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Posted May 1, 2012

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Ted Talks

Liz Diller: A giant bubble for debate


How do you make a great public space inside a not-so-great building? Liz Diller shares the story of creating a welcoming, lighthearted (even, dare we say it, sexy) addition to the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC.

Liz Diller and her maverick firm DS+R bring a groundbreaking approach to big and small projects in architecture, urban design and art -- playing with new materials, tampering with space and spectacle in ways that make you look twice.

Liz Diller's firm, Diller Scofidio & Renfro, might just be the first post-wall architects. From a mid-lake rotunda made of fog to a gallery that destroys itself with a robotic drill, her brainy takes on the essence of buildings are mind-bending and rebellious. DS+R partakes of criticism that goes past academic papers and into real structures -- buildings and art installations that seem to tease the squareness of their neighbors.

DS+R was the first architecture firm to receive a MacArthur "genius" grant -- and it also won an Obie for Jet Lag, a wildly creative piece of multimedia off-Broadway theater. A reputation for rampant repurposing of materials and tricksy tinkering with space -- on stage, on paper, on the waterfront -- have made DS+R a sought-after firm, winning accounts from the Juilliard School, Alice Tully Hall and the School of American Ballet, as part of the Lincoln Center overhaul; at Brown University; and on New York's revamp of Governer's Island. Their Institute for Comtemporary Art has opened up a new piece of Boston's waterfront, creating an elegant space that embraces the water.

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