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Mark Burry has a unique perspective on the past and future of architectural design. He has worked on an enormous construction project that began over a century ago, Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia church, but he also works at the cutting edge of digital design and urban planning. Mark Burry is participating in the Architecture + Industry in the Future → of Cities session of “Foundations and Futures,” chaired by Kevin Klinger.

Burry is professor of urban futures on the Faculty of Architecture, Building, and Planning at the University of Melbourne, Australia. He previously served as professor of innovation and director of the Spatial Information Architecture Laboratory at RMIT University, Melbourne. Also at RMIT, Burry was founding director of the Design Research Institute. A New Zealander by birth, he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in architecture at Cambridge University in the UK.

Burry is best known as the senior architect and researcher at the Sagrada Familia basilica in Barcelona, Spain. Left unfinished at architect Antoni Gaudí’s death in 1926, the ornate Art Nouveau church is an ongoing construction project that demands exhaustive historical research as well as forward-thinking fabrication techniques. Burry has been substantially involved with this project since 1979 and published extensively on Gaudí, Sagrada Familia, and the computer-aided design that now facilitates the church’s construction. In recent books, Burry focuses on new developments in digital design, fabrication, and modelling for architecture.

Sagrada Familia looms large in his career, but it’s Burry’s expertise in fabrication and urban design that brings him to the Architecture + Industry in the Future → of Cities session of “Foundations and Futures.” As a professor of urban futures, Burry explains, “My role is to help consolidate research by drawing together and building upon urban analytics, urban visualization, and urban policy.” His research provides a foundation that architecture and industry of the future can build on.

Columbus is an example of how urban design can succeed. “Columbus has benefitted from the alignment of urban analytics, visualization, and policy in the past, which is how it has arrived as a model of design today,” Burry said. Columbus was molded by constructive collaboration between private patrons like the Millers, the Bartholomew County government, and the myriad architects and designers who have worked in the town. Burry hopes that the Architecture + Industry in the Future → of Cities session will revitalize this spirit of intense collaboration between the stakeholders of Columbus. “Columbus has the potential to learn from and build on its history of design,” Burry said.

Exhibit Columbus has a multi-faceted purpose: to reflect on Columbus’ history and celebrate its success, and also to explore the future of design. The goal of the Architecture + Industry in the Future → of Cities session is not simply to speculate on the future, but to initiate dialogue between industry leaders, designers, and citizens about changing cities. Mark Burry’s work in historical research, new fabrication technologies, and urban futures make him an important voice in that dialogue.