University of Pittsburgh
March 29, 2007

Two Experts Meet at Pitt to Discuss Architecture in a Post-9/11 World


Sharon Blake


Cell: 412-277-6926

PITTSBURGH-What did the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center teach us about the dark side to spectacle architecture? Instead of creating buildings driven by ambition or profit, should architects be rethinking their social responsibilities?

Anthony Vidler, dean of the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture at The Cooper Union, and Terry Smith, Pitt's Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Contemporary Art History and Theory, will discuss these and other questions in "Architectures of Aftermath," two free public events April 2 and 3.

Vidler's lecture, "The Necessity of Utopia: Art, Architecture, and Society From Plato to Koolhaas," will take place from 6:30 to 8 p.m. April 2 at Carnegie Mellon University's Giant Eagle Auditorium, A51 Baker Hall, 5000 Forbes Ave., Oakland.

The following evening, April 3, an event called "Contemporary Architecture After the Aftermath: Problems and Prospects" will take place from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in Pitt's Frick Fine Arts Auditorium, 650 Schenley Dr., Oakland. Vidler will present a lecture titled "Histories and Theories of the Aftermath," and Smith will follow with a lecture titled "Currents of Contemporaneity: Dwelling on Futures." These lectures will be followed by a discussion of these issues, which are explored in Smith's book, The Architecture of Aftermath (University of Chicago Press, 2006).

In his book, Smith argues that it was no accident the terrorists' targets were buildings: Architecture has long served as a symbol of proud, defiant power, and never so more than in the late 20th century. But after Sept. 11, 2001, Smith asserts, late-modern architecture suddenly seemed an indulgence. "Every building carries the specter of its own destruction," he says.

Smith was a Getty scholar at the Getty Research Institute from 2001 to 2002, and, prior to that, Power Professor of Contemporary Art and director of the Power Institute Foundation for Art and Visual Culture at the University of Sydney. He is the author of a number of books, including Making the Modern: Industry, Art and Design in America (University of Chicago Press, 1993) and Transformations in Australian Art, volumes 1 and 2 (Craftsman House, 2002). He is a visiting professor of architecture at the University of Sydney, was a member of the Art & Language Group in New York, and a founder of Union Media Services in Sydney.

Vidler is a historian and critic of modern and contemporary architecture, specializing in French architecture from the Age of Enlightenment to the present. He has been a member of the Princeton University School of Architecture faculty, the William R. Kenan Jr. Chair of Architecture, and professor and chair of the Department of Art History at University of California, Los Angeles. His publications include The Architectural Uncanny: Essays in the Modern Unhomely (Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press, 1992) and Warped Space: Architecture and Anxiety in Modern Culture (Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press, 2000).

"Architectures of Aftermath" is cosponsored by Pitt's Department of the History of Art and Architecture, Pitt's graduate program in Cultural Studies, and Carnegie Mellon University's School of Architecture. For more information, call 412-648-2400.