ORDER! : The Spatial Ideologies of Carbon Modernity

Saturday, April 1, 2023, 11am - 6:30pm

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Abandoned Big Box Store, Houston, Texas, 2014. Image courtesy of Elisa Iturbe.

This event will be conducted in-person in the Rose Auditorium and through Zoom. 

For Zoom attendance, please register in advance here.
For In-Person attendance, please register in advance here

With the onset of the industrial revolution, a new spatial order emerged—one that is not only energy-intensive, but one that also writes the social and economic structures of an industrial and extractive society into concrete, steel, and glass. As part of the exhibition Confronting Carbon Form, this symposium gathers architects, designers, scholars, historians, and theorists to identify and study the specific spatial concepts of that order—a necessary undertaking if architecture is to address the climate crisis.

The symposium will consist of three sessions, each of which will be organized in a point-counterpoint structure: two presentations will focus on a specific characteristic of carbon modernity, while a third will discuss a specific precedent or model that might contain the seeds of a counter-project.

Elisa Iturbe will deliver the opening remarks followed by presentations and discussions including Kathi Weeks, Esra Akcan, Cameron McEwan, Ross Exo Adams, Matthew Soules, Ana María Durán, Catherine Ingraham, Gary Fields, and David Wengrow.

11:00 AM | OPENING REMARKS, Elisa Iturbe

11:15–1:00 | SESSION 1: Temporal & Typological Order

This session looks at the imposition of new temporal and spatial orders as central to the project of industrialization. Talks will focus on the formation of the working class, which increased the separation between production and social reproduction, as well as the emergence of new architectural typologies. Both dramatically affected the spatial organization of social relations. 

11:15–11:45 — Kathi Weeks 
11:45–12:15 — Esra Akcan 
12:15–12:45 — Cameron McEwan 
12:45–1:00 — Discussion 

1:00–2:00 | LUNCH

2:00–3:30 | SESSION 2: Expansion vs. Atomization

This session looks at the contradictory tendencies of development under fossil fuels: on one hand, the tendency for infrastructural integration in the service of totalizing expansion; on the other, the atomization and individuation brought about by the extreme commodification of space and an advanced real estate market. 

2:15–2:45 — Ross Exo Adams 
2:45–3:15 — Matthew Soules 
3:15–3:45 — Ana María Durán 
3:45–4:00 — Discussion

4:00–4:15 | BREAK

4:15–6:00 | SESSION 3: Abstraction & Land Hunger

The final session focuses on the role abstraction has played throughout carbon modernity, not only as an aesthetic concept, but also as a way of perceiving land and resources. Together, these presentations will emphasize how spatial concepts become ideological, imbricating aesthetic expression with the political unfolding of human relations.

4:15–4:45 — Catherine Ingraham 
4:45–5:15 — Gary Fields 
5:15–5:45 — David Wengrow 
5:45–6:00 — Discussion


Free and open to the general public. 

Participant Bios

Elisa Iturbe is Assistant Professor at the Cooper Union. Her research is currently focused on the relationship between energy, power, and form and her writings have been published in AA Files, Log, Perspecta, Antagonismos, New York Review of Architecture, and more. Iturbe is also co-founder of Outside Development, a design and research practice.

Esra Akcan is Michael A. McCarthy Professor of Architectural Theory in the Department of Architecture and resident director at the Institute for Comparative Modernities at Cornell University. She completed her architecture degree at the Middle East Technical University in Turkey, and her Ph.D. and postdoctoral degrees at Columbia University in New York. Akcan received awards from several institutions including Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies at Harvard University, Graham Foundation, Canadian Center for Architecture, American Academy in Berlin, Institute for Advanced Studies in Berlin, Clark Institute, and Getty Research Institute. She is the author of Landfill Istanbul: Twelve Scenarios for a Global City; Architecture in Translation: Germany, Turkey and the Modern HouseTurkey: Modern Architectures in History (with S.Bozdogan); Open Architecture: Migration, Citizenship and the Urban Renewal of Berlin-Kreuzberg by IBA-1984/87; and Abolish Human Bans. Currently, she is editing Migration and Discrimination (with Iftikhar Dadi) and writing Right-to-Heal: Architecture in Transitions After Conflicts and Disasters.

Ross Exo Adams is Assistant Professor and Co-Director of Architecture at Bard College. He is the author of the book Circulation and Urbanization (Sage, 2018). His research works at the intersections of architectural and urban histories with political geography and environmental humanities, posing questions about how certain practices of design produce and reproduce systems of power in space. His current project narrates relationships between histories of the human body and settler colonial space.

