Architectural Improvisation:

A History of Vermont's Design/Build Movement 1964-1977

September 24 - December 19, 2008
East Gallery

Architectural Improvisation: A History of Vermont's Design/Build Movement 1964-1977 documents a radical, Vermont-based architectural movement characterized by organic forms, improvisational processes, hands-on methods, and natural materials. Predating the back-to-the-land movement but motivated by similar values and principles, the Design/Build movement focused on a new mediatory role for architecture both in creating community and in the then-newly charged relationship between humans and the environment. A number of the documented projects from the mid-1960s pioneered technological and social experimentation such as solar heating, wind power, and co-housing.

Guest-curated by Norwich University architecture professor Danny Sagan, the exhibition traces the development of the Design/Build movement from its roots in Bauhaus theory at Yale School of Architecture in the early 1960s to its radical social, technological, and aesthetic experimentation. It examines the work of a group of young architects who moved to Vermont from Yale and the University of Pennsylvania Architecture program in the mid-1960s, among them, David Sellers, Bill Reineke, Jim Sanford, Bill Maclay, Ellen Strauss, Charles Hosford, John Mallary, and Barry Simpson. The exhibition documents for the first time the exemplary Vermont projects created by these architects, including Sibley/Pyramid House, Tack House, and Dimetrodon on "Prickly Mountain" in Warren, Vermont; Goddard College in Plainfield; and the Anthos housing project in Waitsfield; as well as Skidompha House in Maine. It presents previously unpublished photographs and drawings, contemporary photographs, artifacts from the houses, and other documentary materials that reflect both the process and the resulting structures. An accompanying catalogue will be published by the University of Vermont Press.

Join us on Sunday, November 2, for a panel discussion with several of the original architects and residents of an early, experimental, solar co-housing complex in Warren, Vermont, as they discuss and debate the genesis and legacy of the Design/Build tradition in Vermont.

Support for this exhibition has been generously provided by the Kalkin Family Exhibitions Endowment Fund, NRG Systems, the University of Vermont's College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, the 1675 Foundation, the Graham Foundation, Truex Cullins & Partners, the Walter Cerf Exhibitions Fund, Richard Weintraub and Meredith Ullman Weintraub, and the University of Vermont's Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources. In-kind support has been provided by Small Dog Electronics.