2011 ELEANORE PETTERSEN LECTURE: Francine Houben / Mecanoo

Thursday, December 1, 2011, 7 - 8:30pm

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La Llotja theatre and conference centre, Lleida Spain TU Delft library, Delft Netherlands Montevideo, Rotterdam Netherlands Library of Birmingham integrated with the REP theatre, Birmingham UK

La Llotja theatre and conference centre, Lleida Spain

2011 ELEANORE PETTERSEN LECTURE: Francine Houben, Mecanoo


Introduced and Moderated by Annabelle Selldorf

Francine Houben, creative director and founding partner of the Dutch firm Mecanoo, will present her office’s recent work and design philosophy. With offices in Delft and Birmingham, UK, Mecanoo’s ambition is to design buildings with “a strong respect for context: physically, historically, and environmentally.”

Projects of note include the Technical University Delft Library; Montevideo residential tower in Rotterdam’s harbor district; Phillips Business Innovation Centre FiftyTwoDegrees in Nijmegen, The Netherlands; La Llotja Theatre and Congress Centre in Lleida, Spain; Bijlmerpark, Amsterdam; the soon to be opened Library of Birmingham, integrated with the REP Theatre in the UK; and the 2015-anticipated Delft City Hall and Train Station. Her projects in the Far East include Wei Wu Ying Centre for the Arts, in Kaohsiung, Taiwan; and Whistling Rock Golf Club, in Chuncheon, South Korea.

In 1999, Houben was named professor in Architecture, chair Aesthetics of Mobility, at the University of Technology in Delft, The Netherlands. She became director of the 1st International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam 2003, with “Mobility, a room with a view” as a theme. In 2007, she was a visiting professor at Harvard University and is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects.

Publications include her 2001 manifesto, Composition, Contrast, Complexity; a 2008 monograph on the firm published in the series Masters of Architecture by The Images Publishing Group; and the forthcoming, Dutch Mountains, on her experience as a global architect.

The Eleanore Pettersen Lecture, established in honor of Cooper Union alumna Eleanore Pettersen through a generous donation to The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture, is dedicated to the voices of women in architecture as a lasting tribute to Ms. Pettersen, her significant impact in the world of architecture, and her love of The Cooper Union.

Organized by the Architecture League of New York and co-sponsored with The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture.

Admission is free for The Cooper Union Alumni and current students/faculty/staff, and League members; $15 for non-members.


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  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.