TABLE OF CONTENTS

CODE BREAKER

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.

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

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. And so your work with architects has been characterized by intense partnerships that are closer to coauthorship than the typical structure of an engineer working for, rather than with, an architect; you have also designed architectural projects independently and, more recently, extended

Sign-in to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the October 2014 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.