Elizabeth Diller


                                                                                  Docent Researcher___________Marcy Katz           

Artist: Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio           


    Dates of birth -Diller 1954, Scofidio- 1935

    Place of Birth-Diller in Poland, daughter of Holocaust Survivors immigrated to the USA at about 6 years old, Scofidio in NY,

    Current residence- MARRIED each other in 1979 and live in nyc           

    Education- Cooper Union School of Architecture BA1979-Diller

    Employment - Diller worked as assistant professor, Cooper Union School of Architecture, 1981–90; associate professor of architecture at Princeton University, 1990—; director of graduate studies, 1993—. Scofidio worked as architect, 1960–79; professor at Cooper Union School of Architecture, 1965—. Together, formed Diller + Scofido, 1979.


Major Shows/Galleries-2003 Exhibit “Scanning: The aberrant Architecture of Diller and Scofidio” at the Whitney 3/11-6/1 2003

Art Institute of Chicago

2002- The Blur Building over Switzerland’s Lake Neuchhatel was a cloud of fog generated by 35k computer controlled  nozzles


Other: Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio were recipients of the MacArthur Foundation “genius award” in 1999 and 2004, first ever awards for architecture among other numerous awards


Media- across media and multi….

°Water mist- for the Blur Bldg

°Crystal for the Swarovski chandelier commission “Light Sock” 2009


°Music performances in public places like Traveling music- 2009

°Video installations like “Soft Sell”

°Complete building renovations like Alice Tully Hall and the Julliard School of  Music-2009

°Kinetic Landscaping for Liverpool Bienniel 2008

°Set Design

°Other projects too numerous to mention here. Please see their website: http://www.dsrny.com/

Techniques Employed: mood controlling lighting, from mist generating water nozzles for the creation of fog in the “blur” building for the Expo in Switzerland 2002, to their use of electronic technologies and very unconventional materials that heighten people’s use of their own senses.

They often suspend objects in the air

Philosophical Information 

Influences (historical/personal/political) -Performance art, installation art and electronic art to create creative spaces that are totally empathic to who is in that space and how life happens or is performed in that space


        Expressive Qualities  (realistic, naturalistic, etc.): Integrates architectural elements with nature, sound, lighting, video

Subject Matter/ Themes/ Concept dealt with in the work: they subtract, interfere with.  Liz Diller on TED.COM 10/2/08

Diller is interested in Space and Culture

Their Environmental Science Museum in Guadalajara, Mexico 2010 is a perfect example:it it like a living museum of ecology that even shows the relationship of the eco galleries of the museum and it’s urban surroundings. some  of the galleries are mobile and take the exhibits into the surrounding environment.

In their installation called “the withDrawing Room” in 1987 at the Capp Street Project in San Francisco, they explored and exploited the accepted usage of mundane simple objects of domesticity by reinstalling them in the space in unusual and unusable ways. For instance, they suspended tables and chairs from the ceiling.

A similar and commissioned project was at MOMA in 1989 called Para-Site which was of multi media using high tech gadgets and domestic objects in which nothing touched the floor.


             Other Comments/ Information about work or life- quote from Liz Diller on TED-


“architecture is nothing but a special machine effects that delights and disturbs the senses” Challenges the assumptions of the conventions of space. They build architecture of atmosphere

They collaborate with other artists and architects, ie:

The HighLine in NYC

The With Drawing Room with David Ireland

Set design for theater groups


Anecdotal Information and Quotes

“Soft Sell”, a video by artists/architects Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio. Referencing ways in which sex is used in advertising,


In the original installation of Soft Sell, a large pair of scarlet female lips was temporarily projected onto the glass doors of the Rialto, an abandoned porn theater on New York's Forty-second Street. A sensuous female voice emanated from the speak-hole of the ticket booth, soliciting passersby with dubious offers of bodies, real estate, and a wide range of consumerist pleasures. Each pitch began with her saying, "Hey, you, wanna buy a..."

Presented during the "Disneyfication" of Times Square in the 1990s — a period when activities shifted from drug dealing and prostitution to family-oriented theater and entertainment — Soft Sell suggests that the commodification of sexual desire waa merely being replaced with a new set of seductions designed to appeal to our consumerist fantasies.

Source:http://www.sfmoma.org/explore/collection/artwork/111112 - ixzz1XuebevzB



Source: http://www.sfmoma.org/explore/collection/artwork/111112#ixzz1XugGVwzD

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art


“The husband-and-wife team of Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio have built almost no conventional structures, but they express their cleverly subversive ideas in projects--mostly art installations--that comment on culture, technology and our dearly held assumptions”- Down From the Clouds, but Cathleen McGuigan, March 2003 Newsweek 3/24/2003 Vol 141 Issue 12, p55


Ms. Diller said her collaboration with ballet executives was an easy one.

“We kind of do the same thing,” she said. “We’re interested in bodies and space, and we’re interested in overcoming the laws of gravity.” And “Whatever we touch here ultimately is about connection and social aspects like teaching and learning,” she said. “Some of that is associated with light and air and the appreciation of space.” - NYT 1/19/’07 More Room to Pirouette at Lincoln Center Studios


Diller Scofidio + Renfro is an interdisciplinary studio that fuses architecture, the visual arts and the performing arts. Their work encompasses architecture, urban design, temporary and permanent site-specific installations, multi-media theater, electronic media, and print. All three partners are educators and see teaching as an extension of their creative work: Ricardo Scofidio at the Cooper Union School of Architecture, Elizabeth Diller at Princeton University, and Charles Renfro at Rice University. Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio were recipients of the MacArthur Foundation “genius award” in 1999 and 2004, the first ever given in the field of architecture. The DS+R studio has also received numerous awards, accolades, and commissions from various organizations including AIA Design Award for the Institute of Contemporary Art and the School of American Ballet, the National Design Award in Architecture from the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, and the Whitney Museum of American Art in addition to the Brunner Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, an Obie for Creative Achievement in Off-Broadway Theater, the MacDermott Award for Creative Achievement from M.I.T, and the Chrysler Award for Innovation in Design.


In 2010 was picked by the University of California, Berkeley, to design the university’s new art and film complex.


Other projects of note include the design for the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art, an expansion of the Julliard School, the redesign of Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, and the master plan for The High Line in Manhattan.



       Books/Magazines/web links to articles

A great video on TED of Diller speaking about her projects



a good synopsis of their work can be found on the Moss Gallery website:



Read more: http://www.notablebiographies.com/newsmakers2/2004-Di-Ko/Diller-Elizabeth-and-Scofidio-Ricardo.html - ixzz1Xsy5ajvJ


An interview with Diller titled: “The trajectories of Elizabeth Diller, by Brendan McGetrick