Yale School of Architecture Pays Homage to Former Dean Charles Moore
Architect, teacher and visionary Charles Moore (1925-1993), who presided over the Yale School of Architecture in the turbulent period between 1965 and 1970, will be the subject of an exhibition and symposium at the School of Architecture this fall.
The exhibition, “Architecture or Revolution: Charles Moore and Architecture at Yale in the 1960s,” will examine how the radical and contentious spirit of the times were reflected in the teaching of architecture at Yale and how, under the stewardship of Moore, Yale itself became a crucible of innovative experimentation and a center of social, political and cultural debate.
“His career as an architect and as teacher are practically interchangeable,” said Robert A.M. Stern, dean of the Yale School of Architecture. “A brilliant, enigmatic figure, he galvanized a generation of young architects around him, and his ideas, redefining the territory of architectural practice and teaching, contributed significantly to the birth of post-modernism,” Stern noted. “He was also a pioneer in opening up the academy to the challenges of the social issues of the day, founding the Yale Building Project in 1967, in which students design and build urgently needed community buildings and affordable housing.”
Stern cites among Moore’s many innovations the incorporation of materials such as mylar, plastic and neon signage into his buildings and his dramatic employment of supergraphics. An early proponent of using electronics in design, Moore sponsored the first seminar on computers in architecture, held at Yale in 1968.
The exhibition will be divided by theme into three parts. The first, “Toward Making Place: California 1960-1965,” will shed light on some of Moore’s projects in the years immediately preceding his incumbency at Yale. These include six of Moore’s early residential projects such as the Sea Ranch Condominium and Athletic Club. Particular attention will be paid to Moore’s use of space and the incorporation of found objects and icons of popular culture into his designs.
The second section of the exhibition, “Yale: 1965-1970,” will focus on changes initiated at Yale from 1965, when Moore was invited to Yale by then president Kingman Brewster, to his departure from Yale in 1970. During this time, the department of architecture at Yale began conferring the master’s as its primary professional degree, and accordingly, Moore’s status changed from department chair to dean. Posters, publications and photographs will be among the Moore-period memorabilia on display in this portion of the exhibition.
This segment of the exhibition will also examine the impact on the School of highly charged political events-from Vietnam War protests to the Black Panther trials. It will look at the many programs initiated during the period that reflect the School’s growing involvement with urban issues and response to social concerns.
“Moore was at Yale at a time when post-war America began for the first time to face the vast poverty in the inner cities and Appalachia,” Stern said.
The First Year Building Project, initiated by Moore, is still a part of the curriculum, involving all first-year students in the task of designing and building a useful community structure. In Moore’s times, Stern remarked, student-built community facilities in Appalachia received international attention.
The third part of the exhibition features four buildings designed by Moore’s office while he was at Yale: the Faculty Club at the University of California, Santa Barbara; Kresge College, University of California, Santa Cruz; the Church Street South housing complex in New Haven; and his own New Haven residence.
The curator of the Moore exhibition, Eve Blau, teaches architectural history in the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. She was the curator for the recent exhibition “Shaping the Great City: Modern Architecture in Central Europe, 1890-1937,” at the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal. Three videos were specially produced for the exhibition by Carol Scully, Elihu Rubin and Elena Oxman.
A symposium in conjunction with the exhibition will take place in the Art and Architecture Building, November 2-3. The program will open on Friday at 6:30 with an address by New York University professor Jean-Louis Cohen titled “The ‘68 Effect: Transatlantic Schism to Intellectual Reconstruction.” Saturday’s sessions will include Patricia Morton, Deborah Fausch, William Mitchell and Michael Sorkin among other distinguished participants. The symposium will wrap up with remarks from Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, leading architects and educators who figured prominently at Yale in the 1960s and whose 1968 Las Vegas studio-which asked students to research the desert city as though it were Rome-transformed the direction of architecture and architecture education for an entire generation.
The retrospective exhibition and symposium are made possible by the generous support of Centerbrook Architects and Planners, the Connecticut Architecture Foundation, the Fox Steel Company and the Vlock Family, the George Gund Foundation, Suzanne Slesin and Michael Steinberg and the Roy and Niuta Titus Foundation.
“Architecture or Revolution: Charles Moore and Architecture at Yale in the 1960s,” will be on display at the School of Architecture Gallery at the Yale Art and Architecture Building, 150 York Street, from October 29 to December 21.
Hours for the gallery are Monday - Saturday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. For more information, contact the Yale School of Architecture, 203-432-2288, or visit their web site at www.architecture.yale.edu