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ASU connects globally to explore urban transformation

April 16, 2010

The ASU Herberger Institute School of Design Innovation and School of Architecture + Landscape Architecture hosted "Phoenix-Barcelona: Cities in Transformation," a symposium and month-long exhibition on the ASU Tempe campus in February 2010 that highlighted the ongoing development of both cities and how it is manifested in the work of local architecture and design practice.

“ASU and Phoenix are fortunate to have found a dynamic partner in the design community of Barcelona to create this conversation and allow for current and future designers to share how our communities can evolve,” said Jose Bernardi, professor of interior design and organizer of the symposium and exhibition. “This symposium allowed our students to engage with local and international professional practitioners and discuss topics that are central to the curriculum of every design discipline.”

Sessions during the Feb. 10 symposium focused on working with the natural landscapes of the regions, responding to climate through design, public spaces and community engagement, and how the idea of light provides and describes the character of each city.

“It was enlightening to hear the practicing architects from these different cultures discuss the issues they are dealing with in their urban environment and discover how both are finding new ways to explore issues of sustainability and urbanism,” said Jim Sarratori, an architecture graduate student. “As a student, compiling a broader understanding of these different methods of working is important because they can then be applied to issues our community and environment are facing now and in the future.”

The works of local architects, landscape architects, interior designers and civic artists from both cities, including eight Barcelona design studios, were featured in the exhibition held at the ASU Herberger Institute Gallery of Design. The show demonstrated how design integrates into its natural environments, and was curated jointly by Bernardi and Eva Prats and Ricardo Flores of Flores & Prats Arquitectes in Barcelona. Many of the relationships with Barcelona designers were initiated by ASU architecture professor Catherine Spellman who also contributed to the exhibition along with her students.

“Both cities have a constant flow of dynamic architectural proposals and both are growing with a high ambition to keep the city on the map,” Flores said. “It is for us in Barcelona a learning field to watch the efforts of the Phoenix city designers who deal with health and climate and change immediate answers like air conditioning into real architectural devices.”

The February events, a continuation of "The Desert as a Client" exhibit and symposium held in Barcelona in the fall of 2008, were a partnership that included support from the Ministry of Culture of Spain, the Barcelona firms and the participation of many of Phoenix’s most celebrated firms including Will Bruder + Partners, Architekton, Richards+Bauer, Jones Studio and DeBartolo Architects.

Jason Franz
(480) 727-9888

Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts