The biennial Dissertation Colloquium brings together a select group of doctoral students from diverse institutional and disciplinary backgrounds working on dissertation topics related to the history, theory, and criticism of American architecture, urbanism, and landscape. 

The Buell Conference on the History of Architecture brings together scholars in architectural and urban history to discuss topics in architecture, urbanism, and modernity as broadly understood.

Public Housing/Public Sphere

From 2008 to 2010, the Buell Center engaged in a long-term initiative dedicated to cultivating a new, national conversation about the past, present, and future of public housing in the United States, particularly in the context of the 2008 economic crisis. This conversation has taken shape, in terms of both architecture and urban policy, through the wide distribution of our pamphlet, Public Housing: A New Conversation, and a series of unique public programs. This work envisioned that genuinely public housing is needed, and investment in housing and related infrastructures could serve as a catalyst of urban transformation in American cities and suburbs.

The pamphlet synthesized Buell Center research and ideas generated in the Public Housing/Public Sphere: Policy and Design Workshop held on July 2009 at GSAPP’S Studio-X space in downtown Manhattan. It sought to restate the problem by reconsidering the facts: that public housing exists in the United States in a variety of forms, that more of it is needed in other forms, and that these needs are connected to those public needs addressed by recent investment in other types of infrastructure. These ideas have been further explored in The Buell Hypothesis, which continued the effort to enlist the design community in rethinking the American dream and contemplating a potentially different future for public housing and the American city.

June 2009

On 12 June 2009, Columbia University’s Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture convened a day-long policy and design workshop with students and faculty to investigate the need and the potential for public housing in the United States. The financial crisis added urgency to this effort to reinvigorate a long-dormant national conversation about public housing, which remains the subject of unjust stigmas and unjustified pessimism. Oriented toward reframing the issue by imagining new possibilities, the workshop explored diverse combinations of architecture and urban policy that acknowledged the responsibilities of government and the limits of the private markets. Principles were discussed, ideas were tested, and scenarios were proposed. These were distributed along a typical regional cross-section, or transect, representing a wide range of settlement patterns in the United States. The transect was broken down into five sectors: Urban Core, Urban Ring, Suburban, Exurban, and Rural. Participants were asked to develop ideas within these sectors, taking into account the contents of an informational dossier that was provided in advance. Results were published in a pamphlet, entitled Public Housing: A New Conversation, that was distributed nationally by mail and at subsequent public events.

GSAPP Students, Faculty, and Colleagues from related institutions, and organizations in and around New York such as The Jersey City Housing AuthorityThe Center for Urban Pedagogy, and Barnard College. Results published in a pamphlet that was distributed nationally by mail.