Architecture Faculty Create Video for French Exhibition

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By Andrew Connor

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A grove of honey locust and hawthorn trees, planted by landscape architect and former faculty member Alfred Caldwell, ensconces Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s S. R. Crown Hall on the Illinois Institute of Technology campus. Those trees, and their perception in and around Crown Hall, are the subject of a video by College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture + Urbanism Program Professor Ron Henderson and Adjunct Professor Sarah Hanson, produced in conjunction with Furnace FPS.

The video, The Finely Textured Canopy of Modernism: The Caldwell Grove and Crown Hall, was commissioned by ​​Arc en Rêve architectural center in Bordeaux, France, for the exhibition Arboretum: The Tree as Architecture. The exhibition, according to Arc en Rêve, “presents a selection of projects and ideas, from different eras and places, in order to reaffirm the architectural nature of trees and to highlight the way in which they have been the subject of architectural reflections.”

“Caldwell’s planting scheme for S. R. Crown Hall is defined by irregularly spaced honey locusts underplanted with hawthorn masses,” Henderson once wrote in Dwell. “Caldwell may have purposely selected the most gnarly specimens at the nursery so that their form would stand in sharp contrast to the gridded orthogonality of the campus plan and buildings.”

The video captures time-lapse photographs of the trees in the Caldwell Grove casting lively shadows, reflections, and color in Crown Hall. The exhibition runs from September 23, 2021, to January 23, 2022; it can also be viewed online.

Photo: Trees outside of S. R. Crown Hall