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Practice : Spring 2012
This month marks one year since Aart Oxenaar, Director of Amsterdam’s Academy of Architecture, c aptivated an overflow crowd of more than 200 people for the 19th Cascieri L ecture ship in the Humanities. His riveting ta lk, Educating Architects for a Transforming City, u ndersc ored the importance of e stablishing a strong relation- ship between the BAC and Amsterdam, to strengthen the mantle of concurrent learning in design education. Aart began his presenta- tion noting, “I’ve done many presentations of our school a nd have always felt a little bit the odd man out. This is the first time that I’m presenting in a school where I know I do not have to explain much, bec au se we work a long the same idea, the sa me line.” The ge stura l gatherings and convers ations over this pa st year undersc ore how strategic , incrementa l steps will bring us closer to overc oming the cultural and geographic divide, to realize a shared vision and e stablish a rich and authentic educ ational partnership, not only with the Amsterdam Academy, but with all 6 academies of a rchitecture in the Netherlands. Aart spent an additional 2 days in Boston, e xploring the City by bicycle, a nd meeting with students , fa culty and practitioners to better understa nd how the College and Boston’s closely knit design community work in concert, particularly in the face of the deep recession and the BAC’s rec onsidera- tion of Practice-ba sed learning through the Gateway Initiative. In the first week of June, a n intensified exchange of ideas occurred through a rapid-fire set of forums and get-togethers that beg an in Boston, moved to New York City, and returned for a final round at the BAC. Two fa ctors distinguished these ses sion s, providing meaningful insights as to how best to establish educ ationa l partner- ships with the Netherlands: first, c uriosity and interest in the BAC by the Dutch spread to include educ ators from 3 other Dutch a c ademies in Groningen, Tilburg a nd Rotterdam. Se cond, the opportunities for a n a llia nce provoked staff a nd administrators to delve into specific curricula r connections with ideas about shared coursework exchanged. The dialog a ssumed a more inquisitive and pedagogical tone; practitio- ners were a sked to move beyond how the wea kened economy was affecting their individual offic es . This noticeable shift ta rgeted issues surrounding firm-ba sed research with academic institutions and the mentoring of student intern s through independent proje cts. The extended agenda included a one- day symposia on climate change at New York City’s Center for Architecture, where BAC’s K evin Benham, Director, Boston Urban Landscape Labora- tory, shared the podium with panelists from Columbia University, The Ne w School, a nd e duc ators from 3 Dutch ac ademies. Ba ck at the BAC, a n evening meeting provided our faculty with the opportunity to share ideas a bout how different studios and community- based projects might be de veloped. In the sa me ses sion, BAC students asked questions a bout how different study abroad programs might be structured. In January 2012, we received an invitation from Gert Ter Haar, who as Director of Architecture at Groningen’s Ac ademy of Architecture, graciously hosted my 4-day visit in December 2010. The Directors of the six Dutch academies are interested in inviting a number of us to travel to the Netherlands to become acquainted with each of the academies. The highpoint of the tour will be to rendezvous in the village of Otterloo, where, interestingly enough, CIAM–The Intern ational Congresses of Modern Architecture, held meetings back in the 60’s, just around the same time that Don Brown traveled to the Netherlands a s a Fulbright Scholar. The next convers a- tions will be a critical step; all stand to benefit from this rich collaborative exchange. Strategic Moves: Developing a Strong Mutual Relationship with Len Charney, Head of Practice the Dutch Academies We are closer to realizing a shared vision and to the establishment of a rich educational par tnership with all 6 academies of architecture in the Netherlands. Yosuke Urabe Don Brown, Aart Oxenaar, Len Charney Chinatown detail, Dr. Aart Oxenaar PRACTICE 27 PRACTICE ] DUTCH ACADEMIES