As one of the many fortunate beneficiaries of Panos Koulermos' passion for Architecture, I share this legacy with Architecture students at the National University of Singapore.
Panos taught us of the importance of lifelong education for an Architect and inspired a whole generation of Architects from Europe, Asia and America to live with passion and design with optimism in the spirit "Progressive Evolutionary Modernism".
I work in Singapore where many of Panos's students have settled to search for meaning and opportunity in Architecture.
In December of 1999 I had the privilege of spending five days in Lugano with Piera Koulermos and meeting Knut Luscher and some of Panos' other students and colleagues from the Accademia. This was a profoundly moving time for me which I am still assimilating. I assisted Piera to organize and catalog Panos' drawings, renderings, sketchbooks, books, notes and personal effects to prepare for donation to the library of the Accademia where the collection will be archived and eventually organized for publication, exhibition and other uses.
Panos was a prolific writer and a disciplined scholar and expert in the field of Italian and European Rationalist Architecture. Academy Editions published a monograph of his work in Greece and the US up to the late 1980's. His work is comprehensively published in A+U and Casabella. Once the complete collection has been archived and theoretical research is prepared a publication of his complete works together with an exhibition of his drawings, models, renderings and sketches will reveal the influence and brilliance of his work and its place in late 20th century architecture.
My appreciation to those who have created this website as a place to collect and communicate experiences and memories, I hope to keep in touch and be of assistance in the creation of the exhibition and publication.
The following are some notes made on the return journey in December 1999 which I meant to share with Panos' colleagues and friends.
I am just returning from Lugano where I have had the privilege of helping Piera Koulermos to assemble all of Panos' work to form an archive which will be kept by the Accademia De Architettura in Mendrisio, Switzerland.
Mine has been an inspiring journey through Panos' career spanning forty years and many countries. Panos' career as an architect consisted of three principal areas of achievment. First, his built works which are not numerous but are all significant, then his theoretical work, research, writings and self comissioned projects. And then of course there is that facet of his career which affects us most directly, as an educator and inspiration.
During my trip I met many of the people with whom Panos was most involved in the recent past, such as Botta, Galfetti, Nicola, Sylvia and of course Knut. The most difficult part of the trip for me was seeing the Accademia, which Panos founded three years ago and played a critical role in the development of the pedagogy. This new, exciting and potentially pivotal school of architecture was the seat of Panos’ vision although he continued to teach in Como and many other places. Things have fallen into place for Panos over the past few years, he made the choices and created this potential for himself. I regret Panos’ absence from the Accademia most because Panos is clearly essential to the success of this institution.
Before he died, Panos was very happy with his life, Chiu Man and I had the honor of an evening at home with Panos in August at which time he shared his excitement. Panos felt blessed, as we took and evening walk along Orchard Road, he shared plans & dreams. At that time, Panos was working on three large projects, his second department store in Taiwan, a museum in Greece and an infrastructure project in Milan.
Since Panos died, friends have gathered for memorials in Greece and Mendrisio, both of which I was not able to attend. Speaking with Knut I sensed a synergy among Panos’ students, associates and friends. It was immediately clear upon meeting Knut that we share a legacy of inspiration and passion for Architecture. A seed which for most of us was planted by Panos more than any one person we have encountered in our career.
The premature and untimely end of Panos’ life left a mountain of unfinished work, built, theoretical and most of all inspirational. Seeing all of Panos’ work, I observed many areas of research and writing which would be essential to the work in progress.
This webpage which I believe was assembled by Mark Gangi is the ideal tool for a forum amongst us all regarding Panos, his work and his legacy which in great part is our work.
As I told John Tong, Anthony and ChiuMan, Panos’ influence as an educator will be measured by our contributions to architecture, theory and education. Panos would say “looks great, draw it up”, When we lingered in “NDC” ( Non Developmental Complex). Its his way of pushing us to do something meaningful and not give into whatever influences we use as excuses for not giving 100%.
Maria Veronica Warner Wong
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