Lucia Allais

Lucia Allais is an Assistant Professor at Columbia GSAPP. Lucia Allais is an architectural historian and critic who studies the design, reception, and transformation of buildings in the modern period and on the global stage. Her interests include: the history of internationalism and institutions; intellectual history; the sciences of materiality; architects’ involvement in political culture and governance; and architecture’s contribution to epistemologies of history, historiography, and time. Her first book, Designs of Destruction: The Making of Monuments in the Twentieth Century (University of Chicago Press, 2018) addressed systematic attempts to salvage monuments from the destructions of the mid-twentieth century (including by the so-called Monuments Men during World War II), showing how these projects laid the spatial ground for the collection of sites known as “World Heritage.”

Allais’s writings combine analyses of architectural form with deep archival research on technical and bureaucratic processes. She has published widely in a number of edited volumes and journals, including Grey Room, October, Perspecta, Log, ArtForum, Future Anterior. Her essay “The Architecture of Mediocracy” (in Marcel Breuer: Building Global Institutions) describes how the UNESCO headquarter in Paris was shaped by a shifting collective of authors; her article “The Real and the Theoretical 1968” (in Perspecta) uncovered a never-realized plan for a “Harlem school” of architecture by the theorists of the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies. Her forthcoming essay “Rendering and Experience,” (in Design Technics) is a history of shadow-casting techniques which traces continuities between classical, modern, and digital methods of architectural drawing. Her second book project, now in its research phase, investigates how postwar highway development and patterns of mobility in the global south were affected by, and designed around, the revival of historic urban cores.

Allais works across disciplines; she has taught and overseen a number of interdisciplinary programs and courses. She was a Fellow at the Princeton Society of Fellows, and has directed Princeton’s Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program in the Humanities, IHUM. With Forrest Meggers, she currently co-directs “The Concrete 100,” a project that brings together researchers from science and technology with those from the arts and humanities, to address the history and consequences of reinforced concrete’s “carbonation equation”.

Allais also writes about contemporary design, and has curated a number of exhibitions, including Legible Pompeii at the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale and Mixed Being at the 2016 Istanbul Triennial. She has received a number of grants and fellowships for her work, including from the Graham Foundation, the CASVA, the Harvard Center for European Studies, and the Radcliffe Institute.

Allais earned her BSE from Princeton, her MARCH with distinction from Harvard, and her PHD from MIT. Before joining Columbia she taught at Princeton University for 10 years, first as an Assistant, then Associate Professor of Architecture. She has worked as an architect, editor, and a writer. She is a founding member of the Aggregate Architectural History Collaborative and an editor of the journal Grey Room.

Allais is on sabbatical leave during 2019-2020.

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