Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Lecture Sunday May 20th: Werner Seligmann, A Modern Architect in Upstate New York

The Preservation Association of Central New York (PACNY)

Invites you to an illustrated lecture by

Prof. Bruce M. Coleman

Werner Seligmann: A Modern Architect in Upstate New York

Sunday, May 20. 2012
2:00 pm
Barnes Mansion
930 James Street, Syracuse

PACNY members $10, all others $15.

Werner Seligmann

Werner Seligmann (1930-1998) is arguably Central New York’s best known modern architect.  As a practicing architect, influential teacher and a Dean of Syracuse University’s School of Architecture, he put his stamp on New York State design, and shaped the architectural aesthetic of several generations of architectural students and professionals. 

Born in Osnabrück, Germany, Seligmann spent the latter part of World War II in a concentration camp; unfortunately his mother and sister did not survive the camps. After the war he was sent to the US to live with relatives in Groton New York, beginning his long association with Central New York. 

Seligmann received his Bachelor's in Architecture degree from Cornell in 1955. He was licensed in 1956 and taught as an Instructor at the University of Texas at Austin from 1956-58, where he became part of a small group of faculty that would later be nicknamed The Texas Rangers; a group that included Colin Rowe, John Shaw, Robert Slutzky and John Hejduk. After the group was dismissed from Austin, Seligmann pursued graduate study in Braunschwieg, Germany, then taught at the Eidgenossiche Technische Hochscule (the ETH), in Zurich, Switzerland from 1959-61.  He returned to New York State to teach at Cornell from 1961 to 1974, then spent two years as Associate Professor of Architecture at Harvard, before becoming Dean and Professor of Architecture at Syracuse University, where he served from 1976-90. Seligmann  was subsequently named Distinguished Professor of Architecture at Syracuse University, a position he held until his death.

Throughout his teaching career Seligmann maintained a practice and entered many competitions. His firm, Werner Seligmann and Associates, Architects and Urban Designers, was launched in 1961, and was based primarily in Cortland, New York. Seligmann won two Progressive Architecture Design Awards, was illustrated on the cover of PA three times, and has placed or won several national and international design competitions. His work on developing housing prototypes for the New York State Urban Development Corporation in the 1970’s and 1980’s established his reputation in the area of housing. His buildings are meticulously detailed, technically researched and spatially inventive. His synagogues in Binghamton and Cortland are widely regarded as important contributions to modern religious architecture.

Cortland, NY. Synagogue. View into sanctuary. Werner Seligmann, architect. Photo: Paul Rocheleau
Click here to read more about this synagogue.

Bruce Coleman is Professor of Architecture at Syracuse University where he has taught since 1976. In private practice, Coleman worked with Joseph Cerutti & Associates in Cleveland and then worked ten years as an architect with Werner Seligmann & associates in Cortland, New York.  Coleman’s teaching focuses on computer-aided design (CAD) and he was instrumental in setting up the shared IBM CAD lab at Syracuse University.  In his private practice he has focused on residential and religious work.  Coleman is completing a monograph about the work of Werner Seligmann.  This lecture presents some of the projects described in the monograph as well as analysis and conclusions about Seligmann’s influence – during his life, and today.

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