Call for Papers

Submission Deadline (extended): September 25, 2015

ACSA invites paper submissions under the following 23 thematic session topics plus an additional open category. Authors may submit only one paper per session topic. The same paper may not be submitted to multiple topics. 


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Submission Requirements

All authors submitting papers must be faculty or staff at an ACSA member schools; Individual Members; Student Members or become supporting ACSA members at the time of paper submission. If you are not a member, you can join ACSA here.

Authors may submit only one paper per session topic. The same paper may not be submitted to multiple topics. An author can present no more than two papers at the Annual Meeting. Papers must report on recently completed work, and papers cannot have been previously published or presented in public except to a regional audience.

Paper formatting requirements: 

  • Papers should be no longer than 4,000 words, excluding the abstract and endnotes.
  • No more than 5 images may be used in the paper. Images (low resolution) and captions should be embedded in the paper.
  • Omit all author names from the paper and any other identifying information to maintain an anonymous review process. 
  • Papers must be written in English.
  • Do not include an abstract in the paper file. 
  • Papers may be uploaded in Word, RTF, or PDF formats.


Submission Process

The deadline for submitting a paper to a session for the Annual Meeting is September 25, 2015 (extended). Authors will submit papers through the ACSA online interface. Follow the steps below to being your submission. The web interface will then guide you through the steps to complete your submission. 

1) Click on the SUBMIT NOW button on the 104th Annual Meeting Call for Papers webpage:

2) Log in with your ACSA username and password. 

All submissions will be reviewed carefully by at least three reviewers. The session topic chairs make official acceptance. Selection is based on innovation, clarity, contribution to the discipline of architecture, and relevance to the session topic. All authors will be notified of the status of their paper and will receive comments from their reviewers. 

Paper Presentation

Accepted authors will be required to complete a copyright transfer form and agree to present the paper at the Annual Meeting before it is published in the Proceedings. It is ACSA policy that accepted authors must pay full conference registration for the Annual Meeting in order to be included in the conference presentation and Proceedings.

Each session will have a moderator, normally the topic chair(s). Session moderators will notify authors in advance of session guidelines as well as the general expectations for the session. Moderators reserve the right to withhold a paper from the program if the author has refused to comply with those guidelines. Failure to comply with the conference deadlines or with a moderator’s request for materials in advance may result in an author being dropped from the program, even though his or her name may appear in the program book. In the event of insufficient participation regarding a particular session topic, the conference co-chairs reserve the right to revise the conference schedule accordingly. 


June 2015    Call for Papers announced  
July 2015    Paper submission site opens 
Sept. 25, 2015    Paper submission deadline (extended)
Oct. 30, 2015    Notifications sent to authors  
Dec. 2015    Final revised papers and copyright forms due  
Feb. 2016    Conference registration deadline for presenters 



Acting Out: The Politics and Practices of Interventions 

Knowledge Area: Tactical Urbanisms
Mireille Roddier, University of Michigan 
Anca Trandafirescu, University of Michigan

Urban interventionism, or tactical urbanisms, has gained institutional recognition over the past decade, culminating in Uneven Growth, MoMA’s latest exhibit in its Contemporary Architecture series, and Spontaneous Interventions, curated for the US pavilion at the 13th international architecture biennale in Venice. Along with the various projects themselves, and their dissemination in exhibits and publications, is an emergent discourse on “tactical urbanism” that has established this model of socially focused design practice as the dominant paradigm in an era, or areas, of economic downfall. Common to these projects is bottom-up architecture’s potential agency to resist top-down planning’s perceived allegiance to power—either state or capital. 

To Henri Lefebvre, this opposition was a question of near and far order, concrete and abstract utopias. The latter belongs to the realm of theory, the former to the perceptual experience of the body and of ‘lived’ space. His ideas inspired a generation of young architects to practice architecture “tactically,” resisting the materiality of durability, which implied impending obsolescence, and formalized in temporary, mobile, inflatable, or ephemeral structures, exemplified by the architectural projects of the Utopie Group. These projects suffered from a two-fold critique: one stemming from emerging environmental awareness, and the other from Baudrillard’s analysis of the contradiction between the economic irrationality of such proposals and the privileged classes whom they would serve. Today’s generation of tactical interventions assimilates such criticisms through a more environmentally conscious materials economy and access to open-source design processes. 

In this session, we are looking for papers and projects that theoretically expand and exemplify this “parasidic mode of urbanization,” in regard to their role within and outside of legal structures, their claimed ideological stances, and their disciplinary positioning. We are interested in both projects and papers that recognize in this realm the potential to recoup the political agency of a new architectural autonomy (Ole Bauman’s “Unsolicited Architecture”), as well as those framed as “design actions for the common good,” initiated and funded by architects operating as the new social workers serving an abstracted and disenfranchised “public.” The panel will be open to a wide range of possible topics of discussions, including: 

  • the latent use of technology and prototyping to service individuals through DIY manufacturing;
  • the role of “pop-up” architecture, either in resistance to, or in the service of real-estate values within a fluctuating market;
  • the notions of authorship and ownership in the context of a sharing economy and open-source know-how;
  • the functional and symbolic roles of participation in the process of public empowerment;
  • the specifics of the site, its politics and aesthetics, in the evaluation of the projects;
  • the knowledge-production enabled by the creation of architecture at a 1-to-1 scale;
  • the foregrounded role and scale of the body, the sensorial and the ludic in response to the material infrastructure of abstract flows and networks.

Architecture is Philosophy: Beyond the Post-Critical

General Theme: Theory/Philosophy
Thomas Forget, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Mark Thorsby, Lone Star College

To apply philosophical constructs to architecture is to overlook that philosophy and architecture are parallel, as opposed to intersecting, disciplines. Philosophy and architecture enjoy a ubiquitous presence in everyday life—we inevitably think, and we inevitably inhabit space—and professionals in both disciplines are tasked with making sense of essential conditions of human consciousness—thought and matter respectively. The disciplines’ reciprocal positions at the extremes of the humanities suggest that architecture may resonate with philosophy in ways that differ from the discipline’s more established dialogs with art and science. At the same time, to derive a specific architectural discourse from a specific philosophy renders the latter a mere style. Examples of misappropriation are evident throughout the Post Modern era, during which architects regularly deployed philosophies such as deconstruction and phenomenology as tools through which to codify aesthetic positions. Michael Bendikt’s critique of such practices in “Deconstructing the Kimble” (SITES, 1992) eloquently demonstrates how reductive adoptions of philosophy often result in a misunderstanding of the philosophical arguments they purport to embody. This panel strives to uncover methods and theories with consequences that transcend form and style, exploring an inherent reciprocity between architecture and philosophy, as well as the potential of that reciprocity to build and shape new ways of knowing architecture.

