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MtDA students learn from William J. R. Curtis

Javier Caballero Canal, student of Master's Degree University in Architectural Theory and design (MtDA), shares his academic experience with William Curtis, British architectural historian, critic, sculptor, painter and photographer.

"William J. R. Curtis, British architectural historian, critic, sculptor, painter and photographer, was my teacher. Many claim that he is the most important modern architectural history critic of our time. He has a large collection of written work consisting of more than ten books, including: 'Le Corbusier: Ideas and Forms', 1986; and 'Modern Architecture since 1900', published in 1982, which is considered an essential book for understanding modern architecture.

William has traveled the world seeing architecture, meeting architects and lecturing on various topics of modern architecture. With this curriculum anyone would like to go to one of his lectures and, along with my classmates of Master's Degree in Theory and design Architectural, I was fortunate to have him as a teacher. For two weeks, from Monday to Thursday, 13 of us were able to listen and talk with William J. R. Curtis on various topics that he prepared for us. In these classes, he not only taught us about modern architecture and its influence on people's lives, but also told us anecdotes that he had lived with great architects such as Frank Gehry and Alvaro Siza, among others, and even with architects from the American continent such as Rogelio Salmona or Teodoro González de León, who are or were great friends of William.

On two occasions, we also visited architectural projects. First, we went to the sanctuary of Aránzazu, located in the Gipuzkoan municipality of Oñate, in the Basque Country, two hours from the University. This sanctuary was designed by Spanish architects Francisco Javier Sáenz de Oiza and Luis Laorga, with sculptures by Jorge Oteiza such as the 14 apostles on the façade. It was William's first time visiting the shrine, as were we. It was very enriching for all of us, because we witnessed how William analyzed and criticized an architectural work he was seeing for the first time, and we were able to appreciate his knowledge. 

The second visit was to the Jorge Oteiza Museum Foundation, designed by Francisco Javier Sáenz de Oiza, where a large part of Jorge Oteiza's sculptural work is sample . As in the first visit, we analyzed the architectural work and the sculptures together with William, having as reference letter the classes, conversations and the first visit that we made with him to Aránzazu. 

Anyone can not say that William J. R. Curtis gave him class, much less that he analyzed and visited with him architectural works. Besides being a great teacher and professional, I can say that he is a great person. I am sure that what we lived with William is an experience that we will never forget. We take a lot with us, to be able to listen to him, to learn from what he has studied, from his experience and his stories with architects we admire is something we can boast about. William J. R. Curtis was my teacher. This experience I will tell with great joy to many."

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