Sarah Whiting: Engaging Autonomy

Sarah Whiting: Engaging Autonomy

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Sarah Whiting possesses an indefatigable curiosity about how individuals constitute a public and, more specifically, through what forms (architecture and urbanism) that public manifests itself and is, in turn, formed. Typically, architecture is seen as being either autonomous or contextual, as if those were the only two urban choices offered up to any building. Whiting has always been suspect of such stark binaries, which tend to impede rather than advance the discipline. Starting from her longstanding interest in projects that are too big to fit comfortably within their urban order, her lecture will posit a category of projects that are at once engaged with their context while nevertheless maintaining a certain degree of autonomy or legible singularity.

Covering historical examples, including Whiting’s extensive research into Chicago’s IIT campus by Mies van der Rohe, and contemporary work by her office, the lecture aims to offer a new lens for reading successful work that exists as well as providing a design strategy for contemporary design.

Whiting is Dean and William Ward Watkin Professor at the School of Architecture at Rice University. Additionally, she co-founded WW with her partner, Ron Witte, in 1999. Prior to WW, Whiting worked with the Office for Metropolitan Architecture in The Netherlands, where she was a designer for the Euralille master plan. She has also worked with Peter Eisenman in New York.

Whiting’s writing and editing has been published in numerous magazines and anthologies, from ANY to Wired. She served as reviews editor for the journalAssemblage from 1996 to 2001 and now edits a small book series with Princeton University Press, called POINT. Whiting obtained her B.A. from Yale University, her Master of Architecture from Princeton, and her Ph.D. from MIT.

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