Category Archives: Fall 2020

NOV 19 | SICK ARCHITECTURE : roundtable

M+M Program in Media and Modernity and e-flux Architecture present

Roundtable with Tairan An, Guillermo Sanchez Arsuaga, Nick Axel, Victoria Bergbauer, Carrie Bly, Beatriz Colomina, Nikolaus Hirsch, Rebecca Kellawan, Iván López Munuera, Kara Plaxa, Gizem Sivri, Shivani Shedde, and Mark Wigley
Thursday, November 19, 2020 @5pm EST
Online Event [live stream >>]


Sick Architecture is a collaboration between Beatriz Colomina, e-flux Architecture, and the Princeton University Ph.D. Program in the History and Theory of Architecture, with the support of the Rapid Response David A. Gardner ’69 Magic Grant from the Humanities Council and the Program in Media and Modernity at Princeton University, featuring contributions by Tairan An, Guillermo Sanchez Arsuaga, Victoria Bergbauer, Carrie Bly, Beatriz Colomina, Rebecca Kellawan, Iván López Munuera, Kara Plaxa, Elizabeth A. Povinelli, Paul B. Preciado, Gizem Sivri, Shivani Shedde, and Mark Wigley. The project began as a Ph.D. seminar in the fall of 2019 and will continue in 2021 as an exhibition at CIVA in Brussels.

A grid of empty white beds in a dark cavernous space—waiting for bodies. One architecture inside another. A field hospital is set up within days to accommodate 5,500 patients in two convention center halls in Madrid. Buildings designed for temporary events now host an emergency medical architecture, a space for disease.

Sick Architecture is not simply the architecture of medical emergency. On the contrary, it is the architecture of normality—the way that past health crises are inscribed into the everyday, with each architecture not just carrying the traces of prior diseases, but having been completely shaped by them. Every new disease is hosted within the architecture formed by previous diseases in a kind of archeological nesting of disease. Each medical event activates deep histories of architecture and illness, along with all the associated fears, misunderstandings, prejudices, inequities, and innovations.

Image: A field hospital with 5,500 beds and an Intensive Care Unit for patients with COVID-19 at the Ifema exhibition complex in Madrid, March 22, 2020. Photo: Borja Sanchez-Trillo/Comunidad de Madrid via Getty Images.

NOV 9 | Martino Stierli: “Montage and the Metropolis: Architecture, Modernity, and the Representation of Space”

Martino Stierli
“Montage and the Metropolis: Architecture, Modernity, and the Representation of Space”
Interlocutor: Brigid Doherty
Monday, November 9, 2020 @5pm
Online Event [register here or stream here]

Montage is omnipresent in modern culture and discourse. Rooted in industrial production and popular image practices in the nineteenth century, and achieving its recognizable form in the avant-garde movements of the 1920s, the juxtaposition of (photographic) elements became, through adaption and analogy, a primary compositional principle in all artistic media. A direct consequence and function fo what Walter Benjamin termed “the age of technological reproducibility,” montage addresses the mode of perception specific to the mechanized metropolis. Engaging history and theory of architecture, photography, film, literature, historiography, and popular visual culture since the late nineteenth century, Montage and the Metropolis reassesses the category of montage as not only a dominant modernist compositional principle but also a way to think about embodied moving through space more generally­—a key strategy for the production of meaning, adopted by multiple constituencies.


Martino Stierli is The Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern art (MoMA), a role he assumed in March 2015. Stierli oversees the wide-ranging program of special exhibitions, installations, and acquisitions of the Department of Architecture and Design. He is the author of Montage and the Metropolis: Architecture, Modernity and the Representation of Space (Yale University Press, 2018) and Las Vegas in the Rearview Mirror: The City in Theory, Photography, and Film (Getty Research Institute, 2013). He has organized and co-curated exhibitions on a variety of topics, including the international traveling exhibition Las Vegas Studio: Images from the Archives of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, and The Architecture of Hedonism: Three Villas in the Island of Capri, which was included in the 14th Architecture Biennale in Venice in 2014. At MoMA; he has curated, with Vladimir Kulic, the exhibition “Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948-1980,” and, with Ann Temkin, “From the Collection: 1960-1969”. Together with the other chief curators, he was also responsible for the reconceptualization of the collection installations in the new and expanded MoMA, which opened to the public in October 2019. He is currently working on a large exhibition on the architecture of South Asia in the post-independence period.

Brigid Doherty is an associate professor in the Departments of German and Art & Archaeology at Princeton University.

Nov 5 | Ruha Benjamin: “Race to the Future? Reimagining the Default Settings of Technology & Society”

Ruha Benjamin
“Race to the Future? Reimagining the Default Settings of Technology & Society”
Interlocutor: V. Mitch McEwen
Thursday, November 5, 2020 @5pm EST
Online Event [register here or stream here]

From everyday apps to complex algorithms, technology has the potential to hide, speed, and deepen discrimination, while appearing neutral and even benevolent when compared to racist practices of a previous era. In this talk, Ruha Benjamin explores a range of discriminatory designs that encode inequity — what she terms the “New Jim Code.” This presentation takes us into the world of biased bots, altruistic algorithms, and their many entanglements, and provides conceptual tools to decode tech promises with historical and sociological insight. She will also consider how race itself is a kind of tool designed to stratify and sanctify social injustice and discuss how technology is and can be used toward liberatory ends. In doing so, Benjamin challenges us to question not only the technologies we are sold, but also the ones we manufacture ourselves.