Ana María Durán is a critic at the Yale School of Architecture and a doctoral candidate at UCLA, where she is writing a dissertation on the history of urbanization in the Amazon basin, with a focus on the oil urbanisms of Ecuador. She is recipient of a Loeb Fellowship in advanced environmental studies from the GSD, which focuses on developing alternative visions of infrastructural integration in South America. She has taught design studios and research seminars at PUCE, Harvard, Columbia, University of Michigan, UC Temuco; and has been teaching fellow at the Institute for the Environment and Sustainability at UCLA. She curated the XV Quito Architecture Biennial: Visible Cities, was National Curator for the IX BIAU, and academic advisor for the UN Conference Habitat III. She is currently a member of the Scientific Panel for the Amazon (SPA) convened by the SDSN and the UN. Ana María co-founded Estudio A0 with Jazz Kalirai in Quito (2002). 

Gary Fields is a professor in the Department of Communication at the University of California, San Diego with formal training in historical geography and a research focus on the interplay of landscape and power in comparative perspective.  For the last 15 years, he has engaged in ethnographic and archival work on the Palestinian landscape in an effort to uncover the comparative similarities of land loss in Palestine with other historical examples of land conflict and dispossession.  His publications on this theme include Enclosure:  Palestinian Landscapes in a Historical Mirror (2017) and “Lockdown:  Gaza Through a Camera Lens and Historical Mirror” (2020).  Fields is also a regular writer of op ed pieces on Palestine for the San Diego Union Tribune and is currently working on a new book entitled Imprisoned: Voices and Images from Confinement Landscapes in Palestine.

Catherine Ingraham is a tenured Professor in the Graduate Program of Architecture at Pratt Institute. As Chair of the graduate architecture program in 2001, she started the Masters of Architecture program at Pratt in 2001. Catherine received her doctoral degree from Johns Hopkins University and periodically has been a visiting faculty member at the GSD, Harvard University and the GSAPP, Columbia University. Ingraham's publications include Architecture's Theory (MIT Press, 2023), Architecture, Animal, Human (Routledge, 2006), Architecture and The Burdens of Linearity (Yale University Press,1998), as well as many articles and invited essays. She was an editor, with Michael Hays and Alicia Kennedy, of the critical journal Assemblage and has lectured at universities worldwide. Catherine's grants and fellowships include an Institute for Architecture and Urbanism Fellowship in Chicago, a CCA Fellowship in Montreal, MacDowell residencies, and grants from NEA and the Graham foundation.

Cameron McEwan is associate professor of architecture at Northumbria University, UK. Cameron is an architectural theorist, educator, and director of the AE Foundation. Cameron’s research focuses on the relationship between architectural typology, representation, and subjectivity to engage critical approaches to the urban/Anthropocene question. His work appears in journals and venues, including: Archnet-IJAR, arq, Architecture and Culture, Drawing On, GAM, JAE, Lo Squaderno, MONU, the Venice International Architecture Biennale and elsewhere. Cameron’s editorial projects include Accounts (Pelinu, 2019); Architecture and Collective Life (Architecture and Culture, 2020); and Care and Critical Action (Lo Squaderno, 2023). Cameron’s book Analogical City (Punctum, 2023) is forthcoming.

Kathi Weeks is a Professor of Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies at Duke University. She is the author of The Problem with Work: Feminism, Marxism, Antiwork Politics and Postwork Imaginaries (Duke UP, 2011) and Constituting Feminist Subjects (second edition, Verso, 2018), and co-editor of The Jameson Reader (Blackwell, 2000). 

Matthew Soules is an Associate Professor in the architecture program at the University of British Columbia’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture and founder of Matthew Soules Architecture. He has been visiting faculty at the Southern California Institute of Architecture and visiting associate professor at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. His most recent book is Icebergs, Zombies and the Ultra Thin: Architecture and Capitalism in the Twenty-First Century (Princeton Architectural Press, 2021). He is co-founder of Architects Against Housing Alienation (AAHA), an activist collective representing Canada at the 2023 Venice Biennale of Architecture.

David Wengrow is Professor of Comparative Archaeology at University College London, and co-author (with David Graeber) of the New York Times Bestseller, The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity. He is currently collaborating with Eyal Weizman and Forensic Architecture on a new project called The Nebelivka Hypothesis, which will be presented at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale. 

Exhibitions and events presented by The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture Archive are made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.  

Located in the Frederick P. Rose Auditorium, at 41 Cooper Square (on Third Avenue between 6th and 7th Streets)

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.