Skip to content

Karel Klein

Karel Klein is the co-director of Ruy Klein and an architect licensed in New York state. Her undergraduate education began on the campus of University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where she earned her BA in Architecture and her BS in Civil Engineering. It was an education steeped in the practical and professional practices of these cognate disciplines. From there, she went to Columbia University, GSAPP, and was exposed to a myriad range and diverse manner of instruction. This was where her architectural education promiscuously and productively rubbed up against a fine arts and a liberal arts education. This was also where the infamous “paperless” studios experiment took place under the leadership of Bernard Tschumi, and Karel was there to experience one of the very first of those pioneering studios.

Since graduating, and in addition to practicing, Karel has been teaching architecture studio courses at various institutions including Columbia University, GSAPP; the Pratt Institute; and UCLA, AUD; and currently teaches at Washington University’s Sam Fox School, the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), and University of Pennsylvania, Weitzman School of Design. In these more recent studios, Karel has been working with her students on projects that collaborate with artificial intelligence neural networks as a provocation to conventional aesthetic practices in architectural design.

In her practice, Karel also works with various artificial intelligence technologies. Her ongoing project is an investigation into crossbred image-objects produced using atypically trained GANs and their capacity for contemporary myth-making in architecture. In the same way that “imaginative vocabulary” and “metaphoric style” were primary, if literary instruments for the invention of new mythologies for Surrealists, the strange and idiosyncratic qualities of images produced using artificial intelligence are similarly a kind of matter metaphored and made visible by the cyborg imagination. She is interested in a kind of re-enchantment of the architectural body—one that both foments and succumbs to sensual perceptions, and one that discovers new and unexpected relations to the world beyond the realm of the rational.

To this end, she is concerned with the “diagonal science” of Roger Caillois, as well as the two constituents of the marvelous as dreamed up by Andre Breton: convulsive beauty and objective chance. She reads the philosophical prose of authors such as William H. Gass, who writes “sentences which make an imaginary speaker speak the imagination loudly to the reading eye”—who writes exquisite sentences that figure with intricate features which can be breathed, tasted, and touched. He does with language, in fact, what she, with the help of her artificial intelligence counterparts, hopes to do with the corporeal and material aspects of architecture. A textual and tectonic alchemy. Her recent essay for SCI-Arc’s academic journal Offramp, entitled “Verto Pellis,” is an instance of this exploration.

Personal website

Work by Karel Klein

Video still showing a dense grouping of trees with building features peaking through; the left side of the frame is largely black-and-white with some icy blue tones; the right is more of a sepia tone.

Tongues in Trees, 2021

Stills from AI-produced movie for Venice Biennale, 2021. View the move on YouTube.
Pair of AI-produced pelts, showing some hair and muscles, against a black background.

Verto Pellis , Fall 2020

AI-produced Pelts, Offramp Issue 17, Art(i)fact, Fall 2020. Read the essay
Aerial view of a coastline in dark blues and teals.

Tidal Electric I , 2015

For Tidal Electtric Inc., artificial embankments, electricity producing empoundment walls.
Installation of a large-scale, fabricated tesselation pattern in all white, with a person standing in front of it and artwork on the back gallery wall.

Klex, 2008

Tessellated and milled partition, “Matters of Sensation,” New York. FRAC Centre (permanent collection).
Two columns, each featuring a stack with a model on top and fabrication drawings below.

Knot Garden , 2007

Fabrication drawings and models, MoMA PS1, Long Island City, NY.