Step inside wild architecture

The Robert Hull Fleming Museum, on any ordinary weeknight, is found rather empty, with the exception of the few gallery guards preoccupied with homework, and eerily silent.Thursday night however, the galleries of the museum’s new exhibits were filled with unique furniture, models bigger than their builders and hundred of people. On Thursday, Sept 23, the Fleming Museum held its Fall Opening Reception.Hundreds of students, alumni and community members came to see the new exhibits, Architectural Improvisation: A History of Vermont’s Design/Build Movement 1964-1977, Buddha in Paradise: Tibetan Art from the Rubin Museum in New York, and Stooks, Stacks, and Sheaves: Agricultural Landscapes in America, 1850-present. The importance of the event could be seen just by the number of curators and guards patrolling the galleries.Cider, various food and refreshments were served, but nothing got by the gallery attendants.Identification was checked at the door. Pens were even confiscated due to danger to the exhibits, much to the frustration of certain writers. This was big.Perhaps the most popular exhibit was the unique and exciting Architectural Improvisation exhibit which follows the Design/Build movement from its beginning in Bahaus architecture to the extreme architectural experimentation that is displayed in the exhibition. David Sellers, a leader behind the Design/Build movement, and his colleagues happily shared their passion for architecture with museum patrons.Speaking to the abundance of guests sandwiched between an abundance of models, David Sellers asked of his audience, “Look to your left and right, and one of those people is involved with building these buildings.”This exhibit was the first recognition that the architects have received for their truly innovative ideas. Five Yale students came to Prickly Mountain of Warren, Vermont to build something completely new, and since the idea and the people involved have grown exponentially.Sellers explained that he began building with the idea that “If you can stand in a building you have a much better time of understanding it than looking at a picture.” This idea manifested itself into a number of houses, all with rather crazy and funky layouts that began construction without a design plan.Nearly fifty years later, most of the architects have their own offices in Vermont, Michael Levengood, an architect who began working with Sellers in 1977, explained.Working with Dr. Patch Adams, Sellers’ soaring angles and wacky designs have worked their way from West Virginia, to El Salvador and Peru in hospitals and clinics as part of their Global Outreach project.Descriptions do not do justice the astounding architecture that is showcased in this exhibit – the models need to be seen to be believed.