MAS Context Spring Talks 2019
Tobias Armborst


Video shot and edited by Isabel Owen of Lucid Creative Agency.


Lecture by architect and urban designer Tobias Armborst as part of the MAS Context 2019 Spring Talks in Chicago. The lecture took place on Tuesday, May 14, 2019 at the Society of Architectural Historians.


The Arsenal of Exclusion & Inclusion

Urban History 101 teaches us that the built environment is not the product of invisible, uncontrollable market forces, but of human-made tools that could have been used differently (or not at all). The Arsenal of Exclusion & Inclusion is an encyclopedia of 202 tools—or what we call “weapons”—used by architects, planners, policy-makers, developers, real estate brokers, activists, and other urban actors in the United States use to restrict or increase access to urban space. The Arsenal of Exclusion & Inclusion inventories these weapons, examines how they have been used, and speculates about how they might be deployed (or retired) to make more open cities in which more people feel welcome in more spaces.

The Arsenal of Exclusion & Inclusion includes minor, seemingly benign weapons like no loitering signs and bouncers, but also big, headline-grabbing things like eminent domaon and city-county consolidation. It includes policies like expulsive zoning and annexation, but also practices like blockbusting, institutions like neighborhood associations, and physical things like bombs and those armrests that park designers put on benches to make sure homeless people don’t get too comfortable. It includes historical things that aren’t talked about too much any more (e.g., ugly laws), things that seem historical but aren’t (e.g., racial steering), and things that are brand new (e.g., aging improvement district).

With contributions from over fifty of the best minds in architecture, urban planning, urban history, and geography, The Arsenal of Exclusion & Inclusion offers a wide-ranging view of the policies, institutions, and social practices that shape our cities. It can be read as a historical account of the making of the modern American city, a toolbox of best practices for creating better, more just spaces, or as an introduction to the process of city-making in The United States.


Tobias Armborst, as part of Interboro, contributed to our Boundary issue with the article “The Arsenal of Exclusion & Inclusion.” You can read it online at


Tobias Armborst is an architect and urban designer, principal and co-founder of Interboro. Interboro is an award-winning architecture, urban design, and planning firm based in Brooklyn, New York. They are leading experts in public space design and community engagement. Tobias received a Diplom Ingenieur in Architecture from RWTH Aachen and a Master of Architecture in Urban Design from the Harvard Design School. He is Associate Professor of Architecture and Urban Studies at Vassar College. Along with Daniel D’Oca and Georgeen Theodore, principals and co-founders of Interboro, he is the author of the book The Arsenal of Exclusion & Inclusion (ACTAR, 2017). | @access_wars


The Arsenal of Inclusion and Exclusion © Courtesy of Interboro

MAS Context Spring Talks 2019
Despina Stratigakos

Architecture Barbie © Courtesy of Despina Stratigakos


Architecture scholar Despina Stratigakos lectured as part of the MAS Context 2019 Spring Talks in Chicago. The lecture took place on Thursday, April 25, 2019 at Ross Barney Architects (10 West Hubbard Street, Chicago, Illinois 60654).


Unconscious Bias in Architecture: Why Don’t Architects Wear Pink?

Unconscious bias in architecture creates beliefs about who does or does not belong in the profession, which can undermine our best intentions to be inclusive. By bringing those biases up to the surface so that we can examine them, we can be more intentional in the decisions we make in our everyday and professional practices. Using lessons from history and the power of Architect Barbie, this talk explored architecture’s gendered biases and how we can uproot them.


Suggested readings:

Despina Stratigakos, Where Are the Women Architects?, (Princeton University Press, 2016)

Despina Stratigakos, “What I Learned From Architect Barbie,” Places

Despina Stratigakos, “Hollywood Architects,” Places

Despina Stratigakos, “Architecture Has a Woman Problem. Zaha Hadid Knew It Well,” Slate








Lecture by Despina Stratigakos, Ross Barney Architects, Chicago, 2019 © Iker Gil


Thank you very much to Ross Barney Architects for hosting the talk.


Architecture Professor Despina Stratigakos is an internationally recognized scholar of diversity and equity in architecture. Her books, including A Women’s Berlin: Building the Modern City (University of Minnesota Press, 2008), Hitler at Home (Yale University Press, 2015), and Where Are the Women Architects? (Princeton University Press, 2016), explore the intersections of power and architecture. She has published extensively on barriers to equity and diversity in the building professions, including stereotypical representations of architects in history books, the lack of diversity among elite architecture prize winners, and the absence of female architects and architects of color in Hollywood films. She has served as Vice Provost for Inclusive Excellence since 2018, focusing on the University at Buffalo’s efforts to create a culture of inclusive excellence and enhance diversity, equity and inclusion across the campus community. She also serves as chair of the Inclusive Excellence Leadership and Advisory Council.

