Please join the Harvard Alumni Architectural and Urban Society for an engaging evening of conversation between Richard Sennett, Rahul Mehrotra, and Hashim Sarkis on the topic of Informal urbanism. The conversation will engage both in an analysis of the characteristics of informal urbanism as it has emerged around the world, and a discussion of the challenges and opportunities that this ever-growing phenomena presents for the productive engagement of designers, planners, and citizens.
637 West 27th Street, Ground Floor Gallery, New York, NY
Doors will open at 6:00 PM and the panel discussion will begin promptly at 6:30. The discussion will be followed by a reception with complimentary drinks and light snacks.
Over the course of the last five decades, Richard Sennett has written about social life in cities, changes in labor, and social theory. He is the author of The Craftsman, The Fall of Public Man, The Corrosion of Character, The Culture of the New Capitalism and most recently Building and Dwelling: Ethics for the City. He teaches urban studies at the London School of Economics and at Harvard University, and is a senior fellow in Columbia University’s Center for Capitalism and Society.
He grew up in the Cabrini Green housing project in Chicago, and at an early age, he became engaged with music, particularly the cello, attending the Juilliard School in New York, where he worked with Claus Adam, cellist of the Juilliard Quartet. A hand injury put an end to his musical career. He briefly attended the University of Chicago, then entered Harvard, studying history with Oscar Handlin, sociology with David Riesman, and philosophy with John Rawls.
He was a founder of the New York Institute for the Humanities, president of the American Council on Work, and has served for many years as a consultant to various bodies within the United Nations; most recently, he helped write the mission statement for Habitat III, the United Nation's global cities summit. He also created Theatrum Mundi, a research foundation for urban culture, whose board of trustees he now chairs.
Among other awards, he has received the Hegel Prize, the Spinoza Prize, an honorary doctorate from the University of Cambridge, and the Centennial Medal from Harvard University. In private life he is married to the sociologist Saskia Sassen. He gardens and cooks, as well as continues to play the cello.
Rahul Mehrotra is a Professor of Urban Design and Planning at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. He is a practicing architect, urban designer, and educator. His Mumbai-based firm, RMA Architects, was founded in 1990 and has designed and executed projects including government and private institutions, corporate workplaces, private homes, and unsolicited projects driven by the firm’s commitment to advocacy in the city of Mumbai. In 2018 RMA Architects were awarded the Venice Biennale juror’s ‘Special Mention’ for ‘three projects that address issues of Intimacy and empathy, gently diffusing social boundaries and hierarchies.
Mehrotra has written and lectured extensively on issues to do with architecture, conservation, and urban planning and design in Mumbai and India. His writings include coauthoring Bombay: The Cities Within, which covers the city’s urban history from the 1600s to the present; Banganga: Sacred Tank; Public Places Bombay; Anchoring a City Line, A history of the city’s commuter railway; and Bombay to Mumbai: Changing Perspectives. He has also coauthoredConserving an Image Center: The Fort Precinct in Bombay. Based on this study and its recommendations, the historic Fort District in Mumbai was declared a conservation precinct in 1995 – a first such designation in India. In 2000, he edited a book for the Union of International Architects, which earmarks the end of the last century and is titled The Architecture of the 20th Century in the South Asian Region. In 2011, Mehrotra wrote Architecture in India – Since 1990, which is a reading of contemporary architecture in India which was extended through an exhibition he co-curated titled The State of Architecture: Practices and Processes in India, at the National Gallery of Modern Art in Mumbai in Jan 2016. This was followed in 2018 by a second co curated exhibition titled: The State of Housing: Realities, Aspirations and imaginaries in India which showed between Jan and March 2018 and will travel in India. Since 2014 Mehrotra has been a member of the CICA – the International Committee of Architecture Critics.
Mehrotra is a member of the steering committee of the Laxmi Mittal South Asia Institute at Harvard. In 2012-2015, he led a Harvard University-wide research project with Professor Diana Eck, called The Kumbh Mela: Mapping the Ephemeral Mega City. This work was published as a book in 2014. This research was extended in 2017 in the form of a book titled Does Permanence Matter? This research was also extended into an invited exhibition at the 2016 Venice Biennale. Mehrotra’s latest co-authored book is titled Taj Mahal: Multiple Narratives which was published in Dec 2017.
Hashim Sarkis is an architect, educator, and scholar. He is principal of Hashim Sarkis Studios, established in 1998 with offices in Boston and Beirut, and Dean of MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning since 2015.
Before joining MIT, Sarkis was the Aga Khan Professor of Landscape Architecture and Urbanism at Harvard University.
The architectural and urban projects of HSS include affordable housing, institutional buildings, and town planning. The firm’s work has been exhibited around the world, including at MoMA and the biennales of Venice, Rotterdam, Shenzhen, and Valparaiso. The work has also been published extensively, most recently in a monograph by -Ness.docs.
Sarkis earned a BA in architecture and a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, and an MA and PhD in architecture from Harvard. He is the author and editor of several books and articles on modern architecture history and theory, including Circa 1958 and Le Corbusier’s Venice Hospital.