Cecil Balmond

  • Cecil Balmond’s project Sigma, 1994–. Rendering, 2014.


    CECIL BALMOND has made a career out of doing what he’s not supposed to. Trained as an engineer, Balmond has radically expanded the traditional role of that profession, building a reputation as one of the world’s leading structural designers. Over the past four decades, he has had a hand in shaping many of the world’s most significant buildings—working with renowned architects from James Stirling and Philip Johnson to Rem Koolhaas and Toyo Ito—and has collaborated on major public commissions with artists such as Anish Kapoor. The two constants underlying this extraordinary diversity of projects are Balmond’s unique spatial sensibility and his unparalleled mastery of new digital technologies, which are now the driving forces behind Balmond Studio. Founded in 2010, the firm pursues cutting-edge research in design and computation while producing commissions in both art and architecture. Artforum invited Balmond to speak with senior editor JULIAN ROSE about the genesis and trajectory of this sweeping—and continually surprising—body of work.

    JULIAN ROSE: It’s an unfortunate paradox in the history of modernism: Even as new technologies have become more important to the practice of both art and architecture, technical concerns tend to remain isolated—a set of concrete, real-world problems may need to be solved for a work to be realized, but they remain separate from that work’s more ineffable aesthetic or conceptual significance. You have been able to obviate such distinctions. Indeed, early in your career, you gained a reputation as an exceptionally innovative structural engineer, but in many ways you have always been an artist.