SAH Newsletter

SAH Sponsors Session at 2014 College Art Association (CAA) Conference in Chicago

by User Not Found | Feb 06, 2014

An SAH-sponsored session will take place at the College Art Association's 102nd Annual Conference in Chicago.

SAH is sponsoring a session at the College Art Association's 2014 Annual Conference in Chicago. "Framing Public Interest Architecture: Changing Notions of Public, Practice, and Profession," chaired by SAH member Farhan S. Karim of the University of Kansas, takes place at the Hilton Chicago from 12:30-2:00 p.m. on February 13, 2014.

Paper Topics

The Public Good of Architecture: Who Is the Public and What Is Its Good?
Tom Spector, Oklahoma State University

PID: The Unfinished Project of Modern Architecture
Jorge Francisco Liernur, Universidad Torcuato Di Tella

Architecture, Gender Justice, and the Politics of Empowerment
Adnan Zillur Morshed, The Catholic University of America

Dew Points
M. Ijlal Muzaffar, Rhode Island School of Design

Session Description

Since the last few decades, a substantial number of architects have been working to redefine architecture from a market driven profession to a complex mix of praxis, altruism, and activism that intends  to eradicate  poverty,  resolve  social exclusion,  and construct  an egalitarian  global society. This emerging practice, broadly known as the public interest architecture, engages other professionals in the design process to have extra disciplinary perspectives, and thus argues for a collective and interdisciplinary method of design. This idea of professional collectivism defies the conventional dyad of architect-commissioner,  and is mainly concerned of the ‘interest of public’ instead of satisfying the idiosyncratic demand of individual clients. The apparent pragmatic motivation behind this new approach, as many would argue, is underpinned by a social utopia that the negative effect of social exclusion and marginalization could be minimized by spatial articulation  through  design,  planning  and  management.  In a way,  architecture  is mediated  to strike a fine balance between immediate pragmatism and unattainable utopia. This shift in architectural  modality  does  not  only  question  the  linear  and  normative  perception  of  social exclusion but also identifies the causes of those as embedded in ecological imbalance, and unsustainable topographical change due to unrestrained growth of consumerism and neoliberal economy. In such view, architecture mediates between the problems of ecology, social inequity, and unsustainable spatial articulation.

In this panel, critical analysis of different case studies and theoretical perspectives shall provide a framework  to  understand  the  impact  of this  emerging  architectural  culture.  Furthermore,  this panel focuses on public interest architecture’s  relationship  with the two fundamental  concepts,

'social participation or engagement' and 'collective well being.’ Papers may discuss how these two concepts  have  been  shaped  by  the  economic  austerity,  the  changing  notion  of  ‘public’  and alternative routes to consumerism. Relevant questions might include: To what extent the new architecture  empowers  the  participants  to  act,  or  does  this  transform  them  into  active  social agents? When we address marginality in design process how relevant it is to take into account the actual production of social exclusion?  Has the discourse of aesthetic and principles of form and geometry, been made secondary if not marginal and overshadowed by the social commitment of the practice? Where to make the disciplinary boundary and autonomy? Or are there any?

More Information

For more information on the CAA Annual Conference, visit

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for its operating support.
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