New Canaan Library Presents First ‘Artist in Residence,’ Architect and Professor Joseph Schott


Joseph Schott, a professor of architecture at Clemson University, said he finds inspiration exploring New Canaan and the surrounding area. With its diverse architecture, the town has become a landmark in the field, according to Schott.

New Canaan Library Artist-in-Residence Joseph Schott during a May 23 hands-on workshop at the library. Credit: John Bemis

New Canaan Library Artist-in-Residence Joseph Schott during a May 23 hands-on workshop at the library. Credit: John Bemis

“The joy of being an architect is that you can surround yourself with great work but also find it in exotic places,” Schott said. “It turns out New Canaan is one of those exotic places.”

He added: “With the Philip Johnson work, with ‘The River’ at Grace Farms, just all of the great modern work available, we’re going to see more and more people coming from around the world just to see these buildings.”

Schott is the first to exhibit as part of the New Canaan Library’s ‘Artist In Residence’ program with his show titled “Studies in Architecture.” The exhibition itself features Clemson students’ renderings of a future New Canaan Library—a widely anticipated project in town. In addition, Schott is also giving free workshops at the library.

“We actually took a trip up here to New Canaan just to get a look at the architecture,” Schott said of his students.

“The students each decided what their project would be, and all 10 came together to decide on a format in which they would present it,” he said.

The exhibition includes 3D models, blueprints, hand-drawn sketches of the new library.

For Schott, teaching is a source of inspiration and innovation.

“My students will often come to me and accept that they are stuck in their project, so it’s my job to pull them out of that. After discussion, around a week later, you go to their desk and everything has come together like magic. It’s true that the one who learns most in a class is the teacher.”

And the teacher’s job is changing, he said.

Architecture in the academic setting is shifting more toward a practice-based approach, according to Schott.

“In school they teach you to think differently, but it’s another thing to do differently,” he said. “Students today are way more involved in hands-on work in community-based projects, for example, designing a new library.”

Residents are eagerly anticipating the unveiling of plans for the “new” New Canaan Library. During budget season, library officials told the town that they’re prepared to move forward with a new building even if they’re unable to acquire an important final residential lot for the proposed structure.

Libraries, Schott said, are changing the field of architecture with Makerspaces, which offer free education and practice in fields of architecture, engineering and design.

“There are models of bridges designed and printed by robots and 3D-printers,” he said, “it’s liberated architects to think about structure differently, how buildings look, how they are made, and by whom.”

Schott said the exhibit could help people to think of architects in terms of how they can solve problems.

“When something confronts you, say, something in your house, or on your property or in your neighborhood that needs fixing, architects have the skills and experience to solve those problems, oftentimes in a way that is more thoughtful,” he said. “Someone could ask, ‘Build me a better door handle’, or ‘Come up with a new design for sidewalks,’ and architects can be a part of that. They can think outside the box, but also wonder if there even is a box.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *