Sylvia Lavin, Architecture
November 4, 2019 ·
School of Architecture
Exhibtion runs through January 21, 2020
Modern architectural drawings contain a remarkable array of trees made with extraordinary precision and invention not explained by the need to record a site or the desire to animate a view. Although typically overlooked, trees in architectural drawings constitute an undiscovered arboretum containing evidence of important conceptual shifts in architectural thinking. Architects have interpolated trees into drawings as linguistic signs, used them as objects of scientific observation, and eventually seized upon them as things to be designed. Architecture Arboretum, however, also offers an opportunity to consider the reverse: arboreal thinking about architecture and the active role trees have played in the production of architectural drawings. The once unthinkable notion that trees are beings with interests of their own that process data about the world through distinct forms of representation has radicalized contemporary understandings of the environment. Architecture has more to learn from plant thinking than most disciplines, not only because architecture and trees share important features—the capacity to define space, produce climates, and shape the visual field—but also because trees perform architectural tasks in ways that care for the earth’s surface better than most buildings.
Sylvia Lavin is a Professor of History and Theory of Architecture at Princeton University. She received her Ph.D. from the Department of Art and Archaeology at Columbia University after having received fellowships from the Getty Center, the Kress Foundation, and the Social Science Research Council. Prior to her appointment at Princeton, Lavin was a Professor in the Department of Architecture and Urban Design at UCLA, where she was Chairperson from 1996 to 2006 and the Director of the Critical Studies M.A. and Ph.D. program from 2007 to 2017.
The MIT Press published Lavin’s first books Quatremère de Quincy and the Invention of a Modern Language of Architecture and Form Follows Libido: Architecture and Richard Neutra in a Psychoanalytic Culture in 1992 and 2005. Her most recent books include, Kissing Architecture, published by Princeton University Press in 2011 and Flash in the Pan, an AA publication from 2015.
Lavin’s curatorial work includes: Everything Loose Will Land: Art and Architecture in Los Angeles in the 1970s, an exhibition supported by the Getty Foundation in Los Angeles, New Haven, and Chicago; Exhibition Models at Princeton University School of Architecture in 2018; Super Models at the 2018 Chicago Architecture Biennial; and Architecture Itself and Other Postmodernists Myths at the Canadian Center for Architecture in the Fall of 2018.
Lavin is the recipient of an Arts and Letters Award in Architecture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Curatorial Design: Sylvia Lavin
Exhibition Design: Erin Besler
Graphic Design: Ian Besler
Exhibition Leads: Chase Galis, Anna Renken
Exhibition Coordinator: Kira McDonald
Exhibition Assistants: Christina Moushoul, Melinda Denn, Takayuki Tachibe, Angelique Firmalino, Will Fu, Andrew Cornelis, Reese Lewis, Esra Durukan
Research Seminar Students: Catherine Ahn, Shin Hang Chiu, John Cooper, Esra Durukan, Sarah Sheereen Etaat, Chase Galis, Ruo Jia, Rami Kanafani, Jamie Lipson, Joon Ma, Mahsa Malek, Ruta Misiunas, Anna Renken, Carly Richman, Erik Tsurumaki, Zherui Wang, Kyle Weeks, Ece Yetim
Special Thanks to: Dean Mónica Ponce de León, Carrie Ruddick, Courtney Coffman, Grey Wartinger, School of Architecture Staff, Rob Staudt and Campus Grounds, Urban Fabric Rugs, and Owen Nichols