(May 31, 1940 -Oct. 30, 2012). An American architect and artist known for his unconventional and experimental designs, Lebbeus Woods was born in Lansing, Michigan. He spent his formative years in Indianapolis where he attended Shortridge High School from 1953 to 1959. Woods subsequently went on to study engineering at Purdue University and architecture at the University of Illinois.

Woods began his career in the offices of Finnish American architect and industrial designer Eero Saarinen in New York as a field representative on the Ford Foundation building. In the late 1960s, Woods left New York temporarily to join the firm of Richardson, Severns, Scheeler & Associates in Champaign, Illinois, where he produced a number of paintings as part of their commission for the new Indianapolis Museum of Art.

By 1976, Woods turned exclusively to theory and experimental projects. Known for his imaginative and intricate but mainly unbuilt works, Woods had a significant impact on the field of architecture. He and his body-of-work are considered visionary. A central theme depicts a world wherein architecture is freed from the constraints of conventional thinking to explore new types of space. He considered his architecture neither utopian nor visionary but an attempt to approach reality under a radically different set of ideas and conditions. This approach to thinking about architecture lent itself well to the visual landscapes of science fiction cinema. Wood’s architectural designs were featured prominently in the films Alien 3 and 12 Monkeys.

In 1988, Woods cofounded the Research Institute for Experimental Architecture, located in Bern, Switzerland and devoted to the advancement of experimental architectural thought and practice. He was a recipient of the Chrysler Award in 1994 for Innovation in Design and his works are in public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Cooper–Hewitt National Design Museum; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art, Paris; the Austrian Museum of Applied Art, Vienna; the Carnegie Museum of Art, and the Getty Research Institute for the Arts and Humanities.

Woods was the author of nine books and a professor of architecture at the Cooper Union in New York City and at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland.

Revised June 2021

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