President's Column May 2023: Filling in an Embarrassing Gap


Robert Meckfessel, FAIA


Docomomo US President


News, Symposium, President's Column, new haven
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This is a bit of an embarrassing column for me to write this month, as it’s about the architectural cornucopia we will experience next month in New Haven, Connecticut at the annual Docomomo US Symposium.

I might as well just get it out of the way…I have never been to New Haven.

I have been practicing architecture for quite a long time and am fairly well traveled, I think. I make regular pilgrimages to visit and experience great works of architecture, both modern and not, and I confess to having dragged sons and grandsons along with me more than once. I lived and practiced in New York City for several years, only two hours away from New Haven, and I drove past New Haven many times on the way to the mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire.

But I have never been to New Haven. There it is.

So, in addition to a stellar slate of sessions and keynotes, the Symposium offers me a shot at atonement and at plugging a massive gap in my architectural education, albeit 20 or 30 years late. I am giddy with excitement. The lineup of tours is extraordinary, and they include iconic works such as the ever-controversial Yale Art and Architecture Building (Paul Rudolph), the Yale University Art Gallery and the Yale Center for British Art (Louis Kahn), the David S. Ingalls Rink (Eero Saarinen and Associates), the Goffe Street Fire House (Venturi and Rauch), the Pirelli Tire Building (Marcel Breuer) and so much more.

Of course, Docomomo US has always sought to seek out, identify, and preserve modern buildings and places of all lineage, whether they were designed by an architect from the pantheon of modernism or by talented regional and local practitioners. Symposium tours will include plenty of the latter, too, featuring work by Ed Logue, Diana and Carlton Granberry, William deCossy, Peter Tagiuri, Vincent Amore, Carl Blanchard, and others.

Overall, this is an extraordinary chance to experience modernism of the highest order and quality, by a wide variety of practitioners. I encourage you all not to miss it, whether you are checking a modernist bucket list, looking to discover thoughtful, lesser known works of the highest quality, or revisiting favorites from years past. The tours are filling fast and some are already sold out, but there are still plenty of great opportunities available, so don’t wait.

I’ll look forward to seeing you in New Haven, whether in a lecture hall, on a bus, or on a sidewalk. Regardless of where that is, we’ll be experiencing and learning about some of the best and most important works of American modernism.

Robert Meckfessel, FAIA