He exemplified the idea of the architect as someone whose role is to challenge the status quo, confront serious issues of human vulnerability, and expand the public imagination. Only one of Woods’s projects, the Light Pavilion in Chengdu, China, was actually ever built, yet his designs and ideas were highly influential, the New York Times writes:
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In an era when many architecture stars […designed] high-rise condominiums or corporate headquarters, Mr. Woods conceived of a radically different environment, one intended for a world in conflict.
He conceived a post-earthquake San Francisco that emphasized its seismic vulnerability. He flew to Sarajevo in the 1990s and proposed a postwar city in which destruction and resurgence coexisted. He imagined a future for Lower Manhattan in which dams would hold back the Hudson and East Rivers to create a vast gorge around the island, exposing its rock foundation.
Mr. Woods’s work was often described as fantasy and compared to science-fiction imagery.