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It's Simple: Histories of Architecture and/for the Environment

19 October 1:00pm - 6:00pm
Venue: 114 Avery Hall
Columbia University
Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation
1172 Amsterdam Avenue
New York

It’s Simple: Histories of Architecture and/for the Environment

Presentations by the Canadian Centre for Architecture’s Mellon Researchers, with discussion led by the Buell Center.


Some profit from climate change, but many more suffer its consequences. It’s that simple; any history of anthropogenic planetary transformation is therefore also a history of inequality, injustice, and struggle.


Arguing that architecture needs an environmental history, the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) has organized, with generous support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the multidisciplinary, collaborative research project “Architecture and/for the Environment.”But what should this history look like? Around whose priorities should its objects of inquiry be defined and assembled? What truths should it seek?


As a part of the CCA’s research project and in conjunction with the Buell Center’s “Power: Infrastructure in America” research initiative, this afternoon event will offer new directions and agendas for environmental histories of architecture that combine a planetary perspective with an assertion that national centers of power, particularly those in the United States, continue to hold outsize influence and responsibility.


This event follows the CCA public seminar on 9 June, “It’s Complicated,” during which Mellon researchers and invited scholars interrogated paired concepts of Energy/Power, Control/Systems, Body/Exposure, and Post-human/Nature.


With “It’s Simple,” the CCA and the Buell Center propose that there are few winners and mostly losers in the Anthropocene, and that architectural—indeed environmental—historiography must begin by acknowledging this fact. Though the narratives might be complex, the imperative is simple.



Daniel Barber ’10 Ph.D. Arch, University of Pennsylvania

Aleksandr Bierig, Harvard University

Nerea Calvillo ’02 MSAAD, Warwick University

Jiat-Hwee Chang, National University of Singapore

Isabelle Doucet, University of Manchester

Hannah le Roux, University of the Witwatersrand

Kiel Moe, Harvard University

Paulo Tavares, Universidade de Brasília

Response by Kim Förster, CCA, and Meredith TenHoor, Pratt Institute

Moderated by Reinhold Martin, GSAPP professor and Buell Center Director