The context of this aspiration is the ongoing post-critical debate in architecture, as exemplified by exchanges between Michael Speaks, Robert Somol and Sarah Whiting, and George Baird. Philosopher Karsten Harries, long a proponent of the disciplinary exchange posited by this panel, frames the debate as a question of the once central, now marginal role of the humanities in architectural discourse. In “The Responsibility of Architectural Design” (Routledge, 2010), Harries challenges architects to reencounter the humanistic dimension of architecture.

The conundrum of contemporary practice is to embrace technological and disciplinary change without sacrificing humanistic knowledge, and philosophy offers architecture models of thinking amenable to new trajectories that mediate method and thought. Co-chaired by a philosopher and an architectural scholar, the panel is a forum for cross-disciplinary exchange. Papers should address the topic critically, through either historical or contemporary provocations. Case studies and textual analyses of works that embody a philosophical idea or prescribe an application of philosophy onto architecture are discouraged in favor of theoretical speculation, experimental forms of argumentation, and unconventional subjects. Papers may address but are not limited to:

  • Historical encounters between philosophy and architecture that suggest integration instead of stylization
  • The philosophical notion of “praxis” as a possible means to theorize post-critical trends in practice
  • The resonance/relevance of a specific branch of philosophy (e.g., ethics, logic, epistemology, aesthetics) with/to established or emerging forms of architectural knowledge
  • Recent research into the scientific foundations of phenomenology and its potential to reframe the perceived relevance of phenomenology to architecture
  • Models of integrating philosophy into other disciplines, such as John Dupré’s work on the philosophy of biology
  • Historical and/or contemporary questions concerning the distinction (perhaps false) of theory and philosophy in architecture

Beginnings in the Context of New Knowledge

General Theme: Beginning Students/Pedagogy 
Catherine Wetzel, Illinois Institute of Technology
James Sullivan, Louisiana State University

Edward Said in Beginnings: Intention and Method distinguishes the context of beginning as “a designated moment in time, a place, a principle, or an action in order to indicate or designate a later condition.”   Considered as such, beginnings and the later condition to which they indicate have a curious reciprocal relationship: beginnings are foundational in that they structure that which they precede, yet that which they precede, as the authoritative mark and goal, informs and structures beginnings. Within architectural education this relationship is particularly acute due to the simultaneous presence of new knowledge in two forms: first, as a form of introductory knowledge that is structured by disciplinary conventions and habits, while second, as a form of knowledge creation that is often structured by a productive dismantling of these disciplinary conventions and habits.

This reciprocal condition of the relationship between beginnings and ends is attenuated in the context of the gap between the knowledge set of the academy and that of the profession. Architectural educators define their research as either a reflexive or projective practice appropriate to predicting future architectures and the latent potential for impacting professional expertise. Architectural education, while imparting the knowledge and skills necessary for practice, more broadly proffers a discipline of critical thinking and problem solving as a transferable knowledge set. As such, architectural education struggles with cycles of disruptive change and its’ desire to remain relevant in an ever more complex field of expertise. This struggle has led to new pedagogical terrains asserting authority in design processes, products and performance. Inevitably, these projective practices have repercussions in foundational coursework, such as the shift from composition and form as essential knowledge of aesthetic decision making, to design itself as a process driven by new tools and techniques of media representation and physical making and the resultant process-product.

This session considers the context and content of the foundation knowledge set and its associative pedagogies within the new knowledge culture of research and innovation. In doing so, the session looks to address: the re-valuation of design processes and aesthetics challenging the relationship of beginning design and the broader design disciplines; the challenges that the new knowledge culture presents to the permanence of architectural topics; the content and curricular structures of foundation knowledge, among other issues. This session seeks submissions that consider “beginnings as a first point of an accomplishment or process that has duration or meaning,”  and therefore sees the foundation as fertile ground for the deployment of projective practice.


Calibrating Viscosity: Techniques for Negotiating Earthen Materials

General Theme: Material Investigations
Joshua G. Stein, Woodbury University

A sea change has occurred in design and planning based on a new intense mediation of our material context. Current initiatives like resiliency imply the need for design to acknowledge and incorporate our inability to completely foresee natural patterns. As an ecological paradigm becomes increasingly embedded into the fundamentals of architecture practice and education, so too has the technological capacity to negotiate these complexly physical systems. Cities are now mapped according to resource flow and management as much as abstract grids and idealized geometries while the discrete and (supposedly) static components of architectural construction are increasingly replaced with dynamic mixtures, organic or mineral, that often move during their production or over the life span of a building. In many ways, emerging technologies allow the discipline to reckon with materials that had been excised from the field out of a fear of their wild and destructive capriciousness. Engineered rivers are opened to accommodate natural cycles of flooding and building walls are grown rather than constructed. In this new context, the role of the architect tends more towards the complex orchestration of ingredients, many of which are viscous and difficult to predict in their behaviors.

While the processing power to model and anticipate complex material behaviors and patterns will continue to improve, it is likely that there will always be a significant limit to the accuracy of these calculations. Perhaps more meaningfully, the agency of these difficult materials within the design process risks being compromised if their every behavior can simply be replaced by digital simulation. In this case, how do the systems of design leave room for the movement and unpredictability of materials and ecosystems? What are the necessary techniques for dealing with and influencing unstable matter, either as context or as medium? Could these techniques define a new domain of knowledge that might encompass issues beyond material behavior alone?

This session invites papers that examine earthen materials at all scales, from ceramic building components to volatile environmental contexts, with the intention of developing techniques and concepts for negotiating rather than limiting their complexity. From the movement of ceramic materials during the firing process to the projection of sediment flows, how do we build with the vitality of the earth without confining its qualities to that of just another stock material, easily quantified into specification charts? While the adjacent disciplines of landscape architecture, landscape urbanism and material science have forced a paradigm shift within architecture and architectural theory, what are other modes of practice (traditional craft, alchemy, cooking) can be appropriated to develop techniques for coping with a dynamic material world?

Challenging Materiality: Industry Collaborations Reshaping Design

General Theme: Material Investigations
Julie Larsen, Syracuse University 
Roger Hubeli, Syracuse University 

With rapidly evolving material technology, architectural designers are more commonly seeking input from building material industries to shape new knowledge and facilitate architectural agendas. There are untapped intellectual resources and funding streams that help generate productive partnerships and foster design methods. These partnerships allow architects to foster collaborations with the material industry to discover new knowledge and novel approaches in architectural design.

In the early 20th century, Belgian contractor, Francois Hennebique, gave up contracting and concentrated his business solely on engineering and design of structures after patenting one of the first modern reinforced concrete construction systems in 1892. It was this separation of knowledge of construction systems from the builder/contractor itself, as well as the accompanying licensing and franchising system, that allowed Hennebique’s office to be instrumental in the design of an unprecedented amount of reinforced concrete structures. This type of design development happened neither because of client requests nor because architecture demanded the development of these new systems. It was the technological development itself that radically changed the relationship between architects, contractors and clients and led to redefining roles through contemporary explorations in design, material and fabrication.

