Architect and MacArthur Fellow Jeanne Gang, FAIA, Int. FRIBA, is the founding principal of Studio Gang. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Chevalier de l’Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur, Jeanne is internationally renowned for a design process that foregrounds the relationships between individuals, communities, and environments. Her diverse body of work spans scales and typologies, expanding beyond architecture’s conventional boundaries to pursuits ranging from the development of stronger materials to fostering stronger communities.
This sketchbook came to The Center exhibiting normal wear and tear from use as well as pressure sensitive tape that had been placed along the spine. The book was surface cleaned and pressure sensitive tape was removed. Then, the abrasions and delamination on the covers were consolidated and areas of losses selectively retouched. Our Paper department added new spine linings and created a new outer spine from sympathetically toned paper. Two drawings with personal and architectural importance were digitally reproduced and archivally framed, and one will be exhibited in our booth at EXPO.
From Studio Gang, on Jeanne’s creative process:
Jeanne always has a sketchbook with her when she travels. This particular book includes many sketches of natural forms and structures, which show the range of her travels from the forests of the Appalachian Mountains to the volcanic islands of the Caribbean. Jeanne is frequently sketching to study the world around her and to record her impressions and ideas for future reference. She is particularly interested in nature and its intriguing processes, structures, forms, and patterns. For her, the act of sketching a found subject is critical to understanding how it works; to understanding the different relationships and connections between its constituent parts. Once you’ve gained this understanding, it becomes part of your well of inspiration that can be drawn from for future design projects.
In the early stages of design, Jeanne finds that sketching is an efficient way to test, iterate, and communicate design ideas. It focuses the mind and allows you to concentrate on discovering and articulating the heart of the idea. Both [of these drawings] capture the arresting evidence of growth and change at work in the natural world—revealing how Jeanne finds beauty in the dynamic processes of nature. The twisting maple is inspiring for its flowing lines; this spiraling form allows it to distribute water and nutrients more evenly around the tree to survive the stresses of its windy environment. The rock formation was shaped by the forces of wind and water to create a porous space that invites people to explore it; these geological processes informed Jeanne’s design for a new addition to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, which is currently under construction. They reveal how a keen attention to and appreciation of nature can be a powerful part of a contemporary architect’s practice. Importantly, this is not an idealized or picturesque version of nature—it’s a way of seeing in which aesthetic beauty and scientific understanding coexist.