Nare Filiposyan

TCA Boston Presents (Re)Turn to Stone: Zoom Lecture on Preserving an Armenian Culture of Stone Masonry by Nare Filiposyan, March 24

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BOSTON — On March 24, the Tekeyan Cultural Association Greater Boston Chapter will host a virtual presentation and Q&A session with Armenian architectural designer and researcher Nare Filiposyan. Filiposyan, in her thesis, titled “(Re)Turn to Stone: Preserving a Culture of Stone Masonry,” explores the ancient stone masonry techniques practiced by masons in Armenia, and the cultural heritage imbued within their work. Her research spans interviews in Armenia; visits to medieval churches, quarries, and stone cutting facilities; remote conversations with stone masons; and her own experiments as a way to understand the techniques at play, and ultimately, to project a method for preserving the dying culture of Armenian stone masonry. Architect Theodore Touloukian will serve as moderator.

In contemporary Armenia, stone is ubiquitous — from street furniture to the home, from thousands of public water fountains to thousands of medieval churches, from municipal buildings to Soviet housing blocks disguised under stone tiles. Stone is a vital part of the cultural fabric, holding both physical as well as intangible cultural heritage. The history of Armenian stone masonry can be traced as far back as the Urartu period circa 900-600 BCE. Yet, despite the pervasiveness of this medium of cultural and artistic expression, certain medieval stonework techniques, tracing back to the 4th century, are dying out.

The existing academic literature on medieval Armenian architecture focuses on plan typologies (classification schemes) and formal descriptions and comparisons of various churches and monasteries. What has been overlooked is the underlying craft of building – the specific knowledge embodied by masons, that has enabled the existence of that architecture. With only a handful of masons that hold this knowledge alive today, the disappearance of their embodied techniques of stone masonry is at stake.

It is against this backdrop that Filiposyan, an Armenian architectural designer and researcher originally from Sisian, Armenia, has been working to understand and preserve these techniques through first-hand interviews with the few practitioners remaining in Armenia. Her current research on the preservation of Armenian stone masonry techniques has been supported by a NuVu research grant, the Marvin E. Goody Award, and an MIT Department of Architecture Graduate Fellowship.

Filiposyan holds a Master’s degree in Architecture from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. There, she served as a co-president of the Architecture Student Association and an executive member of the MIT NOMAS chapter. She has previously received scholarships to attend the United World College of the Adriatic, where she represented Armenia among 90 other nations. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and Architecture from Bennington College, where she served as a trustee. She has held multiple design and research positions at SHoP Architects, Rockefeller Foundation, Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, BKSK Architects, Caleb Linville Architects, WOJR and Matter Design, as well as multiple teaching fellowships for both graduate and undergraduate courses. You can read more about Nare Filiposyan’s work at her website: https://narefiliposyan.com/Re-Turn-to-Stone.

Theodore Touloukian

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Moderator Theodore Touloukian is an architect, owner, and founder of Touloukian Touloukian Inc. in Boston where he oversees the design and technical direction for a wide range of public, private, and institutional projects. With over 20 years of interdisciplinary design experience, Ted has focused on civic-minded work that pairs a keen understanding of our environment with the detailed craft of architecture. He has served as the Boston Society of Architects Foundation Chairman of the Board of Trustees from 2019-2021, and his firm was recognized in Architecture Magazine’s Top 50 Firms in the country from 2016 through 2019, and also the Architecture MasterPrize’s 2019 Small Firm of the Year Award in Multi-Disciplinary Architecture. Ted is a second generation Armenian American whose grandparents immigrated from Turkey at the end of the Genocide.

The event is free and open to the public. Please join on March 24 at 8 p.m. EST for an evening of learning and cultural enjoyment, followed by an audience Q&A session moderated by Boston architect and designer Theodore Touloukian. Please register at the following link to receive the Zoom invitation: https://bit.ly/TCAMarch24.

Tekeyan Cultural Association

The Tekeyan Cultural Association (TCA) is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is the preservation of Armenian culture and heritage in the diaspora, and to promote cultural, spiritual and educational ties with the homeland, irrespective of political and ideological barriers. The TCA is part of a network of similar organizations in about a dozen countries covering North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Armenia. It serves as a major cultural organization bridging Armenian diasporan communities with one another and with Armenia. The Greater Boston chapter was recently reconstituted in 2019 and is looking for new members of all ages and welcomes new ideas from the community. The chapter hopes to organize several other cultural and culinary events for this year. For more information about the Boston chapter and its activities, or to join our mailing list, please contact bostontca@gmail.com. For more information about the TCA in general, please email tcadirector@aol.com or call 617-924-4455. Follow the TCA Greater Boston chapter on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TekeyanBoston/.

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