Félix Candela: Builder, Engineer, Structural Artist


Félix Candela, <em>Detail of Bacardi Rum Factory,</em>1960.

Félix Candela, Detail of Bacardi Rum Factory, 1960.

Félix Candela: Engineer, Builder, Structural Artist, is an exhibition devoted to the work of Spanish-born master builder and structural artist Félix Candela (1910-1997). Recognized as one of the great structural artists of the twentieth century, Candela designed and built innovative thin shell concrete roof structures, mostly in Mexico, using the hyperbolic paraboloid geometric form (hypar).

In 1939 Felix Candela was exiled from Spain to Mexico, where he established a construction company and became famous for his thin shell concrete structures. A trained architect, he studied advanced structural engineering on his own, and by the 1950s he had become one of the great structural engineers of the twentieth century. The exhibition examines Candela’s process of design and construction through several of his most significant works: the Cosmic Rays Laboratory, his first hyperbolic paraboloid shell; and his self-identified favorites–Los Manantiales Restaurant, Chapel Lomas de Cuernavaca, Bacardí Rum Factory, and Church of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. From renderings and structural models to construction and completed functional buildings, the exhibition demystifies the discipline of engineering.

Also on view are animations of the development of the structures, original design drawings, carefully crafted scale models of buildings under construction and after completion designed and built by Princeton University graduate and undergraduate students, photographs, and a slide show. Visitors will be able to see evidence of the thinness of the shells, imprints of straight-line form boards that hint at the construction process and elegance of shape. Candela’s personal notebooks and sketchpads will provide insight into his education, the traditions that helped develop his ideas, and how he thought about his designs and their more profound meaning.

This exhibition was curated by Maria E. Moreyra Garlock, Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and David P. Billington, Gordon Y. S. Wu Professor of Engineering, both of Princeton University. The exhibition was organized by the Princeton University Art Museum and the Princeton University Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

To read more about this exhibit and Félix Candela visit Princeton's website.


The Félix Candela: Engineer, Builder, Structural Artist show was shown April 2 - September 27, 2009.


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