February 20, 2019
Presented by the Graduate Architecture Program
Not only are many print journals now gone, architectural theory courses have been eliminated in many schools’ curricula in favor of technology-centered courses, research studios, history without theory, and autonomous theory. It’s as if architectural theory, a field of inquiry developed and articulated over a few thousand years, filling archives and rare book rooms with beguiling works of architectural knowledge, was suddenly transformed in unrecognizable ways.
This symposium asks, “What has happened to architectural theory and where is it headed?” Is it M.I.A., D.O.A. or simply in transition? What constitutes the practice of architectural thinking—or theory—today? Surely, even if earlier preoccupations now seem irrelevant, architects and students still seek to reflect on the greater purpose of their activities.
Age-old architectural concerns about aesthetics, function, materials, and construction have not disappeared. Yet more comprehensive intellectual tools are needed to interpret, assess, and evaluate the long term social and cultural implications of architectural work, in particular the highly technological expansion of design and building.
If little in architectural theory, as developed in recent decades, has prepared architects to thoughtfully engage in our contemporary challenges, it is perhaps time to make a new start in defining architectural theory now.
David Leatherbarrow (PennDesign), Joan Ockman (PennDesign), Adam Sharr (Newcastle University), Jonathan Massey (University of Michigan), Jane Rendell (Bartlett University College London), Francesca Hughes (University of Technology Sydney), Mike Cadwell (Ohio State)
Franca Trubiano (PennDesign),
David Leatherbarrow (PennDesign)
Peter Laurence (Clemson)
Go to PennDesign for program details.
PennDesign prepares students to address complex sociocultural and environmental issues through thoughtful inquiry, creative expression, and innovation. As a diverse community of scholars and practitioners, we are committed to advancing the public good–both locally and globally–through art, design, planning, and preservation.
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