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Ambasz Institute of MoMA: eco and accessible

New York

One of the focal points of the newly founded Emilio Ambasz Institute of the MoMA is to make the interaction between architecture and ecology visible and accessible to museum visitors and the public.

Portrait of Emilio Ambasz. Photo: G. Porcarelli




The Museum of Modern Art announced the establishment of the Emilio Ambasz Institute for the Joint Study of the Built and the Natural Environment, following a donation from Emilio Ambasz. One of the focal points of the newly founded institute is to make the interaction between architecture and ecology visible and accessible to museum visitors and the public.

The Argentinean Emilio Ambasz wants to further develop and enrich the global debate on the urgent need for an ecological recalibration together with the MoMA. The general aims of the Institute are to promote dialogue, stimulate discussion and facilitate research into the relationship between the built and the natural environment through a series of curatorial programmes and research initiatives. The Ambasz Institute will focus in particular on digital initiatives in order to both advance a global conversation on this crucial issue and to ensure that the Institute reaches a diverse audience.

Ecological Future and Environmental Justice

The Institute, to be located on MoMA’s Midtown Manhattan campus within the Department of Architecture and Design, will specifically study creative approaches to design at all scales of the built environment — buildings, cities, landscapes, and objects — in order to work toward an ecological future and environmental justice.

The establishment of the Ambasz Institute offers an important opportunity for MoMA to continue its global leadership on sustainability issues while celebrating and cultivating a deeper public understanding of architecture and design. Research opportunities and a variety of programs including public lectures, conferences and symposia, many of them online, will bring together and prompt conversations amongst architects, designers, policy makers, social thinkers, historians, and the general public.

Emilio Ambasz and The MoMa

Emilio Ambasz has been working closely with The Museum of Modern Art for more than five decades. As Curator of Design in the Museum’s Department of Architecture and Design from 1969 to 1976, he organized several groundbreaking exhibitions and authored their accompanying publications. As a pioneering industrial designer and architect, Emilio Ambasz is also represented through more than 20 works in the Museum’s Architecture & Design and Media & Performance Art Collections.

‘The messiah of green architecture’

Ambasz has designed projects all across the globe that have become benchmarks and provided inspiration for modern green architecture. That’s why some people, including James Wines in his book Green Architecture, call him “the messiah of green architecture”. This year is the 25th anniversary of the inauguration of the ACROS centre in Fukuoka (Japan), one of the most innovative, spectacular and best-known green buildings in the world, designed by Emilio Ambasz. One time he says: “Every building is an intrusion into the plant kingdom and is a challenge to nature: we must devise an architecture that stands as the embodiment of a reconciliatory pact between nature and construction, designing buildings so intrinsically connected to their surroundings that they are unable to disentangle themselves from each other.”

If you are more interested in green innovations and technologies, it is worth reading topos 112 on ‘green technologies’.

Text Credits: MoMA press release

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The Acros Fukuoka building, designed by Emilio Ambasz, is a fantastic example of green architecture. The building has a terraced shape and each terrace is planted with shrubs and trees. Photo: I. Watanabe