Recent Opportunities

  • Preservation in Global Cities: New York/ Mexico City/ Paris/ Shanghai

    New York | Dates: 10 Sep, 2015

    Every global city today faces the challenge of protecting their unique urban architectural heritage  (often a core component of their tourist brand) while encouraging continuing economic development and growth.  But the theory and practice of preservation can differ greatly on different continents and according to different cultures.  While in older world cities like Paris and New York preservation laws have tended to guard historic districts for decades, Asian and Latin American global cities of more recent vintage face a different set of issues.  Join an international panel of architects, planners, and academics to explore the contrasting approaches and strategies faced by global cities in Europe, Asia, and America. This program delves into the themes of our exhibition Saving Place: 50 Years of New York City Landmarks.

    Reception to follow!

    Calvin Tsao, FAIA, Partner, Tsao & McKown
    Jorge Otero-Pailos, Architect, Associate Professor of Historic Preservation, Columbia University, & Founder and Editor, Future Anterior Journal
    Budd Mishkin (moderator), NY1 News Correspondent, "One on 1 with Budd Mishkin"

    The event is co-sponsored by NY1.

  • Tales of the City: New York’s Landmark Interiors

    New York | Dates: 20 Oct, 2015

    We enjoy looking at historic interiors, but there’s more to them than meets the eye. Behind the walls, below the floors, and underneath the painted surfaces are the back-stories few people have heard about the city’s known and not-so-known landmarks. The authors of Interior Landmarks: Treasures of New York will take us behind the scenes of some of the City’s most interesting spaces. They will tell little-known and fascinating stories about places like City Hall and the Tweed Courthouse, Loew’s Paradise Theater, the Four Seasons Restaurant, the Dime Savings, and Manufacturers Trust bank buildings. They will share stories of the political wrangling, financial skullduggery, design competitions, preservation challenges, and restoration problems that designers and builders dealt with to provide insight into why these venues are so special and how even being a landmark doesn’t guarantee that a great space will remain safe from damage, or change. This program delves into the themes of our exhibition Saving Place: 50 Years of New York City Landmarks, on view through September 13.

    Judith Gura, Design Historian and Exhibitions and Public Programs Consultant at the New York School of Interior Design
    Kate Wood, President at LANDMARK WEST! 
    Larry Lederman, Photographer

    Free for MCNY members; $12 for students/seniors; $16 for general public.
  • On the Shoulders of Giants: Lessons for Tomorrow from Our Preservation Pioneers

    New York | Dates: 08 Oct, 2015

    Historic preservation activism in New York City did not begin in the 1960s with the fight to save Penn Station and the effort to pass the Landmarks Law—it began in the late 19th century. Little-remembered preservation pioneers like Andrew H. Green and Albert Bard, as well as various women's garden clubs, and patriotic and civic organizations laid the groundwork for the generations of preservationists that would follow. Join us to recount the triumphs, failures, and tactics of these early preservationists, and discuss what they might teach us moving forward.

    Michael Miscione, Manhattan Borough Historian
    Anthony Wood, Founder and Chair, New York Preservation Archive Project
    Amy Freitag, Executive Director at JM Kaplan Fund 
    Seri Worden, Field Services at National Trust for Historic Preservation

    Free for MCNY members; $12 for students/seniors; $16 for general public.
  • The Politics of Preservation

    New York | Dates: 06 Aug, 2015

    The New York City Landmarks Law establishes a system for the designation, protection, and preservation of the city's most important architectural and historic properties. The law is implemented by the Landmarks Commission, which is mandated to work with the City Council in carrying out its mission of designating new landmarks. Its work is also impacted by various individuals and groups that have a direct stake in the process: property owners and developers, advocacy groups representing a wide spectrum of beliefs and positions, architects, media outlets, and government agencies. Out of necessity, the political process plays a part in all these interactions. This panel will explore the broad issues that bring the political process to bear on the operations and execution of the Landmarks Law. This program delves into the themes of our exhibition Saving Place: 50 Years of New York City Landmarkson view through September 13th. 

    Reception to follow!

