SAH Blog

The Art of Advocacy: The Museum as Design Laboratory by Barry Bergdoll

Sep 16, 2011

 Since 2007, when I ventured out of the academy to take  the reins of the Department of Architecture and Design at  the Museum of Modern Art, we have traversed an  unexpected set of economic, social and environmental  challenges in which the centrality of the design  professions has become manifestly clear, even as  larger forces - in which designers are too often complicit  - act to marginalize the disciplines of architecture,  landscape architecture, urban planning, design and the  fine arts. Having worked side-by-side with diverse  professionals, I am more than ever convinced that a  cooperative, multidisciplinary approach is fundamental to the future vitality of the field - and essential if designers are to contribute to solving the enormous problems of our day. At MoMA we have been trying to discover meaningful positions and prospects even as practitioners have been jolted into discussion of just where the moral compass should be set.

The horizon of socioeconomic expectations - the matrix in which decisions were made and values assessed - of the early years of the new millennium seems distant today; new uncertainties prevail in the second decade of this now not-so-new century. What seemed a few years ago to be the emerging paradigms - the rapid maturation of digital fabrication, an explosion of new materials, a widespread acceptance of the priority of sustainability, a slowly reawakening ethos of social responsibility - are being submitted to intensive questioning from perspectives that are gaining daily in urgency.

Continue reading "The Art of Advocacy: The Museum as Design Laboratory" on Places [at] Design Observer.


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