Walter Zesk

From Santa Fe Institute Events Wiki


1. What are your main interests?

I am in the final year of the M.Arch. (Masters of architecture) program at the Rhode Island School of Design. My interest in the study of complex and chaotic systems first emerged as an undergrad at Wesleyan University where I studied philosophy and art. To a philosophy student, the synthetic potential of chemical and biological systems seemed to have significant implications for the major questions of being, progress and intention.

In my thesis as an undergrad I designed a system of floating architecture for boat-dwelling communities in Southeast Asia that could adapt to a variety of uses and mesh with local social customs tied to boat building. After graduation I pursued this interest by working as a boat builder and living on a small sailboat for three years until returning to school at RISD.

At RISD, I am continuing to explore the same interests and develop architecture that is as flexible, dynamic and resilient as the social and ecological systems it is inserted into. I also hope to localize the architecture's effect on its surroundings. The hope is that if people have to look at their trash out the window they will make less trash.

2. What sorts of expertise can you bring to the group?

I am interested to see what types of projects will arise and what skill types could be of use. I have worked as a boat builder and have studied urban planning, philosophy, drawing and structural engineering.

3. What do you hope to get out of the CSSS?

Tools associated with complex systems are increasingly coming into vogue in architecture. Often, however, they are applied superficially or only to specific parts of the design process. I am interested in learning/developing modeling tools that do not discriminate between social, structural or environmental systems and enable the development of architecture that responds to each in kind.