    Morris Adjmi, FAIA, Founder and Principal of Morris Adjmi Architects
    Peg Breen, President, The New York Landmarks Conservancy
    Kenneth K. Fisher, Member, Cozen O'Connor
    Robert Tierney (moderator), Former Chair of the Landmarks Preservation Commission

    Free for Museum members; $12 for students/seniors; $16 for general public.

    1.5 LU AIA CES will be offered for attending this event.

  • Gruen Day 2015

    San Leandro | Dates: 18 Jul, 2015

    Victor Gruen (July 18, 1903 - Feb 14, 1980) was an Austrian-born visionary architect most remembered for his pioneering work popularizing the enclosed, climate-controlled shopping center in the United States. 

    On July 18, the Bay Area Infrastructure Observatory (BAIO) invites you to celebrate the lofty aspirations and historical legacy of the suburban shopping center at Gruen Day 2015. 

    Festivities will include an afternoon of talks, tours, and hanging out in the food court at Bay Fair Center, which opened in 1957 as one of the first Gruen designed shopping centers in the country. Speakers to include:

    • Pam White: Pam is Vice President of Development for Madison Marquette, which purchased the Bayfair Center in 2003 and coordinated a massive overhaul of its facilities. Pam has over 25 years of design, retail, leasing and real estate experience across a range of different properties throughout California. She will be discussing the history and design of the Bay Fair Mall, and the thinking that guided its renovation in the 2000s. 
    • Mathias Crawford: Mathias is a PhD Candidate and Graduate Fellow in the Department of Communication at Stanford University, where he studies the intersection of architecture and ICT design. During his graduate studies he has worked for Herman Miller on the future of office design, taught game design at Stanford, and led design thinking workshops around the world. Mathias will be talking about the role that shopping centers played in re-shaping contemporary conceptions of the public sphere. Specifically, he will explore the way in which these centers were conceived with respect to another mid-century architectural phenomena: the community center.

    All attendees will also receive a beautiful set of limited edition Victor Gruen lapel pins and a commemorative poster, designed by our friends Helen Tseng and Justin Carder (depicted below). 

    While it's easy nowadays to dismiss enclosed shopping centers as boring eyesores, Gruen Day celebrates the important role they were originally intended to play in civic life. As Gruen wrote in 1960:

    By affording opportunities for social life and recreation in a protected pedestrian environment, by incorporating civic and educational facilities, shopping centers can fill an existing void. They can provide the needed place and opportunity for participation in modern community life that the ancient Greek Agora, the Medieval Market Place and our own Town Squares provided in the past.

    We hope you'll join us for a day to enjoy San Leandro's very own modern Agora. 

    Gruen Day 2015 is a production of Tim Hwang and Avery Trufelman, and is co-sponsored by SPUR.

    Give us a shout if you have any questions - and

  • Oculus Book Talk: Thirty Years of Emerging Voices

    New York | Dates: 09 Jul, 2015

    When: 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM THURSDAY, JULY 9

    Where: At The Center   

    The prestigious Emerging Voices award was created in 1982 by The Architectural League of New York to showcase the work of early- to mid-career North American architects. Each year, through an invited competition, a jury selects practitioners or firms with a significant body of realized work that represents the best of its kind and has the potential to shape the future of architecture and landscape design.Thirty Years of Emerging Voices documents and critically assesses the first three decades of the League's Emerging Voices program. Essays by Reed Kroloff, Ashley Schafer, and Karen Stein and concise observations by leading critics, architects, and historians complement the presentation of work from the nearly 250 individuals and firms that have been selected for the program. Thirty Years of Emerging Voices is an ideal lens through which to interpret the last several decades of dynamic change in North American architectural design and practice.

    Rosalie Genevro, Executive Director, The Architectural League of New York
    Reed Kroloff, Principal, jones|kroloff
    Anne Rieselbach, Program Director, The Architectural League of New York
    Ashley Schafer, Associate Professor of Architecture, Knowlton School, Ohio State University

    Organized by: AIANY Oculus Committee and The Architectural League of New York

    Price: Free for AIA and The Architectural League of New York members, and students with valid student ID; $10 for non-members

    Oculus Book Seller: McNally Jackson Books | 52 Prince Street, New York, NY 10012 | 212.274.1160


    OpenStudios: Emerging Voices
    Saturday, July 11, 2015

    Open House New York and the Architectural League of New York invite you to OpenStudios: Emerging Voices, an unprecedented opportunity to visit the studios of more than forty of the most inventive and exciting design practices working in the city today. OpenStudios: Emerging Voices is a self-guided walking tour. Each ticket holder will be given a map of all participating studios at registration and may visit sites in any order during the hours that they are open; Midtown Manhattan and Queens studios will open from 10am-1pm, and Downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn studios from 1-5pm. More detailed information about location and opening hours will be available at registration. Architects and engineers will be on hand at each studio to answer questions and discuss the firm’s work.

