1. The Instruments Project: Princeton Conversations
    Princeton School of Architecture
    11.21.14 – 11.22.14

    The Instruments Project is a research project that examines the philosophical and historical dimensions of architecture’s current technological predicament. Going beyond the usual view of architectural knowledge as hopelessly “instrumentalized,” the project has engaged eight scholars, who have been collaborating over the past three years, to produce meditations around a set of gerunds—rendering, modeling, specifying, sensing, among others. The working group seeks to understand not only how these techniques underlie various design approaches today—particularly self-described “ecological” and “digital” ones—but what epistemological change they may signal as a whole, and what on the contrary they owe to continuities in technical thinking since the Enlightenment. The Project was launched and is co-directed by Zeynep Çelik Alexander and John J. May at the University of Toronto. This event, hosted and organized by Lucia Allais, brings its eight core contributors to the School of Architecture for a series of conversations with designers and historians of science and technology.


    The Instruments Project: Princeton Conversations

    November 22nd, 9:00AM to 6:00PM
    Princeton School of Architecture: Betts Auditorium

    Lucia Allais, Instruments contributor, Princeton University
    D. Graham Burnett, Princeton University
    Jimena Canales, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Zeynep Çelik Alexander, Instruments co-director, University of Toronto
    Edward Eigen, Instruments contributor, Harvard University
    Fabrizio Gallanti, Princeton University
    Orit Halpern, Instruments contributor, New School
    John Harwood, Instruments contributor, Oberlin College
    Matthew C. Hunter, Instruments contributor, McGill University
    Matthew L. Jones, Columbia University
    Axel Kilian, Princeton University
    John J. May, Instruments co-director, University of Toronto
    Forrest Meggers, Princeton University
    Michael Meredith, Princeton University
    Michael Osman, Instruments contributor, UCLA
    John Tresch, University of Pennsylvania
    Carolyn Yerkes, Princeton University
    Alejandro Zaera-Polo, Princeton University

    Caught between technophilia and technophobia, the fields of architecture, landscape, and urbanism are unable to articulate the material and epistemic conditions under which they labor today. Architectural techniques and tools remain consigned to the celebratory rhetoric of scientific discovery and technical innovation, whose principles now govern design practice and pedagogy simply by way of theoretical exhaustion. Speed, exactitude, acumen, efficacy, expertise, efficiency, and other trusted axioms of modern life can no longer conceal the political silence that resides at their core.

    The Instruments Project is an excavation of that silence: its continuities and divisions, its hidden historical impulses, and the forms of reasoning and representation resident within it. Through sustained attention to instrumental processes that are—by design—both material and metaphysical, the project works towards establishing the technical dimension of architecture, landscape, and urbanism as a legitimate site for historical inquiry and philosophical reflection.

    This event is supported by the Princeton School of Architecture, the SSHRC and the University of Toronto.