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The exhibit-models from left to right are, the Miller House, the Chapel of the Mosquitoes and the French Cultural Center. Credit: Courtesy of Phil Arnold

Acclaimed architect’s design on display at Knowlton

Architect Jose Oubrerie was strolling through his friend Steven Holl’s landscape architecture park in Rhinebeck, New York, trying to find the ideal spot for the meditation pavilion that Holl had asked him to design.

“There were a lot of ponds there at that time of year, and we were swarmed and bitten by so many mosquitoes,” Oubrerie said.

Thus the name for the pavilion, the Chapel of the Mosquitoes, was born. Starting tonight at 5 p.m., Ohio State students can go see the model of this and two other buildings that Oubrerie, an international award-winning architect and professor emeritus of architecture at the Knowlton School of Architecture, has designed. The gallery will also consist of some of Oubrerie’s paintings.

Oubrerie was originally a full-time painter, but when sales were not going well, he said he decided to study architecture in Paris. That proved to be a pretty smart career move, as his designs have been featured and implemented around the world.

“When you conceive a design in your mind and then it becomes reality, it’s a fantastic feeling,” Oubrerie said.

Oubrerie is the last living protégé of the notable architect, Le Corbusier, according to  Curtis Roth, associate professor of architecture and manager of the Banvard Gallery in the Knowlton School. Roth described Corbusier as one of the most important architects of the 20th century.

While the buildings are Oubrerie’s own work, they are inspired by Corbusier’s precepts. The main focus of the exhibit is the design for the Chapel of the Mosquitoes, which combines elements of the other two buildings in the exhibit: the French Cultural Center built in Damascus, Syria, in 1972, and The Miller House, a private home built in Lexington, Kentucky, in 1991.

Unlike the other two buildings, which have already been built, the Chapel of the Mosquitoes is still in the planning and funding stages.  It will be about 12 feet tall and 12 feet wide, and it will feature one of Corbusier’s core precepts: detached walls, with three separate but interconnected L-shaped pieces that connect the roof, floor and walls, according to Oubrerie.

Oubrerie discussed the types of new materials that will be used in the construction of the building.

“We are experimenting with a very high-resistance concrete, which is using small pieces of metal which you mix when making concrete,” he said. “This allows the walls to be thinner. It is also cheaper.”

Oubrerie got inspiration for the building by the pueblos he saw in New Mexico. The roof will be inverted so that water can go into the building through a channel and then be sent out.

Oubrerie doesn’t know when construction will begin, but both the Steven Myron Holl Foundation and Knowlton are organizing funds for the construction of the building. For now, students can go see the proposed design in the Banvard Gallery.

The exhibit will be on display until Feb. 25.

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