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Michael Webb studied architecture at London’s Regent Street Polytechnic School of Architecture (now the University of Westminster) between 1953 and 1972. In 1960, one of his projects found its way to the Visionary Architecture exhibition organized by New York’s Museum of Modern Art.
A year later, Peter Cook invited Webb to join Archigram. Rebelling against what it saw as the failure of the architectural establishment in Britain, the group aimed to create projects that reflected the technological and social changes that the country was undergoing. Although unbuilt, Archigram’s projects offered a new approach to urbanism and infrastructure: 1984’s Plug-In City, for instance, proposed an evolving, movable megastructure that incorporated housing, transportation, and other essential services.
In 1965, Webb moved to the United States. Since then, his work has been featured in a number of publications and exhibitions.
For Current Work, he will discuss three of his long-term projects.Drive-in House, begun in 1967, explores the ubiquitous presence of automobiles in architecture, from 1960s drive-ins to today’s driverless cars as new ways of thinking about architecture. Temple Island, first published by AA Press in 1987, is a study on the landscape of the 1947 Henley Regatta on the Thames. Throughout the years, Webb has created a series of paintings, drawings, models, collages, and diagrams in order to convey details of that day, including the intense heat and the regatta course. Two Journeys, published in 2018 by Lars Müller Publishers, borrows its name from a solo show held at The Cooper Union in 2008. The book presents Webb’s body of work as a continuum, from his time at Archigram until today.
Webb has taught at numerous institutions, including Columbia University, The Cooper Union, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Pratt Institute, Rhode Island School of Design, and Virginia Tech.
He was a 2010–11 fellow at the Canadian Centre for Architecture and has received grants from the New York State Council on the Arts and the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.
Webb’s lecture will be followed by a conversation with architect and critic Michael Sorkin.
This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
The event is co-sponsored by The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture of The Cooper Union.