29th Annual Student Symposium
Saturday, February 10, 2007
Harvard Graduate School of Design, Stubbins Room
48 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA

9:30 a.m. Coffee and refreshments

10:00 a.m. Welcome and Introductions

Milda Richardson, NE/SAH President, and Aliki Economides, NE/SAH Student Liaison Officer and Symposium Organizer

SESSION ONE: Designs on ‘Nature’

10:10 a.m.  “Leaves of Iron: A Study of Roofs of Glenn Murcutt in Rural Australia”

Jennifer Taylor, Northeastern University, School of Architecture

Glenn Murcutt is an exceptional architect with a truly original style. Inspired by his appreciation for the environment and his desire to create an architectural language for his native Australia, his work conveys a simple balance of material and function. This presentation will explore the evolution of Murcutt’s roof systems throughout his career. As an architect whose designs are mainly conceived cross-sectionally, Murcutt’s dynamic roof forms characterize his work.

Stunningly simple in form, his roofs are also highly functional. Each roof system utilizes natural elements such as wind, water, and sun to create a pleasant and sustainable environment for the inhabitants. Through the analysis of five residential projects located in rural Australia, this paper will show the relative success of Murcutt’s different design strategies, and ultimately how his roof designs add a deeper level of beauty and significance to his projects.

Jennifer Taylor is a fourth year undergraduate student at Northeastern University pursuing her Bachelors of Science in Architecture. Over the past four years Jennifer has continuously served as a Research Assistant, and as a co-op student,  has worked in the offices of Levi + Wong Associates, Dion and Sokol, Brian Healy Architects, and Hacin + Associates. In 2006 Jennifer was named one of the most promising design students in her class. After graduating in 2008 Jennifer plans to attend graduate school to pursue a Masters of Architecture.

 10:30 a.m.“Order and Tropics: On the Construction of the Jardim Botanico do Rio de Janeiro”

Mariana Mogilevich, Harvard University, Graduate School of Design

The transfer of the Portuguese court to Brazil in 1807 precipitated dramatic changes in Rio de Janeiro as it assumed the role of imperial capital city. Among the new institutions founded to modernize the city was the city’s botanical garden. Throughout the nineteenth century, the garden performed multiple and contradictory functions, simultaneously oriented towards economic development, scientific research, and the development of bourgeois leisure space in the city. By constituting a collection of tropical species in what was already an exotic locale, and constructing an image of the tropics for both local and foreign consumption, the garden mobilized its displays in relation to Brazil’s complex cultural identity. This paper examines the development of the garden in its first century and its negotiation of national and foreign influences and in the development of a space for the representation of the Brazilian Empire.

Mariana Mogilevich is a third year Ph.D. student in the history and theory of architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Mariana’s research concentrates on the history of architecture and the city in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and more specifically on art and space after 1945—both the sites of art’s display and intervention and the visual representation of urban spaces. Her investigation of the Rio botanical garden is also taking place in the form of a documentary film now in post-production.

 10:50 a.m. “The Medical Gaze, Encrypted Space, and the Organized Body: Urban Transformation in Buenos Aires”

Isaiah Miller, Hampshire College, Art and Architecture History

This paper is an analysis of space at two junctures in the urban history of Buenos Aires: at the turn of the nineteenth century when social identity was complicated by a large influx of immigrants and Argentina had yet to solidify a distinct postcolonial national identity; and in the 1970s, when Argentina would find itself engaged in a “cultural war” as it attempted to nationalize its economy. The first section is an examination of the urban discourse on health and sanitation and the growing antagonism for the colonial grid during the last quarter of the nineteenth century. The second section recounts the militarization of space in the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s, culminating in what the military named the Process of National Reorganization. The section concludes with a look at the elevated highway project that was implemented by the military in 1978. At both moments in Argentine history, the urban environment reflected a conception of space as being contaminated by foreign elements. An examination of the works of two Argentine artists, Juan Blanes (1830-1901) and Carlos Alonso (1929- ), help to separate these two conceptions of space and position them within contrasting historical and intellectual paradigms.

Isaiah Miller just received his B.A. from Hampshire College with a concentration in Architecture and Urban Studies. His documentary films have been featured at such institutions as the Human Rights Watch Film Festival, the Museum of the Moving Image, and the Flicker Film Festival. He has a forthcoming publication in Pulse Berlin on the Getty Center in Brentwood, Los Angeles.

