Published August 24, 2020
UB's Department of Architecture is pleased to announce designer and researcher Zherui Wang as the 2020-21 Peter Reyner Banham Fellow.
The Brooklyn-based designer will explore the relationship between architecture and climate change through the lens of spatial repercussions and digital and analog making. Wang takes inspiration and then extends Reyner Banham’s “The Architecture of the Well-tempered Environment,” published five decades ago and a seminal text on the relationship between customary form and technological innovations in architecture.
The School of Architecture and Planning’s Peter Reyner Banham Fellowship supports the research of emerging practitioners in honor of the legacy of Peter Reyner Banham, who taught at UB from 1976-80 and produced a foundational body of scholarship on material/visual culture as a reflection of contemporary social life.
In his proposal, “Re-Forming the Climate: the Architectonic of the Respiratory Space,” Wang revisits this false dichotomy between design ingenuity and environmental stewardship, bringing into focus the crisis of air quality in relation to contemporary ethos on design and fabrication.
Noting that poor air quality is one of the greatest threats to human health in the world, Wang states: “My intention is not to foreground risk management but rather the medium of air and its climatic qualities as an opportunity for organizational, material and aesthetic production and disciplinary inquiry on the reciprocity between enclosure threshold and interior.”
Through his fellowship project and teaching, which includes a design studio and seminar and public exhibition, Wang proposes to develop two synergetic components — prototype-making to rethink the modernist conviction that standardization is a prerequisite of systemic change; and design research speculation on the organizational, spatial and atmospheric potential of this prototype at the architectural scale.
Wang received a Bachelor of Architecture at Pratt Institute School of Architecture, where he was awarded Alpha Rho Chi Medal, Pratt Endowment Fund, and Lee & Norman Rosenfeld Award for Best Thesis. He also holds a Post-Professional Master of Architecture from Princeton University under the Princeton University Fellowship and Charles & Margret Hanna Fellowship. His graduate thesis, titled Climate as a Medium, was awarded the Suzanne Kolarik Underwood Prize, the highest honor from Princeton.
Wang has taught design studios and seminars at the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University and Pratt Institute, and has contributed to the design and research endeavors at various offices and institutions, including Barkow Leibinger Architects, Pratt Institute Center for Experimental Structures, Columbia University Laboratory for Architectural Broadcasting, and Princeton University Andlinger Center for the Energy and Environment.
Reflecting on the fellowship as an opportunity to push new possibilities for environmental agency through design and architecture, Wang says: “At UB, I would like to further the idea of making as a generative design process in addressing disciplinary questions, environmental conditions and technological strategies. I believe that endowing students with the ability to express themselves critically and creatively, while using the knowledge of making and building technology, is a promising design research endeavor and a meaningful task in contemporary architectural pedagogy .”
“My intention is not to foreground risk management but rather the medium of air and its climatic qualities as an opportunity for organizational, material and aesthetic production and disciplinary inquiry on the reciprocity between envelope and interior.”
- Zherui Wang on his research proposal as the 2020-21 Banham Fellow