Ruha Benjamin is Associate Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, Founding Director of the Ida B. Wells Just Data Lab, and author of the award-winning book Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim CodeFor more info visit

V. Mitch McEwen is Assistant Professor in Architecture and Director of the Black Box research group at Princeton University.

Oct 19 | Lydia Kallipoliti: “The Curious Case of Closed Worlds”

M+M Program in Media and Modernity presents

Lydia Kallipoliti
“The Curious Case of Closed Worlds”
Interlocutor: Sylvia Lavin
Monday, October 19, 2020 @5pm EST
Online Event [register here or stream here]

This talk will explore a genealogy of contained microcosms with the ambition to replicate the earth in its totality; a series of living experiments that forge a synthetic naturalism, where the laws of nature and metabolism are displaced from the domain of wilderness to the domain of cities and buildings. Beyond technical concerns, closed worlds distill architectural concerns related to habitation: first, an integrated structure where humans, their physiology of ingestion and excretion, become combustion devices, tied to the system with umbilical cords; second, closed worlds are giant stomachs; they are inhabitable machines that digest resources and are sometimes disobedient; at times they digest, while at other times they vomit.

Lydia Kallipoliti is an architect, engineer, and scholar whose research focuses on the intersections of architecture, technology, and environmental politics. She is an Assistant Professor at the Cooper Union in New York. She has also taught at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where she directed the Master of Science Program, at Syracuse University, Columbia University [GSAPP], and Pratt Institute; she was also a visiting fellow at the University of Queensland and a visiting professor at the University of Technology Sydney in Australia. She is the author of the awarded book The Architecture of Closed Worlds, Or, What is the Power of Shit (Lars Muller Publishers, 2018) and Head Co-Curator of the upcoming Tallinn Architecture Biennale in 2022.

Sylvia Lavin is Professor of History and Theory of Architecture at Princeton University.

Oct 14 | Fabiola López-Durán: “Eugenics in the Garden”

Fabiola López-Durán
“Eugenics in the Garden: Transatlantic Architecture and the Crafting of Modernity”
Interlocutor: Beatriz Colomina
Wednesday, October 14, 2020 @5pm EST
Online Event [register here or stream here]

Drawn from López-Durán’s new book, Eugenics in the Garden: Transatlantic Architecture and the Crafting of Modernity, this talk uncovers the global trajectory of Le Corbusier’s embrace of eugenics’ ideology as a viable doctrine for the remaking of man, wherein the built environment would be put to work. Examining his alignment with eugenics—from his formulation of universal type-needs, to his Modulor and its normative human body—this talk reveals how architecture was made complicit in a genetically-inspired program that mirrored eugenics’ attempts to “improve” the human race. 


Fabiola López-Durán is Associate Professor of Art and Architectural History at Rice University. Originally trained as an architect, she earned her Ph.D. in the History, Theory and Criticism of Architecture and Art from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and completed postdoctoral training at the University of California-Berkeley’s History of Art Department. Adopting a transnational and interdisciplinary perspective, López-Durán’s research and teaching uncovers and interrogates the cross-pollination of ideas and mediums—science, politics and aesthetics—that ignited the process of modernization on both sides of the Atlantic, with an emphasis on Latin America. She has written about monocultures and architecture, biopolitics and landscape, and the complicities between capitalism, racism and the construction of the built environment. Her book, Eugenics in the Garden: Transatlantic Architecture and the Crafting of Modernity, investigates a particular strain of eugenics that, at the turn of the twentieth century, moved from the realms of medicine and law to design, architecture, and urban planning—becoming a critical instrument in the crafting of modernity. Her research has been supported by grants and fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, the Dedalus Foundation, the CLIR, the Harvard Center for European Studies, the Camargo Foundation, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, MIT France and the Fulbright Program, among others. Her book Eugenics in the Garden received a Society of Architectural Historians/Mellon Author Award in 2018, and was the winner of the Robert Motherwell Book Prize in 2019.

Beatriz Colomina is Howard Crosby Butler Professor of the History of Architecture and Co-Director of the Program in Media and Modernity at Princeton University.


Images: [top] Alphonse Bertillon, chart of physical traits for the study of the “Portrait Parle,” ca. 1909. Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Twentieth-Century Photography Fund, 2009. [bottom]  Le Corbusier, Unité d’habitation in Marseille, 1945–1952 (the roof-terrace and its gymnasium). Photo by Rene Burri, 1959. © René Burri/Magnum Photos. Excerpted from Fabiola López-Durán, Eugenics in the Garden: Transatlantic Architecture and the Crafting of Modernity (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2018).