Architecture Symposium at CUNY

Held in honor of Rosemarie Haag Bletter on the occasion of her retirement from the CUNY Graduate Center Ph.D. Program in Art History, the symposium will feature modern and contemporary architecture at the CUNY Graduat Center.

The symposium will be on April 29th from 12-4pm, speakers for this event include: Poyin AuYeung, Mary Beth Betts, Barry Bergdoll, Rosemarie Bletter, Larry Busbea, Noah Chasin, Gabrielle Esperdy, Deborah Lewittes, Kevin Murphy, Jeannette Redensek, Claire Zimmerman.  A reception will follow, and reservations are not necessary but space is limited. For more information email:

Further outline of the days events and speaker topics following the break.

Gabrielle Esperdy, Opening Comments

Mary Beth Betts, “Defining Modernism: Joseph Urban and the new School for Social Research” The 1930-31 New School for Social Research buildings by Joseph Urban was one of the first buildings in New York to be designed in accordance with the new principles of modern architecture. What does the New School reveal about the practice and definition of modernism in the United States at this time? In designing the New School, Urban drew from the fields of architecture, color theory and theater, basing his design on a combination of his experience, his knowledge and promotion of the latest European and American design issues, and his interaction and awareness of the concerns of the New School and its faculty.

Jeannette Redensek, Josef Albers and psychologies of the non-objective Focusing on the art of Josef Albers, and drawing on books from his personal library, the paper explores how narrative and meaning in non- representational art were theorized in now-discredited or suppressed or forgotten fields of scientific research, which flourished still in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s — graphology, physionomics, characterology, anthropologies of the Naturvölker.

Claire Zimmerman, “Photography into Building” Postwar British architects understood the power of photography for the presentation of new architecture—perhaps none better than James Stirling. A particularly intriguing series of photographs include the architect situated within his own buildings, possibly foreshadowing Leon Krier’s well-known perspective renderings of the 1970s. For Stirling, photography, like drawing, constituted a different site for the presentation of architectural ideas from that of a building on a site. Alison and Peter Smithson also used photography as a strategic tool for the presentation of architectural ideas, but in a different manner entirely. Comparing Stirling and the Smithsons through the lens of architectural photography, and in relation to the shifting priorities of neo-avant-garde and postmodern architects, this talk reflects on the role of the architectural photograph after WWII.

Larry Busbea, “Paolo Soleri and the Non-Organic Life of Architecture” This paper will examine the work of visionary architect Paolo Soleri in the context of the nascent ecological design of the 1970s. Though his mysticism and aestheticism marginalized him within the ostensibly rational, scientifically- oriented design community, I will argue that Soleri’s worldview was in direct engagement with the cybernetic ethos of the time, and can be placed within an alternative strand of 20th Century materialism, including the theories of Henri Bergson, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Ilya Prigogine, and Gilles Deleuze.

Deborah Lewittes, “The Shape of the City to Come: Regionalism and Urban Identity in Postwar London” Although the notion of British regionalism implies an artistic and civic character distinct from the cultural center of London, this paper will in fact consider London and the manner in which architects and planners in the 1940s and early 1950s addressed the city and “London-ness” as a valid regional identity. Always in the bakcground is the British sense of international modernism as something alien and foreign.

Noah Chasin, “Learning from Lahore: Unexpected Postmodernism in Unlikely Places” This paper emerged out of a trip to Pakistan to teach a seminar on postmodernism and deconstruction and examines the failure of these philosophical and theoretical precepts to empower their subjects of inquiry in any way consistent with those theories’ own interests.

PoYin AuYeung, “Relational Politics: Conflicts and Connections in the Redevelopment of Beijing” Looking beyond built urban structures and the city plan, I will focus on the political process of urban renewal in contemporary Beijing–probing the social relations or connections among the “agents” of redevelopment that exerted powerful influences on determining which buildings would be demolished or preserved. At the heart of the conflicts among the various agents–architects and city planners, real estate developers and politicians, and the affected residents– are their divergent political-economic interests and the uneven power relations.

Barry Bergdoll, Concluding Comments Closing Remarks by Honoree Rosemarie Haag Bletter

About this author
Cite: Kelly Minner. "Architecture Symposium at CUNY" 10 Apr 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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