Alumna Elizabeth Diller gives the 2024 Eleanore Pettersen Lecture

Tuesday, April 2, 2024, 6:30 - 8pm

Add to Calendar


The 2024 Eleanore Pettersen Lecture will feature Cooper Union alumna Elizabeth Diller, who is a founding partner of Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R), a design studio whose practice spans the fields of architecture, urban design, installation art, multi-media performance, digital media, and print. She will speak about a variety of DS+R projects. Justin Davidson, architecture and classical music critic at New York magazine, will join Diller for a conversation following the talk.



Registration required. Please note this is first come-first-served, and an RSVP does not guarantee admission.

Diller and co-founding partner, Ric Scofidio, who is also a Cooper alumnus, have been distinguished with Time Magazine's "100 Most Influential People" list and the first MacArthur Foundation fellowship awarded in the field of architecture, which stated: “Diller + Scofidio have created an alternative form of architectural practice that unites design, performance, and electronic media with cultural and architectural theory and criticism. Their work explores how space functions in our culture and illustrates that architecture, when understood as the physical manifestation of social relationships, is everywhere, not just in buildings.”

DS+R’s built work in the public realm includes two of the largest architecture and planning initiatives in New York City’s recent history: the adaptive reuse of an obsolete, industrial rail infrastructure into the High Line, a 1.5 mile-long public park, and the transformation of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts’ half-century-old campus.

The studio has also worked with global cultural institutions to expand access to the arts including the renovation and expansion of MoMA, which brings the museum’s vast collection closer to the public, and the multi-arts institution, The Shed. She also led the design of The Broad—a contemporary art museum in Los Angeles. Currently, Diller is designing the Pina Bausch Center in Germany, celebrating the legacy of the iconic choreographer.

The studio has also researched, curated and designed a number of interactive installations covering a wide range of subjects, including: the Costume Institute’s Charles James: Beyond Fashion and Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and The Catholic Imagination, which have recorded two of the highest attendances for any exhibition in the history of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; The Art of Scent, a sensory exhibition on the olfactory arts at the Museum of Arts and Design; and Exit, an immersive data-driven installation investigating global human migration patterns. More recently, Diller led the interpretative design of an exhibition on Edmund de Waal’s The Hare with Amber Eyes at the Jewish Museum in New York and an environmental design for Deep Blue Sea, a collaboration with choreographer Bill T. Jones that debuted at the Park Avenue Armory. For more information, visit

Diller is a member of the UN Council on Urban Initiatives and a professor of architectural design at Princeton University.

Justin Davidson

Justin Davidson has been the architecture and classical music critic at New York magazine since 2007, and his architecture columns also appear in the magazine’s website Curbed. Before that, he spent 12 years as classical music critic at Newsday, where he also wrote about architecture and was a regular cultural commentator. He won a Pulitzer Prize for criticism in 2002 and was a finalist again in 2020. Davidson is the author of Magnetic City: A Walking Companion to New York, which leads readers through a portrait of the city told through its history, architecture, music, art, and literature. A native of Rome, Davidson graduated from Harvard and later earned a doctoral degree in music composition at Columbia University. He is on the faculty of the Urban Design program at Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. He has contributed to many publications, including The New Yorker and the New York Review of Books.

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), Mabel Wilson (2020), Lesley Lokko + Sumayya Vally (2021), Samia Henni (2022), and Maria Shéhérazade Giudici. (2022).

Located in The Great Hall, in the Foundation Building, 7 East 7th Street, between Third and Fourth Avenues

  • 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.