Roger Ferri: Architectural Visionary

October 9–December 21, 2002

Roger Ferri, celebrated as one of the most significant architects of his time, is the focus of an exhibition at the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery opening on Wednesday, October 9. Ferri's unique approach to architecture has had a lasting impact on his friends, colleagues and the profession in general. Colin Amery, an architectural consultant and co-author of Vanishing Histories, said Ferri "planted the seeds of debate about all the important issues facing architects and artists today." Ada Louise Huxtable, writing in the New York Times, characterized his work as "totally visionary romanticism."

Roger Ferri: Architectural Visionary will remain on view through December 21, 2002 at the Wallach Art Gallery in Schermerhorn Hall, 8th floor, on the Columbia University campus. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The exhibition is free and open to the public. For more information, the public may call 212-854-2877.

In 1975, when Ferri was 26 years old, his career was launched with the design of the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art in Loretto, Pennsylvania. When he died of AIDS in 1991, he left behind a prolific record as a visionary architect, painter, designer, teacher and author. The retrospective of the artist's work at the Wallach Art Gallery will include national and international architectural projects, both residential and commercial. Ferri's designs comprise interior furnishings as well as exterior forms. More than 75 architectural drawings, renderings and photographs feature diverse projects, such as Pedestrian City, the Blum Residence and the Dai-Ichi Tokyo Bay Hotel. In addition, more than two dozen landscape paintings and figurative works will be shown, many of which reveal his love of all things Italian.

Ferri received a bachelor's degree in architecture from Pratt Institute in 1972. From 1978 to 1982, he studied painting at the Art Students League in the studios of Robert Beverly Hale and Frank Mason. Following nearly ten years of private practice as an architect, Ferri was named vice president and design principal of Welton Becket Associates in New York in 1984, designing residential and office buildings, mixed-use developments and the Dai-Ichi Hotel. In 1987, he opened his own firm, where he concentrated on small-scale projects, largely private residences and apartments.

Ferri's architectural vision aimed to achieve a symbiosis between the built environment and nature. One of his most innovative designs was for a corporate skyscraper in Manhattan (1976). The proposal included terraces and setbacks featuring ponds, hillocks, meadows, and forested gorges, with waterfalls cascading to the street below. His widely acclaimed ideas led to his being invited to participate in Transformations in Modern Architecture at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (1979), an exhibition that explored the concept of architecture's move beyond mere functionalism. Ferri's drawings for a Pedestrian City proposed solutions for urban development in a "Post-Petroleum Age."

Roger Ferri: Visionary Architect is based on an exhibition organized by the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art in Loretto, Pennsylvania. Many of the works are drawn from the rich holdings of the Roger Ferri archive in the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library at Columbia. Additional works are borrowed from the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art and private lenders. His work can also be found in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.

In conjunction with the exhibition, the Wallach Art Gallery will host a panel discussion with Colin Amery, Steven Bass, Michael Tomor and others. The event will take place in the gallery on October 17, at 6:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Reservations are not required.