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Wolk Gallery exhibit spotlights Dieste

"Eladio Dieste: A Principled Builder," an exhibition of photographs by Yoshihiro Asada, is on view at the Wolk Gallery in the School of Architecture and Planning (Room 7-338) through Feb. 6.

Uruguayan engineer Eladio Dieste (1917-2000) embraced a little-known technique called reinforced ceramics--the use of reinforcing steel in brick vaults that performs much like those in reinforced concrete. Dieste invented structural types that he exploited with daring in long spans and cantilevers.

As a builder, innovations in construction were integral to Dieste's engineering insights. He built mostly humble structures like storage facilities, yet he raised these works to higher levels by covering large areas with apparently little support and the knowing use of light. Other qualities of his work--the proportions of the whole, the economy and elegance of materials, the detail of the parts--are the qualities of a fine architect, says Professor Stanford Anderson, the exhibition's curator.

Anderson, head of MIT's Department of Architecture, notes that Dieste's brilliant and innovative work was based not on conventional standards of construction but on "first principles" in physics. "It is physically possible to do what is unreasonable, but working from principles, one is not led to the unreasonable," said Anderson. "With Dieste, one enters upon brilliant work by a man of principle, revealing a process of designing and building that is also principled."

Yoshihiro Asada was born in Nara Prefecture, Japan, in 1964 and studied photography at the Osaka University of Arts. He lives in Tokyo, where he is a staff photographer for the architectural magazines Shinkenchiku and Jyutakutokushu.

The Wolk Gallery is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Tuesday evenings until 6:30 p.m. For more information, contact the MIT Museum's curator of architecture and design at 253-2825.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 5, 2003.

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