This session argues that, once again, the combination of design technology with the advancement in material science offers productive opportunities for designers. With architectural projects, installations, or exhibitions as a case study to reflect on broader collaborations, this session will explore the following questions: How can the contemporary digital practice be influenced by specific material properties and industrial processes? How can collaborations between architects, engineers and manufacturing influence our thinking before the design process even starts? In the spirit of Hennebique, are there new alternative projects or means to achieve undiscovered design potential? Where can technical challenges lead to projective projects that provoke new meaning in materials and fabrication?

And lastly, how do these new developments inform design research and teaching? Are there new types of classes or studios forming as a result of these collaborations? How do students learn differently today with new knowledge and tools from industry now available to them? And in what ways can students partake in the forming of this knowledge so they will participate in the field in inspiring and productive new ways?

Collaborative Consumption: The Power of Numbers in Architecture

General Theme: Collaborative Economies
Gundula Proksch, University of Washington
Elizabeth Golden, University of Washington 

There has been a sharp increase in peer-to-peer social networks that allow perpetual consumers to become collaborative creators.  In their book What’s Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption, Botsman and Rogers investigate how technology is facilitating new modes of collaborative behavior through collaborative lifestyles, redistribution markets, and product service systems. 

The influence of collaborative consumption in architecture is rapidly growing, altering the way we finance, design, and use buildings. Crowdfunding, and initiatives such as Baugruppen empower communities to advocate for their own interests. Open source networks facilitate collaboration, and allow architects to disseminate and share their ideas more easily with the general public. Co-working and peer-to-peer space sharing democratize real estate allocation by making space more accessible and affordable. With these new collaborative consumption systems comes a renewed belief in the importance of community, a commitment to addressing unresolved environmental issues, and a changed attitude toward ownership.  Rather than hindering the collaborative consumption movement, the 2008 economic crisis actually accelerated the shift away from hyper-consumption. Some of these collaborative systems may remain at the fringe of the profession, but others are already influencing mainstream practice. The AIA, for example, has acknowledged the potential of collaborative financing in their recently published report Crowdfunding Architecture¬, and by stating, “Crowdfunding may well become a major vehicle for communities to develop revitalization projects that are often too small to attract enough investment capital.” Clearly, the ‘power of numbers’ could change the profession, and we seek to identify the knowledge, systems, and approaches that make this emerging phenomenon possible.  

This session invites theoretical essays, case studies, and design research exploring strategies how collaborative consumption shapes new forms of knowledge and approaches in architecture. How will the shift toward collaborative systems change the profession? How do social media and crowdsourcing change the way we conduct research and generate knowledge? How does the power of numbers alter what we design, and who we design for? Will it change how we teach and educate architects? And how will this movement that originates in social networks, start to transform our built environment? 


Critical Call

General Theme: Criticality/Agency
Maurizio Sabini, Drury University 

With the potent advance of new forms of knowledge production and dissemination, with digital technology and social media disrupting established paradigms and protocols, can architecture, as a form of knowledge, recapture a critical role within contemporary culture? How can we reframe the fundamental questions posed by K. Michael Hays’ elaboration1 on “critical architecture”, as a third way between “architecture as an instrument of culture” and “architecture as autonomous form”? In view of the contemporary acceleration in digital technology, prototyping and fabrication, when, since the early 2000s, as observed by Michael Speaks2, “design knowledge through making” has been taking command, while, at the same time, interdisciplinary enquiries, criticism and modes of “critical practice” have continued to challenge the possibly conciliatory scenarios of the post-criticality3, there seem still to be a need for a re-assessment of architecture’s critical call.

With a clearer awareness of the new opportunities that “architecture as open source” (Carlo Ratti4) can allow, leveraging the potential of digital sensing and big data processing, as well as of new modes of architectural production through shared digital platforms, while also realizing the issues that these new conditions pose to architecture’s epistemological core and cultural role, it would seem timely to reframe Hays’ questions and others that come along with them.  

How can architecture’s new call for criticality take shape? How can architecture, as a form of cultural and knowledge production, still perform a role of critical agency at this moment of cultural evolution where other forms of knowledge are acquiring ever more important roles in the shaping of the environment? How can the redefinition of a critical cultural role help architecture recapture a level of influence within on-going environmental and urban transformations that has been recently challenged and questioned? How can a response to such a call help architecture at a critical junction of its evolution as a field of knowledge?

This session invites papers to offer insights into and through the nexus of these questions from a variety of angles (including, but not limited to, cultural theory, architectural theory, history, media theory). The aim is to offer reflections and debate capable to start building a platform for discussion, thus helping the discourse in our field refocus and helping architecture redefine its paradigm at a critical moment of its own evolution.

1 K. Michael Hays, “Critical Architecture: Between Culture and Form,” Perspecta 21, 1984: 14-39.

2 Michael Speaks, “After Theory,” Architectural Record, June 2005: 72-75.

3 Jane Rendell et al. (eds.), Critical Architecture, London & New York: Routledge 2007

4 Carlo Ratti, with Matthew Claudel, Open Source Architecture, New York: Thames & Hudson 2015 - or. ed. Architettura Open Source, Turin, Italy: Einaudi 2014.


Divergent Modes of Engagement: Exploring the Spectrum of Collaborative and Participatory Practices

General Theme: Participatory Design
Caryn Brause, University of Massachusetts, Amherst 
Joseph Krupczynski, University of Massachusetts, Amherst 

New collaborative and participatory processes are facilitating and, simultaneously, requiring ever more intense interrelationships among all participants in the design process. This impact is dramatically experienced at many scales, altering practice expectations by contractually and socially restructuring the relationships between agents such as clients, consultants, fabricators, stakeholders and users. These changes may be experienced most powerfully at the extremes of disciplinary activity. At one end of the spectrum, emerging project delivery methods seek to harness the talents and insights of all participants while prioritizing efficiency and productivity. At the other end, participatory practices support dialogues within and between a broad range of political, economic and social contexts to contest inequities and promote social justice.

These relational, dialogic and collaborative frameworks point both to the promise of new technological efficiencies and integrated production methods as well as the potential for new social formations and civic actions. Can practices with distinct—even divergent—goals provoke productive dialogues about new models for engagement? This session inquires as to the processes by which new knowledge is created when we engage the distinct intelligences of new collaborators. What conflicts emerge when we collaborate with parties with different academic, cultural, professional, and disciplinary backgrounds and values? How might we capitalize on these conflicts to produce new social capacities and/or practice innovations? 

These new models, working within social and cultural contexts, may include participatory action research methods or alternative educational strategies that build the capacity for underrepresented communities to meaningfully participate in their neighborhoods and cities. Within the socio-technical realm, these new models might include reconsidered relationships between designers and constructors due to changing contractual obligations or shifting norms surrounding information exchange. 

