Proof: The Theme Year Lecture


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PennDesign is pleased to announce "PROOF: The Theme Year Lecture," a conversation between Mariana Ibañez, Associate Professor of Architecture at Harvard GSD, Simon Kim, Assistant Professor of Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design, and Skylar Tibbits, 2012 TED Senior Fellow. 

Proof is the manner in which an apparatus or method delivers, within a bound set of criteria, outcomes and results that are considered axiomatic. As designers, we have access to this model by applying our own disciplinary knowledge-building. We have as our means the same inquiry and criticality as the sciences, but we also have a responsibility to find application in the production of architecture. For a higher-level discourse on proof in design, we offer the method of Design as Research, situated in the device of Prototype. This format is useful as it requires a procedure of establishing theory only with a full-scale embodiment: knowledge and craft. We will discuss how we make inquiries, establish procedures, and validate in new objects of architecture.

Led by the Office of the Provost, the “Year of Proof” encourages University of Pennsylvania faculty, staff, and students to explore the idea of proof through interdisciplinary conferences, symposia, exhibits, and performances, where proof is fundamental, a core mission shared among virtually all areas of inquiry. For more information, visit


Mariana Ibañez and Simon Kim are the principals of the research and experimental architecture and design office of IK Studio, where architecture is considered an active environment, and open to new media with its social and cultural implications. The office was opened in London, England in where the partners met at the Architectural Association and worked for Zaha Hadid, Frank Gehry, and Cecil Balmond. They relocated to Cambridge where Mariana took the position of assistant professor at Harvard, and Simon became a researcher at MIT. As institutional-level researchers and scholars at Harvard and UPenn, with articles in the field of robotics, multi-agent systems, and architecture, Mariana and Simon teach and work in a laboratory environment that opens itself to collaborations. The Immersive Kinematics research group at PennDesign is a unique amalgam of the school of design and engineering where architects, landscape architects and product designers work with roboticists, computer scientists, and mechanical engineers.

Within their own practice, Mariana and Simon have worked in the domains of architecture, urbanism, theatre arts, wearable computing and interaction with the premise of finding new overlaps to the discipline of architecture. Most recently they have been working in the medium of video and performance. These projects have been presented at Milan Fashion Week, the Museum of Science in Boston, the National Art Museum of China, and the MoMA.

Skylar Tibbits is a trained Architect and Computer Scientist whose research focuses on developing self-assembly technologies for large-scale structures in our physical environment. Skylar was recently awarded a a 2012 TED Senior Fellowship, a 2011 TED Fellowship and was named a Revolutionary Mind in SEED Magazine’s 2008 Design Issue. Previously, he has worked at a number of design offices including: Zaha Hadid Architects, Asymptote Architecture, SKIII Space Variations and Point b Design. He has designed, collaborated and built large-scale installations around the world and exhibited at; The Guggenheim Museum NY, the Beijing Biennale and lectured at MoMA and SEED Media Group's MIND08 Conference.  Skylar currently is the founder and principal of a multidisciplinary research based practice, SJET LLC and is a lecturer in MIT’s Department of Architecture, teaching Masters and Undergraduate level Design Studios and co-teaching How to Make (Almost) Anything at MIT’s Media Lab.