Montana State University

Multidisciplinary symposium exploring life in North Rockies set Oct. 11-12 at MSU

October 2, 2013 -- MSU News Service

"A Critical Rediscovery of the Northern Rockies" iset Oct. 11-12 at MSU will feature presentations by architects, anthropologists, artists, geographers, historians, film makers and musicians -- all focusing on "Where do we live, what is our region today?" and how the Northern Rockies informs research and creative work. Art courtesy of Barry Newton.   High-Res Available

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A two-day multidisciplinary symposium that explores the Northern Rockies today and why we live here will be held Oct. 11-12 at Montana State University.

"A Critical Rediscovery of the Northern Rockies" includes presentations by architects, anthropologists, artists, geographers, historians, film makers and musicians all focusing on "Where do we live, what is our region today?" and how the Northern Rockies informs  research and creative work. 

Architect Barry Newton of the MSU School of Architecture said a discussion about regionalism in his profession and questions about how other disciplines saw the issue launched the idea for the symposium.

"The issue of regionalism has been a big issue in architecture for a long time," Newton said. "For instance, you would not build the same office building in Alaska as you would in Atlanta. We thought other people might be interested in the issue of regionalism, too."

When the school asked for proposals on a critical look at the Northern Rockies, "we got an interesting array of things back," he said.

The symposium kicks off at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11, with a keynote lecture by Vincent B. Canizaro, chair of the Department of Architecture in the University of Texas at San Antonio College of Architecture, who will speak on "Regionalism + Realism"  in room 339 of Leon Johnson Hall. A reception will follow. Canizaro is a specialist in architectural theory with a focus on regionalism and environmental architecture and sustainability. A published author, his anthology "Architectural Regionalism: Collected Writings on Place, Identity, Modernity and Tradition," was awarded the 2008 UTSA President's Distinguished Achievement Award for Creative Production.

Saturday, Oct. 12, features three sets of panels and discussions, also organized across disciplines.

The first session, "Design and Landscape," is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. in rooms 223 and 235 of the MSU SUB. Presentations and members of the panel include "Beyond the Last Best Place," by Sean Burkholder and Bradford Watson, faculty of the MSU School of Architecture; "Through the American Spirit: Exploring the Cultural Significance of Modifications to the Watercourse of the American River" by Micaela M. Young, a member of the MSU staff; "Eastern Montana Modern" by Jeff Kanning of Collaborative Design Architects; and "Infrastructure of Place" by Bradford Watson.

"Settlements and Rituals" will follow at 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in SUB 223 and 235. Presenters and panel members include Bruce Wrightsman, professor of architecture at Kansas State University, who will speak on "Realities Versus Aspirations of U.S. Forest Service Design." A former MSU architecture professor, Wrightsman led the MSU student design studio that designed and built the award-winning Hyalite Pavilion at Hyalite Reservoir. That will be followed by a presentation about "The Burning Man: The Performative Space of the Black Rock Desert" by Thomas Sullivan of the University of Montana Department of Geography.  Ivy Merriot of MSU American Studies will speak on "Stars Over the Big Horn Medicine Wheel."

The symposium will also feature two art exhibits that will be featured from 1:30-2 p.m.  "Wild clay and field paper" will be exhibited in the Exit Gallery in the SUB.  "Taking Stock: a Morphology," a study of historic architecture buildings in Gallatin County by  Maire O'Neill, MSU architecture professor, will be on display in the Lower Gallery of Cheever Hall throughout the symposium.

Presentations and a panel discussion of "Images and Sounds" are scheduled from 2-4 p.m. in Reynolds Recital Hall, located in Haynes Hall on the MSU campus. Angie Keesee, an architect and former adjunct professor who is studying for a doctorate in American Studies, will present "The Rockies Stop Here: The Visual Rhetoric of Place in Postcards." Designers Zach George and Paul Gorsuch will present their display of manipulated photos from the Museum of the Rockies collection in "Redesigning the Rockies." Amy McDonald, founder and director of Brolly Arts in Utah, will present a myriad of photos of Utah shot from a car window and linked together to document the state's varied landscape in "Inland/Outland Utah." The photos are presented with original music. MSU architecture professor Maire O'Neill will present "Transitory Constructs - (r)evolution in the Northern Rockies," a study of agricultural buildings in the Northern Rockies around the turn of the century.

Canizaro will lead a wrap-up discussion at 4 p.m. in Reynolds Recital Hall.

Newton said organizers were so pleased with the breadth of the submissions that they plan to host a similar symposium in the future.

For more information about "A Critical Rediscovery of the Northern Rockies," go to

"A Critical Rediscovery of the Northern Rockies" is presented by the MSU College of Arts and Architecture and the MSU School of Architecture.


Barry Newton (406) 994-6534,