Sympoiusm: The Secret Life of Buildings

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Sympoiusm: The Secret Life of Buildings

October 19, 2016 - October 22, 2016


The School of Architecture at The University of Texas at Austin will host The Secret Life of Buildings, October 19-22, 2016. Organized by the Center for American Architecture and Design, the four-day symposium investigates Speculative Realism, Object Oriented Ontology (OOO), and similar emerging theories that imagine that buildings and the things in and around them not only promote human life, but have lives of their own, separate from our experience of them. Held on the UT campus, the event marks the first time the leaders of this exciting new realm of critical thought will gather to consider the topic of architecture.

What happens within a building when we are not there? How does a building relate to the objects within it? How does it relate to other buildings around it? If buildings are actors, what networks are they acting in? What do they keep to themselves, apart from all contact? These are just a few of the questions that the symposium seeks to address. Attendees will also investigate what implications, if any, these theories have for architects and designers of the built environment.

On his website, Ian Bogost, philosopher, author, game designer, and one of the panelists at the symposium, defines OOO as the branch of philosophy that

…puts things at the center…In contemporary thought, things are usually taken either as the aggregation of ever smaller bits (scientific naturalism) or as constructions of human behavior and society (social relativism). OOO steers a path between the two, drawing attention to things at all scales (from atoms to alpacas, bits to blinis), and pondering their nature and relations with one another as much with ourselves.

Speakers include philosopher Graham Harman of the American University in Cairo and Sci-Arc and founder of Object Oriented Ontology; architect and theorist Albena Yaneva of the University of Manchester; architect and theorist Jorge Otero-Pailos of Columbia University; and UT Austin architect and theorist Michael Benedikt. Other prominent thinkers and practitioners participating include Levi Bryant, Timothy Morton, Craig Dykers, Winka Dubbeldam, Ian Bogost, Leslie Van Duzer, Matthew B. Crawford, and UT faculty co-organizer Kory Bieg.

The symposium will be accompanied by an exhibition, Objects. Comprised of the top fifteen entries of an international design competition, the presentation will feature works that examine the ideas of Object Oriented Ontology and Speculative Realism through the design of singular, tangible things: “objects.” These will be installed in and around Goldsmith Hall at the School of Architecture.

Inquiries about the symposium may be directed to Leora Visotzky at the University of Texas at Austin, at A schedule of speakers and event information on the conference is available here. All events are free and open to the public until full. The Objects exhibition is on view October 17–31, 2016.


October 19, 2016
October 22, 2016
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The School of Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin
310 Inner Campus Drive
Austin, Texas 78712 United States
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