The campus remains closed with all summer courses being conducted online and staff working remotely. Classes will resume on August 31, 2020 for the fall semester. For updates on campus operations, both virtual and in person, for the fall semester, please see the Fall 2020 Info Hub page.

In Conversation | Human Body/Carbon City: The Environment from Two Different Scales, Elisa Iturbe and Austin Smith

Wednesday, April 15, 2020, 6:30 - 8pm

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The In Conversation series is intended as a format for faculty and students to discuss issues that are affecting the school, the discipline, or the theories, cultures and practices of architecture. The second part of the discussion will open to questions from the audience. 

Elisa Iturbe and Austin Smith’s conversation will take on environmental issues from different scales and overlapping positions. Iturbe's remarks will focus on the possibility of framing the climate crisis as a spatial problem, and the tension this creates between the individual and the collective. Smith will discuss the rituals and technologies through which individuals perceive and perform their role as actors in ecological networks. Focus is given to the myriad of ways we embody the environment through the practices of everyday life. 

Elisa Iturbe teaches design studio, analysis, and an Environments course titled “The City as Carbon Form” at the Cooper Union. She is also a critic at the Yale University School of Architecture (YSoA), where she also coordinates the dual-degree program between YSoA and the Yale School of the Environment. Her writings have been published in Log, The New York Review of Architecture, and Pulp, in addition to a forthcoming piece in Perspecta. She also co-wrote a book with Peter Eisenman titled Lateness, forthcoming in 2020 and is co-founder of Outside Development, an architectural practice. 

Austin Wade Smith is an designer, creative technologist, and researcher based in Brooklyn, New York. After studying biology and receiving an architecture degree from MIT, they are currently an adjunct faculty member at the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture at the Cooper Union, teaching courses on the relationship between computation and social / environmental justice. They are cofounder of the design studio Helloeverything, and have built projects internationally in USA, Europe, and Africa. They have exhibited work at the Chicago Architectural Biennale, Louisiana Museum in Denmark, and Center for Architecture New York among many others. In their practice, they explore the reciprocal relationships between spatial media, ecological networks and community resilience. They are an organizer of the art / design / technology cooperative Soft Surplus, and enjoy flying kites and cultivating orchids.

The discussion will be moderated by Kevin Chow. 

This event is free and accessible to the public. 

View the full Spring 2020 Lectures and Events List.


  • 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.