Ideas + Examples Exhibition: From the Lucy + Olivio Ferrari Archive
September 25, 2023
This fall, faculty and an alumnus of the School of Architecture will hold a series of exhibitions and events at Marywood University and Virginia Tech to celebrate the work of former faculty members Lucy and Olivio Ferrari from The Lucy + Olivio Ferrari Archive (Cowgill Hall, Blacksburg, Va). Prof.’s Frank Weiner and Shelley Martin curated the exhibition in collaboration with an alumnus Arian Korkuti, Assistant Professor of Architecture at Marywood University. The exhibition “Ideas + Examples: An Exhibition from the Lucy + Olivio Ferrari Archive'' was held from September 6 - 15, 2023 at Marywood University’s Center for Architectural Studies in Dunmore, PA. On September 6, Prof. Martin gave a gallery talk at the opening of the exhibition, and on September 7, Prof. Weiner delivered a lecture. The exhibition will also be shown in the lobby of Cowgill Hall on October 23 and 24, 2023.
The exhibition emphasizes the educational formation of an architect. The play of ideas, selection of examples and the record of spoken words form the core of the exhibition. The displayed artifacts made by Lucy Ferrari and Olivio Ferrari were not intended to be finished works of art or design but rather didactic studies about basic design. Professor Shelley Martin was commissioned to produce a set of photographic prints for the collection as well. The exhibition proposed that the best possible education of an architect is based upon the presence of ideas, the sharing of examples and inspired conversation. Ultimately, the making of an architect and the making of a school of architecture is the daily responsibility of all participants rather than a frozen moment in time.
The exhibition built upon the existing connection between Marywood University and Virginia Tech, established by Professor Gregory Hunt, cultivating a continuing exchange of ideas. Beginning in 2008 Professor Hunt, the Founding Dean of the architecture program at Marywood University and former long serving faculty member at Virginia Tech, established the relationship between the two institutions. He carried forward a shared ethos regarding the importance of an architects’ education and in making a school of architecture as a place. This is a demonstration of the portability of ideas on educating architects linking many schools of architecture together.
The Lucy and Olivio Ferrari Archive was established in October 2017 by Lucy Ferrari and Professor Frank Weiner. Construction on the archive room in Cowgill Hall was made possible by generous gifts from Lucy Ferrari and USM Modular furniture company. The archive consists of approximately 1,000 items representing a wide range of didactic materials produced between 1950 and 1980 including diagrams, texts, notes, professional projects, travel sketches, painting studies, prints, photographs, objects, furniture, prototypes, toys, jewelry, and textiles. The archive also contains an extensive library of 2,200 volumes on architecture, design and rare children’s books donated by Prof. Frank Weiner and his wife Lynn Eichhorn.
Lucy Ferrari (b.1929) and Olivio Ferrari (b.1931 – d.1994) both grew up in Switzerland in the canton of Solothurn and moved to the United States in the fall of 1963 when Olivio Ferrari was invited to teach architecture at Auburn University as an Assistant Professor. They both shared an intuition that future opportunities seemed much greater in the United States. Keenly aware of the dialectic between the European tradition and the sense of freedom available in the United States they embarked upon an educational adventure that has profoundly impacted generations of students and teachers of architecture.
Olivio Ferrari attended the Hochschule für Gestaltung (hfg) in Ulm Germany earning a diploma in 1959. In 1961 he served as a research assistant to Bernard Hoesli at the ETH in Zurich. While a student at Ulm he had the opportunity to work with Max Bill, Joseph Albers, Johannes Itten, Konrad Wachsmann, and was introduced to the thought of the philosopher Max Bense. He worked in Max Bill’s Zurich architectural office from 1957-60 and collaborated on a variety of realized projects across many scales. Professor Ferrari was recruited by Founding Dean Charles Burchard in 1965 to teach at Virginia Tech’s newly formed College of Architecture where he taught with distinction for twenty-nine years. To build stronger ties between European and the US architectural communities, Olivio Ferrari established an international travel program for architecture students in the late 1960’s that continues to thrive today and became the Founding Director of Virginia Tech’s Steger Center for International Scholarship in Riva San Vitale Switzerland in the early 1990’s. Professor Ferrari had a foundational influence on the fundamental structure of basic design education at Virginia Tech, bringing national and international prominence to the college. He was appointed as an Alumni Distinguished Professor in 1982 and ACSA Distinguished Professor in 1990.
Lucy Ferrari is linguistically gifted, speaking German, French, Italian and English in addition to the four Swiss national languages. She is a talented designer producing beautiful textiles and jewelry. Coupled with her remarkable language fluency, her life-long love of travel has been shared with generations of students and teachers learning about the importance of the culture of travel for the education of architects. She developed and taught an innovative foreign language course for study abroad students at Virginia Tech entitled “German for Architects.” Upon the passing of Professor Olivio Ferrari in 1994 Lucy Ferrari served as Director of the Steger Center for International Scholarship. She lives in a five-hundred-year-old house in the Swiss mountain village of Ciona overlooking the Lake of Lugano.
Wednesday, September 6th – Friday, Sept.15th, 2023
Marywood University Center for Architectural Studies
203 Jackson Court, Dunmore PA
Monday, October 23rd & Tuesday, October 24th, 2023
Virginia Tech School of Architecture, College of Architecture, Arts and Design
Cowgill Hall Lobby, Blacksburg, VA
Gallery Talk: Prof. Shelley Martin, Wednesday September 6th 2023, 7:00pm
Lecture: Prof. Frank Weiner, Thursday September 7th, 2:00pm
Arian Korkuti, Assistant Professor, School of Architecture, Marywood University
Shelley Martin, Associate Professor, School of Architecture, Virginia Tech
Frank Weiner, Professor, School of Architecture, Virginia Tech
This exhibition would not be possible without the generous and sustained financial support of Lucy Ferrari. Prof. James Bassett, Interim Director, School of Architecture, Virginia Tech and Prof. James Eckler, Director, School of Architecture, Marywood University provided enthusiastic support. We thank Alexander Schaerer (CEO USM Modular Furniture company) Jon Thorson (President USM USA), and Tim Miller (Showroom Director of USM in NYC) who generously supplied the elegant modular stands featured in the exhibition. The Lucy and Olivio Ferrari Archive would like to thank Virginia Tech architecture alumni that have financially supported the archive (John Lignos, Patricia Mysak-Peters and Richard Poole). We are grateful for efforts of former Virginia Tech graduate architecture students over the years (Conor Byrne, Macy Carman, Phillip Cross, Aya Hirose, Herman Nadal, Blake Norris, Ryan Seavy, Ariel Shockley, Blake Walker and Lukas Weidner). The initial formation of The Lucy and Olivio Ferrari archive was strongly supported by former Dean Jack Davis and former School of Architecture Director Prof. Hunter Pittman.