The last decade has seen the explosion of building (and demolition) in Asia and the Middle East, with city blocks, districts, and even historic sites rendered "blank canvases"--Zaha Hadid's own term--and offered to corporate developers and Western architects to fashion them how they see fit. The resultant stream of bespoke icons seem as aloof and disconnected from their urban (and rural) contexts as their architects are from the societies that must put up with their creations. Which begs the question: How aware are these architects of the labor forces, along the conditions which both sustain and govern them, that build their willfully expressive structures, labor-intensive as they are? Can it be argued that the architect's creative powers is sustained by the availability of cheap labor performed by seasonal workers?
These are the questions that will presented at tonight's panel discussion "Who Builds Your Architecture?" at The New School. Organized by the Vera List Center in collaboration with Kadambari Baxi (Barnard College), Mabel O. Wilson (Columbia University GSAPP) and curator and writer Beth Stryker, the discussion will engage architecture's culpability in the exploitation of workers and their misrepresentation. In evaluating current architectural production, the panelists will explore how buildings "may transform society not just through their physical forms but through the ways in which they are constructed and used."
"Who Builds Your Architecture?" will be held at the Theresa Lang Community and Student Center at The New School, starting at 6:30.