Jimenez Lai, Leslie Lok, and Jennifer Gray: Story Time in the Living Room

a group of seated people in a sunlit room
Guest critic Jimenez Lai of Bureau Spectacular kicked off the Living Room event series with architecture department visiting critic Leslie Lok. William Staffeld / AAP
Jimenez Lai of Bureau Spectacular, on a couch in a living room settting.
Story Time in The Living Room. photo / provided
a man in glasses surrounded by students
Jimemez Lai in discussion with architecture students. William Staffeld / AAP
A woman speaking in a seated group
Architecture visiting critic Leslie Lok shares in the discussion. William Staffeld / AAP
Students and faculty in dialog
Ph.D. HAUD candidates Sergio Preston (left in black shirt), and Athan Geolas (right in white shirt), ask Jimenez Lai questions. William Staffeld / AAP
a large group of students asking questions
Students in discussion with Jimenez Lai. William Staffeld / AAP
Guest critic Jimenez Lai of Bureau Spectacular kicked off the Living Room event series with architecture department visiting critic Leslie Lok. William Staffeld / AAP Story Time in The Living Room. photo / provided Jimemez Lai in discussion with architecture students. William Staffeld / AAP Architecture visiting critic Leslie Lok shares in the discussion. William Staffeld / AAP Ph.D. HAUD candidates Sergio Preston (left in black shirt), and Athan Geolas (right in white shirt), ask Jimenez Lai questions. William Staffeld / AAP Students in discussion with Jimenez Lai. William Staffeld / AAP

The Living Room Event Series

Please join us for the first session of The Living Room with Jimenez Lai, Leslie Lok, and Jennifer Gray.

The Living Room is a student organization whose goal is to create a forum for critical discussion and debate about architecture today. Organized in an informal setting, Cornell architecture students host invited guests with strong opinions to discuss the state of the discipline. The group hopes to offer a dialectical perspective on scholarships and critical work, with a minimum of two people per event — a guest and a member of the Cornell community — who offer counter-perspectives on a particular subject. The first session will feature Jimenez Lai of Bureau Spectacular in conversation with AAP Visiting Critic Leslie Lok, principal at HANNAH; and Visiting Lecturer Jennifer Gray, curator of MoMA.

Lai's interest lies in imagining other worlds and engaging the design of architecture through telling stories — beautiful stories about character development, relationships, curiosities, and attitudes; absurd stories about fake realities that invite enticing possibilities. The stories conflate design, representation, theory, criticism, history, and taste into cartoon pages. These cartoon narratives swerve into the physical world through architectural installations, models, and small buildings.

Lok strives to build what she imagines. Allied with computational technology, digital fabrication, and data visualization, Lok's research explores the formation of hybrid architectural typology and of heterogeneous urban morphology as well as the translation of such practices in drawing form.

On the other hand, critical of architecture's practice, Gray's research and approach to the history of architecture come mainly from a curatorial perspective. As MoMA curator since 2004, Gray's work focuses on unraveling spatial stories of sociopolitical engagement using storytelling to a larger audience as a form of activism in and of itself.

Aligning Lai's, Lok's, and Gray’s interest in storytelling and narrative construction in architecture, we hope to raise questions about play as a methodology and social media as a platform for architecture production and criticism.

For more information, email thelivingroomaap@cornell.edu, or visit The Living Room on Instagram at @thelivingroomaap.