Symposium on Architecture: How to See Architecture: Bruno Zevi (MArch ’42)

©Bruno Zevi Foundation

© Bruno Zevi Foundation

One hundred years after his birth, the prolific work of Roman architect Bruno Zevi continues to engage current problems in theory and criticism, and deserves to be revisited. From the publication of Towards an Organic Architecture, in 1945, to his monograph on Erik Gunnar Asplund published the very year of his death in 2000, many of his books have had an electrifying effect on architects and historians. Active as educator and as political activist, he was an engaged, charismatic contributor to the public discussion through his weekly chronicle in L’Espresso. Beyond Italy, Zevi has had a determining presence in Latin America and other parts of the world.

Held at a school where his passage between 1940 and 1942 was far from uneventful, this symposium addresses issues relative to Zevi’s life, to his writings and to his brave fights for his ideas. His position in Italian politics and in the historical interpretation of architecture will be questioned, as well as the theoretical, narrative and rhetorical strategies at work in his engaged texts.

The first session, entitled “Democracy, Dialogue, Narrative: The Dialectics of Disegno and Storia“, will be moderated by K. Michael Hays with contributions from Pippo Ciorra and Daria Ricchi.

The second session, entitled “Zevi’s World, from Cambridge to the Rio de la Plata, and Back to Rome”, will be moderated by Anthony Vidler with contributions from Alicia Imperiale, Jorge Francisco Liernur, and Tamar Zinguer.

A conclusive lecture from Jean-Louis Cohen will measure Zevi’s role within the double perspective of architectural practice and historical reflection.



1:00 PM Opening Remarks

1:10 PM Panel 1: “Democracy, Dialogue, Narrative: The Dialectics of Disegno and Storia”

2:30 PM Coffee Break

3:00 PM Panel 2: “Zevi’s world, from Cambridge to the Rio de la Plata, and back to Rome”

4:30 PM Coffee Break

5:00 PM Keynote lecture


Participant Bios

Pippo Ciorra: architect, critic and professor, member of the editorial board of “Casabella” from 1996 to 2010, he collaborates with journals, reviews and national. In 2011 he has published an overview of the conditions of architecture in Italy, Senza architettura, le ragioni per una crisi (Laterza). Author of a number of books and, as the monographic studies on Ludovico Quaroni (Electa, 1989), Peter Eisenman (Electa, 1993), and then on museums, urbanism, photography and contemporary Italian architecture. He teaches design and theory at SAAD (University of Camerino) and is the director of the international PhD program “Villard d’Honnecourt” (IUAV). He’s a member of CICA (International Committee of Architectural Critics), advisor for the award “Gold Medal of the Italian architecture”. He’s been chairing or participating to juries for national and international design competitions. In 2016 was part of the jury for the XV Architecture Biennale in Venice. He has curated and designed exhibitions in Italy and abroad.  Since 2009, he is Senior Curator of MAXXI Architettura in Rome.  Among his major exhibitions, Re-cycle, Energy, Food, The Japanese House. Piccole Utopie, is a traveling show on ten Italian architects. In 2018 he curated, with J-L. Cohen, the exhibition on Bruno Zevi. Storia e controstoria dell’architettura. He curates the Italian branch of YAP, the MoMA PS1 international program for young architects.

Jean-Louis Cohen: Trained as an architect and an historian, Jean-Louis Cohen holds since 1994 the Sheldon H. Solow Chair for the History of Architecture at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts. In 2014 he has been given the first chair for architecture at the Collège de France. His research has focused on the French, German and Soviet architectural avant-gardes, on colonial situations and on Paris planning history. He has published more than thirty books, including: France, Modern Architectures in History (2015), Le Corbusier: an Atlas of Modern Landscapes (2013), The Future of Architecture. Since 1889 (2012), Architecture in Uniform (2011), Mies van der Rohe (2007), Casablanca (2002), and Le Corbusier and the Mystique of the USSR (1992). Among the numerous exhibitions he has curated feature the centennial show “L’aventure Le Corbusier” (1987), at the Centre Georges Pompidou; “Scenes of the World to Come,” and “Architecture in Uniform at the Canadian Center for Architecture (1995 and 2011); “Interférences / Interferenzen – Architecture, Allemagne, France”, at the Musées de Strasbourg (2013); “Le Corbusier: an Atlas of Modern Landscapes,” at the Museum of Modern Art (2007). In 2018, he has curated wih Pippo Ciorra the exhibition Zevi’s Architects at Rome’s MAXXI. He received in 2014 the special mention of the jury for his French pavilion at the Venice Biennale.

K. Michael Hays is Eliot Noyes Professor of Architectural Theory at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Hays joined the Faculty of Design in 1988, teaching courses in architectural history and theory. Hays has played a central role in the development of the field of architectural theory and his work is internationally known. His research and scholarship have focused on the areas of European modernism and critical theory as well as on theoretical issues in contemporary architectural practice. He has published on the work of modern architects, as well as on contemporary figures. Hays was the founder of the scholarly journal Assemblage, which was a leading forum of discussion of architectural theory in North America and Europe. From 1995 to 2005 he was Chair of the PhD Committee and Director of the GSD’s Advanced Independent Study Programs. In 2000 he was appointed the first Adjunct Curator of Architecture at the Whitney Museum of American Art, a position he held until 2009.

