2007 Southwest Fall Conference

October 4-6, 2007 | University of Texas at Austin
Co-chairs:  Billie Faircloth, Jason Sowell , and Nichole Wiedemann


Water's physical properties, symbolic meaning, and phenomenal characteristics shape the physical environment and the cultures that inhabit them. These processes— made manifest in ecological systems, social and spiritual rituals, and economic and political policies— serve as activating agents that initiate change at the level of landscape, architecture, or intimate details. In this manner, water's dual nature as a regenerative element or a potentially destructive force informs the engineering of infrastructure, the manipulation of topography, the folding of surfaces, the shaping of roofs, or the curvature of a simple drinking glass.

The conference aims to examine water from both a pragmatic and a poetic perspective, with a particular focus on its material and conceptual potential to move across scales of inhabitation. As an activating agent, how might the properties of water influence new material assemblies or approaches to building? What role might water take in the shaping of infrastructure and urbanization? With shifts in its degree of availability, likelihood of its contamination, and potential for depletion, how will water be addressed as a vital cultural and natural resource within social, economic, and political circles? How can water be employed in the making of space, such that its transformative and metaphorical nature evokes restorative, violent, pure, or even limpid characteristics or qualities?

Toward these ends, the 2007 Southwest Regional Conference invites papers and design projects that address water’s praxis at all scales and across design disciplines. We likewise seek a range of submissions that address water’s past and future trajectory. From an historical perspective, to practice, to speculation, this conference hopes to assemble a coherent, but multi-faceted dialogue and discourse surrounding this celebrated, debated and lamented element and resource.

Keynote Lecturers 

Kevin Bone is a professor at the The Irwin Chanin School of Architecture of The Cooper Union and a founding partner of Bone/Levine Architects. He is the editor of Water-Works: The Architecture and Engineering of the New York City Water Supply (to be released December 2007). The story of the city’s water system is told in Water-Works and illustrated with an astonishing archive of drawings and photographs documenting the design and construction of dams, reservoirs, aqueducts, and tunnels. Kevin Bone, Gina Pollara (Associate Editor), and students from The Cooper Union spent nine years cataloging and preserving this remarkable archive, which is held by the City of New York Department of Environmental Protection. In addition, Kevin Bone was the general editor and contributor to The New York Waterfront: Evolution and Building Culture of the Port and Harbor (1997).