KU News Release

September 14, 2012
Contact: Charles Linn, School of Architecture, Design and Planning, 785-864-4336

Architect to speak on creating transformative buildings

LAWRENCE — Henry Smith-Miller, principal of Smith-Miller+Hawkinson Architects, will speak at 11:30 a.m. Sept. 21 at the Spencer Museum of Art Auditorium on the University of Kansas campus.

The work of the New York City-based firm draws its inspiration from ongoing investigations into contemporary culture, its history and the complex changing relationship of architecture to society.

Smith-Miller says he took the title of his talk, "Twenty Minutes Into the Future," from the film that introduced Max Headroom to an adoring public. However, he says that his talk will not dwell on the attention-deficit- afflicted character.

Smith-Miller said, “The title of the talk is a reflection on the idea that the web and everything going digital has changed the way architects work.”

“Our practice is not highly digitized. We still do a lot of hand drawing, and we make a lot of models, and that takes time,” he continued.

Architects consider the firm's work process transformative in the way it produces memorable, functional and highly refined buildings where other firms frequently produce something ordinary. Its Department of Homeland Security border stations and spec apartment buildings have won national awards from the American Institute of Architects.

“Our practice is based on a critical decision-making process and critical thinking about architecture,” he said. “It is not a 20 minute process.”

The firm’s designers pay particular attention to negotiating the gap that sometimes exists between traditional craft and materials, and today’s technically complex assemblages of such things as metal alloys and plastics.

Smith-Miller's lecture is one of a series of talks sponsored by the School of Architecture, Design and Planning's Department of Architecture. A full schedule can be seen online.

The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

kunews@ku.edu | (785) 864-3256 | 1314 Jayhawk Blvd., Lawrence, KS 66045

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