This session invites exploration and documentation of collaborative and participatory endeavors including design projects, historical precedents, contemporary case studies, professional research, academic experiments and new practice models that explore a spectrum of collaborative and participatory practices by which new knowledge is created. As the architectural academy grapples with its relevance and significance, introducing practices that expand our disciplinary reach and our collaborative network is critical to producing the next generation of practitioners able to operate in an expanded professional territory.


Embedded Design Systems: Agents, Identities, and Creativity

Knowledge Area: Digital Futures
Andrzej Zarzycki, New Jersey Institute of Technology
Martina Decker, New Jersey Institute of Technology

The use of distributed sensors and microcontroller platforms in architecture facilitates new responsive building systems with intelligent façades and user-aware behavior. Adaptive designs and autonomous spaces are at the forefront of the current architectural and design discourse. They engage users in an interactive dialogue, allow for public domain authoring, and are critical factors in sustainable designs where buildings monitor their own performance and respond to environmental factors. Future adaptive architecture will integrate information technologies with distributed sensing, redefining building component behaviors and performance to address emerging resiliency and zero-energy needs. It will also redefine the role autonomous buildings play as active co-participants in the built environment. These emerging directions reformulate what we consider the discipline and set new expectations toward creating-making of architecture.

This session invites research- and project-based contributions that present emerging attitudes toward adaptive and autonomous buildings and cities, focusing on state-of-the-art practices with in-depth analyses of smart buildings, adaptive designs, and networked cities. Answering the questions of “why” as well as “how” will be critical. All aspects and scales of smart designs can be considered, including adaptive building components, smart façades, urban furniture, and social networks interconnected within broader urban ecosystems.

Prospective papers could address one or a number of critical questions that frame the current debate on smart buildings and autonomous designs: (1) What new knowledge should architecture-based research pursue to maintain the discipline’s social, cultural, and environmental relevance? (2) What are the opportunities and challenges of autonomous buildings and cities? (3) Would these opportunities lead not only to more efficient buildings, but also to more livable places? (4) What role will users play in informing building behaviors?

Additionally, we are interested in papers that address emerging modes of practice necessary for meeting these new challenges. Electronic technology-enabled designs require new forms of professional practice and design studio education that combine building and computational sciences with creative prototyping and technology developments. While solid knowledge of building technology and sciences is necessary, it is no longer sufficient. Practitioners and students need to be versed in a broad range of new tools, material, and digital technologies that span across multiple disciplines. Is architectural practice meeting this new demand? What would it take?


Giving up Control: Finding New Agency in the Era of Interdisciplinary Practice

General Theme: Interdisciplinary Practice
Marc Swackhamer, University of Minnesota 
Blaine Brownell, University of Minnesota
Blair Satterfield, University of British Columbia 

..the author is not an indefinite source of significations which fill a work...I seem to call for a form of culture in which fiction would not be limited by the figure of the author.

Michel Foucault, “What is an Author?” (1969) 

It is important to underscore that this multiplying of contingencies differs greatly from the more dilute notion of interdisciplinarity, which seeks to legitimize architecture through an external measuring stick, thereby reducing architecture to the entirely amorphous role of absorber of heterogeneous life. A projective architecture does not shy away from reinstating architectural definition, but that definition stems from design and its effects rather than a language of means and materials.” 

Robert Somol and Sara Whiting, “Notes around the Doppler Effect and other Moods of Modernism,” Perspecta 33, (2002)

Whether one sees authorship as a limiting force, or as a critical generative and curatorial influence in the design process, it is clear that the agency of the designer is evolving and increasingly uncertain. Architects are progressively looking to external agents for inspiration, expertise, and influence in order to expand or deepen their opportunities in design. This influence might come from multi-disciplinary collaborations, where parties from a variety of fields contribute new ways of addressing problems and push work in unexpected directions. In other models, the act of design is purposefully decentralized through strategies like crowd sourcing. Many contributing voices operate on a problem simultaneously, directly challenging the logics of conventional team organization and construction techniques (hierarchy, linearity, etc.). Still others look to material behavior and the development of new tools (digital and analog) to inform their work, often ceding control to the agency of force and scripted program. In these and many other examples, the idea of design agency is questioned. 

This session invites the contribution of design research, theoretical essays, contemporary case studies, historical precedents, and proposals for new models of practice and teaching that investigate, demonstrate, and critically interrogate the opportunities and challenges of the question of design agency.


Intelligent Architectural Settings: Tools for Societal and Programmatic Performance Analytics

General Theme: Digital Futures
Christopher Beorkrem, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Eric Sauda, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Architecture, computer science and ethnography are joining forces in very compelling ways to create new methods and paradigms for evaluating and designing architectural environments.  Post-occupancy evaluations have until now been the exclusive domain of social scientists using individual human observers for short periods of time; this approaches limits the scale of analysis, typically measured in hours. In addition, new methods from computer science, and in particular from data analytics and computer vision, promise real time and continuous observation of meaningful behavior, use, experience, and performance focused on architectural spaces and organizational strategies.  

Designers have long dreamed of methods for creating relationships between social programs and the spaces they inhabit, hoping to create meaningful or even fluid boundaries within architectural space. The updated notion that this type of data affords is highlighted by Ben Waber’s book People Analytics.  AECOM has an entire department dedicated to these types of architectural data collection and analysis called Strategy Plus.

Until now, such strategies have relied on evidence collected through human observation for short scale periods.  Sensor- based information offer the opportunity to detect meaningful human behavior continuously. Such sensors and their associated analysis offer the opportunity to gain knowledge for the entire life of the building, and even offers the opportunity to integrate data and space into a cohesive architecture framework. 

This session calls for papers testing the limits of architectural analysis; we welcome efforts to integrate automated sensing with sophisticated use of advance methods from computer science, including but not limited to, computer vision, Bluetooth beacons, or the “internet of things.”

There are two specific outcomes of research that may be included in this session. First projects that combine a fine-grained understanding of the uses that are made of facilities, leading to improved future design. And second, the generation of intelligent architectural settings, which integrate architectural, ethnographic and data analytic approaches, to create settings which can adapt to both the individual and the group.  Work at all scales from the intimate to the urban is welcome.


International Design/Build: Community Service or Architectural Imperialism 

General Theme: Design/Build
Lisa Findley, California College of the Arts

Design/Build projects by architecture schools are one of the few places where architectural research and praxis intersect seamlessly in an academic setting. These projects, particularly those constructed for  underserved communities have, until recently, been assumed to be a great good thing. Indeed, they are generally praised as win-win-win-win: the community (or individual) gets a needed building, the students benefit from a hands-on project, the school receives accolades for its community involvement, and architecture sometimes gains a contribution to practice research and strategy, material knowledge, project delivery and/or aesthetics.

