Natures of Ornament symposium celebrates the legacy of architectural craft

The Yale School of Architecture will host “Natures of Ornament,” a symposium exploring contemporary theories of architectural ornament and its design, on Saturday, Feb. 23.

Natures of Ornament” is also convened as a festschrift celebrating the career of Kent Bloomer B.F.A. ’59, M.F.A. ’61, a faculty member at the architecture school who has taught there since 1967. The symposium begins at 10 a.m. in Hastings Hall, the lecture hall in the basement of Paul Rudolph Hall, 180 York St. It is free but registration is required:

Natures of Ornament event poster — abstract ornamental design with event details running down the side.

Bloomer’s philosophy of ornament views this craft — a meeting of techniques possessed by architects and sculptors — as intrinsically tied to the structure of a building, expressing lines of force in a façade or relationships between different parts of a building. According to this view, ornament grows directly out of a building syntactically, as opposed to decoration which is merely pasted on. Bloomer’s professional practice has produced ornament for prominent buildings around the country including Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, and the New York Avenue Bridge in Washington, D.C. Bloomer has also designed numerous additions to the Yale campus including gates at Rosenkranz Hall and the Class of 1954 Chemistry Research Building, signage cases in front of Woolsey Hall and the University Theatre, and sculpted friezes on the entry pavilions to Bass Library and octagonal staircase leading from Sterling Memorial Library to Bass Library.

Symposium contributors include experts in the field of ornament including theorists, historians, and designers such as former architecture school dean Thomas Beeby, as well as a few from beyond the architecture world: Richard Prum, curator and the Franke Program Director of the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, and Willie Ruff, Yale School of Music professor and jazz musician.

Natures of Ornament” is organized by Sunil Bald and Gary He.

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