The Building (Part 1)

Saturday, November 15, 2014 9:30am
Wood Auditorium

Ever since the theoretical turn of the 1960s, right through to the present, the status of the architectural object in the sphere of history, theory and criticism keeps taking on more and more forms. Whether as the reification of power structures, as a facilitator of participatory processes, as the locus of phenomenological content, as the hypostatization of terms pertaining to other systems of thought, as a vehicle to reflect upon unmediated practices, as a catalyst to investigate the psychology of perception, as amenable to mirror processes in the natural world—its increasing epistemological diversification is an index for the growing sophistication of our field. Within this tendency, however, the object emerges more often as a medium through which to tap into another domain—if not as altogether absent—than it does as the ultimate realm of research in its own right.

This event suggests that discussions taking the object as their primary concern can today themselves extend the bounds of possibility for the production of discursive knowledge in a substantial fashion. In order to do so, it invokes the architectural object par excellence—the building. Presentations and debates will be curated around specific case studies. A number of historians, theorists, architects and PhD candidates, from both Europe and the US, have been asked to pick a building, built or designed within the last 25 years, which they can show embodies a historically substantial contribution in terms of a particular design aspect or a concept relevant to the reading of buildings in general. In addition, they have been invited to speculate on the possibility for such a design technique or concept to become the seed of a metadisciplinary theoretical framework. The first instalment of this event took place at the Architectural Association on June 2, 2014.

9.30 – 9.45_Welcome
9.45 – 10.00_Opening Remarks
10.00 – 11.30_1st Table Discussion
11.30 – 12.00_Coffee break
12.00 – 1.30_2nd Table Discussion
1.30 – 2.30_Lunch Break
2.30 – 4.00_3rd Table Discussion
4.00 – 4.30_Coffee break
4.30 – 5.30_Wrap-up debate on the status of “the building” in the sphere of history, theory and criticism


– Marta Caldeira, Enrique Walker, Aaron White (Columbia)
Stan Allen, Alejandro Zaera-Polo (Princeton)
– Cynthia Davidson (Log)
Sylvia Lavin (UCLA)
– Joan Ockman (Cornell/Penn)
– Amanda R. Lawrence (Northeastern U.)
– J.A. Cortés (U. of Vallladolid)
– Vera Bühlmann, Marc Frochaux (ETH Zurich)
– Sophia Psarra (Bartlett)
– Gabriela García de Cortázar, Francisco Glez. de Canales, Costandis Kizis, Alexandra Vougia (AA London)


– Mary McLeod (Columbia)
Michael Meredith (Princeton)
– Michael Young (Cooper Union)


– José Aragüez (Princeton)
– Jorge Otero-Pailos (Columbia)
– Etien Santiago (Harvard)

Organized by José Aragüez with Aaron White