Remembering Malcolm Wells, FAIA

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As part of The Wetlands Institute’s 2016 Winter Lecture Series, AIA South Jersey President Bruce D. Turner, AIA was recently part of a retrospective and panel discussion at the Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor, NJ. The topic of the presentation was The Legacy of Malcolm Wells, FAIA: The Father of Gentle Architecture. The bulk of the presentation was made by professor and planner Rev. Wayne Conrad. Rev. Conrad was a friend and colleague of Mr. Wells and spoke both personally and professionally about his relationship with “Mac”. He specifically focussed on Mr. Wells’ early life and career, his office in Cherry Hill, his churches in Moorestown and Cherry Hill, and his earth-sheltered architecture in general, including Wells’ home in Cape Cod. Rev. Conrad further reflected on how Wells’ work was inspired by the beauty of nature, and a need for a more sustainable world.

Mr. Turner’s portion of the discussion aimed to put Mr. Wells’ work in the context of the overall architectural profession at the time Mr. Wells was working as well as the professional environment we experience today. That included observations about codes and regulations, standards of practice, legal and liability concerns, LEED, sustainability, energy efficiency, the 2030 Challenge and Cradle-to-Cradle ideologies. He also sought to draw parallels for the audience with architects and architecture which they might be familiar, or recently observed in the media, such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Fay Jones, Bjarke Ingels, and Alejandro Aravena.

A third member of the panel was Rev. Bob Williams. Rev. Williams reflected on his personal liturgical experience ministering from Wells’ St. Andrews United Methodist Church in Cherry Hill. This also included observations about the use of light, the use of natural materials, and the sense of proportion and scale present in these buildings.

For more information about Malcolm Wells, FAIA, please visit his website here. For more information about the Wetlands Institute and other programs and activities they offer, please visit the Wetlands Institute website here.

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