Current Work: Anne Lacaton, Jean-Philippe Vassal, and Frédéric Druot

The French architects discuss their transformative social housing projects.

November 10, 2021
7:00 p.m.

Frédéric Druot and Anne Lacaton & Jean Philippe Vassal | Tour Bois le Prêtre, Paris, France, 2010. Image credit: Philippe Ruault

Current Work is a lecture series featuring leading figures in the worlds of architecture, urbanism, design, and art.

This event is at capacity for both in-person and Zoom attendance and registration is now closed. If you are not currently registered but wish to view the program, you may do so via the overflow live stream: Watch the lecture live stream on Vimeo.  

This fall and early winter, Current Work spotlights influential and innovative design practices that bring widely varying perspectives to contemporary housing challenges. 

Over decades, the architects Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal have collaborated on design and research projects with their long-time friend Frédéric Druot. Together, they have redefined the possibilities of social housing, sustainability, and community agency. 

Lacaton, Vassal, and Druot have partnered on several landmark housing projects, guided by the commitment: “never demolish, never remove or replace, always add, transform, and reuse!” Simultaneously sparing and transformative, their work adapts existing structures to meet the needs of contemporary urban communities. 

The architects’ collaborations include:

  • Cité du Grand Parc, the 2017 transformation of three fully occupied modernist social housing buildings in Bordeaux, adding gardens and balconies to each unit.
  • Tour Bois le Prêtre, the 2010 renovation and extension of a 1960s social housing tower, designed in collaboration with current residents. 
  • PLUS Paris, a 2004 study of 1,648 sites in Paris with the potential to add 135,000 new housing units without demolition or resident relocation. 

Lacaton & Vassal has received numerous honors and recognitions since its founding in 1989, including the Pritzker Prize, the EU Mies van der Rohe Award, the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture, and France’s Grand Prix National d’Architecture.

Anne Lacaton graduated from the École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Bordeaux in 1980 and received a diploma in urban planning from the University of Bordeaux in 1984. She is a professor of architecture and design at ETH Zurich and has taught at EPFL Lausanne, Technische Hochschule Nürnberg Georg Simon Ohm, Harvard Graduate School of Design, Delft University of Technology, Polytechnic University of Madrid, and University at Buffalo.

Jean Philippe Vassal graduated from the École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Bordeaux in 1980 and worked as an urban planner in Niger from 1980 to 1985. He is an associate professor at Universität der Künste Berlin and has taught at Technische Universität Berlin, Hochschule Düsseldorf, EPFL Lausanne, École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Versailles, and École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Bordeaux.

Frédéric Druot graduated in 1984 from the École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Bordeaux. In 1987, he founded the architectural agency Épinard Bleu, which received the Album de la Jeune Architecture in 1990. The next year, he founded his own firm, Frédéric Druot Architecture, in Paris.

The discussion following the lecture will be moderated by Brian Loughlin, Director of Planning and Urban Design at Magnusson Architecture and Planning, Co-chair of the AIANY Housing Committee, APA Housing and Community Development Chair, and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Architecture and Real Estate Development at Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. Before joining MAP, he worked for over fifteen years in public housing.

This lecture is the 2021 annual Ratensky Lecture, organized by the AIANY Housing Committee to honor individuals who have made significant lifetime contributions to the advancement of housing and community design. The annual Ratensky Lecture was initiated by the AIANY Housing Committee in honor of Samuel Ratensky (1910-1972), an architect and NYC housing official who was responsible for major housing initiatives in the city from 1946 to 1972, and who served as a mentor to many architects who worked in his programs. This year’s lecture is co-sponsored by The Architectural League of New York, the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture at The Cooper Union, and with the support of Villa Albertine, in partnership with the French Embassy in the United States.


This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

This event is co-sponsored by AIA New York, The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture of The Cooper Union, and with the support of Villa Albertine, in partnership with the French Embassy in the United States.



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