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Tokyo International Forum

©Philippe Magnon

Tokyo International Forum, 1989

Neil Denari
  • Architect (1957)

Revealed in 1989 with his project for the Tokyo International Forum, Neil M. Denari is one of the main representatives of what is sometimes referred to as “machine architecture” or “high tech.” A sort of poetry of tempered steel can be read in the architect’s projects, which draws its sources from new procecess of industrial fabrication and new materials: metallic skins, glass surfaces, exposed structural frames, ramps, complex organisation, etc. All these elements are characteristic of the vocabulary Denari uses in his projects, which often involve very restrictive programs. For the HL 23 (New York, 2010 – in progress), his answer for the narrow construction site  was to design a building that widens as it rises, overhanging High Line Park. The homogeneous quality of the metal and glass skin contrasts with the heterogeneous quality of the layout of each apartment. Influenced by situationism and thinkers such as Heidegger, Baudrillard and Virilio, Denari also develops a more in-depth line of thought around the image. His drawings, which were first done by hand and are now assisted by computer, convey the paradoxically expressionistic coldness of the machine. Their surealistic strangeness is rendered even more mysterious by the fact that they emerge from millimetric rigour, objectivity and ultimately the hyperrealism of the image.

Following his studies in architecture at the University of Houston (1980) and at Harvard (1982), Neil M. Denari (Fort Worth, 1957) worked in Paris in the graphics department of Aérospatiale, in the helicopter section. In 1983 he settled in New York and joined the firm of James Stewart Polshek and Partners. In 1988, he founded Co-Tex Architecture in Los Angeles, which later became Neil M. Denari Architects (NMDA). The author of several books (Interrupted Projections, 1996; Gyroscopic Horizons, 1999), he has also had many teaching assignments (UCLA, Columbia University, Princeton University) and has been a guest professor at Harvard GSD since 2010. Today, Denari has numerous projects that have been built around the world, notably in Japan, where he designed several projects for Mitsubishi (MTFG, 2004-2007).