UTSA CACP Speaker Series begins with REX’s Joshua Prince-Ramus

(October 3, 2016) -- The UTSA College of Architecture, Construction and Planning’s (CACP) 2016-2017 Speaker Series begins with Joshua Prince-Ramus, founding principal of the internationally acclaimed architecture firm REX. His talk, “RE evolve,” sponsored by Lucifer Lighting and presented in conjunction with AIA San Antonio, is free and open to the public and will be held at 5:30 p.m. Monday, October 17 in the McNay Art Museum’s Chiego Lecture Hall. In a new direction for the CACP series, this year’s theme is “in conversation with…” UTSA assistant professor Dr. Antonio Petrov organized the lineup, introducing a format in which the presentation will be followed by dialogue about the speaker’s larger body of work, theoretical questions, agency, and design philosophy.

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Last month Prince-Ramus revealed the much-anticipated final design of the Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center in New York, the final World Trade Center structure, which is scheduled to open in 2020. The 90,000 square-foot building is directly adjacent to the National September 11 Memorial and is dedicated to the production and premiering of original performance art, featuring three venues that can be reconfigured to yield 11 arrangements. The façade is made of thinly cut marble sandwiched between glass — sourced from the same Vermont quarry as the U.S. Supreme Court building and the Thomas Jefferson Memorial — allowing light to fill the building during the day and spill out at night.

Seminal projects by Prince-Ramus include the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre in Dallas, the Vakko Fashion Center and Power Media Center in Istanbul, the Seattle Central Library, and the Guggenheim-Hermitage Museum in Las Vegas — all opened to critical acclaim, including AIA National Honor awards in 2005 and 2011. He led the latter two while partner of O.M.A. New York, the firm he rebranded as REX in 2006. REX’s name signifies a re-appraisal (RE) of architecture (X) and the firm, where Prince-Ramus leads the design of all projects, constantly challenges and advances building typologies while promoting the agency of architecture.

Prince-Ramus is best known for the Seattle Central Library, his first major project, which is widely regarded as a masterpiece. Rather than creating universal spaces that can be used interchangeably, the interior spaces were individualized to create specific atmospheres and emphasize function. The diamond-windowed structure cleverly reveals the spaces within, reimagining the library’s role in a modern urban context. Further emphasizing Prince-Ramus’ performance-based approach to architecture is Dallas’ Wyly Theatre; the vertical design allows the stage to reconfigure from a thrust stage to a proscenium, working with or without balconies, and the building’s sides can be raised so audiences are able to view the Dallas skyline as a backdrop.

An early member of the TED Brain Trust, Prince-Ramus has shared REX’s design methodologies at the TED2006 and TEDxSMU conferences regarding the Seattle Central Library and Wyly Theatre, respectively. He has been credited as one of the “5 greatest architects under 50” by The Huffington Post, one of the world’s most influential young architects by Wallpaper*, one of the twenty most influential players in design by Fast Company, and among “The 20 Essential Young Architects” by ICON magazine. He was also featured as one of the “Best and Brightest” by Esquire magazine.

REX’s work has been recognized with the profession’s top accolades including AIA awards, a U.S. Institute for Theatre Technology National Honor Award, an American Library Association National Building Award, and two American Council of Engineering Companies’ National Gold Awards. The Vakko Fashion Center and Power Media Center was nominated for the 2013 Aga Khan Award, while the Seattle Central Library was a finalist for the inaugural Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize.

Nicole Chavez