Call for Abstracts

2018 ACSA Fall Conference  |  PLAY with the Rules
October 11-13, 2018  |  Milwaukee, WI
Host School: University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Co-chairs: Jasmine Benyamin, Nikole Bouchard, Whitney Moon, Kyle Reynolds, & Mo Zell, UWM


The 2018 Fall Conference co-chairs invite abstract submissions from the broader architecture community: academics, designers, practitioners, historians, theorists, but also from those working outside the confines of the discipline. Situated somewhere between clearly prescribed session calls and a general outline of aims, we ask authors of papers, suitcases (Portmanteau), and pavilions to address their research within one (or more) of the stated sub themes below. The use of iconic board games is meant to be generative, and not literally taken. By appropriating the framework of classic games and re-branding them, we pose a range of questions in the hopes that they prompt both global and local answers at multiple scales.

Submission Deadline EXTENDED: May 2, 2018

RISK (taking)
Disrupter: Anne Rieselbach, The Architectural League of New York
A strategy game of diplomacy, conflict and conquest. Confrontation and aggression are necessary to win. Territories on the board ignore national boundaries and as such provoke new mappings. Temporary collaborations and coalitions are sometimes needed to negotiate the new geopolitical landscape.

  • In light of newly drawn borders and edges, how can architects redefine architecture? Are multiple rather than singular authors encouraged?
  • How can local and global alliances be re-envisaged? How do these influence architectural outcomes?
  • In an age of collaboration and community engagement are there winners and losers?
  • How is risk-taking fostered/encouraged? How is it measured?
  • How do ethics and morals affect risk-taking behaviors?


MONOPOLY (poly-opoly)
Disrupter: James Graham, Columbia University
A game driven by building and buying resources. Domination and wealth are the end goal. Sites in the city and their accompanying services operate as frameworks for the game. Early buying and selling habits along with (good) luck determine whether you win or lose.

  • How does the economy influence design and who gets to play? In turn, how does it impact the design of public space?
  • If ‘Starchitects’ dominate the architecture market, where does that leave the rest of us?
  • With finite resources (economic and natural), how do architects build a practice while maintaining a soul?
  • Are architects becoming developers for control or for money, or both?
  • Do architects create resources through design? Is that how we should define architectural research?
  • How do resource allocations impact design INSIDE not OUTSIDE the city? How do outsiders get their fair share of design?


Disrupter: Julia McMorrough, University of Michigan
A morality play deployed in an obstacle-ridden landscape. While the beginning and ending points are discreet, the path between them is not.

  • How can temporality be structured in design thinking and making through both linear and non-linear narratives?
  • What is the role of infrastructure in the design of cities? How is it represented and managed?
  • How are architectural choices (i.e. design decisions) manifest at different modes and scales?
  • What are the consequences of said choices? How are they measured?
  • What are the ethical imperatives in practice today?


CANDY LAND (scape)
Disrupter: Antonio Torres, University of Illinois at Chicago
A colorful low stakes game for all ages. There is no strategy, just a path with tasty treats and fun along the way. It is more interested in creating an alternative world and atmosphere than it is in rules. The simplicity belies a cruel reality: winners are pre-determined through the initial shuffle of the deck.

  • Need architecture concern itself with clearly defined strategies? Are rules and fun equally important?
  • Can architecture build worlds? What kinds can and should it create?
  • Can architecture be for all ages? Can it be youthful?
  • What are the risks and rewards in practice? Are there winners and losers?
  • Can architecture and its accompanying discourses be sweet, tasty and / or colorful?


(tactical) OPERATION
Disrupter: Jose Arnaud-Bello, Lupe Toys
A game that relies on a player’s skillful precision. Specialists extract disease and find cures. If done incorrectly, both the operator and the patient lose!

  • What are the attitudes and arguments for design “generalists” vs. design “specialists”?
  • How do contemporary trends play with the definitions of architect and architecture?
  • How do designers experiment with assessing, making and solving problems?
  • In what ways do designers address ailments of various sorts and scales?
  • Can architecture save the body? The community? The city? The world? What are the arguments for and against the role of architect-as-savior?


(tongue) TWISTER
Disrupter: David Benjamin, Columbia University
A game about bodies in space (1d+2d+3d). Cartesian rules need not apply and in fact become impossible. In response to chance directives, bodies are forced into complex geometries.

