Office of External Communications

Houston, TX 77204-5017 Fax: 713.743.8199

February 14, 2007

Contact: Marisa Ramirez
713.743.8152 (office)
713.204.9798 (cell)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Please visit for an image of the sculpture.


Ben Nicholson To Discuss the late Frederick Kiesler’s “Grotto”
Commissioned in 1963 by Jane Blaffer Owen

Frederick Kiesler is remembered as an architectural innovator, so it is appropriate that his work is finding new focus in the progressive art community of New Harmony, Ind. Former University of Houston professor Ben Nicholson will recreate a work from the late Kiesler, once thought to be lost, and will discuss this project during the lecture “Visions of Architecture in New Harmony.”

This free public lecture will be at 2:30 p.m., Monday, Feb.19 at the University of Houston Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture. Included in his discussion will be new plans to build Kiesler’s “Grotto for Meditation,” which was commissioned in 1963 by Jane Blaffer Owen.

“Ben Nicholson has a distinguished history of teaching here and I look forward to his return,” said Joe Mashburn, dean of the college of architecture. “We’re excited about his perspective on the future of New Harmony, but also about plans to construct Kiesler’s ‘Grotto.’ This will be a special treat for our students and faculty alike.”

A bronze sculpture of the work recently was rediscovered. The piece shows a dolphin and shell-shaped area (the “Grotto”) that creates a tranquil, meditative environment.

Nicholson previously taught at UH’s College of Architecture. He is the Simpson Visiting Professor at University of Edinburgh and associate professor of architecture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His design work includes Appliance House (1990) and Thinking the Unthinkable House (1997). His recent book, “New Harmony: The Hands Can’t Do What the Mind Can’t See,” addresses the energy and refuge of small town life.

The Kiesler model will be on display along with some of Kiesler’s drawings. Those items also will be included in an exhibition honoring Jane Blaffer Owen and the legacy of New Harmony opening April 1, 2007, in the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture gallery.

For more information on the UH Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture, visit

WHO: Architect Ben Nicholson
WHAT: Visions of Architecture in New Harmony
WHEN: 2:30 p.m., Monday, February 19
WHERE: College of Architecture Theater, first floor.
For directions and parking information, please visit

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