Call for Contributions: On the Duty and Power of Architectural Criticism

Should architectural criticism be enlightening? Should it help in the creation of a better built environment? Is there a factual basis to it? Does it have a duty to present evidence in the evaluation of a building? Or should it take on what architects say about their designs?  

In the context of a flat internet, should architectural criticism be able to define best practices? Does it wield the power over who is in and who is out?

Architectural criticism, like all human endeavors, is at a crucial juncture. While serious architecture struggles for recognition, much so-called architectural criticism is merely a poorly paid, decorative legitimation for hyperbolic practice. Incisive architectural criticism is rare, while the definition of criticism itself has become opaque.  

This conference seeks papers that define the purposes and methods of architectural criticism. What should the ethical basis be of architectural criticism? Can it be objective in the context of paid content? Should it outline ideal practices? Or what should it do?

Abstracts (max. 250 words) should address either the duty or the power of architectural criticism, in both cases offering the outline of one analysis of an existing building. Submit to

Subject to acceptance, abstracts will be completed by their authors for presentation with four keynote lectures during the online conference on 9–10 and 16–17 October 2021, hosted by the School of Architecture, The University of Texas at Austin.


Keynote Lecturers:
Kenneth Frampton, New York City, USA
Philippa Tumubweinee, Cape Town, South Africa
Ruth Verde Zein, São Paulo, Brazil
Zheng Shiling, Shanghai, China 


Conference Format:
The online format of the two-day conference will allow active debate between audience and lecturers. Presentations will be concentrated to allow for ample discussion time. Besides the four keynotes, there will be a maximum of 16 short papers. The entire conference will be recorded and placed on Youtube. The conference language will be English. Registration for free audience places (max. 300) will open 2 July via


Scientific Committee:

Elias Constantopoulos, University of Patras

Manuel Cuadra, Director of CICA, Frankfurt am Main/Lima

Fernando Diez, Summa+, U. de Palermo, Buenos Aires  

Hélène Jannière, Université Rennes 2       

Li Xiangning, Tongji University, Shanghai

Robert McCarter, Washington University, St. Louis   

Valerio Paolo Mosco, IUAV       

Louise Noelle Gras, UNAM, Mexico CdMx

Şengül Öymen Gür, Beykent Üniversitesi, Istanbul

Xing Ruan, Shanghai Jiao Tong University    

Paolo Scrivano, Politecnico di Milano       

Ana Tostões, Instituto Técnico Lisbon       

Ruth Verde Zein, U. Presbiteriana Mackenzie, São Paulo


Supporting Institutions:

CICA International Committee of Architectural Critics 

Beykent Üniversitesi, Istanbul

Hellenic Institute of Architecture, Athens

Instituto Superior Técnico, Lisboa  

Istituto Universitario Architettura Venezia        

Shanghai Jiao Tong University     

Tongji University, Shanghai

Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie, São Paulo      

IIEs, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México  

University of Patras

The University of Texas at Austin

Washington University, St. Louis




Wilfried Wang, The University of Texas at Austin


SAH thanks The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation
for its operating support.
Society of Architectural Historians
1365 N. Astor Street
Chicago, Illinois 60610