Home Architectural Theory

Architectural Theory

Symposium on Architecture: How to See Architecture: Bruno Zevi (MArch ’42) (2018)


    One hundred years after his birth, the prolific work of Roman architect Bruno Zevi continues to engage current problems in theory and criticism, and deserves to be revisited. From the publication of Towards an Organic Architecture, in 1945, to his monograph on Erik Gunnar Asplund published the very year of his death in 2000, many of his books have had an electrifying effect on architects and historians. Active as educator and as political activist, he was an engaged, charismatic contributor to the public discussion through his weekly chronicle in L’Espresso. Beyond Italy, Zevi has had a determining presence in Latin America and other parts of the world.

    Held at a school where his passage between 1940 and 1942 was far from uneventful, this symposium addresses issues relative to Zevi’s life, to his writings and to his brave fights for his ideas. His position in Italian politics and in the historical interpretation of architecture will be questioned, as well as the theoretical, narrative and rhetorical strategies at work in his engaged texts.

    Lab Cult: An unorthodox history of interchanges between science and architecture (2018)


      Today, after many decades of questioning science’s capacity to provide answers to architecture’s social mandate, architects and designers are once again enchanted with the concept of the laboratory. Originally conceived as the physical space for the practice of alchemy and crystalized in its modern form during the Enlightenment, the laboratory has become an omnipresent term in architectural education, practice and theory. Architecture schools, corporate firms and governmental think tanks are once again saturated with “design labs,” all of which promise to provide objective and precise solutions to contemporary design challenges. In its ubiquity as metaphor, physical space, and visual aesthetic, the laboratory has become an unquestioned dogma. At a moment when science and the production of scientific knowledge are once again undergoing an attack, architecture’s reinvigorated faith in the infallibility of science paradoxically resembles the blind devotion of a religious cult.

      Instead of reinforcing any preconceived hierarchies between these two fields, Lab Cult explores a more symmetrical narrative. Through an eclectic juxtaposition of case studies from science and architecture, this exhibition suggests a history of close-knit relationships and mutual exchanges. Architects are often accused of borrowing, transforming or even misappropriating scientific ideas, tools and working protocols in their attempt to systematize the intuitive aspects of the creative process. At the same time, though, scientists strongly rely on architectural concepts, representations and material means to stage and communicate sophisticated set-ups of rigorous investigation.

      The exhibition is organized under six themes: “Designing Instruments, “Measuring Movement,” “Visualizing Forces,” “Testing Animals,” “Building Models,” and “Observing Behaviour.” Each of these themes is presented by pairing one historical case study from science with one from architecture. Ranging from the late 19th century to the early 1980s, these case studies identify the ways in which working concepts, methods and protocols have been exchanged across different time periods between scientists and architects of diverse disciplinary backgrounds, such as architecture, psychology, engineering, physiology, mathematics, industrial design, computer science and others.

      Environment(al) Exhibition Symposium (2018)


        SCI-Arc presents Environment[al], a public exhibition examining contemporary attitudes toward environment in a post-digital context. The capacity of constructed natures to produce admixtures of the natural and the synthetic is a focus. The changing character of environment in the context of technological innovation is considered through the projects in the exhibition. Taking into account recent approaches to our understanding of environment and contemporary modes of ecological awareness, the exhibition considers the possibility of environments where qualities are fused with objects not normally associated with them. Sites, objects, and spaces become estranged to engender multiple authenticities and produce a fusion between architectural form and forms germane to constructed natures. A multivalent implementation of environment, one that involves an agile negotiation with the changing character of the ecological in the context of technological change begins to surface, these environments produce invigorated forms of tangible architectural presence and performance.

        Environment[al] is a group exhibition with the work of architects, designers and landscape architects including Izaskun Chinchilla [Izaskun Chinchilla Architects], Enric Ruiz Geli [Cloud 9], Carme Pinós [Estudio Carme Pinós], Wolf Prix [Coop Himmelb(l)au], Gilles Retsin, and Günther Vogt [Vogt Landschaftsarchitekten]. The exhibition is curated by Herwig Baumgartner and Marcelyn Gow. Environment[al] transforms the SCI-Arc Gallery through the construction of a landscape/substrate that functions as the ground datum in the exhibition space. The landscape is designed as a facsimile of the soil conditions that are found in the Owens Valley [to the North East of Los Angeles where LA sources a significant amount of its water supply.] The substrate is punctuated by incisions containing oil/water and vegetation indigenous to Southern California. A sound map of the LA River is accessed through proximity sensors integrated within the exhibition landscape. When gallery visitors interact with the plants, sounds recorded at different points along the river will become audible, conjuring the diverse environments of the river. The work of each of the exhibition participants is installed or projected into a series of concave receptacles within the landscape. The exhibition features both visions for the future of architecture as well as architectural applications in the context of environmental and climatic change.

