Architectural lecture by William Pedersen

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A good friend of mine invited me last minute to see an architectural lecture at the Dallas Museum of Art by the world-renown architect William Pedersen. The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas is one of my friend’s and mine favorite buildings in Dallas, and Pedersen designed it. Pedersen is one of the lead architects of the Hudson Yards Redevelopment Project in New York City, which he considers to be a project of a lifetime.

The presentation was memorable for me in that Pedersen had searched for a fundamental exercise in structural design equivalently analogous to musical scales. So, he showed photos of how he balanced random rocks on the beach as one such exercise. He walked us through some of the most important aspects of his creations, many of which won awards, emphasizing balance and motion. He considers the Rockefeller Center in New York as the greatest architectural achievement of all time because it balances nobility with humility. This is why the grander or larger the building, the simpler it must look. He also stated that it is very difficult to achieve simplicity because underneath it is very complex.

Afterward the lecture, everyone walked over the Federal Reserve building for a reception (marker B). There was airport-like security but nicer to get in. After we got our free drinks and viewed the exhibit, we actually got a chance to talk with Pedersen, where we commented that we comparing the Federal Reserve building to something mathematical, like Bach. My friend called it lyrical, but I disagreed and call it a stationary interval. I asked him whether he considered proportions of intervals found in the well-tempered scale. Although he was very intrigued with the question, he stated he did not consider that because he does not know anything about music theory and responded that everything plays off the golden mean. I tried to relate the intervals to which I was referring to physics rather than music theory. Interestingly, although it became time for him to go and someone started ushering him away, it was apparent he wanted to continue this conversation. The upside is that because Pedersen does not use harmonics or frequency proportions found in musical scales, I won a bet with my friend, so he had to pay for dinner.

Here are some photos I took of the Federal Reserve building back in October 2012 during the Klyde Park opening. Click on the images for full resolution.
Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas as seen from Klyde Park

Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas close up

Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas as seen down the street a block away

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