Alumni.NET ModeratorThe University of Technology, Jamaica through its Caribbean School of Architecture, Faculty of The Built Environment hosted the Ruskin Punch Memorial Lecture on October 11, 2018 at the Papine Campus. The memorial lecture is named in honour of Ruskin Punch, the late distinguished Trinidadian architect who was noted to be a true believer in professionalism in architecture and in shared dialogue between generations of architects.
The lecture on the theme, “The Common Sense of Performance Architecture” was delivered by Jamaican, Chicago based Architect Gordon Gill, FAIA of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, (AS+GG), USA. Architect Gill is one of the world’s foremost exponents of performance-based architecture and is also patron of the Government of Jamaica’s current Houses of Parliament Design Competition.
Architect Gill’s presentation to the capacity audience of over 200 persons comprising architects, educators and students, delved into his firm’s impressive body of work on the many critically acclaimed and award winning global projects they have undertaken since the firm’s founding 12 years ago in 2006.
For each spectacular building project, he expounded on not just the passion and commitment of his design team, but also explained in detail the human factor, the local environmental assets and physical considerations such as energy efficiency and generation which are brought to bear on his design concepts which include several supertalls and sustainable skyscrapers.
Emphasizing that sustainability is really about people and not just about “energy and carbon,” Architect Gill noted that each project begins with a deep analysis – “sometimes its sun, sometimes it’s thermal, sometimes it’s a combination of social issues...geographic or typographical,” he explained.
Gordon’s pre-eminent firm is responsible for such monuments as the tallest building in the world – Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the under-construction skyscraper, the Sauda Arabia’s 1 km Jeddah Tower (formerly Kingdom Tower) set to surpass their previous work as the tallest building, the Istanbul Cultural Centre in Turkey with its state-of-the-art opera house, concert hall, theater and cinema, the luxury Waldorf Astoria hotel in Beijing, China, among a host of other remarkable mega structures.
Answering the often asked question of “how do we choose what we are working on?” the Master Architect said that “it’s confusing to our staff, and so I’ll tell you, we don’t care about the size of it, what we care about is the client and what we look for in a client is someone who loves what they do as much as we love what we do.” He added that, “ so we are looking for clients that love architecture, that are committed to quality and that have a dying relentlessness and a passion for what they do.”
He noted that this philosophy led for example to park projects because of its importance to the neigbourhood and to work with theatre companies for ten years “just because they are really good at what they do,” he said, referencing the Yard at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. That project involved the expansion and renovation of the popular theater located on Navy Pier in downtown Chicago to include an adaptable, flexible auditorium built from modular towers.
In his parting words of wisdom to the students of architecture, he cautioned that nothing will come easy, but “if you like complexity and solving problems, then architecture is your game.”
University President, Professor Stephen Vasciannie in his welcome thanked Architect Gordon Gill for accepting the University’s invitation to share some of his vast expertise and knowledge on architectural design and expressed that students of architecture, members of faculty, institutions of government and a general audience will benefit from learning more about the importance of performance-based architecture in building safe and sustainable communities.
In moving the vote of thanks, Dr. Garfield Young, Dean, Faculty of The Built Environment thanked Architect Gordon Gill for his “potent, powerful and impactful” presentation. Dean Young also thanked sponsors and external partners of the evening’s proceedings which included the Urban Development Cooperation (UDC), the Jamaica Institute of Architets, CESCO Ltd and EduCom Co-op Credit Union Limited.
The Lecture was chaired by Architect Robert V. Woodstock, Chair, ARB Jamaica.