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Design works: Charles Renfro: Diller Scofidio+ Renfro USA

Charles Renfro has been on the architectural scene since 1989. A former associate at Smith-Miller + Hawkinson Architects and Ralph Appelbaum Associates, he has moved on to become the founding partner of  Department of Design before finally joining Diller + Scofidio in 1997.

The architecture firm was later renamed Diller Scofidio + Renfro after the architect was made a partner in 2004. His talent lies both in designing new structures and redesigning existing ones.

The 46-year-old Texas-born architect is known for spotting architectural potential in almost anything. This ability, and his concept of public space, is demonstrated in his acclaimed High Line in New York City. He turned an abandoned elevated railway line that runs 30 feet above Manhattan into a renowned public park.

The High Line in New YorkHigh Line introduced a radically new language for New York’s streetscape — curves and dips that create mystery and drama rather than the prettiness and nostalgia of an old railway. As Renfro puts it, the project created a new appreciation of public space.

Renfro has served as the project leader of the Brasserie, Eyebeam, the BAM master plan, Blur, and the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art. He was also the design principal for the redesign and expansion of The Juilliard School, Alice Tully Hall, public spaces at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and the Museum of Image and Sound in Rio de Janiero, Brazil.

Diller Scofidio + Renfro has been awarded the AIA President’s Award, the AIA Medal of Honor, and the National Design Award in Architecture from the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.

Alice Tully HallThe company’s portfolio includes master plans, museums and civic buildings, houses and high-rise residential mixed-use developments, permanent site-specific art installations, temporary exhibits for museums, as well as theatre and performance pieces.

Renfro is a graduate of Rice University and holds a Master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. He now lectures frequently both in the US and abroad. Since 2009, he has served as visiting professor at Parsons New School for Design in the School of Constructed Environments.

This article appeared in City & Country, the property pullout of The Edge Malaysia, Issue 812, June 28-July 4, 2010

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