Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi

Waggonner & Ball Lecture


Weiss Manfredi is a firm that seeks to go beyond the conventions of architectural “design”: their approach to a given problem is inventive, multidisciplinary and unexpected. Incorporating architecture, art, infrastructure, engineering, ecology and landscape design, the firm embodies a synthesized logic at a personal scale. Preston Scott Cohen has described Weiss Manfredi's methods: “In the process of brining the architectural devices to the urban and to the landscape their work conflates the perceptions of aesthetic forms with large scale infrastructural constructs,” explaining that a project “starts with intuition rather than theory.” Says Michael Manfredi: “We're very drawn to projects where the client's ambitions go beyond the requirements of the building.” Interested in “testing the broader definition of design,” Weiss Manfredi questions the traditional disciplines involved in design and rather seek to combine and synthesize these various groups, “[searching] for opportunities to consider, both in physical and disciplinary terms, a larger territory for expression.”

Known for their exceptional design of the Seattle Art Museum Olympic Sculpture Park, the Diana Center at Barnard College and winning entry for the National Mall Design Competition for the Washington Monument Grounds at the Slyvan Theater, Weiss Manfredi has also been recognized internationally in numerous Biennale events and exhibitions. Sponsored by the Museum of Modern Art, their exhibition “Groundswell: Constructing the Contemporary Landscape” was highly received and traveled to Germany for its thoughtful understanding of tectonics and design. Weiss Manfredi has received many honors, including the Academy Award in Architceture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the New York City AIA Gold Medal of Honor, named one of the “Emerging Voices” by the Architectural League of New York, Harvard University's Veronica Rudge Green Prize in Urban Design, Progressive Architecture Award and just recently the 2013 Urban Edge Award from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. In addition, Time Magazine named the Olympic Sculpture Park as one of the top ten projects in the world. 

Melding practice and teaching, Marion Weiss, co-founder of Weiss Manfredi, is also the Graham Chair Professor of Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. At Yale University where she received her Master of Architecture, Ms. Weiss won the AIA Scholastic Award as well as the coveted Skidmore, Owings and Merrill Traveling Fellowship. Ms. Weiss has conducted design studios at Harvard, Yale and Cornell. 

Michael Manfredi, co-founder of Weiss Manfredi, is also the Gensler Visiting Professor at Cornell University (education is key for both of our speakers tonight!). Studying with Colin Rowe at Cornell University, Mr. Manfredi won the Paris Prize, was a Cornell Fellow and was awarded the Eidlitz Fellowship. Mr. Manfredi taught design studios at Harvard, Yale, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton and the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies. In addition, he is a founding board member for the Van Alen Institute and a board member of the Storefront for Art and Architecture.

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