JENNY SABIN: I think that architecture has always been collaborative. It takes many people with diverse sets of expertise to put a building together. What I'm bringing to the table that's new s there might be a cell biologist, and a systems engineer, and a material scientist, or mathematician on board as well. I'm very interested in issues of sustainability, and how our buildings can essentially act as organisms within their environment. I use digital tools to produce form and to visualize complex data sets, or extract and abstract them into other architectural scenarios.
My biggest research project currently is called E-skin, which is in collaboration with a number of scientists. And the project team is looking to nature for design models, namely cell biology, and extracting that into the realm of materials and complex geometries. And we're interested in practical parameters, such as how the skin will react to heat, light, and moisture. We're also very interested in how this building skin could respond, and adapt to us as inhabitants within various spaces. It really brings together our skills in computation and visualization to extract behaviors and principles found in nature into materials design, and finally, to the scale of architecture.
Cornell's an incredible research university, and I was very interested in the history of the architecture department and where it's going now, and I felt that I could bring a unique contribution. The biggest reason why I came here had to do with the support that I felt that I had on the part of the department and the college to really launch what I'm doing into its next phase. And that involves teaching, practice work, and then also the research in this tremendous research focused university. I feel really lucky, because every day is different and every day I get to be creative. I am always engaged with ideas and the exchange of those ideas. Beyond that Ithaca's beautiful. I'm from Seattle originally, so it's nice to be around the water again.
I really essentially wear three integrated hats, from my teaching, to research, to my practice work, and I really see them always feeding each other. My teaching is very much integrated with my research. Right now I'm teaching a course called digital ceramics, where we're looking at the integration of digital tooling and the complexity that comes with working with clay. I do have a small experimental practice. It provides for an opportunity to get involved with an actual client project.
Frequently all involve students. For example, last summer, I was commissioned by the American Philosophical Society Museum to design, fabricate, and build a greenhouse pavilion. And for students to have the chance to learn how a project is taken from initial concept, to being on site, building, and watching this thing go up not only was thrilling for me, but just, man, they were so excited. And that's going to help them not only in their education, but also that's something they have in their portfolio now, and for going and seeking jobs out after school, it's a big plus. So that's one way that I incorporate outreach into my work.
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Jenny Sabin is an architectural designer, artist, and educator--a creative innovator whose work inspires and transforms. As she explains her work, Sabin describes the inherent beauty--the structures, geometries, and materials--found in nature and puts that beauty into an architectural context.
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