COPENHAGEN.- James Carpenter, the New York-based architect, sculptor and designer of daylight, is this year's recipient of the VILLUM and VELUX FOUNDATION'S Daylight and Building Component Award. Carpenter played an important role in the design of 7 WTC, the first building to rise at Ground Zero since the attacks of September 11, 2001.
Carpenter, 59, will receive the award and a grant of EUR100,000 at a ceremony on March 2, 2010, in Hoersholm, a suburb of Copenhagen. The award, which includes one of the largest monetary grants of its kind, honors Carpenter for his lifelong design work in enhancing the urban environment with daylight and other natural phenomena.
"James Carpenter is one of the few who clearly strives for a link between the measurable and the immeasurable, nature and architecture," says Bjarne Thomsen, Chairman for the award committee. "In this manner his works serve as inspiration for many as they introduce strokes of new direction, content and clear technological know-how to the art and science of daylight and architecture."
These strokes of Carpenter's work are particularly evident in New York City, where he has helped bring nature to the urban environment through some of the most ambitious building projects in that city's recent history. In addition to his work on the podium wall at 7 WTC, Carpenter also designed the cable net wall in the atrium of at the Time Warner Building, devising the solution that makes it possible for guests of Jazz at Lincoln Center to look out over 59th street and the treetops of Central Park, unhindered by the noise of the busy street sounds of Columbus Circle.
Carpenter, who is educated as a sculptor from the Rhode Island School of Design, is a unique blend of artist, engineer and architect. His vast experience in working with building materials and being able to bring them to life in an artistic way has earned awards ranging from a MacArthur Fellowship to numerous honors from consulting engineers for his technical work.
"Designing buildings is not the normal terrain for a sculptor, but sculpture does something that architecture often doesn't and that is to engage the phenomenological qualities of its environment. And here light is one of the primary materials I use to accomplish that task," says Carpenter. "Like any good artist, it is important that I have a solid understanding of materials."
Carpenter's diverse skills have also led to collaborations with some of the world's most renowned architects including Norman Foster, Richard Meier and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. He also works as lead architect on several projects, including the current redesign of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem which is set to open.
"My own interests have always been diverse: materials, fine arts, engineering. That makes the work we do today unique - it is highly technical but it always starts with the poetics: what is the idea? And how do you engage people? What is the phenomenology of the environment you are working with?"