London symposium explores architecture’s relationship to society

The Harvard Graduate School of Design, with Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP), is pleased to announce the symposium Collaboration: The Lineage of an Architectural Practice, to be held Thursday, March 17 at the Leadenhall Building in London. RSHP’s history offers a remarkable lens on the task and the potential of architecture. Engaging with select themes and projects from RSHP’s nearly four decades of design, the symposium will unravel a series of issues that have been central to the firm’s practice and vital to the practice of architecture, including the role of collaboration and the question of architecture’s relationship to society.

Lord Rogers of Riverside, Graham Stirk, and Ivan Harbour will be among the symposium’s speakers, who include RSHP collaborators past and present. Participants are to include Dean Mohsen Mostafavi, K. Michael Hays, Hanif Kara, and Farshid Moussavi from Harvard GSD; Laurie Abbott, Ricky Burdett, Mike Davies, Philip Gumuchdjian, Eva Jiřičná, John McAslan, and Chris Wilkinson, among others.

The symposium will comprise three sessions, organized thematically around the firm’s history and evolution. Opening session “Tradition or Industrialisation?” will trace the firm’s origins and its early relationship with industrial practice. Among specific projects discussed will be the celebrated house that Rogers built for his parents in Wimbledon, London, in the 1960s. The Richard Rogers Charitable Settlement donated the house to Harvard GSD in 2015; the School is currently planning to establish it as a site for scholars and designers to study and collaborate near the resources of the City of London.

Session Two, “The Public and the Private,” will examine the firm’s private buildings, such as the Lloyd’s and Leadenhall buildings in London, alongside its public projects, including the Centre Pompidou and National Assembly of Wales. In the final session, “The Task of Architecture,” Rogers will discuss the ongoing issue of social responsibility in architecture. He will then join Mostafavi, Moussavi, and Burdett for a conversation on the field’s potential for societal impact.

“Richard, Graham, Ivan and their collaborators have demonstrated how architecture can have real and lasting influence,” Mostafavi said. “We are grateful for the opportunity to engage in conversations about the practice and potential of architecture, and to use London as a platform for future convenings on its role in society.”