Werner Sobek: Ecoradicalism—architecture tomorrow

Werner Sobek discusses the relationship between architecture and the environment in his Franzen Lecture.

December 2, 2009
7:00 p.m.

Wener Sobek | Post Tower, Hennef, Germany. Credit: HG Esch

The 3rd Franzen Lecture on Architecture and the Environment, an annual invited lecture by an international figure whose work has significant implications for understanding and reconceiving the relationship between architecture and the environment, was delivered by Werner Sobek on December 2, 2009, at the Great Hall of Cooper Union in New York City.

Werner Sobek is an international figure whose work has significant implications for understanding and reconceiving the relationship between architecture and the environment. Sobek will discuss a radical approach for building that combines the sustainability concepts of zero energy, zero carbon emission, and zero waste called triple zero building. He will also discuss experiments at the Light Structure Institute and its exploration of material use, façade design for energy conservation, harvesting and storage, and other strategies to reduce resource use.

The annual lecture was created in honor of long-time League trustee Ulrich Franzen. Toshiko Mori, principal of Toshiko Mori Architect, will introduce and frame Sobek’s presentation by identifying current issues in the intersection of architecture and the environment and follow his lecture with a moderated discussion.

Werner Sobek is the Mies van der Rohe Professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology and head of the Institute for Lightweight Structures and Conceptual Design (ILEK) at the University of Stuttgart, where he studied architecture and structural engineering. As successor to architect Frei Otto and engineer Joerg Schlaich, Werner Sobek is an advocate for an interdisciplinary approach to architecture and engineering both in training and professional practice.

While the ILEK specializes in the research of new materials and new concepts for lightweight and adaptive structures, Werner Sobek’s office is one of the world’s leading engineering consultancies, with offices in Stuttgart, Cairo, Dubai, Frankfurt, Khartoum, Moscow, and New York. The work of Werner Sobek is defined not only by its engineering and emphasis on sustainable systems but by a rigorous application of design. Founded in 1992, the studio’s emphasis lies on lightweight load-bearing structures, high-rise buildings, transparent facade systems, and special structures in steel, glass, titanium, textiles, and wood.

The works of Werner Sobek have been awarded numerous awards and distinctions, including the DuPont Benedictus Award, the European Gluelam Award, the Fritz Schumacher Award, the iF Design Award, the SEAOI Structural Engineering Award, AIA awards from the American Institute of Architecture, the Hugo Haering Award, the Fazlur Rahman Khan Medal, and the UIA’s Auguste Perret Prize.

Introduced and moderated by Toshiko Mori. Mori is the Robert P. Hubbard Professor in the Practice of Architecture at Harvard University Graduate School of Design and was chair of the Department of Architecture from 2002 to 2008. She is principal of Toshiko Mori Architect, which she established in 1981 in New York City. In 2005, she received the Academy Award in Architecture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Medal of Honor from the AIA New York Chapter. She is Vice Chair of the Global Agenda Council on Designing Complex Systems for the World Economic Forum.

Annabelle Selldorf will deliver the welcome. Selldorf is principal of Selldorf Architects and Vice President for Architecture of The Architectural League.