  • Point & Shoot Brutalist Architecture And Urban Play

    London | Dates: 01 Aug, 2015

    Inspired by The Brutalist Playground this practical workshop will investigate how photography can be used to both document and encourage new forms of play in, on and around Brutalist Architecture and urban structures. The workshop will include an on-site photo shoot at the Barbican Estate.

    With Marianne Holm Hansen

    Suitable for photographers at all levels, including beginners. Participants must bring their own equipment; a digital SLR camera is recommended.

    Workshops run 11am to 4pm and start at 66 Portland Place. Part of a season of talks and events inspired by The Brutalist Playground.

  • The Brutalist Playground

    London | Dates: 10 Jun – 16 Aug, 2015
    Part sculpture, part architectural installation, all play. The Brutalist Playground is a new commission by Assemble and artist Simon Terrill exploring post-war design for play.

    Part sculpture, part architectural installation, all play. The Brutalist Playground is a new commission by Assemble and artist Simon Terrill exploring post-war design for play.

    Occupying the entire Architecture Gallery at RIBA, encourages visitors to look at the materiality and visual language of now lost Brutalist landscapes in new ways through an immersive and conceptual landscape. Although the value of brutalist residential buildings today is much debated, this exhibition shifts the focus to the equally important playgrounds found at the feet of these structures, offering a renewed understanding and critique of the architects’ original designs and intentions.

    Accompanied by a season of talks and events from June to August 2015.

  • Virtual Control - Security and the Urban Imagination

    London | Dates: 09 Jul – 25 Aug, 2015

    Playfully walking between urban facts and fictions, this exhibition by artist/photographer Max Colson presents a series of investigations on controlled urban areas.

    The focus is privatised public space – urban environments which are nominally public, but owned and managed by commercial entities. The images on display explore how carefully camouflaged surveillance technology is used to monitor these areas, and, potentially, to manipulate behaviour. Other parts of the exhibition look at how these spaces are marketed and present an idealized version of urban environments.

    Whether documenting the networks of sensors designed to ‘track’ suspect individuals or exploring how plants are used to disguise security architecture, this exhibition suggests how paranoia intrudes upon the urban imagination.

    Max Colson is an emerging British photographer with a keen interest in using fictional stories and characters to explore issues relating to the control of urban space. This exhibition has been developed in collaboration with the UCL Urban Laboratory and has been generously supported by an artist in residence grant from the Leverhulme Trust.

  • City of Water Day - The Urban Backstage

    New York | Dates: 18 Jul, 2015

    A performance program led by the Interdisciplinary Laboratory for Art Nature and Dance (iLAND) will explore the connection we all have as individuals and a city to our waterways and water infrastructure.The program is one of several public engagements held by the The Urban Backstage residency, supported by the Manhattan-based iLAND and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC).

    The City of Water Day Festival is a free, day-long celebration of the world-class potential of the water that surrounds us and brings us together. The festival’s events draws thousands of people from throughout New York and New Jersey to participate in hundreds of unique, fun, and educational waterfront activities organized by the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance (MWA) and its more than 800 Alliance Partners. The events run between 10:00am and 6:00pm on Saturday July 18, 2015.

  • VIA 57 West: Challenging Building Form and Urban Development in Manhattan

    New York | Dates: 09 Jul, 2015

    oin the CTBUH New York City Chapter for a discussion on the VIA 57 West Building. Guest speakers Bjarke Ingels (BIG), Aine Brazil (Thornton Tomasetti), and Jeff Crompton (Hunter Roberts) will discuss the architecture, engineering, and construction process behind this unique structure. 

