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K-State Today

September 19, 2014



Acclaimed architect, author to present Sept. 22

By Thom Jackson

Harry Francis Mallgrave, architect and professor at Illinois Institute of Technology, will present a lecture as part of the College of Architecture, Planning & Design Architecture Lecture Series at 4 p.m. Sept. 22 in the K-State Union's Little Theater. The lecture is free and open to the public. 

Mallgrave is a leading voice for returning architecture to a biological theory of human spatial engagement by way aesthetic theory, empathy and advances in neuroscience.

"In recent years we have seen a number of dramatic discoveries within the biological and related sciences," Mallgrave said. "Traditional arguments, such as nature versus nurture, are rapidly disappearing because of the realization that just as we are affecting our environments, so too do these altered environments restructure our cognitive abilities and outlooks. If the biological and technological breakthroughs are promising benefits, such as extended life expectancies, these same discoveries also have the potential to improve in significant ways the quality of our built environments. This poses a compelling challenge to conventional architectural theory."

Mallgrave challenges architects' to better know themselves.

"It is time for us as architects to introduce another variable into the design process — a consideration of the human beings for whom we construct our built environments."

Mallgrave is an architect, scholar, editor and professor of history and theory at the Illinois Institute of Technology. After several years in architectural practice, he received his doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania in 1983 under the supervision of Stanford Anderson. His dissertation topic, "The Idea of Style: Gottfried Semper in London," presaged his focus on German theory in his early career. This phase of his work culminated in the intellectual biography "Gottfried Semper: Architect of the Nineteenth Century," which won the prestigious Alice Davis Hitchcock Award from the American Society of Architectural Historians.

Mallgrave has written numerous books and articles on the history and theory of architecture including "Modern Architectural Theory: A Historical Survey, 1673-1968," and "An Introduction to Architectural Theory: 1968 to the Present."

In recent years his interests have broadened, as indicated by his book "The Architect's Brain: Neuroscience, Creativity, and Architecture." He has more recently followed up on this study with "Architecture and Embodiment: The Implications of the New Sciences and Humanities for Design," published in 2013.