        Deep Vista (2018)


          New ideas in architectural practice and theory arising from rapidly changing technology will be explored by experts in design, education, philosophy and other disciplines at “Deep Vista,” a free-ranging panel discussion series set for April 27 and 28, 2018 at Texas A&M University.

          “Panelists will identify and assess a variety of viewpoints about architecture’s present and future in light of technology-based revolutions in design practice, material science and manufacturing, building construction and many other areas,” said Gabriel Esquivel, associate professor of architecture and event co-curator. “It’s a complex task, because of the wide range of stances that architects and theorists hold.”

          Panelists will explore the importance of guiding developments in architectural practice and theory with multifaceted criteria and collaborative methods. Deep Vista’s experts represent a diverse array of disciplines, including architecture, academia, video game design, philosophy, urban planning, art and robotics.

          In Deep Vista’s eight, one-hour sessions, panelists will explore topics, including:

          • How a relevant design philosophy requires an openness to a multiplicity of values, interpretations and readings, accompanied by simultaneous rigor and relativism;
          • The fluid nature of the interaction of digital media with architectural design and programming; and
          • The future of design research related to technology, theory and pedagogy.


          What are the changes that digital technology presents to architects and designers?

          The session consists of panelists Sean Anderson, associate curator in the Department of Architecture and Design at The Museum of Modern Art in New York; Graham Harman, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the Southern California Institute of Architecture, and Tim Morton, holder of the Rita Shea Guffey Chair in English at Rice University. It will be moderated by Levi Bryant, professor of philosophy at Collin College.


          How important is the physical area surrounding a proposed project? Can designers enhance their relevance with an openness to a multiplicity of values and interpretations?

          The session consists of panelists Bruno Juricic, architect, curator and Ph.D. student at the University of California-Los Angeles; Kivi Sotamaa, founding principal of Ateljé Sotamaa and an adjunct associate professor at UCLA, and Rob Stuart-Smith, assistant professor of architecture at the University of Pennsylvania and director of Autonomous Manufacturing Labs at UP and the Department of Computer Science at University College of London. It will be moderated by Graham Harman, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the Southern California Institute of Architecture,

          Interaction Between Built Environment & Digital Media

          Social media presents a range of interactions with architecture at many different levels, including communication and criticism. What are the present and future qualities of these interactions?

          The session consists of panelists Kristy Balliet, an architectural designer and an assistant professor at Ohio State University; Ian Bogost, who holds a joint professorship in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication and in Interactive Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology; Ferda Kolatan, founding director of su11, a New York design firm and an associate professor of practice at the University of Pennsylvania, and Michel Rojkind, founder of Rojkind Arquitectos. It will be moderated by Bruno Juricic, architect, curator and Ph.D. student at the University of California-Los Angeles.

          Borders and Thresholds

          What roles does automation play in architectural fabrication, construction, and other design applications?

          The session consists of panelists Levi Bryant, professor of philosophy at Collin College; Bruno Juricic, architect, curator and Ph.D. student at the University of California-Los Angeles; Jimenez Lai, co-founder of Bureau Spectacular, a Los Angeles design firmand Tim Morton, holder of the Rita Shea Guffey Chair in English at Rice University. It will be moderated by Michael Young, assistant professor of architecture at The Cooper Union.


          What are the many facets of architectural programming beyond function?

          The session consists of panelists Kristy Balliet, an architectural designer and an assistant professor at Ohio State University; Ian Bogost, who holds a joint professorship in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication and in Interactive Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology; Jimenez Lai, co-founder of Bureau Spectacular, a Los Angeles design firm; Michael Osman, associate professor of architecture and urban design at the University of California-Los Angeles, and Kivi Sotamaa, founding principal of Ateljé Sotamaa and an adjunct associate professor at UCLA. It will be moderated by Sarah Deyong, Texas A&M associate professor of architecture.

          Design Research

          How can design research contribute to the bridge between academia and practice?

