MacArthur winner Jeanne Gang talks about intellectual intensity, breath in her work

2 min read

For Jeanne Gang, who was just awarded one of the twenty-two $500,000 no-strings-attached MacArthur Fellowships, her time as a student and (last semester) as a studio critic at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design (GSD) has meant primarily an experience of  intellectual intensity and broadening. “My fellow students were the most important part of my life there for the way we exchanged ideas and engaged in rigorous debate. I also discovered that at Harvard there were always things outside the confines of the immediate architectural courses that could illuminate the architectural issues.”

In the spring of 2011, when she taught the “Center for Limnology: Divided Waters in Chicago” studio here, she was delighted to find that, after teaching, she could attend an evening lecture series, “Evolution Matters” at the Harvard Museum of Natural History. When in 1992 she was a student in a GSD seminar on feminism and architecture taught by Homa Fargardi, what most engaged her interest was the dialogue with guest speakers that were invited from outside the field. As Farjadi presented it, feminist thought posits the idea that insights are to be gained from looking at society from its margins, where fresh perspectives on the center can be gained. This idea was reinforced by her exposure to deconstructive and other forms of critical thinking in Michael Hays’ theory course.

With her fellowship money, she plans to increase this kind of intellectual expansion within her firm’s work, funding research on technology and materials, and collaborations with experts from other disciplines.