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Syracuse University professor earns accolades for pioneering work in the architecture of space frames
Syracuse University professor earns accolades for pioneering work in the architecture of space framesDecember 04, 2002Judy Holmesjlholmes@syr.edu
Humans are surrounded by cubes and rectangles, concessions to the overwhelming presumption that these are the shapes best suited for habitation. But Syracuse University architecture Professor J. Francois Gabriel has dedicated his career to bucking the “cube tradition” and looking for creative, aesthetic alternatives to vertical walls and their 90-degree points of contact. His goal has been to design the best possible structures for mid-and high-rise buildings, a challenge he has met using triangles instead of more traditional forms.
For his pioneering work in the field of space structures, Gabriel was presented with a Pioneers’ Award by the Space Structures Research Centre at the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom, during the fifth International Conference on Space Structures held in August. The award is presented every nine years. Gabriel served as a member of the conference’s international organizing committee and presented the paper “Space Frames and Classical Architecture.”
“Professor Gabriel is one of the great visionary architects of the recent decades,” says Hoshyar Nooshin, former director of the Space Structures Research Centre. “He has been responsible for the creation of an architectural culture based on the use of polyhedral forms for modern urban developments. His imaginative teachings have laid a firm foundation for the design of the cities of the future with highly interrelated elegant forms. He is a real pioneer.”
Gabriel has been a faculty member in Syracuse University’s School of Architecture since 1978. He has presented at conferences across the United States, Brazil, Australia and in Europe.
He is the author of numerous journal articles and book chapters, and has edited several books, including “Beyond the Cube: The Architecture of Space Frames and Polyhedra.” (John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 1997) In the book’s preface, Gabriel writes, “We use the cube as if it were the only acceptable model for our living spaces and, in doing so, we ignore countless other forms that might lead to more efficient, more beautiful, more economical and certainly less worn-out environments. Why do we do it?”
Gabriel’s research over the years has explored both the theoretical and practical approaches to designing buildings based on polyhedral shapes, which he argues can “satisfy the essential demands of buildings: solidity, beauty and convenience.”
In addition to his work as a teacher and researcher, Gabriel is a prolific artist in his own right. His paintings have been exhibited in Paris, Central New York and the French Library and Cultural Center in Boston.