• Critical Infrastructures: New American Approaches to Research and Education as Civic Activism
    The Architecture Foundation, London
    Feb 02, 2011 to Mar 26, 2011
    The Architecture Foundation

Making Policy Public: Vendor Power! Courtesy of Center for Urban Pedagogy.

A public lecture series and complementary exhibition exploring critical and activist models of urban research and education, Critical Infrastructures presents the work of three American organizations—Archeworks, the Center for Land Use Interpretation, and the Center for Urban Pedagogy—whose work engages directly with the economic, legal, and political forces shaping contemporary cities. The project offers a London audience a transatlantic perspective on how built environment practitioners and citizens can engage in forms of research-based activism and education as empowerment. The project brings these international perspectives to the UK at a critical moment of significant government divestment from both cultural programs and social services, in order to explore and provoke questions of how independent research and practice can address concerns previously underwritten by the state, in the face of increasing privatization and withdrawal from traditional civic roles.

Damon Rich, founder and president of the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP), lectured and contributed to the exhibition. Rich, previously CUP's creative director, is an artist and designer whose investigations of the political economy of the built environment have been exhibited at venues including Storefront for Art and Architecture and Netherlands Architecture Institute. Rich has taught at institutions including Parsons, and written for publications such as the Village Voice and Metropolis. Rich received a New York State Arts Council Award for his work with adult literacy and architecture and has been a Loeb Fellow at Harvard and artist-in-residence at MIT.

Heather Ring
chaired the conversation with Damon Rich. An American landscape architect based in London, Ring is founder of Wayward Plants—a collective of designers, artists, guerrilla gardeners, and urban growers that creates spaces of exchange for plants, collecting stories and bringing together communities. Ring was commissioned by the Architecture Foundation to design and produce the Union Street Urban Orchard for the London Festival of Architecture in 2010. She has exhibited internationally including the Barbican, London; CCA, Montreal; theGraham Foundation, Chicago; and the Metis International Garden Festival, Quebec. Ring has been senior editor of Archinect since 2005.

Matthew Coolidge, founder and director of the Center for Land Use Interpretation (CLUI), lectured and contributed to the exhibition. CLUI is a non-profit art/research organization in Los Angeles that employs a multimedia and multidisciplinary approach to increase and diffuse knowledge about how the nation's lands are apportioned, utilized, and perceived. Coolidge has written several books published by CLUI, including Back to the Bay: An Examination of the Shoreline of the San Francisco Bay Region (2001), and The Nevada Test Site: A Guide to America's Nuclear Proving Ground (1996). He lectures widely and received a Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship in 2004.

Owen Hatherley chaired the conversation with Matthew Coolidge. A British writer and journalist based in London, who writes on architecture, politics and culture, Hatherley is a regular contributor to Building Design, New Statesman, and New Humanist, and has written for the Guardian, Icon, the Socialist Worker, and Socialist Review. In 2010, Hatherley published his second book A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain, which dissects the impacts of the past ten years of regeneration, economics, and new enterprise upon the urban landscapes of Britain. His first bookMilitant Modernismwas published in 2009.

Martin Felsen, founding principal of UrbanLab, lectured and contributed to the exhibition. UrbanLab is an award-winning Chicago-based firm specializing in resourceful civic, commercial, residential, and infrastructure projects..Felsen  has served as the codirector of Archeworks and he has worked for Peter Eisenman Architects. He teaches architectural studios at the Illinois Institute of Technology on future-thinking design, smart urban growth, and environmental and ecological professional responsibility. In 2007, Felsen was the recipient of the AIA Chicago Dubin Family Young Architect Award. In 2009, Archeworks and UrbanLab were jointly awarded the AIA Latrobe Prize for their Growing Energy proposal.

Lucy Musgrave chaired the conversation with Martin Felsen. Musgrave created Publica in 2010, building from seven successful years at General Public Agency. Her work encompasses strategic master-planning, policy context, intelligence, and research for brief development, urban character assessment, and issues of inclusive, participative design practices and design quality in the regeneration and development sectors. Musgrave acts as both client advisor and representative. She has been a member of the UK Government's Urban Sounding Board and the Greater London Authority's Public Realm Advisory Group, and waspreviously director of the Architecture Foundation.

Founded in 1991 as the UK's first independent architecture center, the Architecture Foundation is a non-profit agency for contemporary architecture, urbanism, and culture. We cultivate new talent and new ideas. Through our diverse programs, we facilitate international and interdisciplinary exchange; stimulate critical engagement among professionals, policy makers, and a broad public;, and shape the quality of the built environment. We are independent, agile, inclusive, and influential. Central to our activities is the belief that architecture enriches lives.

The Architecture Foundation's diverse and cross-disciplinary program includes events, from film screenings to lectures and debates; exhibitions which experiment with representations of architecture; competitions for buildings and public spaces; Aawards that celebrate excellence in contemporary architecture and urbanism; educational projects, which focuson young people considering further built environment study; and a wide range of other projects including the London Architecture Diary and the London Festival of Architecture.