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Commencement Address: Steve Badanes, 2013
Steve Badanes is widely known for his practice and teaching of design/build. He is a founding member of the Jersey Devil design/build practice, and is currently a Professor in the University of Washington Department of Architecture, where he holds the Howard S. Wright Endowed Chair of the University of Washington College of Built Environments.
Badanes received his Bachelor of Arts from Wesleyan University in 1967, and his Master of Architecture (M.Arch.) from Princeton University in 1971. Seeking an alternative to conventional practice, Badanes and his partners Jim Adamson (who now also teaches a design/build course at the University of Miami) and John Ringel founded the Jersey Devil design/build firm in 1972. The firm has designed and built a wide variety of projects over the ensuing three decades. Their work has been the subject of two books, Jersey Devil Design/Build Book (1985) and Devil's Workshop: 25 Years of Jersey Devil Architecture (1997). Their work has also been featured in numerous articles in various professional and popular media.
Badanes has taught at various architecture and art schools since the 1980s. He has been on the Board of Directors of the Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Waitsfield, Vermont, since 1983, and regularly teaches there in the summer. He first taught at the University of Washington in 1988. In 1996, he accepted an appointment as a permanent member of the UW faculty and is the first to hold the Howard S. Wright Endowed Chair. He typically teaches a design/build studio every year in the spring. Badanes has conducted design/build workshops at the University of Technology in Helsinki, Auroville, India, the University of Oregon, the University of Miami, Atlantic Center for the Arts, McGill University, UNCC, Ball State University, the University of California at San Diego, Florida A&M University, Miami University in Ohio, North Dakota State University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Wisconsin. He is a frequent speaker at architecture schools across the United States and internationally.
The Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) honored Badanes with the ACSA Distinguished Professor Award in 2001-2.
2013 Commencement Speaker Steve Badanes did not prepare a speech, and spoke extemporaneously. Please see below for excepts from his address.
During his speech Mr. Badanes remarked, "OCAC is about learning to think with your hands--by making things, an increasingly rare and endangered experience in our amped-up, digital culture, where the work day is often spent staring at a screen, pushing that bar of soap around, answering emails, and talking on the phone. Our ancestors had a direct, hands-on relationship with everything in their lives, building their own homes, making their own clothes, growing their own food, and crafting things for a living. Artists and craftspeople are the guardians of this tradition, with roots in the origin of our species, and--as the world becomes more digital, virtual, and outsourced, people who make beautiful things with their hands will become even more valuable to society than they are already.”
He pointed out to the graduating students, “The painter Thomas Hart Benton famously said, 'The artist's life is the best life--if you can get through the first forty years.' It's not the easiest career choice, but most artists didn't really choose--most OCAC grads have been making things all their life, love working with their hands, and can't imagine life without doing it. The fact is, if you love something, you'll make it work--and the future of creative work lies in the hands of those who can make their own ideas.”
Following Commencement Mr. Badanes remarked, "The Commencement ceremony at OCAC was fabulous, with each graduate given the opportunity to say (or not say) something, emphasizing the individuality of the program. As someone who has spent a lifetime making things, both individually and with students, it was a huge honor to be asked to be the Commencement speaker!"