    VIA stands tall at 467 (142 meters) feet and is one of the most architecturally distinctive buildings constructed in New York City. The building provides a dramatic visual gateway to Manhattan’s skyline along the Hudson River. VIA is a hybrid between the European perimeter block and a traditional Manhattan high-rise development. The building’s unique shape combines the advantages of both: the compactness and efficiency of a courtyard building providing density, a sense of intimacy, and expansive views. The form of the building shifts depending on the viewer’s vantage point. While appearing like a pyramid from the West Side Highway, it turns into a dramatic glass spire when seen from West 58th Street.

    6:30 - 7:30PM:  Reception/Networking
    7:30 - 7:35PM:  Welcome by Dennis Poon (CTBUH Trustee & Vice-Chairman of Thornton Tomasetti)
    7:35 - 7:50PM:  Introduction by Alexander Durst (Chief Development Officer, The Durst Organization)

    Presentations by:
    7:50 - 8:10PM:  Bjarke Ingels (Founder, BIG), 
    8:10 - 8:30PM:  Aine Brazil (Vice Chairman, Thornton Tomasetti)
    8:30 - 8:50PM:  Jeff Crompton (Vice President, Hunter Roberts)


  • SAH Awards Gala

    Chicago | Dates: 06 Nov, 2015
    The Society of Architectural Historians will present its annual Awards for Architectural Excellence at the SAH Awards Gala on Friday, November 6, 2015. The awards represent a unique coming together of architectural practice and academic study, honoring the contributions of individual projects to our built environment. Proceeds from the gala benefit the Society's educational mission. 

    For details and to see the honorees, visit
  • Type Nite

    New York and online | Dates: 16 Jul, 2015

    Type Nite, an evening of typographic entertainment that began eleven years ago in Baltimore, comes to New York City for the very first time!

    What could possibly go wrong? In a discussion of “Mess-Ups and Do-Overs,” Tobias-Frere Jones, Peter Mendelsund, and Abbott Miller will take you inside the creative process for a look at projects that went south or turned sour. Why learn from your own mistakes when you can learn from theirs?

    Tobias Frere-Jones is one of the world’s leading typeface designers. Book designer Peter Mendelsund is the author of What We See When We Read and Cover, a monograph about his design process. Abbott Miller is a partner at Pentagram and author of Abbott Miller: Design and Content, published by Princeton Architectural Press. The conversation will be moderated by Ellen Lupton, Cooper Hewitt’s senior curator of contemporary design and author of two new books, Graphic Design: The New Basics, 2nd Edition and How Posters Work, both released this summer. A perfect evening for design professionals and students alike!

  • Open House at Charnley-Persky House

    Chicago | Dates: 31 Jul, 2015

    The Society of Architectural Historians invites you to take a free tour of its headquarters, the Charnley-Persky House. Be our guest as we celebrate the 75th anniversary of SAH, founded on July 31, 1940, at Harvard University. Tour the National Historic Landmark house, designed by Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright (1891-1892), enjoy cookies and lemonade, and enter for a chance to win prizes. 

    Date: Friday, July 31
    Time: 4–7 p.m.
    Location: 1365 N Astor St, Chicago
    No reservations necessary
  • Shifting Cities: Urban Heritage in the 21st Century, International Conference at Rutgers University, November 12-14, 2015

    New Brunswick | Dates: 12 – 14 Nov, 2015
    This international conference will examine the phenomenon of shifting populations and their connections to urban heritage. Hosted by Rutgers’ Program in Cultural Heritage and Preservation Studies (CHAPS), this conference will bring together leading scholars and practitioners from around the world to address the complex and interconnected challenges facing cities and their populations. The overarching goal is to identify new approaches towards working effectively with diverse and dynamic populations as part of current efforts to rethink the meaning and practice of heritage conservation within the “shifting cities” that define urbanism in the 21st century. According to the Getty Conservation Institute, conservation of historic cities is “currently one of the most universally urgent and challenging cultural heritage issues.” As populations grow and migrate and our world becomes increasingly urbanized, socio-economic change, environmental stresses, armed conflict, and the difficulties of continuing traditional forms of use threaten the sense of place and identities in urban communities. A critical rethinking of urban heritage conservation is called for at this time. By bringing together heritage practitioners with scholars and organizations engaged in what would not traditionally be considered “heritage” or “conservation” work (such as social services and public health), Shifting Cities will be a critical step in pointing us forward to new directions and approaches. The conference will include session panels and case studies that explore tangible ways in which practitioners and community organizations have been able to address the challenges of heritage conservation in the face of shifting populations. Two Roundtables, one focusing on the city of Camden, New Jersey and another focusing on armed conflict in the Middle East, will bring together diverse sets of professionals working in each city or region to share experiences and expertise. Keynote speakers include Ishmael Beah, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and author of A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier & Radiance of Tomorrow, and Francesco Bandarin, Professor of Urban Planning at the University Institute of Architecture of Venice and co-author of The Historic Urban Landscape: Managing Heritage in an Urban Century. The conference is free but pre-registration is required. For more information and to register, please visit the conference website:
  • IFLA 2015 Asia Pacific Congress

