UH Architecture Students Put Original Spin on Historic Design of Frederick Kiesler’s ‘Grotto For Meditation’

Inspired by nature and environment. Designed by famed architect and artist Frederick Kiesler (1890-1965). Re-imagined by architecture students at the University of Houston.

The fifth year students of the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture will showcase their digital fabrication project, Kiesler's "Grotto for Meditation" re-imagined, at 5 p.m., Friday, May 2 in the college Atrium.

Jane Blaffer Owen originally commissioned Kiesler to create the space in 1963 as a quiet and relaxing environment in the arts community of New Harmony, Ind. The meditation space featured abstract shell and dolphin forms. Widely considered one of Kiesler's masterworks, it was never built.

On display at UH will be the chronology of the semester project, students' designs and a seven-foot stainless steel prototype of the shell-shaped space. Students used digital fabrication technology to design their version of the Grotto, which eventually will be constructed next to the college. Digital fabrication refers to objects and prototypes designed and generated on computers using 3-D modeling software and computer aided manufacturing equipment.

"It is today's technology applied to Kiesler's concept and is very much in keeping with his idea," said lecturer Joe Meppelink. "Digital fabrication has allowed us to find a very unique solution for our re-imagined proposal for the Grotto project here on campus." The Grotto for Meditation will overlook a water garden that is already in construction.

Ben Nicholson, associate professor of architecture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and former UH architecture professor, has helped guide students through this project and will attend the exhibition. He has lectured and written extensively about Kiesler's "Grotto," and recently published a book, "New Harmony: The Hands Can't Do What the Mind Can't See."

Please contact Marisa Ramirez at 713-743-8152 or mrcannon@uh.edu for project images.

A blog of the students' work can be viewed at www.kieslergrotto.blogspot.com

For more information about the UH Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture, visit www.arch.uh.edu/


WHAT: Digital Fabrication Student Exhibition
WHEN: 5 - 7 p.m., Friday, May 2
WHERE: UH Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture, Atrium, first floor
For directions and parking information, visit www.uh.edu/campus_map/buildings/ARC.php.
WHO: Fifth year studio students