Architecture of Disbelief symposium brings international architects, critics to Cornell

October 22, 2008

A group of renowned architects and critics will explore speculative work — designs that require a willing suspension of disbelief and projects that are not straightforward manifestation as buildings — for three days, October 30 to November 1.

The symposium, Architecture of Disbelief — sponsored by Preston H. Thomas Memorial Lecture Series in the Department of Architecture — will introduce participants to a canon of speculative work and look to its ongoing development.

Speakers will present their own work alongside related theoretically charged precedents. The architects will offer something personal, a set of unrealized projects that reveal their conceptual and visual preoccupations. Critics will focus on a set of precedents they value as a constellation of conceptual positions. This focus is part of a larger agenda within the architecture department to re-examine the links between theory and contemporary practice.

The symposium kicks off with a keynote address by Neil Spiller, vice dean and professor of architecture and digital theory at London's Bartlett School, in Sage Chapel, October 30, at 5:15 p.m. Spiller is noted author of Visionary Architecture, Maverick Deviations and Lost Architectures, and editor of Cyber Reader.

Lebbeus Woods, cofounder of the Research Institute for Experimental Architecture and a professor at Cooper Union, will present a lecture, "Against Design," October 31 at 5:15 p.m. in Goldwin Smith Hall's Hollis E. Cornell Auditorium. His designs for provocative, politically charged, edgy urban interventions have inspired scenes in such films such as Twelve Monkeys and Alien. The symposium session Saturday, November 1, runs from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and includes an address by Jeffrey Kipnis, who is well known for his collaborations with architect Peter Eisenman (B.Arch. '55), and the late philosopher Jacques Derrida. The day will conclude with a panel discussion.

A publication is planned to document the event and accompanying exhibition in Sibley Hall's Hartell Gallery.

The Preston H. Thomas Memorial Lecture Series was established in 1975 by the parents of Thomas, who was an architecture student at Cornell when he was killed in an automobile accident.

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