The annual Eugene J. Mackey Jr. Lecture features speakers from two practices in dialogue: Amanda Williams, and Giles Smith of Assemble.
In cities like St. Louis and Liverpool, vacancy creates an urban condition that is uniquely expressed, yet similar to other post-industrial areas. Each was once a center of manufacturing and workers' communities, but they have emptied out since the decline of economic activity in the mid-20th century.
Such places constitute a frontier where conventional architecture practice loses its bearings, but Amanda Williams and Assemble have staked their claim there and established new forms of practice in precisely these conditions. They have challenged the boundaries of architecture by finding the zones where it blurs into art practice and community organizing; where it can speak to race, economy and collectivity, as well as to adaptive reuse and sustainability.
A sole practitioner and a multimember collective, these two represent the gamut of forms that an architecture practice can take, the diversity of voices that are heard in the field today, and the persistence—and increasing visibility—of architecture's activist tradition.
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