DETAILS, details

Residential Architecture Assembled/the Pose & Poetry of Construction

In Celebration of the 80th Anniversary of the Publication of Antonin and Noémi Raymond’s Architectural Details 1938

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A one-day symposium on the history, theory, and evolution of  modern residential architectural detailing, from the early 20th century to contemporary architecture today.


The DETAILS, details Symposium is in collaboration with AIA CRAN (the American Institute of Architects - Custom Residential Architects Network) and AIA New York Cultural Facilities Committee.

Since the beginning of modern architecture at the turn of the last century, architects and designers have faced and embraced new challenges: the integration of new technologies; the emergence of new materials and methods of construction; new concepts of space and form; new relationships between the “inside and out;” and even new ideas about the relationship between architecture and nature itself. All led to a new conception and meaning of construction. The modern architectural detail became an expression and celebration of the New, and would act as a more authentic replacement for traditional ornamental systems and their meanings.  

Residential architecture played a vital role in the development of modern architecture. Because of its modest scale, relatively low costs, and attraction to an adventurous clientele, residential building was the perfect laboratory for exploring new ideas. One cannot imagine modern architecture without Schindler’s King’s Road House, Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye, Wright’s Usonian Houses, or Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House. Now, after more than a century of modernism, the architect’s design responsibilities have grown even more complicated. Environmental concerns set new ethical and ecological criteria. Performance building codes such as LEED, Net-Zero, and the Living Building Challenge set new benchmarks. Green roofs, solar roofs, rain screens, geothermal heating and cooling—and a whole host of next-generation materials and systems—have risen to meet these demanding new standards. Home automation, as well as advancements in lighting design and sound and entertainment systems, have transformed the designer’s role from master-builder to “master-coordinator.” The assembly and detailing of the home’s interior have become as complex as the building’s structure and envelope. All the while, new digital design and fabrication tools continue to expand the possibilities, and perhaps the limits, for architectural expression.

The Details, details symposium will explore this history and evolution, and examine where we are today here in the United States, Europe, and Asia, as well as looking forward towards the future of residential architecture’s technical and expressive detailing and design.

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Presentations & Speakers 

Intolerance: Craft in the Age of Digital Perfection

Is craft perfection? Is it messy vitality? Is it a concept that even matters if our future is to be robotic, digital and jointless? If craft does survive must it not change conceptually as the culture of building changes? The fact is we do not understand the status quo nor do we understand the future as well as we would like to believe, but an examination of issues of building assembly and the nature of materials with some specificity, now  and in the past, yields a more productive line of inquiry, the concept of “narratives of craft” that are an integral part of the buildings we value.

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Edward R. Ford


Edward Ford is the author of The Details of Modern Architecture (MIT, 1990) and The Details of Modern Architecture, Volume 2 (MIT, 1996), both supported by grants from the Graham Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts; Five Houses, Ten Details (Princeton Architectural Press, 2009); and most recently The Architectural Detail (Princeton Architectural Press, 2011). He has published articles in Architectural Design, L’Architecture d’Aujourd’hui, Detail, Harvard Design Magazine, and Perspecta. His architectural work has been published in The New American House, Japan Architect, Competitions, 18 Houses, Inform, ARQ, and Oculus and has been exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Chicago Foundation for Architecture.


Culture, Climate & Craft in Antonin Raymond’s  Architectural Details

Antonin Raymond Architectural Details (1937, 1947) is a seminal publication, both in its pre WWII context in Japan and post WWII context in the United States.  This talk will situate this publication within these contexts through the themes of culture, climate and craft through specific projects between Japan, India and the US and Raymond’s work.  Further consideration will be given to his collaborators including Noemi Raymond, George Nakashima and Junzô Yoshimura as the basis for considering the broader impact and lasting lessons of Architectural Details.

    Ken Tadashi Oshima

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 Ken Tadashi Oshima is a professor in the Department of Architecture at the University of Washington, where he teaches in the areas of trans-national architectural history, theory, representation, and design. He was a Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Fellow at the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures in London. Among many other publications,  Dr. Oshima has written, International Architecture in Interwar Japan: Constructing Kokusai Kenchiku (University of Washington Press, 2009) and was contributor to Crafting a Modern World: The Architecture and Design of Antonin and Noémi Raymond, and co-curator with William Whitaker of the related  exhibit at University of Pennsylvania, UC Santa Barbara, Kamakura Museum of Modern Art, 2006-7.

Strange Details: Carlo Scarpa, Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies van der Rohe & Louis Kahn

Suspending the conventional understanding of modern construction and resisting theoretical pronouncements, Micheal Cadwell will revisit the canonical modern works of Carlo Scarpa, Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies van der Rohe & Louis Kahn: the material menagerie of Scarpa’s the Querini Stampalia; the wood light frame of Wright’s Jacobs House; the welded steel frame of Mies’  Farnsworth House; and the reinforced concrete of Kahn’s Yale Center for British Art. There is a consistent strangeness in the construction of each building, a reconfiguration of the rudimentary facts of building that creates a subtle but undeniable shift in a building’s physicality. In each, we are afforded a new sense of the world, one that we can detect in their architects’ reconfigurations of the world’s materials. 

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Michael Cadwell

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Michael B. Cadwell, FAIA LEED AP, Michael Cadwell is the Walter H. Kidd Professor of Architecture and the Director of the Austin E. Knowlton School of Architecture.  He received his BA in English Literature with Honors from Williams College and his Master of Architecture from Yale University.  Before coming to Ohio State University, Cadwell taught at the Parsons School of Design, the Rhode Island School of Design, and Williams College. He also practiced in the offices of Turner Brooks, Wiemann and Lamphere, and Cesar Pelli. He is a fellow of the Woodstock Arts Colony, the McDowell Arts Colony, and the American Academy in Rome. Cadwell also practices with Jane Murphy.   Cadwell designed and built a series of small wood buildings on remote New England sites and public sculpture parks, which were collected as Pamphlet Architecture 17  by Princeton Architectural Press. He is the author of Strange Details (MIT Press, 2007) and more recently his writing has appeared in Hunch, Harvard Design Magazine, Log, and Domus.


Contemporary Details: Europe + Japan

What is the nature of contemporary architectural details today? How do they influence the character of a building? How are they developed and what are the technical functions they serve? Christian Schittich will focus upon the latest international trends in residential architectural detailing, in Europe in the works of  such architects as Beart & Deplazes, BIG, Hild und K, Kempe Thill. Mr. Schittich will then redirect his attention to residential architecture in China and Japan—surveying the last three decades in Asia, from Tadao Ando to today’s generation of architects, including  Wang Shu, Sou Fujimoto, Kengo Kuma, Akihisa Hirata and MiCo. He will then compare residential detailing in Japan with that of European work in regards to design, expression, durability, sustainability and energy efficiency. Schittich will conclude with his observations on the differences in how architecture and construction are practiced in Japan versus Europe and how these differences are reflected in how details are developed and residential architecture built.

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Christian Schittich


Christian Schittich, is an architect, writer. and consultant. He is a graduate of Architecture and Engineering at the University of Technology, Munich. In addition to his years of practice, he is the former editor-in-chief of DETAIL: a Review of Architecture and Construction Details, after having served for 25 years. Under his direction, DETAIL had become one of the most internationally distinguished magazines in the profession. He is also the author and editor of numerous books including: Glass Construction Manual, 1999; In Detail: Single Family Houses, 2005; In Detail: Building Simply 2001/ 2012; In Detail: Japan, 2002; Housing in Japan, 2016; Landmark Buildings – A Review of Three Decades of Architecture, 2017.