    Mataram | Dates: 10 – 12 Aug, 2015

    Indonesia is a meeting point of several tectonic plates, so he becomes one of the most seismically active areas on the planet with long history of powerful eruptions and earthquakes. Like almost of every country members of the Asia Pacific region, Indonesia lie on what we call “Ring of Fire” which is very prone to volcano disasters

    On behalf of the Indonesia Society of Landscape Architects (ISLA), I take with pleasure to reminding you of and at the same time inviting you to participate in 2015 IFLA APR Congress which will be held in Mataram, Lombok Island, Indonesia on 7-9 of September 2015. Theme of the 2015 congress is “Future Mountain and Volcanoscape”. In the frame work of this congress, a seminar, an excursion to and an anniversary will be organized.

    The 2015 IFLA APR Congress will be held in conjunction with a celebration of the 200 years of the largest volcanic eruption recorded in modern civilization history. It is the eruption of Mount Tambora, which is 4.300 m high in the year of 1815. It totally created new landscapes, buried three kingdoms, killed about 17.000 people, and produced global anomaly climate and political impact.

    The organizing committee is amidst putting up a very interesting congress programs and combined with the possibility for participants and accompanying persons to experience an enjoyable social cultural program with memorable visits and cultural performances, your participation in this important event promises to be both educative and pleasant. Please, don’t forget to register yourself as soon as possible. Until then, hoping to see you all at the congress. Welcome to Indonesia.

    Dr. Ir. Siti Nurisyah, MSLA, IALI 
    President of ISLA

  • Spotlight on Design: Rob Rogers of Rogers Partners

    Washington | Dates: 22 Sep, 2015

    Robert M. Rogers, FAIA, partner at Rogers Partners Architects+Urban Designers and recent author of Learning Through Practice (ORO Editions, 2015), discusses the principal desires that guide his practice. He is intrigued by the impact of small things, pursues delight as an experience, and seeks authenticity in realizing projects for buildings, landscapes, and the public realm. A book signing will take place after the lecture.

    1.5 LU (AIA) 

    $12 Members; $12 Students; $20 Non-members. Pre-registration required. Walk-in registration based on availability. 

  • Seeking New York: Tom Miller Book Talk

    New York | Dates: 15 Jul, 2015

    Beautifully illustrated with line drawings and photographs, engagingly presented, and organized by neighborhoods, this richly detailed guide takes a narrative approach, telling stories that illuminate the architectural, personal, and social histories of Manhattan, building by building. Alongside details about each architect, dates, and styles, author Tom Miller reveals the joys, tragedies, and scandals of those who lived within. In addition to iconic structures, the book includes many off-the-beaten-path buildings, as well as notable buildings that no longer stand but remain key to Manhattan’s architectural history.

    Tom Miller moved to New York City in 1979 from Dayton, Ohio, bringing with him a passion for buildings. He currently holds the rank of deputy inspector within the NYPD’s Auxiliary Police Force. In 2009 he started a blog, "Daytonian in Manhattan", which has now reviewed over a thousand buildings, statues, and other points of interest.

    All book talks are free and open to the public. The Gallery opens at 6:00pm. 
    All guests must RSVP to programs[at]skyscraper[dot]org to assure admittance to the event. Please be aware that reservation priority is given to members of The Skyscraper Museum.

