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Johnstonmarklee, USA

Johnstonmarklee, USA

This video was recorded at MAO Not More Not Less: Symposium on exploring the wiggle room of contemporary architectural practice. Mark Lee is an architect with fairly global roots. He was born in Hong-Kong, but was sent by his parents to the US at the age of 17 after it had been decided that Hong Kong would be given back to China. After receiving his architectural education at the University of Southern California and the Harvard Graduate School of Design, he moved to Zurich for 6 years to teach and format the famous foundational course (Grundkurs) of ETH's architecture school together with Marc Angelil. In 2004, he moved back to Los Angeles, to teach as assistant professor at UCLA and focus his design activities at Johnstonmarklee, the architectural office he had founded together with his partner Sharon Johnston in 1998. In the US-american scene, and the one in southern California in particular, Johnstonmarklee possess a peculiar position. Arguably disinterested in the digital formalism that has sprouted at the country's Ivy League universities since the mid 1990s, they try to resurrect the spirit of pragmatic experimenation of the post-war Californian Avantgarde. Johnstonmarklee believe that architectural research can not retreat into the protected realm of academia, but has to confront the often difficult conditions of actual building. With this rather "European" architectural ethics Johnstonmarklee have manged – as one of the few offices of their generation in the US – to build their projects internationally. After a series of realizations in the US, Johnstonmarklee have expanded the scope of their activities to Latin America, Asia, and Europe in particular. Currently they are realizing two cultural projects in Italy and an ambitious housing project in Geneva, Switzerland. In addition they are engaged in a number of building projects in Portugal involving the novel use of Cork as an exterior construction material. Since 2009, Mark Lee is teaching as visiting professor at the Technical University of Berlin.

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