While all this may or may not be true of all design/build projects, the increasing number of such projects and their high visibility in the architectural media and blogosphere have incited a recent wave of sharp criticism. Building on some early grumbling about the cultural and aesthetic politics of Rural Studio, these critics call into question the assumptions of unmitigated good and the even distribution of benefits of this pedagogical model. How is the project initiated? What is the role of the faculty member and how does he/she benefit? What is the relationship between the “clients” and the student design/builders? Whose aesthetics and cultural values are embodied in the project? Should the community just be happy with whatever they are given? Who actually benefits, and in what ways? What are the ethics of tuition-paying students performing free labor?  Finally, do these projects suggest an architectural practice model that is unsustainable over the long term, as the collapse of Architecture for Humanity demonstrates? 

The issues raised by these questions intensify greatly when the design/build project is in another country, usually one labeled “developing”.  This is true in a regional sense, but is further aggravated by international power structures (economic and political), and racial and religious divides. As highlighted in heated debates at the 2014 UIA Meeting in Durban, South Africa, when schools from the “Global North” pursue such design/build in the “Global South” they could be seen as practicing a form of cultural--that is, architectural--imperialism.

How are we dealing with these challenging questions about a mode of pedagogy that sometimes achieves a high degree of integration of certain kinds of research with practice? As a pivotal player in architectural education, ACSA and its members should be actively engaged in this global debate about international design/build studio projects. To the end, this paper session invites submissions in two categories that critically engage the dilemmas outlined above:

  • design/build projects that took on these issues explicitly within the process of the studio and in regular discussion with the students. In particular, how did the critical engagement with these issues affect the studio and its product? 
  • historical and/or theoretical critiques and perspectives of the design/build model that engage the above issues.


Knowledge Fields: Between Architecture and Landscape

General Theme: Landscape and Architecture
Cathryn Dwyre, Pratt Institute
Chris Perry, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Our contemporary moment is characterized by the ubiquity, accessibility, and speed of information, a sea change that has radically transformed how knowledge is produced and exchanged around the globe. Historically, individual disciplines worked to contain discrete and proprietary forms of knowledge. In our open information age, however, the very idea of a closed discipline seems anachronous. Therefore, we use the term “field” instead, thereby evoking openness in place of restriction. 

Assessing the term “field” as a viable alternative to “discipline” is complicated by the fact that architecture and landscape architecture are themselves generalist-oriented and trans-disciplinary; each negotiate an opposition between the need for disciplinary limits and the desire for disciplinary expansion. While the former might be characterized by qualities of anxiety, manifest as a defense of disciplinary limits, the latter seeks to open new areas of inquiry by expanding those limits. Akin to aspects of speculative realism or new materialism, in which “all the entities of the world are deeply interrelated and mutually dependent, even in their separation from one another”, as Steven Shaviro argues in the introduction to his book The Universe of Things, this latter approach redefines disciplinarity as an open field of concepts, relationships, techniques, and effects shared by multiple disciplines. As such, new aesthetic and conceptual sensibilities are allowed to migrate, a radical departure from the traditional guild system in which the closely guarded transfer of knowledge was intentionally isolated from various forms of external influence. 

One important and relatively recent precedent for this approach can be seen retroactively in the work of Field Operations, the collaborative design practice shared by landscape architect James Corner and architect Stan Allen from 1999 to 2003. Their 2001 Fresh Kills Park proposal remains a seminal example of knowledge production and exchange between two separate and yet related disciplines, architecture and landscape architecture; in this instance, as a means of reinventing the “public park” in an age of environmental crisis. More recent examples might include Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s 2013 Zaryadye Park proposal, in which knowledge production and exchange takes place between disciplines as diverse as climate engineering and concrete bionics, as well as architecture and landscape architecture. And we might also look to the work of emerging design practices such as The Bittertang Farm, in which the term “farm”, understood here as a constructed ecology of production, consumption, and exchange between humans and nonhumans alike, operates as an analog for hyper-trans-disciplinary forms of knowledge production and design practice. 

Set within this historical and theoretical context, our panel will explore contemporary forms of design research as it relates to knowledge fields situated between architecture and landscape architecture. As such, we welcome submissions investigating historical and theoretical issues, as well as design research and/or proposals. 

Knowledge in the Public Interest

General Theme: Public Interest Design
Nadia M. Anderson, Iowa State University
Sergio Palleroni, Portland State University

“Social space is a social product.” While made in 1974, this statement by Henri Lefebvre lies at the heart of the rapidly expanding area of community and public interest design that strives to broaden the range of voices shaping the built environment. Present in a growing number of practices and schools around the world, contemporary public interest design restructures client-architect relationships through proactive partnership rather than reactive service. It treats marginalized communities as partners bringing important knowledge of place, history, and assets to the table alongside architectural abilities to synthesize, articulate, and visualize new futures. This operational structure differs significantly from the Modernist approach of the early 20th century that used professional knowledge to engage humanitarian issues without input from those affected. It also differs from the 1960s advocacy approach where the architect acted as passive vehicle for community desires. While often operating at a small, local scale, contemporary community design bridges between the specifics of local everyday experience and large global issues, offering a method through which architecture as a process can engage critical contemporary issues such as mass urbanization, climate change, and global capitalism. 

This session asks, “What is the knowledge produced by contemporary public interest design and how is it related to other types of knowledge produced or utilized by the discipline of architecture?” Community design can, for example, be a producer of operational knowledge that informs structures of practice. Through methods that bring the architect and the architectural student into direct contact with communities, this work draws upon areas such as grounded theory, community organizing, and art activism. It also redefines financial structures by moving away from fees based on building construction to fees resulting from grants and public/private partnerships that emphasize engaged research and process over product. These structures in turn produce new knowledge of what architecture as a discipline is and what its power relationships are.   

Public interest design is also a producer of theoretical knowledge, articulating new ways of framing what architecture is in social and political contexts. Drawing upon knowledge from disciplines such as political economy and social geography, community design asks how power is distributed through the built environment and how this can be reshaped. While the built environment is typically positioned as embodying the values and structures of those with power, public interest design explores how design can be considered as a relational undertaking that facilitates broader empowerment. 

In addition to operational and theoretical knowledge, public interest design produces many additional types of knowledge including pedagogical, aesthetic, and experiential. We assert that all of these knowledge types share the common frame of social space as a social product, shifting focus from the configuration of space to its construction as a socio-political condition. We welcome arguments in support and to the contrary of this statement; our goal is to generate discussion that moves beyond what public interest design is and focuses on how it is reframing the discipline of architecture through knowledge production.


