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Ferrari symposium scheduled

By Julie Kane

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 25 - March 28, 1996

To honor the late Olivio Ferrari, an internationally renowned educator in architecture, and mark the establishment of a new program in industrial design, the College of Architecture and Urban Studies will present the Olivio Ferrari Symposium: Architecture and Industrial Design, from April 11-13.

The event will feature an exhibit of Ferrari's work, various presentations by alumni, and a keynote address by Spencer de Grey, a design partner of the firm Sir Norman Foster and Partners, based in London, with offices throughout the world.

Another element of the symposium is a book featuring statements, anecdotes, testimonials, and essays from students and colleagues that reference their experiences with Ferrari. An image from the Ferrari exhibition will accompany each writing.

"Therefore," said Robert Dunay, associate dean in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, "this work serves as a catalog of things he made and an homage of texts he made possible during a life dedicated to education. Over 100 people have contributed their time and words to this portfolio," he said, "and many more are coming to the symposium. This is a clear sign of Professor Ferrari's power as an educator. A number of presentations will be made by alumni, many of Ferrari's students, which will show the diversity and range of the college's graduates," he said.

Subtitled "Architecture and Industrial Design," the symposium focuses on the realization of Ferrari's goal to develop a curriculum that would link design and industry. Ferrari, a graduate of architecture at the Hochsule fur Gestaltung in Ulm, Germany, was responsible for the modernization of the architecture department at Virginia Tech in the 1960s and for developing the college's Study Abroad Program.

According to Dunay, "Olivio Ferrari believed that design cut across all professions. There is an undeveloped potential of design need between architecture and industrial design," he said. "The aim of this symposium is to define the interface between the two disciplines. The college's Industrial Design Program is the only one in the state which could provide a pool of graduates to feed the development of industrial products through product design," he said. "As an economic incentive, the program could enhance product development and expand a company's potential research base."

During his 30-year career as an educator, Ferrari taught or influenced many of the lives of 3,000 architecture graduates and nearly everyone else he met. In 1968, he created the "Inner College," a program for a limited number of students who were at different levels and disciplines. This experimental educational unit provided students access to a community of faculty members from the college and beyond.

"In his three decades as an educator, he sent students all over the world, charged with an intellectual curiosity and the professional challenge of architecture to provide meaningful environments," Dunay said. "Almost 1,000 students have had the opportunity to study in Europe in the Study Abroad Program founded by Professor Ferrari. In his last major effort, he helped create and was named director of the Virginia Tech European Studies Center in Riva San Vitale, Switzerland, where a forum of educators and students could come together in study and dialog about the whole of life. This symposium gives us the opportunity to reflect on our heritage and discuss the school's potential for the future," Dunay said.

To register or for more information about the symposium, please contact Ellen Braaten, director of student services and alumni relations, at 1-5080; fax 1-9938; e-mail address: ebraaten@vt.edu.