John Ochsendorf: Maestri delle Opere

winding multi color brick staircase

The Baker Hall staircase at Carnegie Mellon University by Rafael Guastavino Jr., Pittsburgh, 1914. photo / Michael Freeman

Cornell in Rome Spring 2018 Lecture Series

John Ochsendorf '96 is the director of the American Academy in Rome and the Class of 1942 Professor of Architecture and Engineering at MIT. A structural engineer and historian of construction, Ochsendorf is the author of Guastavino Vaulting: The Art of Structural Tile (Princeton Architectural Press, 2010). As a partner in the firm Ochsendorf DeJong and Block, he has contributed to numerous award-winning design projects, including two major installations at the 2016 Venice Biennale of Architecture. He is the recipient of numerous fellowships, including a Fulbright Scholarship to Spain, a Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome, and a MacArthur Fellowship from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Ochsendorf was trained at Cornell University, Princeton University, and the University of Cambridge.


Designers have much to learn from the works of master builders. This lecture presents recent studies of "maestri delle opere" with a particular emphasis on Roman achievements in vault and dome construction as well as the Spanish tradition of tile vaulting exemplified by the Guastavino family. Inspired by traditional construction methods, new possibilities will be presented for contemporary design.

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