Making It: Labor, Participatory Architecture, and the Politics of the Algorithm

General Theme: Digital Culture
Christian Stayner, Arizona State University
Anya Sirota, University of Michigan

Who makes your building? Who assembles the myriad of tiny customized pieces that produce complex aggregate forms? Despite the emergence of a concern over “socially-engaged practice,” the very question of labor seems to have all but disappeared from architectural discourse. Why are the politics of labor so taboo? The transformational role of computation and digital fabrication for the recent generation of architects is undeniable, but the machines that were meant to liberate the architect and builder have instead bound interns to assembling countless component parts into parametric installations that produce ever-more baroque “affects” and complex aesthetic experiments.

This panel seeks research and pedagogical positions that investigate, confront, and question the labor involved in contemporary architectural production: from the space of the academic studio (or fabrication lab), to the very physical labor of the construction site, to the assembly site of so many recent architectural pavilions produced through the laborious aggregation of digitally-produced elements. How can labor and material relations be understood as a new knowledge in themselves? How could we turn the tide against the devaluation of architectural labor? What distinction should be made between architecture as the result of physical toil versus an intellectual service? How might we as participants in architectural production re-conceptualize our value? How do we position our discipline in relation to the production economy? These are some of the questions we seek to investigate in this panel discussion.

We encourage papers and the presentation of projects that critically examine the role of labor and how things are produced in both the discipline and the practice of architecture. As a creative act, architecture is fundamentally about making: things, spaces, relationships, alternative futures. Central to our discussion will be theories around the maker and audience, equitable practice, gender pay inequalities, new social relations, human rights practices in the construction economy, humanitarian social practice in far-off lands, and the relationship between design and fabrication.


Probing Technique: Building Research in Architecture’s Modernity

General Theme: Building Science
Alexandra Quantrill, Columbia University 
Anna-Maria Meister, Princeton University

After the First World War, laboratories and institutes dedicated to technical building research were formed in order to establish standards and optimize practices in architectural construction. Material configurations were tested, licensed, and normalized to promise safety, efficiency, economy, endurance, and environmental stability. As military techniques were translated for peacetime applications, building research became a lucrative and expanding industry, with its own knowledge network of publications, conferences, and consultancies. Whether academic, state-run, or part of private enterprise, these entities for “applied research” developed modes of investigating and representing building production, which have been largely excluded from histories of architecture.
In Architect and Engineer: A Study in Sibling Rivalry, Andrew Saint demonstrated the increasing fragmentation of design and construction processes between consultants with specialized technical expertise from the 19th century on in Britain, France, and the United States. On the other hand, recent developments of customized or on-demand production suggest a reunion of the designer and the maker. How can we rethink architecture’s tumultuous relationship with its “others,” engineering and building science, beyond positivist acceptance, formalist effects, or technophilic infatuation? Rather than treating them as opposing disciplinary poles, we want to follow sociologist John Law’s concept of heterogeneous engineering: he suggests the development of technological form is dependent upon the interrelation of disparate and unstable conditions, elements, and tactics. These may be human, natural, or technological; skills, artifacts, and geographical, political, and economic phenomena all influence builders of technological systems. How then can we evaluate the relationship between qualitative aims—such as regulated space, environmental comfort, or visual exactitude—and the quantitative means and methods of technical research? How did technical developments interface with aesthetic agendas in the history of architecture’s modernity? How were their metrics reflective or productive of (or opposed to) the cultural and social content of architecture?

This session seeks papers engaging theories and histories of the interrelation of technical building research, design practices, and the discourse and representation of architecture. Beyond appearances and tectonics, we want to explore the absorption of technical developments into the discipline, and the subsequent shifts in the epistemology of architecture through its material research. How does the development of a detail shape the production of the city? And, vice versa, how did changes in architectural vision impact minute technical developments? What cultural or social relations are intrinsic to the technological object, and to what degree is technology itself a kind of discourse? We are interested in the suppressions and celebrations of such research in standard accounts of architecture, in its communication and representation. Furthermore, we want to consider the local and global contexts for the export and translation of techniques, in which architecture was a repeated agent in the dissemination of standards and aesthetics—hence, politics.

Prototyping the Future

General Theme: Research Practice
Anca Trandafirescu, University of Michigan 
Claire Zimmerman, University of Michigan

One of many challenges facing those who conduct new research in architecture is that of reflecting on new knowledge at the same time that one is generating that knowledge, often from scratch. Over the past twenty years or so, digital design and manufacturing technologies have produced intensive design investigations. Architects work speculatively to understand the capacities of this new “cultural technique” (Bernhard Siegert et al), often using experimental, full-scale constructions that test formal and fabrication logics. This session asks: how can we explore the potentials of new materials, new fabrication technologies, and new digital tools while simultaneously thinking about these innovations? What are the challenges that political and social concerns bring to bear on problems related to fabrication, and to the management and development of new tools? 

The session reflects on the present projective condition as a state of self-imposed agnosticism, in which action and production are foregrounded, and seemingly endless possibilities remain on the horizon awaiting development.  How might designers today define the limits of their (experimental) work beyond questions of formal generation, technical innovation, and the logistics of assembly? How is the impact of new knowledge on architecture culture limited by architecture’s own internal protocols?  Is the tendency to foreground “free” invention a holdover of Bauhaus educational philosophies based on neo-Kantian formulations, or a necessary condition of contemporary creative work? If the former, what about the distance between Bauhaus modernism and design today—how successfully are we re-assessing existing models of design invention, given that “We Have Never Been Modern”? If the latter, why?  

We ask for deliberations (among practitioners and writers of design) on how we make a future and think it simultaneously, inviting papers and projects engaged in or focused on new processes of making. Please reflect on the initiations, limitations, and applications of experimentation, with respect to the conditions under which architecture becomes construction, and construction hosts life.

Possible areas for presentation and discussion:

  • Projects (current and/or historical) initiated for the purposes of exploring new technologies and their results;
  • Adaptations of experimental projects to conditions external to their making, and the impact of resulting necessary adjustments;
  • Long-term transformations of experimental projects and what the transformations help us understand about the advantages and limitations of “free” making;
  • Programs, practices, and partnerships (current and historical) that have established grounds and definitions of experimentation in architectural making.

Structure as Design Knowledge

General Theme: Material Investigations
Tyler Sprague, University of Washington
Marci Uihlein, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
Robert Dermody, Roger Williams University

“Structure, in its basic sense, is the created unity of the parts and joints of entities.  It is a pattern of dynamic cohesion in which noun and verb, form and to form, are coexistent and interchangeable; of interacting forces perceived as a single spatio-temporal entity.”     -Gyorgy Kepes

Gyorgy Kepes’ 1965 edited volume Structure in Art and Science brought artists, architects and engineers together into a wide-ranging discussion of ‘structure.’  Individuals like Buckminister Fuller, Pier Luigi Nervi, Eduard Sekler, Fumihiko Maki and Max Bill explored the practical and poetic qualities of a structural approach to art and architecture.  These discussions show many different understandings of structure and structural form - reflecting a widely varying knowledge base that compliments the innovative post-war investigations into thin-shell concrete, tension roofs, and pneumatic structures.  Both intellectual and physical, this work indicates a rich engagement between architecture and structure in the 1950s and 1960s.

