random thoughts on architecture history theory and criticism

Histories of Architecture Against, SAH 2018 CFP


I’m very happy to be chairing a panel at SAH 2018, St. Paul. It’s titled “Histories of Architecture Against” and you can find all about it and apply here.

Histories of architecture have revealed and shaped the pervasive presence of power and its agent, capital. The bond between power and the built environment is present in monumental state celebrations, vast privately-developed housing projects, and transnational infrastructural networks. Biopower regulates the authority of our institutions, the distribution of labor, and the construction of our bodies as gendered, racialized entities. Tracing the histories of environments shaped by power, architecture historians have either confirmed its authority by claiming it for the canon, or revealed its operations and their results in the production of buildings, infrastructure, and culture at large. While the former memorializes instances of power, the latter confirms narratives of oppression, and to a certain degree, their inevitability. In contrast to these histories, there is a growing body of research focused on the role of architecture in revolution, occupation, or dissent. This session looks to expand on this work by focusing specifically on the challenges of writing histories of architecture against— against capital, against the state, or other types of power.

We are interested in papers that consider the methodological complications of writing histories of disenfranchised and marginalized groups, and the challenges of representation, partisanship, and operative criticism. How do we position ourselves as historians within these narratives? How do we historicize the production of spaces of defiance? How do we trace systems and networks designed to promote non-compliance? We welcome case studies of architects operating against the state, as well as histories of actors shaping the built environment outside the traditional boundaries of the discipline, provided they reflect on their own historiographic approach. Various scales of research are welcome, from the biopolitics of the body to the transnational exploitation of territories. As a session focused on resistance to power, we are particularly interested in research from underrepresented regions and actors.


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Research as Praxis

The PhD architectural colloquium at Taubman College hosted Bryce Detroit and me on the relationship between research and activism. We haven’t figured it out yet but we had some thoughts.

20170331 taubman colloquium

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Designing Commodity Cultures


My colleague Niko Vicario and I are guest-editing a special issue of the Architectural Theory Review! Please read and share our call for papers, available in full here, short intro below.

Monocultural production—the dominance of a single raw material in a regional economy—has figured strongly in the designs and representations of the Global South. From the intimacy of sensory experience to the ravages of war, raw materials have linked disparate territories through transnational circuits of exchange, imperial regimes, and technology transfers. What remains under examined is the relationship of these commodities to aesthetics and the construction of the built environment in connection to the rise of global capitalism. This special issue of Architectural Theory Review will argue that the extraction, processing, storage, and circulation of commodities has shaped images, buildings, and landscapes across Latin America, Asia, and Africa.


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Contested Spaces


Image: Screencapture, Martha Rosler, Semiotics of the Kitchen (1975).

Contested Spaces is a course that examines how specific sites and objects have participated in the construction of class, race, and gender. The course was designed collaboratively by FAAC, the Feminist Art and Architecture Collaborative. FAAC is Martina Tanga, Olga Touloumi, Tessa Paneth-Pollak, and Ana María León. This Fall 2016, three of us are teaching the course simultaneously at our respective institutions: Olga at Bard College, Tessa at Michigan State University, and Ana María at the University of Michigan. You can follow our student’s work through our website, and on Instagram through the hashtag #contestedspaces.


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Detroit Resists in Venice

20160515 DR centerfold copy.jpg

I’m very happy to share that I’m part of Detroit Resists and we have announced our digital occupation of the U.S. Pavilion in Venice. Go team!

For more information, you can view and download our exhibition catalogue here:

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Export Commodity Cultures

I’m very happy to be co-chairing a panel at this year’s Latin American Studies Association Conference (LASA 2016) with my colleague Niko Vicario. It’s titled Export Commodity Cultures: Designing Latin America. We were able to round up a great group of scholars and a fantastic respondent! Here’s our abstract, and you can find more details in the conference website here.

The economics and politics of monocultural production and export-led development have figured strongly in Latin American art and architecture. We consider these aesthetics and infrastructures, from the links between the cattle industry and architectural production in late-nineteenth century Argentina to the graphic design of oil magazines in Venezuela. Latin American “nature” became entangled in vast transnational networks, from the agrilogistics of the Caribbean sugar complex to the commodification of Andean airspace during the Cold War. Through these case studies, we reveal the links between raw materials and the cultural production of the region.

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Lina in Bahia, Bahia in Ibirapuera


It’s SAH time! Looking forward so much to the annual archinerd reunion, particularly since this time it’s in California. I’ll be presenting some new material about Lina Bo Bardi and Martim Gonçalves’ exhibition “Bahia no Ibirapuera” in the session That Which Does Not Last: Ephemeral Architecture After Modernism. There are a few papers on Bo Bardi in this SAH iteration, but only mine will break your heart.

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  1. I found these messages in front of the museum this morning:


2. So I bought some chalk and invited people to react:


3. It worked!


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Cities of the Americas Workshop


I presented my course, “Urban Fragments: Form and Politics of American Cities” at Cities of the Americas, a workshop organized by the Princeton-Mellon Initiative in Architecture, Urbanism & the Humanities.

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Architectural Histories of/by the Collective

Discussing many things tomorrow here:



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