11:10 a.m. Discussion

 11:25 a.m. Break

SESSION TWO: Knowledge, Power, and Politics

11:45 a.m. “Knowing the Unknowable: Causality, Speculation and Social Planning in Architecture, 18th-20th-century”

Jennifer Ferng, Deborah Kully, and Fabiola López-Durán
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, History, Theory and Criticism of Art and Architecture

This collaborative paper brings together case studies from three dissertation projects by posing a question that is central to all of our research; that is, how does one understand knowledge that is yet to be determined, measured, and evaluated in practice? How do shifting epistemological boundaries prefigure physical and pragmatic results? Under the rubric of the “unknowable,” we will address philosophical concerns in varied disciplines such as geology, economics, and medicine, all of which, it can be argued, impacted the development of architecture from the 18th century to the 20th century. Centered around theoretical efforts in France to formulate the processes behind the earth’s formation, to foresee the behavior of the real estate market, and to forecast the effects of eugenic and racial prototypes on given populations, these case studies investigate how conceptual frameworks from three distinct disciplines all shared in common the desire to stabilize the unpredictability of natural and built environments. By exploring the ways in which methodologies for coming to terms with the unknowable from geology, economics, and medicine impacted architectural discourse and practice in France during the modern era, we will attempt to better understand the particularities of the historical and cultural context(s) out of which they emerged and developed as well as the reasons they continue to resonate so strongly in the French intellectual tradition.

Jennifer Ferng is a Ph.D. candidate in the History, Theory, and Criticism of Art and Architecture program at MIT. Her dissertation is presently entitled “Nature’s Objects: Architecture, Materiality, and Geology, 1750-1850.”

Deborah Kully is a Ph.D. candidate in the History, Theory, and Criticism Section of the Department of Architecture at MIT. She is currently working on her dissertation entitled “Speculating on Architecture: Morality, the New Real Estate, and the Bourgeois Apartment Industry in Late Nineteenth-Century France.”Fabiola López-Durán is a Ph.D. candidate in the History, Theory, and Criticism of Art and Architecture program at MIT. She is currently working on her dissertation entitled “Eugenics in the Garden: Architecture, Medicine, and Landscape from France to Latin America in the Early Twentieth Century.”

12:05 p.m. “Dugway: An Empire of Simulation”

Enrique Gualberto Ramirez, Yale University, School of Architecture

Erich Mendelsohn (1887-1953), Konrad Wachsmann (1901-1980), and Antonin Raymond (1888-1976), well-known architects whose output was interrupted by global war, were hired in 1943 by the United States Chemical Warfare Service and the Standard Oil Development Corporation to design a series of “Typical German and Japanese Test Structures” at Dugway Proving Ground, a weapons testing facility in the Utah desert. These structures were full-scale models of German and Japanese apartment housing designed to test the efficacy of the ANM69-x incendiary bomb, the world’s first napalm weapon developed by Harvard chemist Louis Fieser. The three architects also enlisted the help of other members of the American design community, including furniture designer Hans Knoll and art historian Paul Zucker. Together, these “consultants” provided Standard Oil Development Company with vital data regarding the nature and amount of wood construction in Germany and Japan. The result of this research was not only used to assess the relative flammability of major German and Japanese cities, but was also used to determine the “weak areas” of German and Japanese housing. Combined with directed research into the interior furnishings of German and Japanese apartments, the work of Mendelsohn, Wachsmann, and Raymond eventually provided the United States Army Air Force with results that would prove crucial in the ensuing air campaign against German and Japanese cities.

Enrique Gualberto Ramirez holds degrees from Northwestern University (BA1993), The George Washington University Law School (JD 1996), and UCLA(MA-Urban Planning 2005). He is currently a second-year student in the Masterof Environmental Design (MED) program at Yale’s School of Architecture, where he is writing a thesis on the World War II-era work of Erich Mendelsohn, Konrad Wachsmann, and Antonin Raymond. His general research at Yale articulates intersections between architecture, urbanism, technology, and war. His work has been published in RES Magazine, Critical Planning, Thresholds (forthcoming), and Perspecta (also forthcoming).

12:25 p.m. “Architecture of Persuasion: Fascist Party Buildings in Milan”

Lucy Maulsby, Columbia University, Art History and Archaeology This paper focuses on the two regional party headquarters built for the National Fascist Party (PNF) in Milan: Paolo Mezzanotte’s Casa del Fascio (1926-27) and Piero Portaluppi’s Sede Federale (1937-40). These headquarters provided an important symbolic and administrative link between the national party headquarters in Rome and the countless neighborhood party centers throughout the city. This paper shows that their design and location played a conspicuous role in helping officials to define the party’s presence in the city and in generating support for the regime in Milan during the period of fascist rule. This study complicates standard readings of fascist propaganda, which have emphasized the regime’s interest in monumental construction based on antique Roman models, by showing how these projects drew on local traditions to subtly persuade rather than dominate the local population. The different strategies employed by each architect suggest their divergent attitudes to design as well as the vicissitudes of party politics.

Lucy Maulsby received her B.A. in Art History from Smith College, her M.Phil. in the History and Theory of Architecture from Cambridge University in England, and recently completed her dissertation “Architecture and Persuasion: the Architectural and Urban Transformation of Milan from 1922 to 1943” at Columbia University. Maulsby has taught at Columbia University, the University of Massachusetts in Boston and is currently teaching 20th Century Architecture at Northeastern University. She is organizing a conference entitled “Politics and Polis: Italian Urbanism Under Fascism” with colleagues at Columbia University scheduled for April of 2007 and is working on a guidebook to modern architecture.

12:45 p.m. Discussion