Lebbeus Woods (1940-2012)


Lebbeus Woods, a contemporary of Steven Holl and Daniel Libeskind, died last year in New York City.  Shortly after Woods’ death, Austrian architect Wolf D. Pix said of him:

“Lebbeus Woods was an architect’s architect: artistically uncompromising, unapologetically theoretical, and, in his own way, marvelously optimistic. Lebbeus’ death last month deeply saddened the architectural community.”

Lebbeus Woods was a Professor of Architecture for several decades at Cooper Union in New York City.  He was a visionary architect whose theories about architecture and his drawings of buildings fascinated and inspired both students and professionals alike.  Woods was an exquisite draftsman in the tradition of old masters like Etienne-Louis Boullée and Giovanni Battista PiranesiHis drawings, beautifully mastered, are part of several museum collections around the world. 

Woods designed buildings that explored what architecture could be, once freed from the practical constraints of finances and engineering. He asked what architecture and designed spaces should mean in a future which may not necessarily be bound by past architectural experiences.  He discussed these concepts in this short video with his friend Steven Holl.

Lebbeus Woods also had a blog for several years where he posted his thoughts and ideas, sparking lively online discussions with followers. He had a loyal readership from all over the world that were inspired by his ideas and are sure to miss his online teaching and dissemination of architectural wisdom. 

In 2011, he built The Light Pavilion in Chendgu, China.  The Light Pavilion was done in collaboration with Christoph a. Kumpusch and Steven Holl Architects.  Lebbeus Woods described The Light of Pavilion in his blog post:

“The structural columns articulating the Pavilion’s interior spaces are illuminated from within and in the twilight and night hours visibly glow, creating a luminous space into which the solid architectural elements appear to merge. This quality is amplified by the mirrored surfaces enclosing the Pavilion, which visually extend its spaces infinitely. We might speculate that this new type of space stands somewhere between traditional architecture and the virtual environments of cyberspace, a domain we increasingly occupy in our homes and workplaces, but in the Light Pavilion with more emphasis on the physical than the mental or the virtual.”

Woods would be mourned by many because he was one of the rare architects who were less concerned about building and more concerned about exploring the boundaries of new architecture.

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  1. Paolo Soleri Dreamt of Green Architecture Before its Time | PlaNYourCity - April 22, 2013

    […] overlooking the River Agua Fria.  His career was unorthodox,  resting somewhere between Lebbeus Wood and Oscar Niemeyer, both of whom also passed away […]


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