Brattleboro Lecture Series

Midwinter Lectures: January 2018

Nature and Artifice

Presented by Donald Sherefkin

“The shape of Architecture is the shape of the earth as it is modified by the structures of mankind. Out of that relationship, human beings fashion an environment for themselves, a space to live in, suggested by their patterns of life and constructed around whatever symbols of reality seem important to them.”
-Vincent Scully
Architecture: The Natural and the Manmade

Because architecture seeks to establish a degree of permanence in the world, it is, by definition, not natural, a work of human artifice. But our structures are very much of the earth, and the history of architecture is a record of the manifold ways in which cultures have understood, and responded to, their relationship to nature.

January 22. 1:00-3:00 pm. Shaping the Earth, Planting the Garden

From ancient burial mounds to contemporary earthworks. We mimic the mountains, carve spaces out of the rock, and scratch enormous geometric figures onto the surface of the earth. Agriculture has spurred much of the human activity of creating a second nature. The cultivated garden provides a model of an idealized nature.

January 29. 1:00-3:00 pm. Orienting to the Sky

Overhead, the sun, the stars, and the planets provide important references for orienting and organizing our world through the marking of rituals and seasonal events. Our sun is essential to life, and a central determinant in the design of habitable spaces.

February 5. 1:00-3:00 pm. Transforming Matter

The transformation of the natural world into materials that provide shelter and inspiration continues to provide opportunities for architectural invention. Patterns and structures found in the natural world, from the geometries of crystals and plant growth to beehives and bird nests provide inspiration for our own constructions.

Donald Sherefkin practices architecture in New York and Vermont. He has taught architecture at Bennington College since 1996. Prior to Bennington, he taught at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, where he also headed the University’s in-house architecture office at Mies van der Rohe’s historic campus. He received his professional degree at The Cooper Union, in NYC, and pursued graduate studies at the Cranbrook Academy in Bloomfield, Michigan.

WHERE WE MEET: New England Youth Theatre, 100 Flat Street, Brattleboro, Vermont.
Handicapped-accessible parking, ramp, and door are available on the north side of the building.

COST: $6 per lecture, includes light refreshments.

QUESTIONS: Please call Julie Lavorgna at 802-365-7278, or e-mail

In case of inclement weather, please consult 96.7 WTSA-FM or February 12 has been scheduled as a snow day.

Membership Information

Individual lectures are open to nonmembers for a fee of $6 per lecture. We encourage attendees to pre-register by mail so as to avoid delays at on-site check-in.

For membership, complete the form on the site brochure or click on this membership form. Mail your completed form with your payment to:

(payable to “The University of Vermont”)
UVM OLLI Registration Office
460 South Prospect Street
Burlington, VT 05401

For a complete listing of all programs, see our listing in a pdf format.

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