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The Committee on Design (COD) was founded to promote design excellence among members of the AIA, the broader design community, and the public at large, both nationally and internationally.

In April 2019, COD was in San Francisco for it's annual domestic conference. Check out the conference resources and the pictures!

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Architecture and the Nobel Prize for Physics

  • 1.  Architecture and the Nobel Prize for Physics

    Posted 10-03-2017 09:41

    This week's steady trickle of news about the Nobel Prize winners is soothing the soul amidst the barrage of disasters which can debilitate the most resilient mind. This year's Nobel crop with its many American awardees is good for the wounded soul of the country as well.Tuesday the prize for physics was announced. The recipients, Dr. Weiss, 85, Dr. Thorne, 77, and Dr. Barish, 81, were the architects and leaders of LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory, the instrument that detected the gravitational waves, and a sister organization the LIGO Scientific Collaboration of more than a thousand scientists who analyzed the data. 


    Last year, expecting the Nobel Prize in physics to go to the detection of gravitational waves, I wrote "Once in a while one has to lift the gaze from the alleys and streets and set the eyes higher for a bigger view. Why not as big as the entire universe?".  Indeed, this year the coveted Nobel in physics went to the three men who were architects. They became builders through a very large and very precises piece of architecture the LIGO.

    Last year I published a premature article about the connection between architecture and physics but then LIGO  didn't get the award. Still, the article elicited a comment from a very unexpected reader: David Shoemaker, the leader of the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory Project in the US and since named spokesperson for all gravitational science carried out in 15 countries wrote back to me: 

    Greetings - I read your nice article about LIGO (and the missed Nobel; ah well, next year maybe). I had a few details I wanted you to consider addressing in the attached marked-up PDF. Thanks for thinking of LIGO as Architecture! 
    David Shoemaker, Leader, Advanced LIGO

    I congratulated Shoemaker Tuesday morning and he wrote back "It is wonderful. thank you! David"

    Granted, the Nobel Prize for Physics awarded today has only a very tenuous connection to architecture and interdisciplinary collaboration but I will abuse physics and place an updated version of last year's article below in the hope this really big picture view can be an uplifting experience for you, the reader, as well.  

    Read the article



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    Nikolaus Philipsen FAIA
    Archplan Inc. Philipsen Architects
    Baltimore MD
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  • 2.  RE: Architecture and the Nobel Prize for Physics

    Posted 10-04-2017 17:30
    I applaud the  optimism that maintains a  faith in science and the  human mind.   I wish I didn't believe that  it is sadly misplaced.

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    Eugene Ely AIA Emeritus, LEED AP
    San Jose, CA
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