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The Library is Open: Lindsey Wikstrom

Fri, Sep 29    1pm

Lindsey Wikstrom ’16 M.Arch, co-founder of Mattaforma, participates in the inaugural edition of “The Library is Open” series with a presentation of her book Designing the Forest and Other Mass Timber Futures (Routledge, 2023). The presentation is followed by a response from Mae-ling Lokko (Yale) and Lola Ben-Alon, Assistant Professor at Columbia GSAPP.

This book retraces wood’s passage from stewarded seed in the soil of forests, to harvested biomass, to laminated walls in a living room, through to its disassembly, pausing at each step in the supply chain of mass timber to consider the labor and economies involved, looking closely at the way wood is grown, sourced, and transported, and its impacts on the biodiversity of the forest and the health of our ecosystems. It explores why historically entrenched contexts of extractivism make such sensitive approaches difficult to cultivate across landscapes and industrial frameworks. Along the way, common assumptions about mass timber are debunked, including its fire performance, its strength, and its role in carbon sequestration. Having identified contemporary technical, cultural, and spiritual gaps preventing the transition towards a fully timber-built environment, it outlines how we might move forward. A more sensitive species-based methodology is essential, with designers as choreographers of carbon, transferring and trading between forest, factory, site, and beyond.


Lindsey Wikstrom is the Founding Principal of Mattaforma and an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. Previously, she contributed to projects with The Living, Studio Gang, ArandaLasch, and Wendell Burnette Architects. She holds an M.Arch from Columbia University, where she was awarded the Charles McKim Prize, Visualization Award, and Avery 6 Award. Wikstrom is also the recipient of the SOM Prize. Her research on renewable and reclaimed materials has been published in Embodied Energy and Design: Making Architecture between Metrics and Narratives, Broken Nature: Design Takes on Human Survival, Faktur, Cite, e-flux, Urban Omnibus, and others. Wikstrom is the organizer and moderator of Material Worlds, a speaker series hosted by MoMA’s Emilio Ambasz Institute. In 2022, Wikstrom joined Formafantasma at Prada’s Possible Conversation series to launch her book Designing the Forest and Other Mass Timber Futures (2023), published by Routledge, with foreword by Kenneth Frampton.

Mae-ling Lokko is an architectural scientist, designer and educator from Ghana and the Philippines who works with agrowaste and renewable biobased materials. Through her work, Lokko explores themes of “generative justice” through the development of new models of distributed production and collaboration. In her artistic and design practice, her work deconstructs historical narratives and practices of extraction through the design of new material vocabularies and the prototpying of participatory models of production.

Lokko is an Assistant Professor at Yale University’s School of Architecture (YSoA) . Her research at Yale’s Center for Ecosystems in Architecture focuses on ecological design, integrated material life cycle design and the broad development and evaluation of renewable biobased materials. She has previously taught at Cooper Union, New York (USA) and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy USA where she served as the Director of the Building Sciences Program as well as Assistant Professor at the School of Architecture and Center for Architecture, Science and Ecology (CASE).

Lucia Allais is an architectural historian of the modern period. She works on architecture and internationalism and institutions; the technical and philosophical history of materials; the participation of buildings and design actors in political culture and global governance; architecture’s historiography, and epistemologies of time. Her first book, Designs of Destruction: The Making of Monuments in the Twentieth Century (University of Chicago Press, 2018) described how a new definition of “the monument” arose from various plans within liberal internationalist organizations to protect and salvage famous building from destruction in the middle of the 20th Century. This includes the making of lists and maps of monuments “not to be bombed” by American art historians during World War II, the decolonization of museums in the global South at the hands of organizations from the League of Nations to UNESCO, and the salvage of massive building complexes, such as the temples of Abu Simbel, by global multidisciplinary consortia.

The Library is Open discussion series is curated by Andrés Jaque, Dean of Columbia GSAPP, and Bart-Jan Polman, Director of Exhibitions and Public Programs at Columbia GSAPP.