Category Archives: roundtable

11/30 | EXTINCT: A Compendium of Obsolete Objects

EXTINCT: A Compendium of Obsolete Objects
with Barbara Penner, Adrian Forty, Olivia Horsfall Turner, Charles Rice, Harriet Harriss, Zeynep Çelik Alexander

Tuesday, November 30, 2021 @5pm ET
Online Event [register here]
 History is filled with objects that once populated the world, but do so no longer. Some artifacts and technologies that have disappeared were once ubiquitous; others barely made it into existence, not more than an idea or prototype. We are interested not simply in why some things have disappeared, but in what their disappearance tells us about the world we have created for ourselves. In using the analogy of ‘extinction’ to describe this process, what assumptions do we perpetuate about why certain things disappear, at the expense of other, possibly no less pertinent, possibilities? 

This talk features the editors of and selected contributors to the newly published book,Extinct: A Compendium of Obsolete Objects (Reaktion, November 2021). They will introduce the theme of extinction in design and present a series of objects from the book. >>>> Introduction to EXTINCT via Places Journal <<<<

Barbara Penner is Professor in Architectural Humanities at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL. Her books include Bathroom (Reaktion, 2013) and she is a contributing editor of Places Journal.  

Adrian Forty is Professor Emeritus of Architectural History at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL. He is the author of many books including Concrete and Culture, a Material History (Reaktion, 2012).  

Olivia Horsfall Turner is the Senior Curator of Architecture and Design at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Charles Rice is Professor of Architecture at the University of Technology Sydney and author of Interior Urbanism: Architecture, John Portman and Downtown America (2016).

Harriet Harriss is a UK-licensed architect, writer, and historian, and Dean of the Pratt School of Architecture in Brooklyn, New York.

Zeynep Çelik Alexander is Associate Professor of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University and author of Kinaesthetic Knowing: Aesthetics, Epistemology, Modern Design (University of Chicago Press, 2017).

APR 20 | Sylvia Lavin and Michael Osman “Out-Takes as Method”: Architecture Itself and Other Postmodernization Effects

M+M Program in Media and Modernity presents

Sylvia Lavin and Michael Osman
“Out-Takes as Method”: Architecture Itself and Other Postmodernization Effects
Tuesday, April 20, 2021 @5pm ET
Online Event [register here or stream here]

Although histories of architectural postmodernism are on the rise, they remain predominantly concerned with problems of visual style and organized by narratives of individual and artistic genius.  The result has been the fabrication of a historiography that reinforces the very tropes it pretends to unfold, the most persistent of which is the ineffable yet universal category of architecture itself. In order to counteract this tendency, Lavin organized a series of exhibitions that focused on ‘out-takes,’ objects related to architectural practice in the United States between 1965 and 1990 and extracted from buildings, archives and, sometimes, collections but not intended to be viewed as art. Lavin and Osman will consider the ways in which this alternate evidence field demonstrates that postmodernism did not save ‘architecture itself’ from the technocratic logic of post-war life in the United States but rather was its most widely disseminated product.  The discussion will begin by considering the book, Architecture Itself and Other Postmodernization Effects, but will move on to discuss the role of the ‘out-take’ in contemporary historiographical method.

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

Michael Osman is Associate Professor of Architectural History at the University of California in Los Angeles’ (UCLA) Department for Architecture and Urban Design, where he currently directs the MA and PhD programs. Osman is the author of Modernism’s Visible Hand: Architecture and Regulation in America (University of Minnesota Press, 2018), a book on the role buildings have played in developing systems for environmental and economic regulation. He is one of the founding members of Aggregate: The Architectural History Collaborative, a platform for exploring new methods in architectural history. He co-curated a portion of the exhibition “Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: Unpacking the Archive” at the Museum of Modern Art. His research has been supported by fellowships from the University of California Humanities Research Institute, the National Science Foundation and the Fulbright Program.


Irene Cheng, Charles L. Davis II, and Mabel O. Wilson
Tuesday, February 9, 2020 @5pm
Online Event [register here or stream here]

Although race—a concept of human difference that establishes hierarchies of power and domination—has played a critical role in the development of modern architectural discourse and practice since the Enlightenment, its influence on the discipline remains largely underexplored. Race and Modern Architecture offers a welcome and long-awaited intervention for the field by shining a spotlight on constructions of race and their impact on architecture and theory in Europe and North America and across various global contexts since the eighteenth century. Challenging us to write race back into architectural history, contributors confront how racial thinking has intimately shaped some of the key concepts of modern architecture and culture over time, including freedom, revolution, character, national and indigenous style, progress, hybridity, climate, representation, and radicalism. By analyzing how architecture has intersected with histories of slavery, colonialism, and inequality—from eighteenth-century neoclassical governmental buildings to present-day housing projects for immigrants—Race and Modern Architecture challenges, complicates, and revises the standard association of modern architecture with a universal project of emancipation and progress.

Irene Cheng is associate professor of architecture at the California College of the Arts, where she directs the Experimental History Project. She is the coeditor, with Bernard Tschumi, of The State of Architecture at the Beginning of the 21st Century (Monacelli Press, 2003). Her forthcoming book The Shape of Utopia(University of Minnesota Press) explores the relationship between architecture and politics in nineteenth-century American utopias.

Charles L. Davis II is an assistant professor of architectural history and criticism at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York. His research examines the integrations of race and style theory in paradigms of “architectural organicism,” or design movements that emulated natural principles of development to produce a “living architecture.” His book Building Character: The Racial Politics of Modern Architectural Style (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2019) was supported by grants from the Graham Foundation and the Canadian Center for Architecture.

Mabel O. Wilson is the Nancy and George E. Rupp Professor of Architecture, Planning and Preservation  and a professor in African American and African Diaspora Studies at Columbia University. She is the director of the Institute for Research in African American Studies and co-director of the Global Africa Lab. She has authored Begin with the Past: Building the National Museum of African American History and Culture (Smithsonian Books, 2017) and Negro Building: Black Americans in the World of Fairs and Museums (University of California Press, 2012).

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.