More recently, Frei Otto’s Pritzker Prize award recognized a career devoted to the creative union of structural engineering and architecture.  He created structures of unbelievable lightness by exploring emerging material properties through new analytical computation methods.  Tensioned fabrics, compression masts and expressed steel connections ushered in a new language of architectural form and space through innovative use of analytics and materials.  His creative understanding of structure has continued to provide fertile creative ground for contemporary architects and engineers.

Following the lead of Kepes & Otto, this session seeks to explore the exchange between structure and architecture today.  Though the requisite utility of structure as the means to ‘stand-up’ (ie. force-resistance) has remained, the understanding, designing, integrating, constructing and assessing of structure have only become more complex.  Advances in material analysis and fabrication have led to a new generation of architectural/structural pursuits.  This session seeks to investigate and expose how structure, as a knowledge-creating framework, enhances/ compliments architectural design.  What are the consequences when architectural design is generated from structural thinking?  What additional skills are needed by architects? By structural engineers? What role do structural engineers play within this dialogue?  How does/can structures education - as an intellectual pursuit - interface with architectural education? 

Papers in this session may range from individual project execution, to new materials/ processes with structural implications, to more theoretical discussions of structural knowledge.  Explorations of themes like ‘gestalt’ assembly, synergy, or material efficiency are welcome, as are more abstract or unexpected interpretations of structural thought.  Reinvestigation/reassessment of existing frames, such as David Billington’s ‘Structural Art’ and Edward Allen’s ‘Form & Forces’ approach are also welcome.


Speculative Design: Architecture’s Role in Maker Culture

General Theme: Digital Culture
Andrea J. Johnson, University of Minnesota

In the past decade, the renewed focus on making in architecture through digital fabrication has paralleled a broader “maker” movement in society that links the digital with the physical.  How, if at all, should architecture engage digital maker cultures emerging across disciplines, within and beyond the academy?

Humanities and STEAM fields are fast utilizing making as a method of critical inquiry through digital practices, giving rise to new domains such as Digital Humanities as well as a growing number of interdisciplinary majors, such as English and computer science.  The simultaneous increase in accessible, affordable, and streamlined processes of rapid prototyping has initiated the proliferation of “maker labs,” where research and scholarship occur through critical making.  In these new workshop spaces, disciplines that have long dealt in written language as the means of knowledge production are employing processes, technologies, and materials conventionally found at the core of design disciplines.  Consequently, workflows involving 3D software, scanners, printers, additive manufacturing, CNC–machining, and programmable microcontrollers are engendering design-oriented research outside design fields.    

This trend is also becoming widespread in public and commercial territories.  A significant number of “makerspaces” occur in libraries, reinventing the archetypal space of knowledge from a quiet, slow-changing archive of ingestible media to an open, active room for collaborative tinkering with ideas through physical materials.  For individuals, inexpensive software, 3D printers, and online open source repositories provide the opportunity to design, capture, and create objects without significant training.  The ability to visualize and build not only objects but also spaces is exhibited in commercial products such as Lego X, and with shifts in 3D printing capabilities to full scale, the design-build process of habitable forms as a near-effortless avocation of the multitude is a possible future. 

What are the implications of these developments for architecture education and practice, for how we collaborate, and for how we define expertise?  What is the purview of the architect in digital representation of form and space and its fabrication for inhabitation?  Will a ubiquity of digital to physical translations give rise to counter expertise within the profession?  What can we learn from digital making processes developing in other disciplines, and how might this impact speculative practices within architecture?  The scope of this session topic invites submissions from practitioners and theorists working within, on the fringes, and outside the field of architecture, particularly with questions exploring cross-disciplinary practices.


Standard Deviation

General Theme: Design Thinking
Kelly Bair, University of Illinois at Chicago 

In 1964 Yoko Ono published “Grapefruit”, a collection of instructions to be followed by individuals, those with both formal artistic training as well as those without. The format of the book was straightforward: 320 pages outlining a single set of instructions per page each straddling the line between a life lesson and a vague recipe for the production of high art that anyone could follow—or at least interpret. Inspired by earlier artists such as Duchamp’s 1919 Unhappy ready-made that he outsourced to his sister and musicians of the time such as John Cage’s Experimental Music Compositions which were scores intended solely for variation by others, Ono’s work establishes a precedent for the production of new knowledge(s) in architecture by exacerbating the potential for deviation from an intended outcome. 

A quick scroll through recent symposium titles, exhibition catalogs, and syllabi scans show an evolving interest in projects that we might refer to as “standard deviations” or deviations from architectural standards. Standard Deviation projects most often take the representational form of objects and/or drawings that challenge the conceptual arguments and conventional medium upon which they are founded. Standard Deviation projects play out in a variety of ways. For example, a Standard Deviation project might hack techniques such as imprecise texture mapping, discontinuous pattern-wrapping, image glitches, slack on form with poorly postured figures, unwieldy material experiments, primitive transformations or in other cases intentionally miscommunicate their message through drawing misreading, verbal transmission errors, and misinterpretation through formal critique just to name a few.

Words such as error, wrong, opposite, and misbehavior are used interchangeably to describe the characteristics of such projects as a way of declaring their unfitness within academia, however, they continue to exist quite successfully within it. In a discipline so tied to precise translation between parties such as architect/builder or teacher/student, how is new knowledge produced by what is lost in translation? What are these new knowledge(s) and are they vested in innovation, invention or both? This session seeks paper and project examples from educators and practitioners (self-described standard deviants as well as their antagonists) that expand on new knowledge potentials as a result of deviation from intended or preconceived outcomes. Papers and projects that expound on how this approach might shape or misshape the profession as a trickle down effect from precedents outlined in the academy are of particular interest. 

The Architecture of History

General Theme: History/Pedagogy
Joseph Heathcott, Parsons The New School for Design

This panel examines the scaffolding of historical imagination as it relates to architecture.  It is not about the history of architecture per se, but rather considers the nature of history itself with respect to architecture and, more precisely, to the training of architects in an age of increasing digital nativity.  

We pose a set of central questions for architectural education in the twenty-first century: What is history? What is the role of history in architecture?  Does architecture need an historical consciousness?  If so, how is that consciousness best conveyed?  How does ‘history’ both constrain and liberate practice?  

Papers should consider these questions in at least one of two ways.  The first consideration is for the history of history in architecture--that is, the ways in which temporal constructs organize architectural practice in various eras.  Indeed, while the role of history in architecture has changed, its presence in architectural consciousness over the last two hundred years has been profound.  The second consideration is for the architecture of history in architecture--that is, the frequency, salience, and modes by which contemporary practices deploy historical categories (or rejections thereof) to shape and justify design approaches.  

