Shadrach Woods

Shadrach William Woods was born in Yonkers, New York on 30 June 1923. After the Second World War, in 1945, Woods went to Trinity College in Dublin to read literature and philosophy, whereas initially he had trained as an engineer. In 1948 he decided to turn to architecture and applied for a job at the office of Le Corbusier in Paris. It was Georges Candilis who employed and guided Shadrach Woods as an architect in the office. Together, Candilis and Woods finalized the design concept of the Unité d’Habitation and subsequently became the project architects for the construction of the well-known Unité in Marseilles (1945-52).

In 1951 Woods became the leader of ATBAT-Afrique in Tangiers in Morocco, together with Candilis and engineer Henri Piot. This African branch of ATBAT, Atelier des bâtisseurs, founded in 1947 by Le Corbusier, Vladimir Bodiansky and André Wogenscky, was conceived as a research centre, where architects, engineers and technicians could work in an interdisciplinary fashion. Due to the tense political climate the ATBAT-Afrique office in Tangiers was closed at the end of 1952, which made Woods and Candilis the leaders of the enlarged Casablanca head-office. However, the changed atmosphere in Morocco announced the end of ATBAT-Afrique. Candilis and Woods returned to France in 1954 and opened their own office together with Alexis Josic. In the same year they won the national competition Opération Million for low cost housing. This resulted in assignments for several tens of thousands of dwellings in France and in the French overseas territories. Within the Candilis-Josic-Woods office Woods had the role of theoretician. He conceptually elaborated the working methods and designs of the partnership in noteworthy articles such as ‘Stem’ (1960) and ‘Web’ (1962). He was also the architect in charge of notorious projects such as the design for Frankfurt-Römerberg (1963) and the Berlin Free University (together with Manfred Schiedhelm, 1963-73).

Within Team 10 Woods was one of the most theoretically oriented contributors, who relentlessly positioned architecture in its historical, social and cultural matrix. This orientation resulted in a close relationship with Alison and Peter Smithson. Due to his French language skills Woods also maintained good contacts with the South Europeans within the Team 10 circle, especially Giancarlo De Carlo. De Carlo invited Woods to contribute to the Milan Triennale in 1968. Under the main header Urbanism is Everybody’s Business, Woods and his assistant Joachim Pfeufer designed a remarkable installation that situated the projects of Candilis-Josic-Woods within broader reflections on natural resources, pollution, participation, etcetera. The installation was never seen by the large public due to a sit-in that prevented the Triennale from opening. Next to Urbanism is Everybody’s Business, Woods published his ideas in What U Can Do (1970), and in The Man in the Street (posthumously published in 1975).

Shadrach Woods lectured at Yale University (New Haven, USA) in 1967. He was professor of Architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (Cambridge (Mass.), USA, 1968-73) and visiting professor at several other schools in the United States and abroad.
After the break-up of the Candilis-Josic-Woods partnership in 1969, Woods continued his work as an architect and especially as urban planner in his office in New York, together with several partners until his death in 1973. The Redevelopment Plan for the SoHo District in New York (1969), the Redevelopment Plan for Karslruhe (Germany, 1970) and the project for Douglas Circle (Central Park, New York, 1970) are his best-known designs from this period.
Shadrach Woods died in New York on 31 July 1973.