Students Design Manitoga Sculpture

Aspiring architects compete with Wright-inspired designs

By Alison Rooney

Over the years, Manitoga has invited a number of artists to contemplate the landscape of the former home of industrial designer Russel Wright. This year it asked students pursuing their master’s degrees in architecture at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design to weigh in.

The result is an installation referred to The Pavilion Project overlooking the quarry pool; it will be on view during tours through mid-November.

Professor Mohamad Al Khayer, (center) and his architecture students install the pavilion at Manitoga. (Photo by Vivian Linares)

The artwork is the result of a two-year partnership between Manitoga and the university initiated by Associate Professor Andrew Saunders. He calls the resulting sculpture a “built dialogue.”

The students were introduced during the fall semester of their first year to Wright and his designs and philosophy relating to man-made trails, architecture, furniture and homewares, Saunders says. During the spring, a competition to create the pavilion was opened to all students in the three-year program.

Manitoga Tours

Reservations are essential for the tours, which depart at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. from Friday to Monday through Nov. 13. In addition, 3:30 p.m. tours will be offered on July 1, Aug. 8, Sept. 2 and Oct. 7, and sunset tours led by architect Tom Krizmanic are scheduled for July 15, Aug. 19, Sept. 16 and Oct. 21. Admission is $20 (seniors and students, $15; children, $10). See visitmanitoga.org. The site is located at 584 Route 9D in Garrison.

The winning concepts were developed by students in a structure-and-technology seminar. They determined the form, material, structure, size and budget. These works were juried and given awards, with the winning design displayed on campus.

The installation at Manitoga (Photo by Vivian Linares)

In the fall semester of the second year, parts of two concepts, Hereafter and Devour(ing) the Dark, were incorporated into a single piece, taking into account the site and desire for a minimal footprint. This part of the project was led by lecturer Mohamad Al Khayer. During the process, more than 150 students visited Manitoga and participated in studio projects inspired by Wright’s design principles.

The design review jury evaluating submissions in October. (Photo provided)

The final sculpture was created with molded foam connected by metal rods. After the pavilion’s display on campus, eight students and Professor Al Khayer took it apart and transported it to reassemble in Garrison.

Allison Cross, Manitoga’s executive director, has been impressed. “Wright material innovation, good design and harmony with nature,” she says. “The striking creativity shown by the student work is an inspiring tribute.”

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