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Prague 20/20 | International Conference on Architecture and Urbanism

Fiona Mckay

5-8 October 2017

In conjunction with the International Region, the AIA Continental Europe chapter hosted Prague 20/20, an International Conference on Architecture and Urbanism. The conference was attended by members from all seven International Region chapters and a number of members from across the United States. The conference was attended by AIA UK members Lester Korzilius FAIA, Etain Fitzpatrick AIA, and Alex Miller AIA.

The opening session in the art nouveaux splendour of the Municipal House (Obecni Dum) featured opening remarks from the AIA 2017 President Thomas Vonier FAIA.

The three primary days of the conference featured lectures & seminars in the Czech Senate Building, Waldstein Palace. Historic overviews gave way to presentations about current urban development and onwards to the psychology of architecture. Prof Ing Arch Ladislav Labus, Hon FAIA, gave presentation on his work, having presented at the first AIA Continental Europe conference twenty years ago.

At the Saturday night gala dinner held in Lobokowicz Palace, Prague Castle, in grand formal rooms overlooking the city, the conference attendees celebrated the participants of the AIA International Region Design Awards. John McAslan + Partners received the Merit Award in Open International Architecture for the Bolshevik Factory; Moscow, Russia.

The conference attendees also welcomed the President of the newest chapter in the International Region, AIA Canada, Som Bose AIA. Thomas Vonier presented the AIA Canada charter.

All of the partipants greatly thanked both the numerous sponsors of the event, and the organizing efforts of Vincent Marani AIA in orchestrating the conference and sharing his wealth of experience in the city with everyone.

Walking tours including building tours on both Saturday & Sunday provided insight into the innovation and rich architectural experience of recently constructed projects in addition to the city’s historic grandeur.

Vincent Marani AIA, member of the European chapter since 1995, led tours of his own projects including The Park in Prague, a 190,000 m2 project, and Quadrio, a city center office project over the metro and tram station at Národní třída .

We visited an office building under construction designed by Ing. Arch. Stanislav Fiala who led the tour. Most of the attendees were highly impressed by the detailing and spatial considerations, the landscape design of the roof garden, and the arrangement on a complicated and historically sensitive infill site.

The closing party was held in the recording studio and blues club Doupe, dovetailing with the album launch of the Czech-American blues-rock band 333. The entire assemblage of participants from California, Texas, The Middle East, and across Europe were duly impressed and thoroughly appreciated the hospitality and the live music! The venue itself, a neighbourhood garage converted into an acoustically-sealed venue was itself an accomplishment. More than one architect was also impressed by the acoustic pass through beer fridge which enabled fresh Czech beer to be served inside from the nearby bar without causing acoustic disturbance to the neighborhood. The scale of the venue meant that everyone was in close proximity to the stage, with some members of the balcony seated with their feet dangling over. Throughout the weekend, at the various coffee breaks, meals, and events all of the participants had numerous opportunities to exchange ideas, spend time with old friends, and make new acquaintances.

Written by: Alex Miller, AIA

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