e-flux Architecture presents
November 14, 2017, 7pm
311 East Broadway
New York, NY 10002

On November 14, 2017, e-flux Architecture will present History/Theory at e-flux. Join e-flux Architecture editor Nikolaus Hirsch and special guests Samia Henni, Mark Jarzombek, Reinhold Martin, Spyros Papapetros, Meredith TenHoor, Philip Ursprung, and Anthony Vidler for a series of presentations and conversations on the past, present, and future of architectural history and theory.

If there is no theoretical framework, no grand narrative, no normative system of values that offers architects orientation today as there might have been 50 years ago, there is a chance to learn from the mistakes of the past, map out new horizons, and work towards more inclusive, global futures. For we should not take for granted the ways in which architecture has been, is, and can be brought into history. It is essential to recognize the fact that the canon of architectural knowledge, which is still largely treated as the basis of the discipline and its pedagogy, is founded upon inherited practices that all too often contradict the very principles put forward by the institutions themselves.

The task that stands before us today very well might require unlearning what we know and treat to be history and theory in the first place. We need to rethink how it is formed, who it is for, what role it plays, and how it relates to architectural praxis and its cultural field more widely. It is not that architecture is currently in an a-theoretical or a-historical phase, but that it remains frustratingly irrelevant. It has become an academic discipline shaped by academic carriers for academics and not by or for architecture and its challenges. This is why history and theory has never been needed more than it is today, and in its most radical and nuanced forms.

History/Theory, a collaboration between the Institute for the History and Theory of Architecture (gta), ETH Zürich and e-flux Architecture, seeks to question the institutional implications of the fact that knowledge is produced through a plurality of forms and in a multitude of sites, and not just those sanctioned by privileged traditions.

Samia Henni received her PhD in History and Theory of Architecture from the ETH Zurich (with distinction, ETH Medal) and is currently Lecturer of History and Theory of Architecture in the School of Architecture at Princeton University.

Mark Jarzombek is Professor of the History and Theory of Architecture at MIT and a founder of the Global Architecture History Teaching Collaborative (GAHTC).

Reinhold Martin is Professor of Architecture at Columbia GSAPP, where he directs the Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture.

Spyros Papapetros is Associate Professor of History and Theory in the School of Architecture and the Program in Media and Modernity at Princeton University. 

Meredith TenHoor is Associate Professor and coordinator of the history-theory curriculum at Pratt Institute’s School of Architecture, as well as editor of the Aggregate Architectural History Collaborative.

Philip Ursprung is Professor of the History of Art and Architecture and Dean of the Department of Architecture, ETH Zürich.

Anthony Vidler is Professor and former dean of the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture at Cooper Union, and Vincent Scully’s Visiting Professor of Architectural History in the School of Architecture at Yale University.

For more information, contact program@e-flux.com.

Architecture, Design

Samia Henni is a historian of built, destroyed, and imagined environments. She is the author of the multi-award-winning Architecture of Counterrevolution: The French Army in Northern Algeria (EN, 2017; FR, 2019) and Colonial Toxicity: Rehearsing French Radioactive Architecture and Landscape in the Sahara (2024); the editor of Deserts Are Not Empty (2022) and War Zones (2018); and the maker of exhibitions such as Performing Colonial Toxicity (2023–24), Discreet Violence: Architecture and the French War in Algeria (2017–22), Archives: Secret-Défense? (2021), and Housing Pharmacology (2020). She has taught at Princeton university, Geneva University of Art and Design, and Cornell University among other places. Currently, she is a Visiting Professor at the Institute for the History and Theory of Architecture, ETH Zurich, and the co-chair of the University Seminar “Beyond France” at Columbia University. In the fall of 2024, Henni will join the faculty of McGill University’s Peter Guo-hua Fu School of Architecture in Montreal.

Mark Jarzombek is Professor of the History and Theory of Architecture at MIT. He is a co-founder of the Global Architecture History Teaching Collaborative (GAHTC), and together with Vikramāditya Prakash and Francis D.K. Ching, a co-author of the textbook A Global History of Architecture (Wiley Press, 2006). His most recent book is Digital Stockholm Syndrome in the Post-Ontological Age (University of Minnesota Press, 2016).

Reinhold Martin is a historian of architecture, technology, and media, Professor of Architecture in the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation (GSAPP) at Columbia University, and chair of Columbia’s Committee on Global Thought. His books include Knowledge Worlds: Media, Materiality, and the Making of the Modern University (2021); The Urban Apparatus: Mediapolitics and the City (2016); Utopia’s Ghost: Architecture and Postmodernism, Again (2010); and The Organizational Complex: Architecture, Media, and Corporate Space (2003). Previously, Martin has directed the Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture and chaired the Society of Fellows / Heyman Center for the Humanities at Columbia, and was a founding co-editor of the journal Grey Room.

Spyros Papapetros is Associate Professor of History and Theory in the School of Architecture and the Program in Media and Modernity at Princeton University.

Meredith TenHoor is an architectural and urban historian, and Professor in the School of Architecture at Pratt Institute. She is also editor, founding board member, and former chair of the Aggregate Architectural History Collaborative, a group devoted to publishing and advancing collaboratively-produced scholarship in architectural theory and history. Her research examines how architecture, urbanism, and landscape design participate in the distribution of resources, and how these design practices have produced understandings of the limits and capacities of bodies. She has written extensively about the relationships between food and agriculture and architectural, cultural, and territorial change in twentieth-century France. Other key topics are histories of justice, exclusion, and displacement in architecture and urban planning; architectures of consumption and biopolitics; and the intellectual history of francophone and anglophone critical theory. Her publications include Toxics(2022), Black Lives Matter (2015), Street Value: Shopping, Planning and Politics at Fulton Mall (2010), and a forthcoming book about the design history and political economies of French food systems. Newer projects address the bodily and environmental impacts of building materials, the architectural imaginaries of environmental futures, and the career of the French architect Nicole Sonolet, who designed housing, hospitals, and villages focused around the provision of care.

Philip Ursprung is Professor of the History of Art and Architecture and Dean of the Department of Architecture, ETH Zürich.

Anthony Vidler (1941-2023) was an architectural scholar, historian, critic, and academic. A faculty member of Princeton University’s School of Architecture from 1965 to 1993, Vidler served as the first director of the School’s History and Theory Ph.D. program. From 1993 to 1997, Vidler was Professor and Chair of Art History at UCLA, and then Dean of the College of Art, Architecture and Planning at Cornell University from 1997 to 1998. In 2002, he became Dean of The Cooper Union Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture, a position he held until 2013. His publications include The Writing of the Walls: Architectural Theory in the Late Enlightenment; Claude-Nicolas Ledoux: Architecture and Social Reform at the End of the Ancien Regime; The Architectural Uncanny: Essays in the Modern Unhomely; Warped Space: Architecture and Anxiety in Modern Culture; Histories of the Immediate Present: The Invention of Architectural Modernism; James Frazer Stirling: Notes from the Archive; and The Scenes of the Street and other Essays. In addition to teaching and writing, Vidler was a respected curator, with several significant exhibitions including the permanent exhibition of the work of Claude-Nicolas Ledoux in the Royal Salt Works of Arc-et-Senans in Franche-Comté, France, and “James Stirling, Architect and Teacher,” at the Tate, the Staatsgalerie, the Yale Center for British Art, and the Canadian Center for Architecture.

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