It is a pleasure to welcome this exhibition on Frei Otto to the Yale School of Architecture nearly sixty years after he first arrived to teach as a visiting professor. One of the privileges of being Dean is identifying and cultivating talented teachers who we can invite into our midst to expose our students to new and often challenging perspectives. This must have been what Paul Rudolph had in mind when he invited Otto to our school in 1960. Models, Media, and Methods: Frei Otto’s Architectural Research allows us to revisit his legacy and peruse materials from his archive.
While Otto went on to a distinguished and prize-winning career, what is most remarkable is the prescience of his teaching in 1960, reflected in the publications that form the backbone of this exhibition. His pursuit of material and resource efficiency led to elegant designs, but also prefigured many of the tenets that now fall under the umbrella of sustainability. He was an early advocate of bio-mimicry and fostered a culture of material, structural, and formal experimentation that was well ahead of its time. That spirit of experimentation is one that I hope our current students absorb and take up with a new set of tools.
I am thankful to Georg Vrachliotis and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology for opening Otto’s archive to us. At Yale, I would like to thank our director of exhibitions, Andrew Benner, for working with Georg to bring the show to our gallery. My gratitude extends also to our installation crew, led by Alison Walsh, exhibitions coordinator.
Deborah Berke, Dean