SITE (James Wines)

Architect (1932)

In the 1960s James Wines, whose work is close to that of radical architects and to Land Art, begins research on architecture and its relationship with its surrounding space, opening the way to interactions between art, technology and nature. Like Frederick Law Olmsted, Franck Lloyd Wright and especially Frederick Kiesler, he envisages both architecture and landscape as part of the same continuum, the environment itself becoming the very material of architecture, which is then seen from the outside in. From 1971 to 1984, he designs and builds several projects for the BEST retail chain, including Indeterminate Facade in Houston (1975). During this same period, in his High-Rise of Homes project (1981) he implements a radically innovative concept involving the integration of nature in architecture. Though highly concerned with ecological issues, Wines refuses to abandon architecture for an austere technicism. To the contrary, he emphasizes the necessary link between a sustainable conception of architecture and its aesthetic dimension, determined by its interaction with the context, as technical and ecological as cultural and social. He thus advocates “prosthetic creation,” i.e. architecture that requires the physical and perceptive participation of the public to achieve its full potential as a work of art. For Wines, it is the architects’ responsibility to propose new paradigms reflecting their times, characterized by information technology and ecology, reconciling the former (television, computer technology, internet, media, popular culture, etc.) with the latter (biochemistry, topography, botany, geology, etc.)

Having been trained as a sculptor, James Wines (1932) gained recognition in the early 1970s through the work of his New York firm SITE (“Sculpture In The Environment”), thanks to spectacular projects such as Inside/Outside Building in Milwaukee (1984), Avenue Number Five and the Saudi Arabian Pavilion for the Seville World Fair (1992). The teaching he has been delivering since 1963 in many institutions around the globe has greatly contributed to the promotion of environmental design in the field of architecture. Both a critic and theoretician of architecture, James Wines published his book, Green Architecture, which traces the history of the relationship between architecture and ecology, in 2000.

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