Virtual Bricks

By Kari Molvar '00 / January / February 2005
May 3rd, 2007

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.”

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January / February 2005