Alicia Imperiale’s scholarly work examines the interplay between technology and art, architecture, representation, and fabrication in postwar Italian art and architecture. She is the author of New Flatness: Surface Tension in Digital Architecture (Birkhauser, 2000); “Seminal Space: Getting under the Digital Skin,” in RE:SKIN (MIT, 2006); “Organic Italy? The Troubling Case of Rinaldo Semino,” in Perspecta 43 (2010); “Post 1965 Italy: The ‘Metaprogetto sì e no” in Industries of Architecture (Routledge, 2015), “Organic architecture as an Open Work,” in Zevi’s Architects: History and Counter-History from Postwar to the End of the 20th Century (Quodlibet, 2018), “An Ineluctable Geometric Character: Luigi Moretti and a prehistory of parametric architecture” (Log 44, 2018) and “Paolo Soleri’s Teilhard de Chardin Cloister,” in Modern Architecture and Religious Communities: Building the Kingdom (Routledge, 2018). Her book manuscript Organic Architecture as an Open Work: The aesthetics of experimentation in art, technology & architecture in postwar Italy is based upon her dissertation at Princeton University. In 2016-17 she was a Cornell University Society for the Humanities Fellow, where she conducted research for a new book Machine Consequences: Origins of Output. Her work has been supported by a Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts Research Grant.

Jorge Francisco Liernur is an architect graduated at the University of Buenos Aires. He held out postgraduate studies with Manfredo Tafuri  and Tilmann Buddensieg. He is currently Professor Emeritus at the School of Architecture and Urban Studies at the Torcuato Di Tella University in Buenos Aires, where he was its founding Dean, and he is Associated Professor at the School of Architecture of Santiago de Chile’s Catholic University. He was (1986-2016) Researcher from the Argentine National Council for Research on Science and Technology, and Guest Curator of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He has been visiting scholar at several Universities  in America, Asia and Europe: Harvard (USA), Navarra (Spain); Roma La Sapienza, Politecnico di Milano, (Italy); Universität Trier (Germany);  Xi An University of Technology (China) among others. He published books (“Architecture in XXth Century Argentina”, “The Southern Network. On the works of Le Corbusier and his disciples in Argentina”;  “Writings on XXth Century Architecture in Latin America”,  “Architecture in Latin America. 1965-1985”, “The shadow of the Avant-Garde. Hannes Meyer in Mexico”, etc.), and numerous essays in America, Asia and Europe (“Assemblage”, “ANY”, “Zodiac”, “Casabella”, “AA files”, “Arquitectura Viva”,  “Der Architekt”,  “A+U”, “World Architecture”, etc..)

Daria Ricchi has a Ph.D. in history and theory from Princeton University. She in an architectural historian and writer. She is a regular contributor to architectural magazines and academic journals. Her dissertation focused on architecture historiography and its literary genres between 1930s and 1950s considering figures like the architect and historian Bruno Zevi, the art critic Giulio Carlo Argan, and the writer Italo Calvino. More broadly, her research interests include: writerly modes in the historiography of architecture, modern and contemporary art and architecture, popular culture. While at Yale as a postdoctoral fellow she started her current project. She is studying the early architectural writing by the American novelist Edith Wharton (1862-1937), and how writing and questions of taste targeted both a specialized audience and a broader public.

Anthony Vidler received his professional degree in architecture from Cambridge University in England, and his doctorate in History and Theory from the University of Technology, Delft, the Netherlands. Dean Vidler was a member of the Princeton University School of Architecture faculty from 1965–93, serving as the William R. Kenan Jr. Chair of Architecture, the Chair of the Ph.D. Committee, and Director of the Program in European Cultural Studies. In 1993 he took up a position as professor and Chair of the Department of Art History at UCLA, with a joint appointment in the School of Architecture from 1997. Vidler was appointed Acting Dean of the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture of The Cooper Union in 2001, and Dean of the School in 2002, a position he held until 2013. A historian and critic of modern and contemporary architecture, specializing in French architecture from the Enlightenment to the present, he has consistently taught courses in design and history and theory and continues to teach a wide variety of courses at The Cooper Union. Vidler has received awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities; he was a Getty Scholar, at the Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities in 1992–93 and a Senior Mellon Fellow at the Canadian Centre of Architecture, Montreal, in 2005. His publications include The Writing of the Walls: Architectural Theory in the Late Enlightenment (Princeton Architectural Press, 1987), Histories of the Immediate Present: The Invention of Architectural Modernism (MIT Press, 2008), and The Scenes of the Street and other Essays (Monacelli Press, 2011).

Tamar Zinguer is an educator and historian of architecture who has practiced for ten years before turning to research and teaching. Her book and manuscripts all position architecture within larger cultural fields and discourses. Architecture in Play: Intimations of Modernism in Architectural Toys, (UVA Press, 2015) explores how breakdown and collapse, constructing and taking apart have positioned toys as tools that advanced the constant reevaluation of spatial design. A manuscript in progress, “The Degree Zero of Architecture,” looks at different critics who used the expression “degree zero” in relation to architecture. Minimalism in design, industrial buildings, early urban forms and vernacular structures are all explored and different modalities of nothingness investigated in a discipline whose formal manifestations have become more and more complicated. Also forthcoming is Model Deserts: An Architectural History of the Sandbox (MIT Press, 2019), which follows the ubiquitous space of the sandbox from its pedagogical beginnings in 19th Century Berlin to its death in 1970, USA, and its subsequent rebirth as a significant trope in art. Zinguer was trained at The Cooper Union (B. Arch), Technion, Israel (M.Sc.) and Princeton University (Ph.D.) and has been Associate Professor of Architecture at The Cooper Union since 2006.


Due to unforeseen circumstances, Roberto Dulio is no longer able to participate in the conference.

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