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Venice Biennale – Airport Studio at NC State College of Design

Venice, ItalyCompletion 2018

For emerging designers, long-span structures, and airports in particular, present advanced programs that allow them to confront the complex challenges architects face. The airport typology is operationally and technically sophisticated and constantly evolving, creating ever new design challenges. As the single most important representation of the cities and people that they serve, airport design challenges designers to create a poetic idea of space that will leave a positive, lasting impression on the public.

Fentress Architects helped create this advanced graduate studio to provide students opportunities to imagine innovative solutions for future air travel, as well as how public space is served by the design of long span structures. The Studio has expanded the College’s offerings in scale and technology, while the airport typology provides students with experience in the integration of building art and science. They are also challenged to envision the typology 50 years into the future and to reimagine its potential as public space.

Since the airport’s inception as space for transit, the building type has evolved to accommodate civic and socially, culturally and publicly significant activity. In collaboration with NC State’s Wayne Place, PhD, Curtis Fentress, FAIA, RIBA serves as influencer and mentor to advocate for expanded thinking on the experience of transiting from one culture to another and the idea that airports are our incubators for globalization.

The studio’s exhibition, “Symposium on Airport Design,” was shown at the 2016 Venice Architectural Biennale. The Board of the European Cultural Centre subsequently selected NC State’s College of Design as recipient of the 2018 ECC Best Architecture University Award for its exhibit: Future Airports: Global Design Thinking. The award acknowledges the program’s contributions to research highlighting the significance of airport space and the value of the experiential journey.