Lecture Recap :: Eponymous Practice

Lecture Recap :: Eponymous Practice
Mark Klopfer and Kaki Martin of Klopfer Martin Design Group
October 12, 2011
By Karen L. Nelson, Acting Head, School of Architecture

We learned about the work and design thinking of Mark Klopfer and Kaki Martin, founding partners of Klopfer Martin Design Group. KMDG is a critical design practice that is particularly interested in exploring the seam between architecture and landscape in urban sites.

Their practice sustains a balance between the built and natural landscape – by respecting the needs of the site, the community and ecological practices with the needs of the client. You can see in their work how the body is fully welcomed into an experience of moving between outdoor and indoor spaces. They choreograph a sequence of rooms that are hinted at by a material change, a slight rise in the pavement, by sparsely planted trees and vegetation and by light.

Mark is an associate professor at Wentworth Institute of Technology and has taught at the BAC, the Graduate School of Design and Rhode Island School of Design. Kaki has taught at the Graduate School of Design and at the Rhode Island School of Design. They shared how their small design firm understands itself as a set of processes and relationships with each individual diagramming the firm’s flows and locations.

Their recent work is in Asia and North America has won recognition and awards. The Shanghai Bund project won first place in rounds 1 and 2 of an invited international competition for commission of project in 2007. Mark described a brief history of China to understand the historical and cultural setting of this work. KMDG wrestled with the construction norms in Shanghai but were delighted with the new public gatherings this landscape and infrastructural project engenders.

The Steel Yard won an honor award from the Boston Society of Landscape Architects for Reclamation and Resource Conservation in 2010 – and it also garnered an award from the Environmental Design Research Association in 2011. Both Klopfer and Martin articulated how the work is socially and materially sustainable and how they worked creatively and collaboratively with this client to create a tough, functional and open-ended space.

To see photos of this lecture, click here.