The best architecture and design lectures of the fall 2023 semester – including talks by Jeanne Gang, Charles Waldheim and Xu Tiantian – bring us back to school and work with more inspiration than ever. For additional architecture and design lectures and other happenings, visit azuremagazine.com/events.
When: September 21, 6pm
Where: Cambridge, MA, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
This lecture by Amale Andraos, principal of WorkAC and professor and dean emeritus at Columbia GSAPP, focuses on a series of her firm’s projects – such as the Adams Street Library, Brooklyn Public Library’s first new branch to open in more than 20 years – that re-examine architecture’s capacities to actively reshape social and environmental concerns.
Such commissions build on the practice’s focus on public work across scales and contexts, and on innovative approaches to preservation, sustainable systems, and a greater integration of architecture and landscape at the scale of buildings.
When: September 21, 6:30pm
Where: Toronto, ON, Daniels Faculty, University of Toronto
Architect Nzinga B. Mboup is the principal of the Dakar practice WOROFILA, which specializes in bioclimatic architecture and construction using locally sourced earth and biomaterials. In this lecture, she speaks about designing and building in the Senegalese context, with references to its climate, culture, traditions and unique “concrete modernity.” Mboup will address working with biomaterials, passive design strategies, her various cultural projects, and her research and collaborations.
In addition to co-running WOROFILA, Mboup has piloted research projects and is a participant in the 2023 Venice Biennale of Architecture. She was recently appointed curator of the Canadian Centre for Architecture program CCA c/o Dakar, a series of public programs and research projects in the Senegalese capital.
When: September 27, 6pm
Where: Houston, TX, Rice Architecture
Founded in 2009, Leong Leong works globally and at many scales, including buildings, interiors, exhibitions and furniture. From its uber-minimalist flagships for 3.1 Phillip Lim to its ultra-sensitive design for the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Anita May Rosenstein Campus in Hollywood, it is considered one of the most important American firms working today.
Internationally recognized as both an architecture studio and design consultancy based in New York, the studio collaborates with forward-thinking clients, cultural enterprises, and institutions to build cultural resonance and advance social agendas within the built environment.
When: October 2, 9am to 5pm
Where: Whistler, B.C., Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre
Taking place on World Architecture Day, the RAIC Congress brings professionals together to ignite action, strengthen connections, and share ideas on Climate Action and Architecture in Canada, in order to inform the development of a Climate Action Plan. Held in the Great Hall of the award-winning Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre in Whistler, a unique Indigenous space that showcases the two First Nations communities that lived in the Whistler area, the event is organized into three parts: it opens with a moderated discussion with Indigenous presenters focusing on how nature, ecological and Indigenous knowledges and practices must be at the centre of climate-resilient solutions; it continues with a presentation of our current state, exploring what we have un/learned; and the session closes with an inter-professional discussion on what actions must come next.
This session is AIBC-recognized and eligible for 5.5 Core LU of which 4 contribute to completion of the Indigenous Peoples Learning requirement.
When: October 5, 6pm
Where: Waterloo, ON, School of Architecture, Waterloo University
As senior director of Sustainability and Regenerative Design with Mass Design Group, Kelly Alvarez Doran supports principals and designers to embed performance and provenance objectives into all MASS projects, as well as leading climate-focused research and the training of the entire team. Alvarez Doran holds professorships at The Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment and at the University of Toronto where his Ha/f Research Studio is focused on the whole life carbon of the built environment. The outcomes of this research informed the development of embodied carbon policy regulation with the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.
When: October 9, 6pm
Where: London, U.K., Design Museum London
She designed the sets for Beyonce’s Renaissance Tour, for the 2022 Super Bowl half-time ode to hip hop, and for The Weeknd’s Coachella performance. Now, in anticipation of the publication of the first monograph of her genre-defying practice, An Atlas of Es Devlin, the British artist, stage sculptor, set designer and choreographer of light takes the stage herself, at Design Museum London. Devlin often experiments with new technologies in her multi-faceted work, creating mesmerizing, immersive, kinetic forms and spaces. In this conversation, Devlin will reflect on the breadth of her output and the making of her new book, and discuss the importance of collective experience and what she describes as “the shared now.”
When: October 17, 6:30
Where: Cambridge, MA, Harvard GSD
David Gissen, who also speaks in Toronto on the evening of September 28 as part of the Daniels Faculty’s fall lecture series, presents the ideas at the fore of The Architecture of Disability, his newly published book which situates experiences of impairment as a new foundation for the built environment. With its provocative proposal for “the construction of disability,” the book fundamentally reconsiders how we conceive of and experience disability in our world. A professor of Architecture and Urban History at The New School University/Parsons School of Design, Gissen will be joined by GSD alum Sara Hendren for a conversation on how we might look beyond traditional notions of accessibility to positively reimagine the roots of architecture.
