In the 1960’s and 1970’s, Friedrich St.Florian belonged to a group of young architects whose search for a new architecture was fueled by their fascination with new technologies and new materials. It was a euphoric moment in history when dreams and visions for a better future seemed justifiable. St.Florian’s intellectual curiosity soon shifted to the prospect of creating an architecture that is less physical and more ephemeral. The Imaginary Space installation at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm in 1969 brought him international recognition and an invitation to join the newly founded Center for Advanced Visual Studies at MIT. There, St.Florian continued his experiments with ephemeral space and designed a luminous bridge for the Charles River.
St.Florian’s winning design for the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC, the result of a national competition, is his most visible work to date. It adds an entirely new type to Washington’s unique memorial landscape. It celebrates the triumph of democracy in mid 20th century while enriching the lives of those who visit.
Though perhaps his most notable contribution to Providence and Rhode Island was his vision of a new Providence cityscape. Outlined on a napkin at a then popular Providence eatery, St.Florian along with fellow architects William Warner and Irving Haynes, laid out the plan to uncover the Providence River (then covered for parking lots and roadways) and move the train tracks (originally along Burnside Park) that made way for the creation of Providence Place Park and other new developments for the city.
Friedrich St.Florian continues his architectural practice to date. He has designed a number of unapologetic modern residencies and continues to participate in major urban design projects throughout the world. In addition to his practice, St.Florian has contributed significantly to the formation of two generations of aspiring architects during his forty two years as Professor of Architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design. He served as Dean of Architectural Studies for eight years and Chief Critic of the European Honors Program in Rome for four years. RISD’s architecture program flourished during his years of leadership. St.Florian has won numerous awards for his achievements in the field of architecture. His visionary drawings are in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Georges Pompidou Centre in Paris. He is a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome and a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects. Brown University bestowed upon him the degree of Doctor of Fine Arts, honoris causa in 2006.
Friedrich is part of the Designxri speaker series taking place on Thursday, September 23, 2015 from 6:00-8:00PM at the RISD Metcalf Auditorium at the Chase Center. Register here.