          The session consists of panelists Kristy Balliet, an architectural designer and an assistant professor at Ohio State University; Levi Bryant, professor of philosophy at Collin College; Nate Hume, founding partner at Hume Coover Studio and an architecture lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania, and Dwayne Oyler, founder of Oyler Wu Collaborative, an experimental architecture and design firm in Los Angeles and a faculty member at the Southern California Institute of Architecture and the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. It will be moderated by Michael Young, assistant professor of architecture at The Cooper Union.

          The Literal Space of the Studio

          What is the role and importance of the studio as a prototype of creativity?

          The session consists of panelists Sarah Deyong, Texas A&M associate professor of architecture; Ferda Kolatan, founding director of su11, a New York design firm, and an associate professor of practice at the University of Pennsylvania; Jimenez Lai,
co-founder of Bureau Spectacular, a Los Angeles design firm; Michel Rojkind, founder of Rojkind Arquitectos. and Michael Young, assistant professor of architecture at The Cooper Union. It will be moderated by Kristy Balliet, an architectural designer, and an assistant professor at Ohio State University.


          A closing session, featuring all Deep Vista panelists, will be moderated by Gabriel Esquivel, associate professor of architecture, who curated the event with Bruno Juricic, an architect, curator and Ph.D. student at the University of California-Los Angeles.

          Encounters with Arakawa and Madeline Gins (2018)


            A half-day conference on the occasion of the opening of the Arthur Ross Architecture Gallery exhibition Arakawa and Madeline Gins: Eternal Gradient. The event convenes architects, artists, historians and writers to offer fresh interpretations of Arakawa and Gins’ work and theories in the context of contemporary practices and scholarship.


            1:00pm Introduction

            Irene Sunwoo, Director of Exhibitions, Columbia GSAPP

            1:15pm Practice for Living

            Miwako Tezuka, Consulting Curator at Reversible Destiny Foundation/Estate of Madeline Gins

            Momoyo Homma, Director of Arakawa + Gins Tokyo Office (Coordinologist, Inc.)

            Moderated by Julian Rose, Co-Founder, formlessfinder, and Adjunct Assistant Professor, Columbia GSAPP

            2:30pm Eternal Gradient

            Carrie Norman, Co-Founder, Norman Kelley, and exhibition designers, Arakawa and Madeline Gins: Eternal Gradient in conversation with Irene Sunwoo and Tiffany Lambert, Columbia GSAPP Exhibitions

            3:10pm Politics of the Page

            Lucy Ives, poet and editor of a forthcoming collection of Madeline Gins’ writing

            Léopold Lambert, architect and editor of The Funambulist


            4:30pm Architectural Bodies

            Spyros Papapetros, Associate Professor, History and Theory of Architecture, Princeton University

            Adrienne Hart, Artistic Director / Choreographer, Neon Dance

            Moderated by Andrés Jaque, Founder, Office for Political Innovation, and Adjunct Associate Professor, Columbia GSAPP

            5:45pm Endings/Beginnings

            Troy Conrad Therrien, Curator, Architecture and Digital Initiatives, Guggenheim Museum Jenna Sutela, Visual Artist

            Ed Keller, Associate Professor of Design Strategies & Director of the Center for Transformative Media, Parsons The New School for Design

            GSD at the Chicago Architecture Biennial: New Materialisms (2017)


              “New Materialisms: Histories Make Practice | Practices Make History” brings together historians, critics, and practitioners to discuss the complex ways in which architecture is imagined, made, and interpreted. Whereas in the current intellectual climate, accounts of architecture’s materiality by historians often pivot on a fealty to the influence of contexts and networks, new materialist histories must account for the very particular inscription of architectural affects and their peculiar ability to resonate across shifting contexts and times. And while some design practices too often reduce material to the mere stuff of building (however sophisticated that stuff may be), new materialist practices have begun to explore deeply human drives and desires that construct architectural experience as performative, indeterminate, and multiple. Key in these discussions will be the potential reciprocities between history and practice, and hence the unraveling of the traces of the one within the other.

