Peggy Deamer and Manuel Shvartzberg Carrió: Roundtable Discussion

Two people holding a sign that says We are precarious workers, two more people using handheld megaphone

photo / provided

How can architects enact change at the scale necessary to confront spatial inequalities and workplace abuses? How can architects organize to be effective change agents? How might we empower architectural workers? How do we "decolonize" the architectural curriculum and eliminate student debt? How do we win a Green New Deal? What radical modes of agency are available to architects for adequately addressing these massive challenges and how should they be strategically articulated?

In recent years, the Architecture Lobby has created a forum for addressing these questions. Less an organization that assumes to know the answers to these questions, it concentrates on putting them front and center in the academy and our profession and recognizing the essential role of organizing to address them. If architecture wants real and effective agency, it must be rearticulated around explicitly anticapitalist goals and forms of organization — protests on the streets, unions and cooperatives in the office. The Architecture Lobby centers its critique on the exploitation of labor as the motor of capitalism, and by extension, of climate change, patriarchy, racism, and other forms of oppression. Going beyond criticism, the Architecture Lobby offers a platform for architects to collectively organize and enact change, not merely to describe it. Anyone can join the Architecture Lobby and take part in ongoing campaigns with hundreds of other architects across the U.S. and around the world.

This round table will feature the Architecture Lobby's founder, Peggy Deamer, in conversation with faculty and students from Cornell AAP in the context of the ArchiteXX: Now What?! exhibition. The discussion will be moderated by Manuel Shvartzberg Carrió.

Peggy Deamer is professor emerita of Yale University's School of Architecture and principal in the firm of Deamer, Studio. She is the research coordinator of the Architecture Lobby, a group advocating for the value of architectural design and labor. She is the editor of Architecture and Capitalism: 1845 to the Present and The Architect as Worker: Immaterial Labor, the Creative Class, and the Politics of Design, and the forthcoming Architecture and Labor. Her theory work explores the relationship between subjectivity, design, and labor. She received the Architectural Record 2018 Women in Architecture Activist Award.