I attended the Architecture Interruptus symposium at Wexner Center for the Arts today. It is a discussion on the church in Firminy which was originally designed by Le Corbusier (a few years before his death) and completed by his apprentice Jose Oubrerie (a distinguished OSU arch prof.). The church was finally built and opened to public in 2006.
The lectures and discussions by invited speakers were very interesting and enlightening, esp. thanks to Jeff Kipnis' brilliance and sense of humor. There is also a comprehensive exhibition of the process sketches and construction drawings from both Le Corbusier and Jose Oubrerie. Le Corbusier's original idea is absolutely genius. But if you look at all the details done by Jose Oubrerie: each detail was a creative problem solving. Who can say that is not design? A nice model was also built for this event by NBBJ model shop.
When Jose Oubrerie was asked to make a speech, he almost lost words. He said somethig like this: If I hadn't had the experience to work with Le Corbusier, I couldn't have finished the church...He started choking when halfway through the sentence and then couldn't help crying. At that moment, my eyes were immersed with tears. Everybody stood up and started applauding. I was so touched 'cause the completion of a building means so much to an architect - that's the completion of a BELIEF, the completion of LIFE. One building may take an architect's majority of his lifetime. On the one hand, doing architecture is so time-consuming and difficult; on the other hand, the finished building is a huge reward to the architect, perhaps the most powerful artwork among all art forms. Now I don't think there is a reason I will stop doing architecture. I would like to do all kinds of design without giving up architecture. Architecture is still the art form that touches me so deeply in the heart.
Before leaving Wexner Center, my friends and I all got the book Architecture Interruptus as well as Jose Oubrerie's autograph. He is already in his 70s, a very friendly and modest man. He asked for everybody's name when signing the book. I wish I were one of his students, and I will remeber today!