Sydney Talk: Architectural Obsolescence by Daniel Abramson / June 11

6pm Tuesday 11 June

Join the University of Sydney School of Architecture, Design & Planning for a public guest lecture by Daniel M. Abramson of Boston University.


Where does the idea come from that architecture can become obsolete, suddenly lose its value and utility, and so become expendable in a short period of time? 

This talk traces the origins of the idea of architectural obsolescence to early-twentieth-century American financial district demolitions, tax policies, and decaying cities.
In mid-century, many architects worldwide responded to obsolescence positively by embracing ephemerality and short-life buildings. Others, however, sought to revalue the obsolete and reinstate permanence, for example, through an invigorated preservationism, concrete brutalism, and ecological design The idea of obsolescence thus gave way in the 1970s to sustainability, today’s dominant paradigm for conceptualizing and managing change in the built environment, conserving rather than expending existing resources.

Date: Tuesday 11June
Time: 6pm – 8pm
Refreshments from 5.30pm, talk commences 6pm
Location: Lecture Theatre 250, Level 2, Wilkinson Building G04
148 City Rd, Darlington, University of Sydney 2006

This is a free event however please be sure to RSVP via the link belowRSVP


Daniel M. Abramson is professor of architectural history and director of architectural studies at Boston University. His research focuses upon matters of economics, society, and architecture from the eighteenth through twentieth centuries, with a specialization in British and American subjects. He is the author of three books: Obsolescence: An Architectural History (University of Chicago Press, 2016); Building the Bank of England: Money, Architecture, Society, 1694–1942 (Yale University Press, 2005); and Skyscraper Rivals: The AIG Building and the Architecture of Wall Street(Princeton Architectural Press, 2001); as well as being co-editor of Governing By Design: Architecture, Economy, and Politics in the Twentieth Century (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012) with the Aggregate Architectural History Collaborative, of which he is also a founding director. Current work includes projects on the American welfare state, and on evidence and narrative in architectural history. 
He is an editor of the series Delft Architectural Studies on Housing, DASH (nai010 publishers) and the open-access on-line journal for architecture theory Footprint, as well as an editorial board member of the Spanish open-access, on-line research journal VLC Arquitectura. He was also an editor of the journal OASE (1993-1999). His writings have been published in various international magazines and on-line media.