Although lecturers at the School of Architecture have typically been established professionals, the up-and-coming Mia Hagg, the 39 year-old co-founder and partner of Paris-based architecture firm Habiter Autrement, was given the stage last night to speak about her firm’s experimental housing and master planning projects around the world.
The weekly lectures series is a regular event at the school, but this year, the schedule of lecturing architects will feature more younger speakers. School of Architecture Dean Robert A.M. Stern ARC ’65 said the school is giving younger faculty and architects a platform so that attendees will have the opportunity to hear new voices and opinions.
“We want to highlight the work of younger faculty on the ladder for promotion,” Stern said. “We would like to hear from the young ones.”
Stern said the shift toward younger speakers this semester was not in response to any criticism that the committee that selects lecturers received from faculty or students.
“You pick up these things in the conversations in the corridors,” he said. “And I’m a pretty good picker; I listen.”
Professors interviewed said the present economic climate is a good time for schools to give more support to younger architects.
Hilary Sample, the winner of the 2009 MoMA/P.S.1 Young Architects Program who is slated to speak this fall, emphasized the important role schools play in supporting young architects in light of the present decline in construction. With fewer resources for professional practice, Sample said there is a “shift in the production of architecture towards other modes of thinking and methods.”
“In the past, schools were the center for critical thinking and a testing ground for innovative design models; since the late 1990s, this innovation has been largely found through professional practice,” Sample wrote in an e-mail. “Today, schools have the opportunity once again to play a pivot role in pushing forward new modes of architectural thinking.”
In her lecture “Beginnings,” Sample will explore a new paradigm for architecture research through radical inclusion — an experiment in interdisciplinary work that engages computer processing and filmmaking in addition to building.
Echoing Sample, Mark Foster Gage, a 2009 jury member for the Architectural League of New York’s Young Architects Forum and a fall lecturer, said the recession created a new climate in architecture with renewed emphasis on ideas.
“Younger architects generally deal with ideas more than with building,” Gage said. “Young people are prepared to take bigger conceptual academic risks than older faculty who have become more firmly lodged.”
Gage’s lecture, “The Resurrection of Ideology,” will deal with the renewed relationship between aesthetic theory and technological design to identify a contemporary ethic of design and a new conceptual direction of modernism, he said.
Another unusual feature of this semester’s lecture series is a lecture focusing on non-Western architecture. “Modernism Unbound: The Chandigarh Lab Project,” a lecture by Vikram Prakash, was organized with the collaboration of the Yale South Asian Studies Council. The lecture will look into the urban transformation of Chandigarh, an iconic planned city in India, in response to the country’s emergence as a strong economic power, Prakash said.
Sample pointed out the importance of diversity and the necessity of maintaining it beyond this semester’s lecture series.
“Should there be a more diverse lineup with the lecture series past this term? Yes, definitely,” Sample said.
The next lecture will be delivered by Prakash on Oct. 22.