GSD Talks: Cambridge Talks VIII: Framing Architecture; Environments, Institutions, Practices

Vitruvius suggested two millennia ago that the architect must be well versed in drawing, geometry, history, philosophy, music, medicine, law, and astronomy. However, architectural history has long struggled to convincingly translate the extensivity required of practice into words about practice, often focusing instead on archetypal buildings and styles primarily in the Western European canon. Today, as architectural history moves beyond narrow histories of individual works and architects (and beyond Eurocentrism), a new set of questions must be raised. Have we convincingly established productive limits around our field? If architecture is understood to be a complex and multifaceted producer of knowledge, stretching from the urban and environmental scale down to ornament and detail, how do we delimit its study? Through talks on environmental history, institutional history, and the history of practice, this conference will interrogate the limits of architectural writing and the practices that produce the objects that architectural historians write about. 


9:30am | Welcoming Remarks

Erika Naginski, Co-Director, Harvard Graduate School of Design PhD Program


Michael J. Rawson (Brooklyn College), “Designing with Nature: An Environmental Historian’s Perspective”

Catherine Ingraham (Pratt Institute), “Land by Proclamation”

Kiel Moe (Harvard University), “Insulating Modernism”

Moderator: Charles Waldheim (Harvard University)

12pm | Lunch


Lauren Benton (New York University), “Legal Islands and Jurisdictional Corridors”

Felicity D. Scott (Columbia University), “Cruel Habitats”

Daniel M. Abramson (Tufts University), “Market, Corporation, Association”

Moderator: Fallon Samuels (Harvard University)


Magali Sarfatti Larson (Temple University & University of Urbino), “Profession, field, art world, STEM occupation: the sociological mooring of architectural practices.”

 Jay Wickersham (Harvard University), “The Power of Law and Money: Two Stories from the History of Practice”

Anthony Vidler (Brown University), “Architectural Histories“

Moderator: K. Michael Hays (Harvard University)


More information can be found here.


Anyone requiring accessibility accommodations should contact the events office two weeks in advance at 617 496 2414 or [email protected]

Anyone requiring accessibility accommodations should contact the Public Programs Office at (617) 496-2414 or [email protected].