“In the space of power, power does not appear as such; it hides under the organization of space.” – Henri Lefebvre
How is institutional power manifested in the built environment? This conference uncovers the complex ways in which space has been imagined as well as actualized by the design disciplines, institutional entities, and the people for whom such spaces are destined. Our aim is to bring together an interdisciplinary group of urbanists, organizational scholars, architects, anthropologists and historians who can speak to the communicative potential, organizational translation, and real world impact of buildings, landscapes and urban environments.
The conference will explore the relationship between institutional and physical structures, interrogating the ways in which fixed spaces can also fix behaviors. How does space bear the mark of bureaucratic networks, typological assumptions and lived experiences? How are different forms of power—aesthetic, political, economic, even insurgent—made manifest across boundaries and scales? And how are different value systems mediated by spatial formations?
The field of organizational theory has long been dominated by spatial metaphors — of corporate architecture, administrative scaffolding and organizational design. Yet the relationship of various types of institutions to the production of the built environment remains under-theorized, both within the fields of planning and design and their counterparts in organizational studies. By fostering interdisciplinary dialogue between social scientists and spatial thinkers, our conference hopes to bridge that conceptual divide.
Images from the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City.