For much of the 18th and 19th centuries, historical eclecticism framed architectural production, giving rise to rapid changes in tastes, fashions, and forms.  With the rise of the Beaux-Arts and Arts and Crafts movements in the early 20th century, designers sought a return to ‘timeless’ forms from antiquity or vernacular custom.  The Modern movement fractured historical consciousness in architecture, with some practitioners drawing subtly on historical themes, while others sought the universal codes that would render history obsolete.  Meanwhile, counter-narratives of historicism remained powerful in architecture throughout the 20th century, with successive ‘revival styles’ waxing and waning.  Beginning in the 1960s, postmodernists, regionalists, and historic preservationists not only argued strongly for a return to forms and ideas of the past, but also chipped away at the Modernist conceit of design-out-of-time.  With the rise of the internet in the late 20th century, there is now more information about architectural history available than ever before.  At the same time, architects work in a digital world suffused with intertextuality, horizontal networking, instantaneity, and rapid prototyping--practices that seem to obscure their own historical conditions.

Thus, whether architects have worked within historical categories or rejected them outright, history itself has been one of the major forces shaping architectural values.  NAAB accreditation still requires that architecture schools teach familiarity with design traditions.  However, there is very little clarity about the nature, role, or purpose of history in the training of architects today.  For some, history is a burden to be overcome through new design.  For others, history is one of the conditions in which the architect practices, as important as site or climate.  For many, history is merely something encountered in required lecture courses.

Papers should develop the themes above, and draw out implications for architectural education today.  The goal is not to discuss what history our students need to know, but rather what our students need to know about history.


Urban Knowledge in Architectural Education

General Theme: Urban/Pedagogy
Joseph Heathcott, Parsons The New School for Design
Jeff Hou, University of Washington


What should we know about the city in order to design for it?  This is a pervasive conundrum in architectural education today.  On one level, it involves considerations of time, scale, space and flow, and the proximities and relations of innumerable actors.  But on another level it involves basic epistemological questions of how we perceive, process, and integrate information about the world around us.  

Traditionally, architects have relegated “the urban” to context, as an inert constituent of site.  Increasingly, however, scholars view the urban as a range of dynamic processes that continually shape the conditions in which designers intervene.  In this view, the urban features of a site can no longer be understood through a fixed set of spatial and temporal referents, but rather as the product of unstable, incomplete, and ever-shifting processes that unfold at different spatial and temporal scales.  This is why cities famously resist our attempts to know them in total; the very fact that we occupy parts of the city obscures the whole.  Indeed, whether there even exists a bounded, coherent object for study--a “whole city” to know--remains a matter of debate.  Thus, in pursuit of an architecture that both responds to and transforms the city, the condition of urban knowledge obtains an elevated importance.

This panel seeks ground for a knowledge and understanding of the city relevant for architectural education.  We begin from the point of view that “the urban” is constituted through multiple fields, including spatial-territorial organization, overlapping scales and temporalities, and ideological and perceptual frameworks.  From this vantage “the city,” in the classic understanding of the term, is one of many instantiations of these intersecting fields.  We must also grapple with the restructuring of central districts, the reconfiguration of interstitial and peripheral areas, the flows and relations of people with manifold interests, the mutual constitution of urban agglomerations and regional ecologies, and the proliferation of inter-urban networks of trade, transport, and communication.    

The future of architectural practice depends in large part on how we deploy design to respond to the recursive relationship between cities and urbanization, and how we negotiate place and process across multiple nested scales, from the street corner to the global stage.  To facilitate a more urban-responsive architectural education, this panel examines specific sites, structures, and practice that reveal something of the urban.  Papers will draw on and illuminate the relevance of one or more theoretical domains, including but not limited to: the structural (Marxism, functionalism, political economy), the relational (assemblage theory, actor-network analysis, ecology, ethnography), the phenomenal (affect theory, object-oriented ontology, cognitive perception), and the rhetorical (semiotics, aesthetics, visual and discursive analysis).

Along the way we three key questions.  How do we understand the urban built environment around us?  To what aspects and conditions of urbanism should architecture respond?  What forms and contents of urban knowledge are most relevant for varied arenas of design practice, and how do we teach these?


Water, Water Everywhere…

General Theme: Environmental Response
Jori Erdman, Louisiana State University

Water has the power to destroy buildings and erase communities. Water crises stand as the #1 global risk to society according to The World Economic Forum. Their 2015 report lists water management, access, sanitation, equity, health and ecosystems as aspects of the water crisis. We know that on one hand drought is causing significant issues with fresh water access and food production, while on the other hand, over ½ of the world’s population lives in the coastal region at risk of flooding due to climate change and weather related events. In this way, risks related to water issues easily affect the majority of the global population and the way we live..

From an architectural perspective, we might theorize that the control of water is one of the originating drivers of our need to build. In fact, our relationship to water forms our most basic understanding of the purpose of shelter. From Filarete’s conception of original shelter to grand urban schemes, architecture has a long history of relating to water. The contemporary water crises anticipate a response from architecture that is yet forthcoming at a significant rate of production. Our response as designers should begin with a conceptualization of water and end with an architectural proposal. We need to think more deeply about how we live with water, design with water and engage in dialogue with water across the history of the constructed environment. As a discipline, architecture should work to innovate, develop and revise our practices to build new knowledge about how we accommodate, repel or efficiently use water across multiple scales

Given the multivalent crises of water that we face globally, how can architecture respond in the contemporary context? How do we simultaneously resist the destructive capacity of water and yet invite it into our communities and buildings through controlled apertures and channels? This session will present papers and design research projects that address the relationship of architecture to water at all scales. Potential areas of investigation include: regional scale responses to water such as the Roman aqueduct system; urban scale projects such as Latrobe’s water works or Venice; building scale responses such as roof and wall systems; or more idiosyncratic responses such as devices for storage or removal. Submissions should focus on contemporary conditions as the ground for exploration and discussion. The problems demand design investigations that are poetic, technological, innovative and speculative for a world in which there is simultaneously too much and too little water for sustained human inhabitation.



General Theme: Open
Robert Corser, University of Washington
Sharon Haar, University of Michigan

ACSA will be offering several open sessions for papers that do not fit under Topic Sessions, but is consistent with the general theme of the conference, Shaping New Knowledges. We encourage the submission of well-crafted papers on topics that explore a range of issues within architectural education and practice. The selected papers will be grouped according to overarching themes that emerge from the open call.


For questions please contact: 

Eric Wayne Ellis
Monique Thomason
    Allison Smith
Director of Operations and Programs
Programs Manager
Programs Coordinator
202.785.2324 202.785.2324

Shaping New Knowledges

March 17-19, 2016  |  Seattle, WA
Host School: University of Washington
Co-chairs: Robert Corser, University of Washington & Sharon Haar, University of Michigan