Ease into autumn with these virtual lecture series and talks

The Lectures Must Go On

Ease into autumn with these virtual lecture series and talks

While lecture hall seats (pictured are seats belonging to Harvard GSD) will remain empty this fall, many architecture schools are still hosting public lecture series but in a strictly virtual format. (jeanbaptisteparis/Flickr)

While there’s certainly no replacement for the intimacy of an in-person lecture attended by a captivated crowd, there is one distinct upside to having talks, symposiums, and other academic events be held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic: the potential for a significantly larger audience unrestrained by pesky practicalities like geographic locale.

With most major architecture schools having fully transitioned their event programming to an online format, their fall 2020 lecture line-ups are now more accessible than ever, allowing participants to attend lectures hosted by said schools by simply signing up and opening a new Zoom window at a designated date and time. Unless otherwise noted, all lectures mentioned here are free and open to the public with advance registration required. Most, but not all, are hosted on Zoom Webinar.

Below are a dozen lecture series scheduled for fall 2020,  presented by the likes of Harvard GSD, the University of Southern California, the University of Pennsylvania, and more to get this very different academic season started. While topics vary, the world—and the United States, in particular—is a much different place than it was in the fall of 2019 and that’s duly reflected in the programming.

Specific dates and times can be confirmed on the events pages of each respective school/program.

The Bernard & Anne Spitzer School of Architecture at the City College of New York 

For this year’s fall lecture series, the Spitzer School of Architecture is trying something a bit different with the new SCIAME Global Spotlight Lecture Series. Titled Far South, the series, curated by Associate Professor Fabian Llonch, presents talks with leading South American architects who, per the school, will “discuss their work and the unique political and environmental challenges they face.” Among the featured lecturers are Teresa Moller (Chile), Paulo Tavares (Brazil), Diego Arraigada (Argentina), and Patricia Llosa Bueno (Peru).

Carnegie Mellon University School of Architecture 

Per the SoA at Carnegie Mellon, the school’s fall 2020 lecture series will “focus attention on architecture and activism, and the role that architecture can have towards social equity and spatial justice.” Scheduled speakers include Mabel O. Wilson (“Bulletproofing America’s Public Space: Race, Remembrance and Emmett Till”), William Gilchrist (“Urban Design as a Catalyst for Environmental Equity”), and Toni Griffin (“Design and the Just City”).

Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation

Launching September 21, the fall 2020 public lecture series at Columbia GSAPP is set to include Tatiana Bilbao, Toshiko Mori, Majora Carter, Stephen Burks, Yasmeen Lari, the Black Reconstruction Collective, and Bryan C. Lee Jr. of Colloqate, among others.

Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design at the University of Arkansas

Centered around the theme of Equity in the Built Environment, the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design’s Zoom Webinar-based 2020 fall lecture series includes talks from Sara Jensen Carr, Mira Henry, Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi, Lesley Lokko, Michelle Joan Wilkinson, and Irene Cheng. All lectures are free and open to the public.

Harvard Graduate School of Design

Kicking off on September 10 with a lecture from Linda Shi, assistant professor at Cornell AAP, on the intersection of social justice and urban flood mitigation, Harvard GSD’s roster of fall 2020 public programming—all talks and webinars are held via Zoom—also includes conversations with, among others, Emmanuel Pratt, co-founder and executive director of Chicago nonprofit the Sweet Water Foundation; Edgar Pieterse, director of the African Centre for Cities at the University of Cape Town; and landscape architect Everett L. Fly.

Department of Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

While additional details are still forthcoming, MIT Architecture’s fall 2020 lecture series is slated to include Walter Hood, Derek Ham, Charles Davis II, and Veronica Cedillos.

Rice University School of Architecture 

Kicking off on September 2, Rice Architecture’s fall 2020 lecture series revolves around a central theme—“Race, Social Justice and Allyship”—and includes Zoom-based talks from a range of academics, activists, and architects including Ana María León, Jesús Vassallo, and Ilze Wolff and Heinrich Wolff of South Africa-based firm Wolff Architects.

Stuckeman School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at Penn State University

With on-site events currently on hold, Penn State’s Stuckeman School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture has opted to livestream its fall 2020 lecture series. Scheduled speakers include Jenny Sabin, professor of architecture at Cornell AAP and founder of experimental architectural design studio Jenny Sabin Studio; Mark Jarzombek, professor of the history and theory of architecture at MIT; and Zürich-based architect and artist Pia Simmendinger.

University of Southern California School of Architecture

The USC School of Architecture’s fall 2020 virtual lecture series recently commenced with a lecture from Sara Zewde of Harlem-based landscape architecture, public art, and urban design practice Studio Zewde. Upcoming lectures will find architect Michael Maltzan, Yale professor and architectural historian Dolores Hayden, Tokyo-based structural engineer Jun Sato, and others taking the Zoom mic.

The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture

Described as playing “an integral role in fulfilling the school’s commitment to fostering intellectual curiosity and the open exchange of ideas,” the University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture’s fall 2020 lecture series will be livestreamed on the school’s YouTube channel and touch down on “society’s most pressing issues, including race and spatial justice, ecology and climate change, computation and the proliferation of new and emerging technologies, and more.” Upcoming talks include Peter Eisenman in dialogue with Mario Carpo and a lecture from Oakland, California-based designer, urbanist, and spatial justice activist Liz Ogbu.

Weitzman School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania

Beatriz Colomina, Howard Crosby Butler Professor of the History of Architecture at Princeton University, is slated to give the inaugural talk in the Weitzman School of Design’s robust fall 2020 lecture series. As evidenced by its title, “Architecture and Pandemics: From Tuberculosis to COVID 19,” it’s a topical one. Other scheduled lectures tackle a wide range of topics outside of the pandemic including “Non-Traditional Green Architecture” (Michael Webb, cofounder of Archigram) and “The Freedom Colony Repertoire: Promising Approaches to Bridging and Bonding Social Capital Between Urban and Rural Black Meccas” from Andrea Roberts, assistant professor of Urban Planning at the College of Architecture at Texas A&M University.

Yale School of Architecture

Kate WagnerTod Williams and Billie Tsien, Rebecca Choi, and Walter Hood are among those appearing on the calendar for YSOA’s Zoom-based fall 2020 lecture series, which kicks off on October 1. Additionally, the first roundtable in an ongoing, open-to-the-public series of discussions organized by the M.E.D. Working Group For Anti-Racism will commence on September 9 with POLICING.