Fall 2021 Lectures and Events
The Eleanore Pettersen Lecture Series
The Eleanore Pettersen Lecture, established through a generous gift to The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture, is dedicated to the voices of women in architecture as a lasting tribute to Ms. Pettersen's significant impact in the world of architecture and her love of The Cooper Union. Pettersen, who had worked as an apprentice to Frank Lloyd Wright and would later design the post-White House home of Richard M. Nixon, was one of the first women to be licensed as an architect in New Jersey, and developed a successful practice there that spanned over fifty years.
Lectures in this series have been given by Toshiko Mori (2005), Phyllis Lambert (2006), Elizabeth Wright Ingraham (2008), Billie Tsien (2009), Francine Houben (2011), Sarah Wigglesworth (2013), and Farshid Moussavi (2014).
The Fariba Tehrani Lecture
The Fariba Tehrani Lecture was initiated in honor of Biba Tehrani, whose decades-long commitment to education has served as a radical alternative to the very models of conventional pedagogies of which she is both beneficiary and victim. Her commitment to discursive interaction, speech, and oratory makes this endowment an apt tribute for her contributions to generations of students.
The YC Foundation Lecture
The YC Foundation, Inc., New York, makes grants for lectures in Architecture that inspire young architects to leadership through the experiences and stories of the lecturers.
Student Lecture Series 2021-22
Catalyzed by over a century of industrial externalities ignored for the sake of progress, profit, and control, the past decade has bestowed radical climatic shifts to the world we inhabit. In the past few months alone we have seen unprecedented droughts and unprecedented flooding. We watched in terror and awe as a gas leak fueled a fiery portal to hell in our seas, reminiscent of the numerous preceding spills. Waste has endlessly accumulated in our waters, in our foods, in our bodies. Extraction has decimated ecosystems, its perpetrators disappearing when the business model insists, leaving behind an earth hundreds of years removed from recovery.
Architecture, bowing to Industry, has resolved to write off these fundamental issues as externalities. Through drawing and analytical methods that abstract the consequences of building within an ecology, Architecture enforces an ignorant divorce of the built environment and the natural order, despite the urgent reality that this divorce is dooming us.
With a single line as sectional ground and serial lines as planimetric topography, the traditional methods of architectural drawing falsely conflate the simplicity of the paper with the reality of the world within which architecture ultimately exists. When architects do take the environment into consideration, it is often approached in a statistical manner that further disembodies the reality of living within an environment. The compartmentalization of reality into mathematical and quantitative formulas has allowed Architecture’s relation to the environment to be reduced to a machinelike function, relinquishing a continuous and living moral responsibility to the land and instead, handing good grades to architects that solve atomized technological equations. Similarly, architects of the capitalistic eco-imaginary (as Douglas Spencer puts it) use collage and rendering to peddle fantasy worlds of sustainability that avoid the real problems at hand, circumvent plausible solutions, and can only be achieved in their intangible dreams.
It is clear that the architectural method, in its current methods of abstraction, needs reevaluation. Thus, questions must be raised: What is being left out? What is being ignored? What methods of analysis, representation, documentation, and integration does Architecture need to embrace to face our epoch? What are the modes and practices that allow us to marry questions of environment and architecture?
This year’s Student Lecture Series will culminate with the publication of a journal that allows for critical writings by students in response to the thematic statement as well as direct responses to the series’ lectures.
In Conversation Series
The primary purpose of the In Conversation Lecture Series (IC) is to engender discussion of timely issues and ideas among Cooper faculty and students. There is a time and place for the expert monologue, but IC is neither. A few times a semester, IC stages a dialogue between invited faculty members, through a process mediated by the active inquiry of a student audience. This translates to quick faculty presentations followed by a meaty question-and-answer based discussion led by student organizers and the audience.
Current Work is a lecture series co-sponsored with The Architectural League of New York featuring leading figures in the worlds of architecture, urbanism, design, and art. The spring 2021 Current Work series examines some of the inherited histories, conventions, fabrics, and systems - often taken for granted - that constitute and shape the built environment. How might we reconsider the ways we engage with and construct the places that surround us? Speakers will address issues including transforming architectural pedagogy; protecting threatened historic sites; conserving resources by adapting existing buildings and reusing materials; and reimagining and regenerating places scarred by racism, neglect, and environmental emergencies.