Höweler + Yoon Blurs Edges Between Art and Architecture With Digital Aplomb
December 19, 2007
Architects & Firms
Photo: Courtesy Höweler + Yoon
Two young architects, Eric Höweler and J. Meejin Yoon, stepped into the architectural limelight in 2004 not with a building but an interactive LED light installation, created for the Athens Olympics. White Noise/White Light, constructed of hand-fabricated fiber-optic fixtures, was installed on the side of the Acropolis only for 30 days, but long enough for the Boston-based firm to be noticed by architectural aficionados. In May 2005, the designers mounted the installation at MIT'where they both teach'for a week for the inauguration of the new president, Susan Hockfield. Soon a private developer in Washington, D.C., commissioned them to create a signage, light, and sound installation, Lo Rez Hi Fi, for an office building's street front and lobby [RECORD, November 2007, page 190].
In their architectural work, Höweler and Yoon seek to unite—and blur boundaries between—architecture, art, and landscape in a way that takes advantage of new electronic media. The two met in the early 1990s in the B.Arch. program at Cornell, a school known for teaching students to draw and to solve functional problems based on a strong morphological analysis. This is a long way from working with computational fabrication tools, CAD/CAM, and basic electronics for sound and light installations. "I never thought we’d be do-it-yourselfers in terms of electronics and fabrication," says Yoon. The path to digital landscape was not direct. Yoon, who was born in Seoul, Korea, entered Harvard’s Graduate School of Design in 1995 after Cornell. Höweler stayed at Cornell to take his M.Arch., before decamping in 2005 for New York and a job at Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF). As a result of his work with the firm's high-rise tower design in Asia, Höweler wrote Skyscrapers: Vertical Now (Universe), in 2003.