  • Saving Place: Andrew Dolkart Book Talk

    New York | Dates: 28 Jul, 2015

    From irrefutable icons to lesser-known structures throughout the city, much of what makes New York City unique owes its existence to the New York City Landmarks Law. Born out of the destruction of McKim, Mead & White’s monumental Pennsylvania Station, the Landmarks Law established the parameters for protecting the places that represent New York City’s rich cultural, social, political, and architectural history. Today there are more than 31,000 landmark properties woven into daily life, many located in 111 historic districts across the city — including 1,347 individual buildings, 117 interior landmarks, and 10 scenic landmarks. 

    Published in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Landmarks Law, and a major exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York,Saving Place tells its story in essays by notable New Yorkers and preservationists, including Robert A.M. Stern, Adele Chatfield-Taylor, Andrew S. Dolkart, Françoise Bollack, Anthony C. Wood, and Claudette Brady. 

    Andrew S. Dolkart is the Director of the Historic Preservation Program and Professor of Historic Preservation at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. He is the author of numerous books on the architecture and urban development of New York City, focusing in particular on the city's everyday, vernacular building types, including Morningside Heights: A History of Its Architecture and Development, Biography of a Tenement House in New York City: An Architectural History of 97 Orchard Street, and The Row House Reborn: Architecture and Neighborhoods in New York City 1908-1929. 

    All book talks are free and open to the public. The Gallery opens at 6:00pm. 
    All guests must RSVP to programs[at]skyscraper[dot]org to assure admittance to the event. Please be aware that reservation priority is given to members of The Skyscraper Museum. 

