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The annual Ratensky Lecture was founded by the AIANY Housing Committee in honor of Samuel Ratensky (1910-1972), an architect and housing official who was responsible for major city initiatives from 1946 to 1972 and who served as a mentor to many architects. The lecture series honors individuals who, like Ratensky, have made significant contributions to the advancement of housing and community design.

This year, the AIANY Housing Committee will honor 2021 Pritzker Prize laureates Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal, as well as Frédéric Druot. The architects will discuss their transformative “never demolish” approach to social housing, which instead focuses on designing from within to maximize space and prioritize the needs of residents.

Since the late 1980s, the offices of Lacaton & Vassal and Frédéric Druot Architecture have redefined the possibilities of social housing, sustainability, and community agency. Simultaneously sparing and transformative, their work adapts existing structures to meet the needs of contemporary urban communities. As Lacaton and Vassal’s Pritzker Prize biography notes, they have “vowed to never demolish what could be redeemed and instead, make sustainable what already exists, thereby extending through addition, respecting the luxury of simplicity.”

Recent projects include:

  • Cité du Grand Parc, the transformation of three fully occupied modernist social housing buildings in Bordeaux, adding gardens and balconies to each unit.
  • Tour Bois le Prêtre, the renovation and extension of a 1960s social housing tower, designed in collaboration with current residents.
  • PLUS Paris, a study of 1,648 sites in Paris with the potential to add 135,000 new housing units without demolition or resident relocation.

This lecture is organized in partnership with the Architectural League of New York’s “Current Work” Series and with Cooper Union, and with the support of Villa Albertine, in partnership with the French Embassy in the United States.

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