Speaker: Michael Webb
Michael Webb was born in Henley on Thames, England, in 1937. He studied architecture at the then Regent Street Polytechnic School of Architecture (now the University of Westminster) from 1953 to 1972, a somewhat lengthy student career compared with the five it is supposed to take; the result, he likes to think, not for want of talent but rather of a certain obtuseness of character. A project he designed during his fourth year at the Polytechnic found its way, due to a curious set of circumstances, into an exhibition at MOMA New York entitled ‘Visionary Architecture’ in 1961. The following year his thesis project for an entertainments centre in the middle of London repeatedly failed. Nevertheless it became widely published, and was featured in November 2009 at the ‘First Projects’ exhibition at the Architectural Association school of architecture in London.
In 1963, he was invited by Peter Cook to be part of an assortment of young architects who referred to themselves as the Archigram group, after the name of the magazine they started publishing. The Archigram boys, oft called the ‘Beatles of Architecture’, rebelled against what they saw as the failure of the architectural establishment in Britain to produce building reflecting the dynamic changes, both technological and social, the country was then undergoing. For the last seventeen years a large exhibition of the group’s work has been touring world capitals; and in 2006 the group was awarded the Gold Medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects.
He emigrated to the USA in 1965. He sees his raison d'etre as deriving from the drawings he has produced over the years: among these being drawings comprising the Temple Island Study, which resulted in an eponymous book published by the AA in 1987; and the Drive-in House series. He has had one man shows at the Cooper Union where he now teaches, Columbia University, the Storefront Gallery in NY, the Architecture League in NY, the University of Manitoba at Winnipeg and the Art Net Gallery in London. He was a fellow at the CCA in Montreal in 2010 and 11.