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Global architect Gregg Pasquarelli teaches IE students the power of risk taking and innovation


Our Guest Critic discusses the essential principles on the evolution of an architect.

gregg_pasquarelliMadrid, February 24th 2017. Gregg Pasquarelli, one of the founding architects of SHoP Architects and a Guest Critic of the IE School of Architecture and Design, gave an ‘inspirational lecture’ to the students of the IE Master in Architectural Management and Design on February 24, centered on the importance of risk taking and innovation on the evolution of an architect. These principles, in his view, seem more abstract than attainable, and yet it is essential in the growth and prosperity of any company.

SHoP, founded twenty years ago, consolidated the importance of their company with the Porter House in New York. In this particular project, team was forced to come up with an innovative and money-saving design for the façade. They ended up creating a custom fabricated zinc panel façade, where no two pieces were the same. Being one of the first projects of this new firm, their relative inexperience provided them with the increased creativity needed to bring a new edge to this project.

Pasquarelli emphasized that beauty and construction (how is something made, produced, created) are the drivers of what he does. It became increasingly evident throughout the talk that the firm puts increased emphasis on pushing the limits of what has already been done as well as integrating their designs into the local landscape, to produce a one of a kind construction.

A perfect example of this would be the Botswana Innovation Hub. This project integrates the natural landscape of dunes and deltas of Gaborone (Botswana) directly into its structure, as well as integrating the use of local wood weaved in local designs into the walls. The way the building blends into its surroundings as well as integrating the latest green technology available and taking into consideration factors such as shading from the sun or the collection of rain water, prove the innovative thinking and attention to detail that characterizes this architectural firm.

In his lecture, Pasquarelli also spoke about the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. The project has resulted in one of the most iconic stadiums in the United States, one that provided challenges from the beginning, due to the need to adapt an existing project and complete the building in record time. The arena integrates the New York City metro directly into the building and lets the outside flow into the arena by creating a welcoming public space in front and a grandiose entrance. It brought together his emphasis on beauty and design with the integration of each building into their specific landscape.

SHoP Architects has been named the world’s most innovative firm of 2014 by Fast Company. Innovation is a value shared by IE, and one that is emphasized inside and outside the classroom.