Lecture by Elizabeth Whittaker

As the principal of MERGE Architects, Elizabeth Whittaker has been able to oversee buildings being brought to life from her own designs. In her keynote speech, Whittaker tackled the aspect of personal involvement and a hands-on approach in an individual’s project (extreme collaboration). Whittaker further intimates that this is a modus operandi that she has been able to fully implement in her firm since its founding in the year 2003 and her success can be attributed to this paradigm shift. The invention of construction of construction details and designs on site with craftsmen and artists creates an extreme collaboration as the invention process becomes collective. Additionally, she presented the notion that it is important to build a professional practice on learning from those people you work with on the site as it is always inventive where there are more voices of reason. Another important piece of professional advice was the creation of designs that get to the point quickly. Getting to the point would mean that the architect would not engage in the making of a fussy trim, but a clear design with clean lines that would also be economical. Designs were meant to create creative solutions to everyday problems of structure, site, timeline, budget and function.

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