  • Olfaction and Preservation Future Anterior

    Dates: 06 Jul – 30 Sep, 2015
    CALL FOR PAPERS OLFACTION and Preservation Special issue co-edited by Adam Jasper and Jorge Otero-Pailos Deadline September 30th, 2015 Future Anterior invites essays that explore the relationship between olfaction and preservation from historical, theoretical and critical perspectives. We seek scholarly papers that take stock of the recent surge of interdisciplinary research on olfaction and speculate on its relevance and impact on the practice of preservation. Whether deodorized or artificially scented, the olfactory signature of historic buildings is rarely haphazard. Yet the conscious practice of altering smells in order to influence how visitors experience heritage is rarely subjected to serious scholarly scrutiny. In part this might be due to the fact that most preservationists lack training in olfaction. This deficiency is arguably cultural and as old as preservation itself. In 1857 the English polymath George William Septimus Piesse wrote: “Of the five senses, that of smelling is the least valued, and, as a consequence, is the least tutored; but we must not conclude from this, our own act that it is of insignificant importance to our welfare and happiness.” Piesse was writing during a period in which miasmatic theories of disease transmission held sway. He believed training the nose was useful for detecting disease-carrying airs. Whereas the 18th and 19th centuries had a horror of the effects of the stagnation of air, in contemporary hygiene aesthetics, the sterile separation of spaces via glass and ceramic tiles is privileged. To what extent can historical case studies of public beliefs (justified or not) regarding odor, hygiene and disease inform an understanding of interior space, and its concomitant implications for architectural preservation? Today, we think of the uses of olfaction more in terms of enhancing memory and recollection, as advances in neuroscience have taught us that the region of the brain that processes smell is the limbic system, which is directly linked to the hippocampus and the amygdala, where emotions are registered and memories stored. The powerful connection between smell, memory, and emotions encouraged preservationists to experiment with scenting historic sites in the 1980s. A pioneering example is the Jorvik Viking Center in York, England, designed by John Sunderland, who conceptualized smell as a central element of what he called “time warp experiences.” Papers may examine the history, successes and failures of olfactory design in preservation projects. To what degree did the introduction of manufactured smells as part of historic buildings reinforce or challenge previous conceptions of preservation? For example, how could the focus on smell inflect debates about the authenticity of historic buildings? Papers might also consider whether the construction of smells can be thought of as part of the history of building technology, and the modern pursuit of the well tempered and attractively scented environment. Whether deceitful or not, the reality is that we are in the midst of an explosion in the use of unique fragrances in branded spaces, such as luxury hotels or retail spaces. How can we square off the experimental preservation uses of smell with the wider contemporary trend to scent commercial environments? The scenting of historic sites can be, and often is, dismissed as a gimmick to attract more visitors. Papers can examine why historically smell has been so easily employed or construed as a deceitful lure. If the low evidentiary value attributed to smell is due to the difficulty in objectifying or documenting it, this status should change. It is now possible to document the smells of contemporary buildings and to archive them along with more traditional records such as photographs and architectural drawings. A transformative moment in the history of smell technology was Roman Kaiser’s invention of Headspace in the 1970s, which automated the field documentation of smells, and made it possible to artificially emulate practically any smell. What standards should this emerging documentary practice follow? What schemata are available for the categorization of historic smells? The language of smell is here a central concern. The description of smells proceeds entirely via euphemism. As Kant wrote in Reflexionen zur Anthropologie, “all the senses have their own descriptive vocabularies, e.g. for sight, there is red, green, and yellow, and for taste there is sweet and sour, etc. But the sense of smell can have no descriptive vocabulary of its own. Rather, we borrow our adjectives from the other senses, so that it smells sour, or has a smell like roses or cloves or musk. They are all, however, terms drawn from other senses. Consequently, we cannot describe our sense of smell.” Would it be appropriate to categorize the smell of historic buildings according to their visual styles (eg. Gothic, Barroque, Neo-classical, Art Deco, Modernist, etc)? Within flavors and fragrance companies, "fragrance wheels"—in which families of smells are arranged in an analog of the spectrum of visible colors—are often used as mnemonic and communicative devices. Other schemes array scents on musical scales, or in n-dimensional space. We also have taxonomies of scents from Carl Linnaeus (1756), Zwaardemaker (1895), Crocker and Henderson (1927), and Jellinek (1951), amongst many others. The enormous variety of such representations, which may be indispensable in the effective communication of olfactory experience, attests to their current insufficiency. What developments are to be expected on this front? Can the conventional language of smell be satisfactorily formalized for professional preservation use? In recent years, studies of the smells of decomposing materials point to a promising new form of non-destructive testing for historic architecture, and a new science of “material degradomics.” Exemplary applications include the “Heritage Smells!” project led by Lorraine T. Gibson, which analyzes the gases emitted by heritage objects to establish their state of decay. The ambitious project involves scientists and conservators from the British Museum, the University of Strathclyde, University College London, the National Records of Scotland, English Heritage and the British Library. What are the current limits to, and the necessary preconditions for the technological study of olfaction for architectural preservation? What new possibilities are offered by corpus analysis, data mining and other research techniques in the digital humanities in determining historical perceptions and theories of smell? How can these techniques best be disseminated, applied and critiqued? Papers might examine the long history that precedes the current interest in measuring decomposition through smell. One interesting precedent is the Henning Odor Prism, or Henning Olfactory Prism (1915–1916). While scents may have much in common, according to the Henning prism they differentiate themselves from each other in their odor profile during decomposition. The Henning Prism therefore suggests the possibility of charting “smell trajectories,” that is, the characteristic changes in smell as a perfume’s volatile top note lifts to reveal its middle and base note, as a fruit ripens, or as an organic product undergoes metabolic decomposition. What are the prospects for developing an understanding of how the smell of a building will naturally change over time? We also welcome papers that examine the relationship between olfaction and urban preservation. From the characteristic odors of the Renaissance city, through the great stenches of London and Paris in the nineteenth century, to the rise in synthetic deodorants in the twentieth, the smell of the historical city undergoes change. As Rudolph el-Khoury writes in Polish and Deodorize, "Urban historians have indeed spoken of a Copernican revolution in the Enlightenment's conception of a city. Beauty, once the governing principle of urbanism, is claimed to have been overthrown by health, hygiene and physiology". In particular, the public fear of disease engendering miasmas, and more specifically the telluric emanations of interior walls, had a significant impact on both urban planning (Haussmann’s sewers) and interior architecture (in particular wallpaper) in 18th century France. To what extent is the sense of smell, our tolerance of certain odors, its thresholds and affective categories, also historically determined?
SAH thanks The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Fund at The Chicago Community Foundation for its operating support.
Society of Architectural Historians
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Chicago, Illinois 60610
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