William Massie: “Surf Ace”

Architect in Residence at Cranbrook Academy of Arts, William Massie, graduate of Parsons the New School for Design (’87), is a revolutionary in the fields of architecture and interior design. While a student at Parsons, and subsequently at Columbia GSAPP, Massie investigated the possibility of how fabrication methods borrowed from other industries could be applied to the making of buildings and building components. Incorporating unconventional elements such as expandable latex volumes and urethane-cast intricately detailed spaces led Massie away from the conventional approach to an architecture career. His never-ending curiosity about making and the tools of deployment led him away from the tradition of a long-term internship in an office learning the profession from a master architect.
Initial investigations into the role of the digital in fabrication lead to studies in formal and physical experiments in translating machine logic into material investigations, interrogating the role of materiality in the limitations of architectural form. Through research into prototyping and scaling, Massie developed the techniques, typically more associated with product (and other smaller scale but mass production), that have now become more than commonplace in building design and construction. Throughout all types of building design practice, Massie’s work has been influential and critical in redefining the role of the digital in the design process and of the architect in the building process.
Currently, Massie is developing his ongoing investigations into the nature of Surface. Beginning with the PS1 project of 2002, Massie has been considering through his work the nature and quality of surface, and how the morphology of form and surface are defined by materiality. He will discuss his in-depth work in this realm.