              The symposium will be divided into halves:

              Panel 1. Practices Make History Mohsen Mostafavi Sharon Johnston Antoine Picon Tatiana Bilbao Emanuel Christ Frank Barkow Francis Kéré

              Panel 2 Histories Make Practice Michael Hays Mark Lee Antón García-Abril Anna Neimark Sofia von Ellrichshausen “New Materialisms: Histories Make Practice | Practices Make History” will take place on Thursday, September 14 from 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. in Chicago Cultural Center’s Claudia Cassidy Theater. The Chicago Architecture Biennial is the largest platform for contemporary architecture in North America. The 2017 Biennial, entitled Make New History, will be free and open to the public between September 16, 2017 and January 6, 2018. The 2017 Biennial is directed by Artistic Directors Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee.

              Machines of Loving Grace: A Symposium on AI, Architecture and Virtual Worlds (2017)


                Popularly labeled as the 4th Industrial Revolution, the proliferation of artificial intelligence, robotics, automation and virtual reality is transforming the socioeconomic structure of our society and consequently revolutionizing the way we design and experience spaces. These emerging technological paradigms promise a heightened sense of interaction between humans and their environment. In these new scenarios, the software and hardware ecosystems are exceedingly gaining autonomy. Virtual worlds are no longer limited to be interfaces that merely enhance the physical environment but are becoming spaces in their own right; blurring the distinction between the physical and the digital in our constructed reality. The Symposium: Machines of Loving Grace expands the contemporary discussion on the evolution of human-machine society into the domain of architectural discourse.

                Focusing on these new design ecosystems that shape our contemporary reality, the presenters will explore the particular themes of artificial intelligence, interaction design, and virtual/ augmented reality. Some of the main discussion points will include:

                -AI and intelligent environments

                -Interactive spaces and cyberphysical systems

                – Virtual worlds and architecture of interfaces

                – Robotics, autonomy, and automation

                By engaging some of the greatest minds from the fields of art, architecture, philosophy, industrial design, literature and engineering, the symposium will theorize and situate a new agenda for the intersection of technology and the environments we occupy and socialize in; both digitally and physically.

                Detailed schedule & presenters

                1:00 PM-1:30 PM
                Check in + Exhibition

                1:30 PM- 1:55 PM
                Welcome by Neil Denari, Interim Chair and Professor UCLA A.UD
                Intro by Guvenc Ozel, Faculty UCLA Suprastudio

                SESSION 1:
                AI: Interfaces and Objects
                1:55 PM- 2:20 PM

                Nora Khan, Writer, Rhizome, Eyebeam
                2:20 PM- 2:45 PM

                Kenric McDowell, Senior UX Designer, Google Research, Art and Machine Intelligence
                2:45 PM- 3:10 PM

                Tim Wantland, Senior Interaction Designer, Google Research Machine Intelligence
                3:10 PM- 3:30 PM

                SESSION 2:
                Form, Data and Intelligence

                3:30 PM- 3:55 PM
                Jason Kelly Johnson, Design Principal, Future Cities Lab & Associate Professor, CCA San Francisco

                3:55 PM- 4:20 PM
                Casey Reas, Professor, UCLA Design Media Arts
                4:20 PM- 4:45 PM

                Nick Cote, Researcher, Applied Research & Innovation, Autodesk
                4:45- 5:05

                SESSION 3:
                Cyberphysical Systems: The Virtual and the Physical

                5:05 PM- 5:30 PM
                Benjamin Bratton, Professor, University of California, San Diego, Program Director, Strelka Institute of Media, Architecture and Design in Moscow

                5:30 PM- 5:55 PM
                Jose Sanchez, Assistant Professor University of Southern California, School of Architecture, Director at Plethora Project llc.

                5:55 PM- 6:20 PM
                Rebecca Allen, Professor, UCLA Design Media Arts

                6:20 PM- 6:40 PM

                6:40 PM- 7:00 PM
                ALL SPEAKERS, Audience Q&A

                The Symposium is hosted by Ozel SUPRASTUDIO.


                Ozel SUPRASTUDIO at UCLA IDEAS is focused on investigating the intersection of the digital and the physical worlds, looking at the cusp of living in mixed realities where interactive environments challenge traditional fabrication techniques and spatial assemblies. Current research objectives include virtual and augmented reality, robotics, cyberphysical systems and smart space applications. Automation, interaction, autonomous transportation, space travel, robotic fabrication, virtual spaces and interface design are recurring themes of exploration, aiming to find meaningful design applications while navigating through the ever-changing world of technology. Some of the current and former industry collaborations include Autodesk and Microsoft, among others. Studio is led by Guvenc Ozel with the assistance of lecturers Benjamin Ennemoser and Mertcan Buyuksandalyaci.

