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Material Landscapes

Fri, Mar 24, 2023    10am

Architectural materials produce extended geographies of extraction, waste, and inequality in how they move between sites of extraction and spheres of consumption. These trajectories track the expanded life of buildings and also the power relations that are embedded in colonial and territorial concepts like the periphery, the non-west, and the global south. This symposium brings together scholars who research architectural materials, the people who labor on them, and their social, intellectual, and political histories. Their work interrogates architecture as a system for both producing and addressing historical conditions of climate emergency, inequity, and accumulation.

This one-day conference is organized by Ateya Khorakiwala, Assistant Professor at Columbia GSAPP.

Download a flyer and schedule for the conference.


9:30am-10am | BREAKFAST

10:00 - 10:30am | INTRODUCTION

  • Assistant Professor Ateya Khorakiwala

10:30am – 12:30pm | PANEL 1: MATERIAL FUTURES

  • Tracking the Monobloc chair: polypropylene plastic between the global and the local
    Robin Schuldenfrei (Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London)
  • From White to Earth
    Ingrid Halland (The Oslo School of Architecture and Design)
  • Women in the Scrap Heap
    Peter Christensen (University of Rochester)
  • Moderated by Zeynep Çelik Alexander (Columbia University)

12:30 to 1:30 | LUNCH

1:30pm – 3:30pm | PANEL 2: MATERIAL LABORS

  • Anishinaabe Forests, American Lumber, Settler Balloon Frames
    Andrew Herscher (University of Michigan)
  • Second-Hand Cities: Race and Region in the Antique Americana Trade, from the Civil War to Urban Renewal
    Alison E. Isenberg (Princeton University)
  • Mastery That We Cannot See: The Value of Construction Labor in Modern Mauritius Dwight Carey (Amherst College)
  • Moderated by Mabel O. Wilson (Columbia University)

4:00pm – 6:00pm | PANEL 3: MATERIAL ECOLOGIES

  • Material Politics and Ecologies of Risk in São Paulo
    Giuseppina Forte (Williams College)
  • Into the pit: construction site materialities and political mobilization
    Namita Dharia (Rhode Island School of Design)
  • “The Soil, with a little care, is a grateful one”: Reading a minor history of the colonial garden from the ground
    Nida Rehman (Carnegie Mellon University)
  • Moderated by Ijlal Muzaffar (Rhode Island School of Design)

6:30pm – 8:00pm | KEYNOTE

  • Architectural History is Migrant History: Cantera Stone and Construction Labor in Mexico and the United States
    Sarah Lopez (University of Pennsylvania) Response by Ateya Khorakiwala

This event is open to the Columbia University community. The general public must register in advance and confirm COVID-19 vaccination status in compliance with current Columbia University health requirements using this online form. This event will also be live-streamed on the GSAPP YouTube Channel.

GSAPP is committed to providing universal access to all of our events. Please contact events@arch.columbia.edu to request disability accommodations. Advance notice is necessary to arrange for some accessibility needs.