James Wines is an educator, artist and architect whose practice is rooted in environmentalism. He is founder and president of SITE, an architecture and environmental arts organization. Wines’ educational philosophy advocates integrative thinking as a means of including multidisciplinary and contextual ideas from outside the design professions.
Wines was born 1932 in Oak Park, Illinois. He graduated from Syracuse University in 1957, where he majored in sculpture and art history. He became a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome that year and was bestowed a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1962. During this time, Wines focused on sculpture, painting, drawing, and graphic design. “I am interested in sculpture as environment – in which the audience can become involved,” he remarked in 1963. This ethos guided him towards architecture and he subsequently founded the firm SITE in New York in 1970. Through SITE, Wines has continued to explored developing a relevant architectural language for a new millennium, believing public spaces should go beyond the dominant influences of the early industrial age and find ways to respond effectively to the demands of the 21st century and to the challenges of sustainability.
Wines has collaborated with brands such as Allsteel, Brinker International, Swatch, Costa Coffee, Disney, MTV, Nickelodeon, Reliance Energy Corporation and Williwear. His first collaboration with the gallery revisits his groundbreaking showroom design for fashion designer Willi Smith’s WilliWear in 1982. Representative of the ethos of the 1980s as a time of decay and renewal, he sustainable art installation simulated an urban landscape comprised of brick and cinderblock façades.
As an educator, Wines originally held adjunct positions at the New School for Social Research (1963–65) and a number of other institutions. In 1974, he taught as an Associate Professor of Fine Art in the New York University Department of Art and Arts Professions. This was followed by visiting professorships at Dartmouth College, the University of Wisconsin, New Jersey School of Architecture, and Cooper Union Design Center. He was chair of the Environmental Design department at Parsons School of Design from 1984 to 1990. After teaching at Domus Academy in Italy and at the University of Oklahoma, he became a professor of architecture at Pennsylvania State University in 1999.
Wines has been awarded numerous prestigious awards throughout his career–including the 2013 National Design Award for Lifetime Achievement, 2011 ANCE International Architect Award (Italy) and 1995 Chrysler Award for Design Innovation. His drawings are in the collections of thirty-five museums, including the Museum of Modern Art NY, Victoria & Albert Museum, London and Centre Pompidou Paris.
Wines currently lives and works in New York.