When: October 19, 6pm
Where: Cambridge, MA, MIT
Kim Yao and Stephen Cassell lead New York’s Architecture Research Office (ARO) along with Adam Yarinsky. ARO’s vision, artistry, and dedication to craft have earned the firm over one hundred design awards, including the 2020 Firm Award by the American Institute of Architects – the highest honour given to any architecture practice – the AIA New York State Firm of the Year Award, and the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award for Architecture. Among its prominent projects are the restoration of Donald Judd’s home and studio; the 100 Flatbush Primary School and High School, an ultra-low energy use building designed to Passive House standards; and the upgrades and expansions of Dia Art Foundation’s locations in New York City and Beacon. In this talk, Yao and Cassell are joined by real estate professional and architect Jared Della Valle, the CEO of Alloy.
When: October 25 to 27
Where: Toronto, Teknion, 120 Bremner Blvd
Under the theme of Together, United, the Interior Designers of Canada will convene for three days of talks and networking in Toronto. The event boasts two inspiring keynotes: Nicole Verkindt and Russell Pollard.
Verkindt is the founder of OMX, a software platform that allows government contractors to manage local sourcing and socio-economic impacts, including ESGs and other sustainability metrics in regulated industries such as defence, aerospace, mining and infrastructure.
Pollard is the founder of Framework Leadership, through which he has supported architecture and interior design firms navigate change, improve workplace culture, and establish career pathways for employees. In 2022, he also founded Pride Talks as an employer program to raise awareness of and inclusion for 2SLGTBQ+ persons in the workplace.
When: October 30, 6:30pm
Where: New York, Columbia GSAPP
One of the most exciting firms to emerge from Spain in the past two decades, SelgasCano has made multi-hued plastic a main component of its experimental architecture. Among its projects are the Serpentine Pavilion of 2015, a diaphanous maze in ETFE; an easily deployable school building in Nairobi called “Helloeverything” Kibera Hamlets; and transformative offices for Second Home in Lisbon, London and Hollywood. The studio’s co-founders, José Selgas and Lucía Cano, deliver this lecture, which will be followed by a response from professor Laurie Hawkinson and associate professor of Professional Practice Galia Solomonoff.
When: November, 6:30pm
Where: Cambridge, MA, Harvard GSD
Angela Brooks is an expert in the ins and outs of creating viable affordable housing. She is the director of the Illinois office of the Corporation for Supportive Housing and the president of the American Planning Association. She also serves on the Chicago Board of Zoning Appeals, the Illinois Affordable Housing Advisory Commission, and is co-chair of the national Housing Supply Accelerator, helping communities meet the housing needs of residents. Brooks is a native of Seattle and a graduate of Jackson State University, where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies, and the University of New Orleans, where she received a Master of Urban and Regional Planning.
When: November 2, 6:30pm
Where: Toronto, Daniels Faculty, University of Toronto
“Designating land as ‘technical’ is a political act. Doing so entails dividing, marginalizing, and rendering portions of the Earth inaccessible and invisible.” These words derive from Technical Lands: A Critical Primer, the new book by Harvard GSD professor Charles Waldheim, in which various authors consider the meaning of spaces that are united by their “exceptional” characteristics, such as remote locations, delimited boundaries, secured accessibility and hyper-vigilant management. (Or: demilitarized zones, prison yards, industrial extraction sites, airports and spaceports.)
When: November 6, 6:30pm
Where: Cambridge, MA, Harvard GSD
In her Paris-based practice, Lina Ghotmeh embraces the concept of “archeology of the future” to develop her designs through historical research and a “humanist” lens, one that emphasizes the power of craft and that of the hand in the making of architecture. The built environment, through this method, embraces the traditions of its localities, while uplifting the subjective experience and the collective memory of those it recalls.
Her projects include the “Stone Garden” in Beirut, Lebanon, which anchors the city’s eventful past into the present by calling forward its ruins, histories of conflicts, and scarred landscape. The first low-carbon, energy-positive building delivered in France, the Workshops for Hermès live in complete symbiosis with their landscape while bridging craft, beauty, and today’s high technicity. “À Table,” the 22nd Serpentine Pavilion, is drawn in continuity to Ghotmeh’s ethos: Rising as a wooden structure in keeping with the natural surroundings, it is built predominantly from bio-sourced and low-carbon materials.
When: November 8, 6:30pm
Where: New York, Columbia GSAPP
More prolific than ever, architect Jeanne Gang, the founder of Chicago’s Studio Gang, recently expanded the American Museum of Natural History, inaugurated a new United States Embassy in Brazil and a new Sustainability Commons for Stanford University and continues to take on major projects around the world, including in Toronto, where she has designed the high-rise residence One Delisle.
