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Neil M. Denari

Career Arcs

Today is a conversation with architect Neil Denari and the subject of our talk is Career Arcs’. 

Neil Denari

So, why this particular topic with this particular architect. As most of you know listening to this show, the focus is about architecture’s future while being aware of just how much change lays before us not only with a globally changing environment but the effects of healthcare and engineering on our human and non-human bodies. What will this mean for
the spaces and shapes we build and inhabit. These are long term discussions with many short-term incremental actions along the way. As architects, landscape architects, designers, it’s important to have perspective on how external forces of politics, technologies and culture intermingle with your own evolving goals and objects as designers. If the current environmental, physiological, cultural unkowns before us are as far stretching in scope and time as it must be assumed to be, then it’s important to look to those that have held similar believes in their own work. Not necessarily within the same topics as outlined here but with the rigor and commitment most of us hope to be able to imitate in our own careers.

Neil Denari is an architect that gained recognition in his late 20’s for hand drawn images of projects like the Tokyo International Forum, in 1988. Carried through to the use of digital tools to visualize his projects in the early to mid 1990’s (as seen in his 1999 book Gryoscopic Horizons) all the way to today with the built work of projects like High Line 23 and his latest book Mass X. 

It is never wise to try and distill someone’s career down to a few sentences but for this episode I think it’s important to highlight an intriguing overlap within Neils work which include a relentlessness in exploring his over arching project over 35 plus years, coupled with an ability to see change (whether that be in technologies of representation, or the translations of representations into physical built form) as opportunity to better understand and explore the overarching work. These changes continually seem to strengthen and reaffirm this work where many other might have simply pivoted in new directions all together or walked away all together as they struggled to adapt. 

I think the conversation stands on its own but I wanted to at least set the stage for today’s talk. 

As you’ll hear in the beginning, I was overly optimistic to discuss 3 separate aspects of career arcs, we only got to one, books. And in doing so we discuss new mediums related to print. Jayne Kelly who worked for the CCA in Montreal was kind enough to send me a link to an ITunes file they produced about one of Neils early projects.

Apple Books

Neil M. Denari

Neil Denari is principal of Neil M. Denari Architects / NMDA and a Professor in the Department of Architecture and Urban Design at UCLA. With NMDA, Denari works on building projects in North America, Europe and Asia. In 2012, NMDA won first prize in the New Keelung Harbor Service Building competition. Denari lectures worldwide and has been a Visiting Professor at Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, Penn, and Rice among other schools. He is the author of Interrupted Projections (1996), Gyroscopic Horizons (1999), and MASS X (2018).

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