Magazine article Americas (English Edition)

Cesar Pelli: Architecture Is a Complex Art

Magazine article Americas (English Edition)

Cesar Pelli: Architecture Is a Complex Art

Article excerpt

Recently, architect Cesar Pelli received us in his spacious New Haven studio overlooking Yale University and we had a chance to look through photographs and models of his works on several continents and ask him a few questions. Pelli, who has been named one of the ten most influential living American architects, is also a Latin American architect, emblematic of the new generations. He is a master who has developed a brilliant international career and left his mark on architectural style.

Born and educated in Argentina, Pelli received a scholarship to study at the University of Illinois in 1952. Between 1964 and 1968, he acquired a great deal of experience working for large US companies, and over the next eight years he took his work to another level with designs that included the US Embassy in Tokyo. In 1977 he established his own studio: Cesar Pelli and Associates.

Pelli's list of projects has expanded over the years to include, among other things, numerous giant towers like the Enron II Tower in Houston, Texas, the Torres de Polanco in Mexico, and the famous Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia. In fact, he now has the distinction of having built, more towers than any other architect in the world. In addition to towers, Pelli has created such works as the Aronoff Center for Performing Arts in Cincinnati, Ohio; the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center in Charlotte, North Carolina; and the World Financial Center in New York City, captivating for its lovely inner gardens and view of the Hudson River. Other notable works include the new terminal at the Washington National Airport; the Canary Wharf area of London; the National Museum of Art in Osaka, Japan; the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, and the Torre Cajasol in Sevilla, Spain which is still under construction.

Pelli was also the Dean of the School of Architecture at Yale, and he has taught numerous courses in US, Latin American, and European universities. He has received many awards and recognitions including the AlA Gold Medal awarded by the American Institute of Architects and the Cemex Lifetime Achievement Award. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Academy of Design, and of the Academy of Architecture in the United States and in France.

In addition to this legacy, Pelli has also written numerous books and articles. His text. Observations for Young Architects is a guide for younger generations. Pelli's name is included in the History of Modern Architecture and his works--with their elegant, functional, and harmonious style--are now a part of universal architectural heritage.

* In the following interview, Cesar Pelli talks about how he sees architecture, the social function of architecture, and some of the changes occurring in the field today.

I think we are experiencing a time of transition in architecture. Great Latin American architects have always existed, but they have worked regionally or locally. With globalization, however, we have all gotten closer together. An Argentine architect like me, who lives in the United States, works for the world, but now Latin American architects who live in Latin America can also work anywhere and exercise influence on architecture anywhere in the world.

It's interesting because regional variations may remain as a "color" rather than a substance. This poses another problem, however: the loss of identity, or perhaps tile acquisition of another form of identity, because the world we live in is different. Our roots provide us with nourishment from the past, and these roots are different for an Argentine or a Mexican. The creative key lies in how to combine your roots with international ideas.

The way we draw on the past and bring it hack into the present--or interpret it in the present is always an interesting phenomenon in art, but now it has become more difficult because it's possible that this aspect could disappear. …

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