Graduate Architecture

Architectural Theory Now?

Thursday, April 4, 2019Friday, April 5, 2019
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Meyerson Hall, 210 South 34th Street, Lower Gallery

Opening Questions

Architectural theory is today at an impasse, if not passé. 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 longterm 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.

Keynote Conversants

David Leatherbarrow (PennDesign)
Joan Ockman (PennDesign)
Adam Sharr (Newcastle University)
Jonathan Massey (University of Michigan)
Jane Rendell (Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London)
Francesca Hughes (University of Technology Sydney)
Michael Caldwell (The Ohio State University)
Michael Benedikt (University of Texas at Austin)
Franca Trubiano (PennDesign)
Peter Laurence (Clemson University)


Franca Trubiano (PennDesign)
David Leatherbarrow (PennDesign)
Peter Laurence (Clemson University)

Download Event Program

Sponsored in part by the University Research Foundation (URF)

Thursday, April 4, 2019
Keynote Conversation I - Within/Without
6:00pm - 7:30pm
Friday, April 5, 2019
Opening Remarks
Paper Session I - Within/Without
9:30am - 11:00am

Papers which discuss architectural theory’s dual origins in ideas, principles and contexts internal to the discipline and far beyond it. 

Keynote Conversation II - Practices
11:15am - 12:30pm
Tour of Architectural Archives
1:00pm - 2:00pm
Paper Session II - Practices
1:30pm - 3:00pm

Papers which discuss contemporary practices of architectural theory as defined through the lens of writers, philosophers, and theorists. 

Paper Session III - Re-definitions
3:30pm - 5:00pm

Papers which expand the definition of architectural theory by introducing and discussing alternative methods, practices, and values. 

Keynote Conversation III - Re-Definitions
5:30pm - 7:00pm