April 7 - 10, 2021
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Keynote: Peggy Deamer_POLITICAL PRODUCTION/ARCHITECTURAL PERFORMANCE
Peggy Deamer is Professor Emerita of Yale University’s School of Architecture and principal in the firm of Deamer, Studio. She is the founding member of the Architecture Lobby, a group advocating for the value of architectural design and labor. She is the editor of Architecture and Capitalism: 1845 to the Present and author of Architecture and Labor.
This keynote talk is structured into three parts, each of which addresses three facets of political production/architectural performance: first, an analysis of how architecture is organized as a profession; second, an exploration of how architecture is organized as a discipline; and, third, an introduction to an activist organization trying to perform architecture differently.
The first section analyzes how our architectural profession in the US is organized through three aspects of our professional structure. The first of these deals with the concept of professionalism and its origins in the 19th century, its transformation in the 20th century, and current critiques of professionalism in our current socio-economic structure. The second deals with the AIA as our particular professional organization, suggesting the structural attributes that make it weak - structures both externally and self-imposed. The third looks at professional architectural organizations in other countries to see what the AIA might learn from them as well as what we, as architectural citizens, learn about the embeddedness of our profession in national hegemonies.
The second section explores how architecture is organized as a discipline, and specifically examines how our architectural education prepares us for a marginalized and unrewarding profession. It looks at three culprits of the academic construct. The first is its 19th century, Beaux-Arts approach to architectural education that emphasizes aesthetic virtuosity, individuality, and heroic programs. Its associated perspective identifies design teaching that, in the Beaux-Arts model, disengages “design” from social, economic, and political issues is the second culprit. And the final aspect focuses on the way we “perform” pedagogical instruction – a performance of intimate hierarchy.
The third section introduces an activist organization—the Architecture Lobby—and looks at the Architecture Lobby’s efforts to work-around capitalist, developer-driven forces which lead to our performing unsatisfying and unrewarding work. Amongst the issues discussed are efforts at unionization, cooperativization, and the role of architectural labor in the Green New Deal.
This analysis of the profession, exploration of the academic discipline and discussion of an activist organization will conclude with thoughts on what is really at the center of “performing” architecture.
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