Kevin Roche: Architecture as Environment

June 16, 2012–December 2, 2012

Kevin Roche inserting the curtain wall into a scale model of the Ford Foundation Headquarters, c. 1964. Courtesy Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and AssociatesTemple of Dendur in the Sackler Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York, 1979. Courtesy Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates.Eero Saarinen (left) and Kevin Roche (right) working on a model for the TWA Terminal, c. 1958. Courtesy of Eero Saarinen Collection; Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University LibraryCollege Life Insurance Company Headquarters, Indianapolis, Indiana, 1971. Courtesy Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates.Ford Foundation Headquarters, New York, New York, 1968. ©Ezra Stoller/Esto.Lafayette Tower, Washington, D.C., 2009. Courtesy Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates. Completed in 2009, Lafayette Tower at 801 17th Street NW—with stunning views of the White House—was the first commercial office building in Washington, D.C., to achieve LEED® Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.Station Place 1, Washington, D.C., 2004. Courtesy Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates. Immediately adjacent to Washington’s Beaux Arts-styled Union Station, Station Place 1 features an 80-foot high atrium and is currently home to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

On June 14, 2012, the National Building Museum organized a special tribute to Kevin Roche, one of architecture’s most decorated practitioners: he has been awarded the Pritzker Prize (1982) and the American Institute of Architects’ Gold Medal (1993), Firm Award (1974), and Twenty-Five Year Award (1995, for the Ford Foundation Headquarters). The event marked the opening of the exhibition, Kevin Roche: Architecture as Environment, and coincided with Roche’s 90th birthday.

Nearly 250 guests were treated to an engaging conversation between Roche and Cathleen McGuigan, editor-in-chief of Architectural Record, who enticed the architect to recount seminal events in his ongoing career, including how John Dinkeloo pushed him to compete for new work after their colleague and mentor Eero Saarinen passed away in 1961. That decision ultimately led to the establishment of Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates in 1966.

Roche adopted an expansive definition of architecture that encompassed civic concerns such as transportation, infrastructure, and public space, as well as the broader economic and cultural landscape. He quickly established himself as a big-picture thinker and attracted a clientele that included the nation’s leading corporations and institutions from IBM, Union Carbide, and Merck to the United Nations, the Ford Foundation, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Roche has designed some of the most intriguing, provocative, and admired buildings of the past 50 years, and the exhibition showcased how these projects helped redefine the profession in the post-industrial age. Kevin Roche: Architecture as Environment examined the methodology and thinking behind his most daring designs, drawing heavily from the recently donated records of his firm to Yale University, as well as newly conducted interviews with Roche by Yale School of Architecture Professor Eeva-Liisa Pelkonen.

Kevin Roche: Architecture as Environment was organized by the Yale School of Architecture.

The National Building Museum extends special thanks to Kevin Roche, Steuart Gray, and Jason Hickey at the offices of Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates for their invaluable assistance.

Curator: Eeva-Liisa Pelkonen, Associate Professor, Yale School of Architecture; Coordinating Curator at the National Building Museum: Chrysanthe B. Broikos; Exhibition Design: Cooper Joseph Studio, New York.

ASSA ABLOY is the lead sponsor of Kevin Roche: Architecture as Environment. Additional support for the exhibition is provided by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, Carolyn Brody, Property Group Partners, Elise Jaffe + Jeffrey Brown, and an anonymous donor.

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