Akimichi Inaba has brought a lost architectural gem back to life. Last year, as a senior he designed a computer simulation of the Brown House, a 1930s estate built for the John Carter Brown family. Because the estate had burned down in the 1970s, access to one of the earliest U.S. examples of the International School of architecture had been destroyed. Inaba’s idea was to create a virtual “walk” through the Fisher’s Island, N.Y., house. The result of his efforts so impressed architectural historians that the computer simulation is now the cornerstone of an upcoming exhibit at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, U.C.L.A.’s Armand Hammer Museum, and the R.I.S.D. museum.
Inaba completed the project for a seminar given by Dietrich Neumann, chair of the architecture department. Neumann showed the work to John Carter Brown, heir to the estate; Jorges Silvetti, professor and chair of the Harvard Graduate School of Design; and Thomas Hines, former head of the National Gallery of Art and professor of architecture at U.C.L.A. The men decided to organize an entire exhibit around the Brown House; it will open at Harvard this winter.
This is not the first time Inaba has worked on high-profile projects with top architects. The summer after his junior year, he interned with Richard Roger, the architect of London’s Millennium Dome. “I basically begged for the job,” Inaba says.
After the Brown House exhibit finishes its run, Inaba plans to head to graduate school to study architecture (Columbia is his first choice). After graduate school, he says, it may be time for a break: “I may just want to travel around for a while without having anything tangible in mind. Sometimes life is better that way.”