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Diana Agrest believes architecture is so much more than a marriage of form and function. For more than four decades, she’s been trying to get her students to believe that too.
She’s taught at some of the best schools in the country: Princeton, Yale, Columbia and now the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture at The Cooper Union in New York. Her students have gone on to win major honors, including a prestigious Pritzker Prize (Shigeru Ban) and a MacArthur “genius grant” (Liz Diller).
“It’s the closest thing to being a shrink,” says Agrest, reflecting on the career of an architecture professor. “Because you really have to penetrate — if you’re a good teacher — into what’s in the student’s mind that they may be able to see or not. Sometimes they can’t even see the potential of what they’re doing because they don’t know enough,” she says.
Born in Argentina, Agrest moved to New York in the early 1970s. She was part of a circle of young, visionary architects that included Frank Gehry, Rem Koolhaas and Aldo Rossi, before they were famous. Her husband, Mario Gandelsonas, is also an architect. Their firm has designed public parks, community centers, private homes and furniture. […]