” says Ryan. “And they’re showing a project which is rethinking all the Atacama Desert [the driest non-polar desert in the world]. So, enormous scale, but trying to think about, let’s say, more optimal connections between that ecosystem, and people.”
The Fabricated Landscape contains photos, models, assemblages, paper reproductions and textiles. Heinz Architectural Center itself (established in 1990) includes a permanent collection of nearly 6,000 objects: drawings, models, photos, artifacts, games and ephemera. It contains the world’s third-largest collection of plaster architectural casts and also includes landscape design, furniture and interior design.