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ISU Pickard Chilton Professor and Rome Prize Fellow Thomas Leslie to speak at ISU architecture department’s fall celebration

August 20, 2014

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Pickard Chilton Professor Thomas Leslie. Photo by Bob Elbert.
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Palazetto dello Sport, Rome. Pier Luigi Nervi, 1957. Photo by Tom Leslie.
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Air Force Hangar, Ortobello, Italy. Pier Luigi Nervi, 1939. By Tom Leslie.

AMES, Iowa — Thomas Leslie, FAAR, the Pickard Chilton Professor in Architecture at Iowa State University, will share his research on the work of postwar Italian engineer and builder Pier Luigi Nervi in a lecture Friday, Sept. 5, at the ISU College of Design.

Leslie's presentation, "Beauty's Rigor: Patterns of Production in the Work of Pier Luigi Nervi," is part of Architecture Premiere 14, the annual celebration of the new academic year in the ISU Department of Architecture, which marks its centennial anniversary in 2014-2015.

The event will begin with a student scholarship and awards ceremony at 4:30 p.m., followed by Leslie’s talk at about 5:45 p.m. in Kocimski Auditorium, 101 College of Design.

The evening will conclude with a reception at about 7 p.m.  in the college's Gallery 181 and Lyle E. Lightfoot Forum. Rome Spring '14: The Tevere and Beyond—Architecture and Landscape Architecture Multidisciplinary Projections, an exhibition of work by 41 architecture and 11 landscape architecture students who participated in the spring 2014 College of Design Rome Program, will be on display in the gallery. Refreshments will be served.

Leslie was the 2013-2014 recipient of the Booth Family Rome Prize in Historic Preservation and Conservation from the American Academy in Rome. He spent eight months in Italy and France documenting, analyzing and advocating for the preservation of buildings by Nervi, who is known for his technical mastery of lightweight, reinforced concrete in large-span structures like the Palazetto dello Sport, built for the 1960 Rome Olympics.

"Nervi's work is often cited for its adherence to structural 'truth,' but his astonishing spans and roofs also were the result of cleverly conceived and efficiently executed fabricational processes" born of the economic conditions and material restrictions in Italy before and after World War II, Leslie said.

Nervi's techniques "enabled crews of minimally skilled laborers to erect these spans quickly, but their visual effects elevated his roofs beyond their impressive construction achievements into spaces that are, even half a century later, surprising and sublime," Leslie said.

The lecture will include a large number of previously unpublished construction photographs and archival drawings as well as new diagrams and visualizations Leslie produced during his fellowship period in Rome.

Leslie is the Pickard Chilton Professor in Architecture and the director of graduate education in the ISU architecture department. His research and teaching focus on the relationships between design and technology, both in history and in contemporary practice. He has received numerous awards for teaching and creative achievements from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture and the American Institute of Architects.

Leslie is the author of Louis I. Kahn: Building Art, Building Science (2005) and Chicago Skyscrapers, 1871-1934 (2013), and co-author, with colleagues Jason Alread and Rob Whitehead, of Design-Tech: Building Science for Architects (2006, 2014). His research has been supported by the Graham Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Philosophical Society, and he has held visiting faculty positions at the University of Technology-Sydney, Australia; the Bauhaus-Universitat in Weimar, Germany; and the McCormick School of Engineering at Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill.

Prior to joining the Iowa State architecture faculty in 2000, Leslie practiced for seven years with Foster and Partners, where he worked on the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, Neb., the Stanford University Center for Clinical Sciences Research in California and the Al Faisaliah Center in Riyadh, Saudia Arabia. Leslie holds a bachelor of science in architectural studies with high honors from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1989) and a master of architecture from Columbia University (1992).

Leslie's lecture is the first in the Fall 2014 ISU Architecture Advisory Council Lecture Series, "Spatial Geographies."

Contacts:
Thomas Leslie, Architecture, (515) 294-8460, tleslie@iastate.edu
James Spiller, Architecture Lectures Committee, (515) 294-3543, jspiller@iastate.edu
Heather Sauer, Design Communications, (515) 294-9289, hsauer@iastate.edu

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