Today, it seems scarcely possible to speak of late capitalism without citing baneful examples of its spatial manifestations—the soullessness of Hudson Yards; the Grenfell Tower disaster; the (lethal to build) Qatari World Cup stadiums; aestheticized server farms and data centers. But how, precisely, does architecture register, reproduce, and respond to the logic of global, financialized capital—materially, formally, ideologically, and in its management and use? How does it participate in the instabilities and crises that characterize life under late capitalism, from climate change to epidemics to the militarization of everyday life? In what sense, if any, might architecture still be said to have a critical function when architectural agency is more diffuse than ever before, and shaped by a complex set of financial, technical, legal, and political requirements and interests?
In this course, we will examine a range of sites—from corporate campuses to luxury condos, theme parks, museums, data centers, and border facilities—in order to reflect on the status of 21st-century architecture as a practice and an expression of the logic of financial capital. Placing these in conversation with cases of informal and insurgent architectures, we will ask how the built environment might be conceived not only as a site and medium of commerce, enclosure, and extraction, but a terrain of collective political agency. Works by Manfredo Tafuri, David Harvey, Eyal Weizman, Paul Virilio, Keller Easterling, Mike Davis, Felicity Scott, Michael Sorkin, Fredric Jameson, among others, will be complemented by close analysis of visual media.
“Late-Capitalist Architecture” will also run in-person at BISR Central (68 Jay Street, #308), starting Monday, June 5th. For more information, please visit the course page.
Course ScheduleTuesday, 6:30-9:30pm ET
June 06 — June 27, 2023