Lecture by Ben Jacks


The author of a new book about traveling, architectural sightseeing, perception and learning will speak Friday, March 27, at Iowa State University.

Ben Jacks, a designer, architect, writer and educator, will present “The Architect’s Tour: Notes for the Design Traveler” at 4:30 p.m. Friday, March 27, in room 130 College of Design.

An exhibition of 26 large-scale photographs selected from his book of the same title, published by Culicidae Architectural Press, will be on display March 27 through April 9 in Gallery 181-1, first floor of the College of Design building.

In his lecture Jacks will discuss the photographs, the impetus behind the book and the importance for the aspiring designer of seeking first-hand encounters with good design.

“Traveling to learn is an integral part of the education of student architects and designers. It is vital for designers to know how to be effective design travelers, to know how to seek out and encounter places, buildings and objects, and to develop a capacity for looking, drawing, and above all, discerning,” Jacks writes in the book’s preface. “But to be a student is only to be ‘one who is studying,’ which means all of us who, if we are truly alive, delight in the application of the mind to the acquisition of knowledge.”

“Based on [Jacks’] philosophy, traveling is essential to design students’ developing skills, and the exhibition and lecture underscore both the pleasure of traveling and the art of finding places worth traveling to while showing his aesthetic skills as a photographer,” said Mikesch Muecke, associate professor of architecture, who organized Jacks’ visit. Sponsored by the ISU Department of Architecture, the exhibition and talk are free and open to the public.

Jacks holds degrees from the University of Chicago, the University of Pennsylvania and the Stonecoast Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing at the University of Southern Maine. When not studying buildings and making photographs, he teaches at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, including courses in beginning design, human behavior, design detailing and understanding architecture through drawing.

In 1991 Jacks walked 2,000 miles of the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to his home in Maine. This half-year experience of walking and living outdoors inspired and continues to inform his thinking and writing about architecture, aesthetics, landscape and place, which has been published in Journal of Architectural Education, Places and Landscape Journal.

As a designer, Jacks focuses on detail and craft, seeking to develop the potentially rich and intimate relationship between landscape, building, dwelling and interior. He currently is at work designing and building a family home meant to last: a flexible-family, aging-in-place, aspiring LEED Platinum, net-zero, Passive House in Cincinnati.