                Objects, Contexts, Canons and Experiments: Four Conversations on Theory and History (2017)


                  Where are we today regarding the way we produce and teach the theory and history of architecture, cities, and landscapes? Should we still give precedence to built realities, or should we focus on the agency that they reveal? What about the changes in the pedagogy to be expected from the development of digital tools? Are there still canons relevant to professional education in the design field? Last, but certainly not least, should we rethink the relationships among lecture courses, seminars, and studio? Four conversations among GSD faculty members and guest participants will deal with these questions and explore new perspectives on theory and history in design schools:

                  (1) History of Objects vs. Study of Agency and Media;

                  (2) Teaching Theory and History in the Digital Age;

                  (3) Global History vs. Canon;

                  (4) Theory/History and Studio Teaching

                  Sponsored by the Theory and History Platform and the PhD Program in Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning.

                  Organized by Antoine Picon, G. Ware Travelstead Professor of the History of Architecture and Technology, and Michael Hays, Eliot Noyes Professor of Architectural Theory.

                  The (Dis)enchanted Subject of Architecture (2016)


                    Contemporary architecture stages the re-enchantment of the subject. Its recent turns toward the charms of the market, self-organization, complexity, and affect seek to discredit and devalue the radical act of disenchantment achieved by critical thought. In place of reason we are supposed to be dazzled by the new phantasmagoria, to ditch our critical faculties so as to enjoy the sensory pleasures of formal innovation and environmental immersion. Two recent publications, Nadir Lahiji’s Adventures with the Theory of the Baroque and French Philosophy and Douglas Spencer’s The Architecture of Neoliberalism, each analyse and challenge this scenario. Addressing the conception and experience of architecture from the perspective of subjectivity, Lahiji and Spencer revive the supposedly outmoded concepts of power and ideology in order to critique Neobaroque and neoliberal practices in architecture. Addressing, in particular, the instrumentalization of philosophy to valorize these practices, they also seek out ways in which critical theory and philosophy might instead be recovered in order to contest them.

                    To mark the publication of these titles, Lahiji and Spencer invite others, from within and outside of the discipline of architecture, to join them in this symposium to further explore and develop their concerns and arguments. Addressing radical philosophies of the subject, architecture’s fetishization of circulation, critiques of autonomy, the politics of affect, the thought of Badiou, Tafuri, Lacan, Kracauer, Benjamin and Adorno, and other themes, this event seeks out ways to conceive of and critique the politics of a turn in architecture that supposes itself to have transcended such concerns.

                    Cambridge Talks X | Bound and Unbound: The Sites of Utopia (2016)


                      In the five hundred years since the publication of Thomas More’s Of A Republic’s Best State and of the New Island of Utopia (1516), the project of imagining an ideal society has emerged as simultaneously regenerative and devastating on multiple fronts: for the concept of the polity, for the composition of social fabrics, and, most relevant from the vantage of the design disciplines, for the formation of buildings, cities, and territories. This year’s Cambridge Talks, now in its tenth edition, aims to provide a spectrum of exemplary instances of utopia’s modern guise.

                      In the main conference panels, we bring together speakers to address the rivalry between those utopian endeavors that organize space mainly through social relations and production, and those whose expansive impulse searches out some form of technical mastery over spatial configuration. In other words, utopia can be understood as either embodied or totalizing, bound or unbound. By taking examples from the 19th and 20th centuries, the case studies presented here—from communes and plantations to infrastructural projects and global ecologies—exhibit various attempts to imagine social conditions alongside spatial ones. A concluding discussion will touch upon the philosophical and theoretical ramifications of utopia today.

                      April 14, 3 PM – 6 PM

                      PhD Colloquium


                      Ana Miljački, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

                      Sonja Dümpelmann, Harvard University


                      April 15, 9 AM – 5 PM

                      Panel 1: Embodied Utopia

                      Luis Casteñeda, Syracuse University

                      Joyce Chaplin, Harvard University

                      Erika Naginski, Harvard University

                      Respondent: Catherine Ingraham, Pratt Institute


                      Panel 2: Total Utopia

                      Daniel Barber, University of Pennsylvania

                      Sara Pritchard, Cornell Univesity

                      Abby Spinak, Charles Warren Center, Harvard University

                      Respondent: John May, Harvard University


                      Keynote Lecture

                      Damian White, Rhode Island School of Design

                      Discussants: K. Michael Hays and Neil Brenner, Harvard University