Known for a distinctive approach that expands beyond architecture’s conventional boundaries, she creates striking places that connect people with their communities and the natural environment. A MacArthur Fellow and a professor in practice at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Gang has been named one of Time’s most influential people in the world.
When: November 8, 6pm
Where: Houston, TX, Rice University
“Architectural acupuncture,” the philosophy by which Xu Tiantian practices, has resulted in extraordinary feats of social and economic revitalization in rural China. As founding principal of DnA _Design and Architecture, Tiantian’s work includes the transformation of a quarry into an opera stage; the construction of a viewing platform on an ancient bridge that reunites the two villages on either side; and the adaptive reuse of a building into a public gathering place nestled in an old village. Her work has been selected by UN Habitat as the case study of Inspiring Practice on Urban-Rural Linkages. In 2020, she was appointed an honorary fellow of the American Institute of Architects.
When: November 9, 6:30pm
Where: Weil am Rhein, Germany, Vitra Schaudepot
British architect Louisa Hutton is a co-founder of Sauerbruch Hutton. The firm is now based in Berlin, where they realized their best-known building, the award-winning GSW headquarters (1999) with its distinctive solar screens in various shades of red. Other important works by the firm, such as the German Environment Agency in Dessau (2005) and the Museum Brandhorst in Munich (2009), also attest to its investigation of the potential of vibrant colour as an architectural resource. In her talk, Hutton presents her work and discusses the use of colour in architecture.
Benedetta Tagliabue is the principal of EMBT Architects, which she co-founded with Enric Miralles in 1994, and which now has offices in Barcelona (HQ), Shanghai, and Paris. (She is also the president of Fundació Enric Miralles, a centre that promotes emerging experimental architecture.) The firm’s architecture – notable projects include Barcelona’s Santa Caterina Market, the Zhang Daqian Museum in Neijiang, China, and the Ceramiche Ragno showroom in Milan – draws on a rich array of design instrumentalities and results from intensively imaginative and innovative design processes characterized by a sensitive and contextual exploration of cultures, practices, technologies and materials.
When: November 23, 6:30pm
Where: Toronto, University of Toronto, Daniels Faculty
Architect and academic David Fortin explores how the limitations of design can be productively reframed to open up possibilities – especially as they pertain to current housing challenges impacting both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians. His talk will feature the Architects Against Housing Alienation project Not For Sale, currently on view in the Canada Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale.
A professor at the University of Waterloo School of Architecture and the first Indigenous person to direct a school of architecture in Canada, Fortin investigates the instrumentality of the design process in influencing how we see our futures, with a particular focus on Indigenous voices and agency. A member of the Métis Nation of Ontario and of the RAIC Indigenous Task Force that seeks ways to foster and promote Indigenous design in Canada, he also leads a small design firm working closely with communities to realize their visions. In addition to this year’s Venice Biennale project, he was co-curator, with Gerald McMaster, of UNCEDED: Voices of the Land, Canada’s entry to the Venice Biennale in 2018.
When: December 6, 6pm
Where: Los Angeles, SCI-Arc
In 20 to 40 years’ time, innovations such as CRISPR will transform humanity and redefine many of society’s structures. When humans are born outside of the body in labs, who will shape these reproductive habitats – and for what purpose? How humans will adapt to brave new technologies is the theme of a timely lecture by Lucy McRae, the Los Angeles–based science fiction artist, filmmaker, inventor and body architect. Her work speculates on the future of human existence by exploring the limits of the body, beauty, biotechnology, and the self – and the cultural and emotional impacts science and cutting-edge technology have on redesigning the body.
Regarded as a pioneer who blurs the boundaries across art, architecture, design, and technology with a healthy disregard for labels that limit interdisciplinary practice, McRae uses art as a mechanism to signal and provoke our ideologies and ethics about who we are and where we are headed. Selected of her major artworks – which include Future Survival Kit, Future Day Spa and Astronaut Aerobics – have been exhibited at Science Museum London, Centre Pompidou, and the Venice Biennale.
When: December 12, 12pm
Where: Zoom, link available closer to lecture date
For many years now, Silvio Baldassara of the Canadian firm NORR has been gathering stellar speakers from around the world to give virtual talks. This December, he has invited none other than Pritzker Prize–winning David Chipperfield to deliver a lecture. Renowned for his modernism-meets-classicism approach to architecture, Chipperfield is currently at work on a project with profound meaning for Canadians: Ottawa’s Parliamentary Precinct Block 2 Redevelopment (with Zeidler Architecture), which recently won an AZ Award.
From a conversation with Lina Ghotmeh (designer of Hermès’ stunning new workshops) and an evening with Es Devlin to a three-day architecture congress in Whistler, these are the architecture and design lectures you need to know about.