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An Ode to Rafael Viñoly

With the recent passing of architect Rafael Viñoly, writer Derin discusses his prolific career, his impact on Brown University’s campus, and the future of his firm.

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An Ode to Rafael Viñoly
Derin Akdurak

Derin Akdurak

Date
March 22, 2023
Read
1 Min

Born in 1944 in Uruguay, Rafael Viñoly was an architect who left his mark through architectural openness, impactful design, and innovative approach. His recent passing on March 2, 2023 brought the art world together to mourn his loss. Known most famously for his partnership with Marcel Breuer, Viñoly’s creativity will be missed.

 

Though he has undertaken the building of many iconic projects, at Brown University, our campus may know him most familiarly as the designer of the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs building. Nestled on the corner of Thayer Street and Charlesfield Street, the building houses the University’s IAPA department and hosts guest speakers for various speaker series. The building has enjoyed a new-found affinity as a study location from Brown students following the Covid-19 Pandemic. Many students who reside in dorms in the middle of campus where the building is located have utilized the building for their late night study sessions. The Watson building is a tasteful marriage of the iconic red-brick style of College Hill and modernist transparent style, which permeates sunshine into the building, illuminating its interior with natural light. This dual-style of the building is not only architecturally curious, but also aesthetically fitting with its surroundings while also creating a lighter feeling for the dwellers.

 

Viñoly’s architectural legacy is enjoyed worldwide, From Tokyo to New York, Buenos Aires to Miami. Millions of people pass by, wake up in, or go to work in one of the buildings that have the honor of carrying his signature. His style, though not especially regional, has been appreciated in and fit into many distant corners of the world. He has left a rich legacy of timeless and unique designs that come through in some of the world's most iconic and distinctive structures. He was involved with the project of the Jazz at Lincoln Center on the 59thStreet in New York has housed thousands of listeners and performers. Overlooking the Central Park and Columbus Circle, this auditorium offers a feast for all senses. 

 

Anyone who has taken HIAA0860: Contemporary Architecture will also have an affinity for the building 432 Park Avenue, also designed by Rafael Viñoly. Inspired by Manhattan’s grid-style urban design, this skyscraper is the embodiment of New York’s urban jungle. Roman Viñoly, Rafael’s son, will carry the company’s torch following his father’s passing. He follows in his father’s stylistic footsteps and continues bringing regional architectural styles together with technologically innovative materials. He has overtaken ongoing projects, and will no doubt respect his father’s artistic vision. Though his creativity and innovative spirit will be missed, his legacy will continue to live on.

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