  • What are the various conceptions of and approaches to design that encourage formal play and complexity?
  • How is complexity manifested, manipulated and managed in both analog and digital frameworks?
  • Is there such a thing as a ‘syntax’ of form?
  • How can design be viewed as a language and explored in this context?


LIFE (style)
Disrupter: Jennifer Newsom, University of Minnesota
A game about taking chances. Players are presented with various life decisions (school, career, family, home, car, insurance, etc.), and rewarded for taking risks. But ultimately, it’s a gamble. Should I, or shouldn’t I?

  • What are the risks (and rewards) involved with starting an architectural practice?
  • How are architects today forging new paths to practice, or forming alternative practices?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of professional licensure?
  • Is it possible to have both thriving professional practice and academic career?
  • If architecture is subject to market forces, how can architecture anticipate and plan for economic uncertainty?
  • Need personal styles match styles of practice?


CLUE (-d in or out)
Disrupter: Tamar Zinguer, The Cooper Union
A game that asks: Who did it? Where and how? An unfolding narrative of mystery and suspense, CLUE establishes the house as the central character. Actions are carried out in a sequence of rooms, corridors and secret-passages, rendering the domestic interior as a site for crimes and misdemeanors. Everyone is a suspect until proven innocent.

  • Can architecture be envisaged as a sequence of questions, clues and answers? How are architectural “problems” manifest in this tripartite condition?
  • How are “domesticity” and/or “interior” being re-examined in contemporary practice and/or scholarship?
  • What role does architecture play as a setting for violence or subversive acts (real or fictional)? Is it possible (and advisable) to prevent or discourage said acts?
  • What forms of spatial play are carried out in the formation of architectural narratives? How are these ploys communicated?

Interloper / Moderator
: Dora Epstein Jones, UC Berkeley


Submission Requirements

  • Paper abstracts must not exceed 500 words, and include nor more than five optional images.

  • All abstracts must be prepared for anonymous review (remove author/contributor names and affiliation identification).

  • Authors may present no more than two papers at the conference.

  • Submissions must report on recently completed work, and cannot have been previously published or presented in public, except to a regional audience.

  • Submissions must be written in English.

  • Authors may submit only one abstract per session topic. The same abstract may not be submitted to multiple topics.

  • The 2018 ACSA Fall Conference is open for submissions to any professional and faculty worldwide. If you are already an ACSA member, please log into the website and complete your submission. If you are not an ACSA member or do not have ACSA credentials, please send an email to or to request credentials for the 2018 Fall Conference.

How to Submit
The deadline for submitting an abstract to the Fall Conference is May 2, 2018 (extended). Authors will submit abstracts through the ACSA online interface. When submitting your abstract, you will be guided through the following steps: 

1. Log in with your ACSA username and password. Forgot Password?

2. Enter the title of your abstract.
3. Enter (copy/paste) your abstract.

    • Omit all author names from the abstract and any other identifying information to maintain an anonymous review process.

4. Add additional authors for your paper, if any.
5. Click Submit to finalize your submission. Note: Your paper is not submitted unless you click the Submit button and receive an automatic email confirmation.

Peer-Review Process
All abstracts will undergo a blind peer-review process. The conference co-chairs will take into consideration the evaluations furnished by the peer-reviewers and render final acceptance decisions. Selection is based on innovation, clarity, and topic relevance.

Conference Presentation
Accepted submissions will be published in a digital Proceedings (with print option) and delivered in fifteen to twenty-minute presentations during conference paper sessions. Accepted authors, who chose, will be requested to complete a full-paper, copyright transfer form and agree to present the paper at the Fall Conference before it is published in the Proceedings. It is policy that accepted authors pay full conference registration to present at the conference and be included in the proceedings. 

Chairs reserve the right to withhold a paper from the program if the author has refused to comply with the guidelines. Failure to comply with the conference deadlines or request for materials in advance may result in an author being dropped from the program.

May 2, 2018                   Abstract Deadline EXTENDED
June, 2018                     Abstract Notification 
October 11-13, 2018      ACSA Fall Conference | PLAY with the Rules
November 14, 2018       Final Full-paper Deadline for Proceedings Publication



For questions please contact:
Eric Wayne Ellis
Allison Smith
Director of Operations and Programs
  Programs Manager