Emilio Ambasz

Emilio Ambasz

Emilio Ambasz & Associates Founder & Principal, Architect, Author


Milan, Italy.  Emilio Ambasz is a multiple award-winning architect, industrial designer, and principal of Emilio Ambasz & Associates. Born in 1943 in Argentina, he is also a citizen of Spain by Royal Grant. Ambasz studied at Princeton University, completed the undergraduate program in one year and earned, the next year, a Master’s Degree in Architecture from the same institution. He served as Curator of Design at the Museum of Modern Art, in New York (1969-76), where he directed and installed numerous influential exhibits on architecture and industrial design, among them “Italy: The New Domestic Landscape,” in 1972; “The Architecture of Luis Barragan,” in 1974; and “The Taxi Project,” in 1976.

Mr. Ambasz is the author of several books on architecture and design.  The brand new book, Emerging Nature: Emilio Ambasz Precursor of Architecture and Design by Lars Müller Publishers, is available on the publishers’ website. Recent publications on his work are: Emilio Ambasz: Natural Architecture/Artificial Design, a revised (2001) and updated fifth edition of the book of the same name, published by Electa/Elemond, Milan, in January 2017 and Emilio Ambasz – Casa de Retiro Espiritual with photographs by Michele Alassio and an essay by Peter Buchanan, which was published on the occasion of the exhibition of the Casa de Retiro Espiritual at The Museum of Modern Art, New York in 2005.

Several books on his work have been published in the last decade:  Emilio Ambasz – A Technological Arcadia by Fulvio Irace was published by Skira, Milan, in 2004 and Emilio Ambasz: Invenciones was published by the Centro Nacional de Arte Contemporaneo Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain, on the occasion of a comprehensive monographic exhibition of his architecture, industrial, and design work published by Electa in 2011-2012.

Ambasz is an early proponent of green architecture with projects around the world, and Ambasz’s trademark style is a combination of buildings and gardens, which he describes as ‘green over the gray’. Mr. Ambasz’ large number of prestigious projects include the Mycal Sanda Cultural Center in Shin-Sanda, Japan which received a special award from the Japanese Department of Public Works, 2001 DuPost Benedictus Award, 2000 Saflex Design Awards, and the 1995 JCD Design Award; the Museum of American Folk Art in New York City; the Conservatory at the San Antonio Botanical Center, Texas; the ACROS Fukuoka Prefectural International Hall in Japan for which Mr. Ambasz received the very prestigious American Institute of Architects/Business Week Architectural Award in 2000 and winner of the First Prize for environmental architecture from the Japanese Institute of Architects in 2001; Casa de Retiro Espiritual in Cordoba, Spain, winner of the 1980 Progressive ArchitectureEnvironment Park (EnviPark) in Turin, Italy; and the Veneto Eye Bank Foundation (Fondazione Banca degli Occhi del Veneto Onlus) in Venice, Italy.

Ambasz was represented in the exhibit In Situ: Architecture and Landscape, a survey of architects who use the landscape to expand the definition of architecture at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Some of his accomplishments include Commendatore (Commander) della Rep. Italiana, Ordine della Stella d’Italia; Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (2007); Medalla Manuel Tolsá for significant contribution and enrichment to the field of architecture from La Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (2007); Honorary International Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects; and First Madre Terra Awardee.

Mr. Ambasz represented America at the 1976 Venice Biennale, and has been the subject of numerous international publications as well as museum and art gallery exhibitions, principal among them the Leo Castelli Gallery, the Corcoran Gallery, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Philadelphia and Chicago Art Institutes, Axis Design and Architecture Gallery of Tokyo, the Institute of Contemporary Art of Geneva, the Centre of Contemporary Art in Bordeaux, the Centro Cultural Arte Contemporaneo in Mexico City, the Grimaldi Forum, and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Contemporanea Reina Sofía.

Mr. Ambasz also holds a number of industrial and mechanical design patents. Since 1980 he has been the Chief Design Consultant for the Cummins Engine Co., a company internationally celebrated for its enlightened support of architecture and design. Mr. Ambasz has received numerous industrial design awards. Included among them are the Gold Prize awarded for his co-design of the Vertebra Seating System by the IBD (USA) in 1977, the SMAU Prize (Italy) in 1979, and the coveted Compasso d’Oro (Italy) in 1981. In 1991 Mr. Ambasz was again awarded the Compasso d’Oro (Italy) prize for his new seating design, Qualis. In 1999, his design for Cummins Signature 600 Engine received an Industrial Designers Society of America/Business Week Award for Design Excellence and in 2000 he received from the same group the Gold Award for his design of Saturno, an urban lighting pole system. In 2001, Mr. Ambasz received the coveted Compasso d’Oro (Italy) for an unprecedented third time for his design of Saturno. Mr. Ambasz was awarded Gold in iF (International Forum for Design) design award 2003 with his chair design Stacker.

Mr. Ambasz has designed the new Museo de las Artes Arquitectonicas y del Diseno, a 5,000 m2 building to be erected in Madrid in front of the Museo del Prado. Demolition of the existing de-classified building is to start in December 2017, and the new building is scheduled to open at the end of 2020.