Visiting Lecture | William O'Brien Jr.: Room for Artifacts

Thursday, April 6, 2017, 2 - 2pm

Add to Calendar

Mask House, Visualization, Courtesy of WOJR

Mask House, Visualization, Courtesy of WOJR

William O’Brien Jr. founded WOJR Organization for Architecture in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 2009. O'Brien is an Associate Professor in the Department of Architecture at MIT and a Founder of the collaborative design practice, Collective–LOK. He was a recipient of the Rome Prize Fellowship in Architecture awarded by the American Academy in Rome. He is a MacDowell Fellow and an Aspen Institute Socrates Fellow. He was winner of the Architectural League of New York Prize for Young Architects and Designers. O’Brien studied architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design where he was a recipient of the Faculty Design Award. His background prior to architecture is in fine art and music theory. He will be presenting ideas from his book, Room for Artifacts. 

Room for Artifacts contains a collection of sixteen architectural artifacts designed by WOJR—a mask, a church, a labyrinth, a dwelling, a bust, and a series of totems, among others. The artifacts are presented three times throughout the book—in conceptual drawings, architectural drawings, and images. Certain characteristics recur, such as symmetry, frontality, figurality, proportionality, and the play between flatness and depth, underscoring WOJR’s preoccupation with the fundamental aspects of architectural form that are rich in historical precedent. Room for Artifacts offers a new way to explore the role of architectural representation in a contemporary context, looking at how architects can invoke aspects of ideologies from architects of the past while establishing a progressive agenda for a forward-looking body of work.

Book signing will take place following the lecture in the 3rd Floor Lobby.

This event is open to current Cooper Union students, faculty, and staff.


Located at 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.