RIT appoints RZLBD as Vignelli Center Designer in Residence

The Vignelli Center for Design Studies at RIT University in Rochester, New York has appointed Reza Aliabadi, principal of Toronto-based Atelier RZLBD, as the inaugural Vignelli Center Designer in Residence.

RZLBD (Reza Aliabadi), the inaugural Vingelli Center Designer in Residence. Image: Elizabeth Lamark

According to a statement released by the college, this position was created to assist with an upcoming campus project to design and build a series of outdoor interactive exhibits tentatively titled the RIT Museumscape.

Based in Toronto, Reza Aliabadi is an architect and artist who works with a variety of mediums and art forms, including 3D objects and installations, drawings, paintings, and photography.

His dedication to the Vignelli design ethos, as well as his passion about the intersection of art, design, and technology, are just two of the many reasons Aliabadi was selected for this role.

As the first Vignelli Center Designer in Residence, Aliabadi will provide research, design, and development assistance for the RIT Museumscape. Aliabadi will work under the direction of Josh Owen, Vignelli Distinguished Professor of Design and director of the Vignelli Center.

“The RIT Strategic Plan calls for the design of an outdoor hands-on museum, with interactive exhibits distributed across our campus. These installations will embody RIT by illustrating the intersection of science and art. I am so pleased that Reza will be joining Josh in the Vignelli Center to help provide capable leadership and artistic vision to this important project,” said Munson.

When completed, the installations will be strategically positioned to encourage visitors to explore RIT’s campus. At each installation, visitors will engage in an exploration of a scientific, technological, artistic, cultural, or imaginative principle, all with an embedded element of play.

Ultimately, visitors will be able to experience both the history of the region and the intersection of technology, the arts, and design. The first phase of the project will be heavily focused on research, but Aliabadi and Owen share that students will be included in the future to help with the design and installation work.

“It’s an honor to be part of President Munson’s vision for such an unprecedented intervention, and, of course, to collaborate with Josh Owen to shape a framework to facilitate and realize this project,” said Aliabadi. “Pedagogy is like a very long interwoven chain, and I am very excited to find myself among former and next generations, constantly exchanging experiences, thoughts, energy, and the like.”

Aliabadi’s residency began in January 2023 and will last through the end of the project, which is estimated to be completed in about two years.