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NEAR: Network for Emerging Architectural Research

The Network for Emerging Architectural Research (NEAR) is a new research initiative in Graduate Architecture and Urban Design at The Pratt Institute School of Architecture. Intended to be an entirely new platform for research in architecture and urban design, NEAR seeks to expand beyond the traditional limitations of academic research and establish a space for experimentation and development in-between academia, industries, and public institutions. Commensurate with the complexities of the 21st century, the goal of NEAR is to reach across disciplines to generate new forms of knowledge and define new modes of practice.

—William MacDonald


March 24-25, 2011

A decade into the new century, technological shifts continue to destabilize our material practices; dangers and opportunities bloom with every innovation. On other fronts, we are waging battles to forestall the collapse of large-scale natural systems. Architecture—which aspires to the difficult convergence of cultural value and built form—seems caught between ecology (nature’s systems) and technology. But there is also an optimism and energy that has arisen precisely at this intersection of architecture, nature, technology. What have been seen as conflicting forces are, in fact, mutually imbricated systems that are moving us toward new freedoms in synthetic regimes. This inaugural NEAR conference focuses attention on seizing opportunities—both theoretical and practical, and some already close at hand—for astonishing collaborations and exchanges between architecture, ecology, and technology.


Opening Discussion, “Are the ecological and the computational movements interconnected?”

Introduction and Moderation: David Ruy
Speakers: Karl Chu, Catherine Ingraham, Sanford Kwinter, Edward Eigen


Round Table 1, Experiments at the Intersection

Introduction: David Ruy

Presentations: NEAR Confederated Studios Fall ‘10 (Mitchell Joachim / Maria Aiolova, Carla Leitao, David Ruy), Rhett Russo, Future Cities Lab (Jason Kelly Johnson), CASE RPI / SOM (Ted Ngai), Cmmnwlth (Zoe Coombes), Verge Labs (Ginger Krieg Dosier)

Round Table 2, Biomatter

Moderated by Philip Parker
Presentations: Genspace (Dr. Ellen Jorgensen, Nurit Bar-Shai, Dr. Oliver Medvedik), Bioworks Institute (Dr. Oliver Medvedik) & Terreform One (Mitchell Joachim, Maria Aiolova), The Living (David Benjamin)

Closing Discussion, “What is organicism today?”

Moderation: David Ruy
Presentations:  William Mac Donald, Jesse Reiser
Respondents: Lydia Kallipolliti, William Myers, Philip Parker