Ambiguous Autonomy and the Folly of Contingency
Field Constructs Design Competition 2015 Winners
Jennifer Birkeland and Jonathan A. Scelsa of op.AL
with John Paul Rysavy of And-Either-Or
Is it folly to conceive of design without contingency? Definably, the word "contingent" is used to describe something that only happens following a prior requisite occurrence; therefore contingency immediately establishes an implicit hierarchy suggesting the first thing informs the second. This chicken-and-egg dilemma of something needing to come before something else has continually fueled architectural debate over which is, in fact, the subject and which is the object; building as a thing or the landscape as another thing. This Goldsmith Talk will examine op.AL's small scale work in relationship to the history of the folly, as a productive medium for the formation of trans-disciplinary agonism between Landscape and Architecture.
Jonathan Scelsa, AIA is an architect, urbanist, and an educator. Prior to the founding of op.AL, Jonathan had worked as a designer and a project manager in several high proile international offices including Foreign Office Architects, Hashim Sarkis Studios, Smith-Miller + Hawkenson and Bohlin Cywinski Jackson. Jonathan's writing has been published in journals including Bracket, MONU, Displacements, COLUMNS, CLOG, and PLOT and he has co-edited several volumes including The Function of Style, published by Actar and Harvard. As an educator, Jonathan is a Design Critic in Architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design, and as an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Architecture in the Spitzer School of Architecture of the City College of New York. Additionally, Jonathan has held teaching appointments at Harvard University, University of Pennsylvania, Northeastern and Parsons the New School. Jonathan is a Licensed Architect in the state of New York. He received his Master of Architecture in Urban Design with Distinction from Harvard University, where he was the recipient of several prizes and grants including the Urban Design Thesis Prize. He received his Bachelor of Architecture from Carnegie Mellon University with a concentration in Industrial Design and Fabrication.
Jennifer Birkeland, ASLA, LEED AP is a Landscape Designer and currently a project manager at WEST 8 in New York. She has worked as a designer and manager on several large public projects at award winning international Landscape Architecture Practices. Previously, Jennifer was a Senior Landscape Designer at OLIN where she worked on the Landscape Design Standards for the University of Arkansas as well as the winning design entry for the Washington Monument Grounds at Sylvan Theater. Additionally, Jennifer worked as a designer on the Orange County Great Park while with Ken Smith Landscape Architect as well as for the offices of Perry & Associates Collaborative, and the City of Cambridge Planning Department. Jennifer received her Master of Landscape Architecture at Harvard University, where her thesis focused on shrinking cities and re-purposing vacancies for both the current and future urban context. She has a Bachelors of Science in Landscape Architecture from California Polytechnic State University Pomona.
John Paul Rysavy graduated with a Master of Architecture and the AIA Henry Adams Medal from the School of Architecture at The University of Texas at Austin in August 2011. In 2006 and 2007, he studied at l’Ecole d’Architecture Superior National de Versailles, and in 2008, received a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies, Summa Cum Laude from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In 2008, John Paul received the Ryerson Traveling Fellowship from the University of Illinois, and in 2014, the Stewardson Keefe LeBrun Fellowship from the Center for Architecture Foundation. In 2012 and 2013, he was an instructor for the Summer Academy in Architecture at The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture, and in 2013 a Lecturer, teaching undergraduate design studio. John Paul has served as a guest critic at The University of Texas at Austin, Parsons The New School of Design, RISD, and The University of Washington in Seattle. In 2014, he was a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy in Rome. John Paul has worked with SHoP Architects in New York City, Mathias Klotz in Santiago, Chile, Will Bruder in Phoenix, Arizona, Brian MacKay-Lyons in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and David Heymann in Austin, Texas. In addition, he is Co-Director of the design partnership And-Either-Or in Austin, Texas and Brooklyn, New York.