MAS Context Spring Talks 2019
Verity-Jane Keefe

Mid-demolition, Ford Stamping Plant, Dagenham, 2017 © Courtesy of Verity-Jane Keefe


Artist Verity-Jane Keefe lectured as part of the MAS Context 2019 Spring Talks in Chicago. The lecture took place on Tuesday, April 9, 2019 at the Society of Architectural Historians (1365 North Astor Street, Chicago, Illinois 60610).


Operating Between the Cracks: Dagenham to Detroit, post-Ford Landscapes

During her talk, artist Verity-Jane Keefe discussed her work focusing on Outer London and the research that has led her to Detroit. Verity shared selected projects and talked through how and if a locally embedded, long term socially engaged practice can be taken and applied to a seemingly disconnected new international context. It was done via looking closely, writing your own briefs, developing bespoke funding models, research as practice, making proposals, and forging relationships. How can we make work that is both local and that translates on an international platform to a multitude of audiences, art and non-art?


Verity-Jane Keefe is a visual artist, working predominantly within the public realm, using moving image, text, and installation to explore the complex relationships between people and place. She is interested in the role and potential of the artist within urban regeneration. For fourteen years she has been developing deep partnerships with a number of local authorities, working both with and alongside, on art commissions, planning policy work, archival and heritage projects, and regeneration schemes. She has an ongoing, accidental love affair with Outer London. She is currently artist in residence in Thamesmead for housing association, Peabody. Recent works include The Mobile Museum, The Wood Street Survey of Retail Trade, and Legoland. Verity-Jane is part of a collective of curators, academics, and artists who write long-term strategies for community and culture. She is an Associate Lecturer at Central Saint Martins, teaching a design studio on the MA Architecture with Julia King, and on BA Fine Art. | @veritykeefe

Geometry of Light
Barcelona Pavilion

Geometry of Light, Barcelona Pavilion, 2019 © Kate Joyce


The Fundació Mies van der Rohe and MAS Context organized Geometry of Light, an art intervention by Luftwerk in collaboration with Iker Gil that took place at the Barcelona Pavilion, February 10-17, 2019 as part of the Fundació Mies van der Rohe’s ongoing program of artistic interventions.


Geometry of Light, Barcelona Pavilion, 2019 © Kate Joyce


Geometry of Light is an intervention that generates a global experience envisioned as a contemporary lens for the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion, highlighting and expanding upon the architectural and material features of this structure. Using light and sound, Geometry of Light creates a new interpretive layer extending from the primary elements of architecture, including the gridded plan, vertical planes, and materiality.

Focused on the gridded plan of the pavilion, a projected grid of light animates the travertine floor that extends beyond the steel-framed glass walls to accentuate the flowing space as it permeates through the interior and exterior. The way in which light is projected and the spatial situation of sounds enlivens and alters our perception of the essential elements of the Pavilion and its open plan and magnifies the illusion of its physical and material limits.

The animated projections are choreographed to trace, highlight, and alter the composition of the Pavilion to the sound of the custom-designed piece that Oriol Tarragó has created as a direct response to the pitch of the Pavilion to create a comprehensive immersive tonal reading. In this way, together, these elements of light and sound coalesce—both unifying and disjointing the physical and perceptual space—in a new, altered perception and interpretation of the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion.


Geometry of Light is organized by the Fundació Mies van der Rohe and MAS Context within the framework of LLUM BCN and the Festes de Santa Eulàlia.

Following its premiere in Barcelona, Geometry of Light will be installed at the Farnsworth House in October 2019 to coincide with the third edition of the Chicago Architecture Biennial.

We are excited to develop this project in 2019 as it is a significant year for three reasons: It marks the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus, the 90th anniversary of the Barcelona Pavilion, and the 50th anniversary since the passing of Mies van der Rohe.



About the artistic interventions at the Barcelona Pavilion

The program of artistic interventions with architects and artists began in 1999 with Jeff Wall and continued with Enric Miralles, Dennis Adams, Antoni Muntadas, Iñaki Bonillas, SANAA Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa, Ai Weiwei, Andrés Jaque, Anna & Eugeni Bach, and Domènec among others. They all talk with the Pavilion and generate debates about art, architecture, and culture that are collected in publications.


Geometry of Light, Barcelona Pavilion, 2019 © Kate Joyce



Organization: Fundació Mies van der Rohe and MAS Context
Conceptual design: Luftwerk in collaboration with Iker Gil
Sound design: Oriol Tarragó
Programming: Andy Kauff
Practical effects: Coser y Cantar estudio
Photo documentation: Kate Joyce
Film documentation: Spirit of Space
Identity: Normal
Leading Institutional Support: Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts and Bosch Power Tools – North America
Leading Individual Support: Chuck Thurow
Support: Paola Aguirre, Leslie Bodenstein, Will Forrest, Joanne Gross, Tom Lee, Ann Lui, Jason Pickleman, Craig Reschke, and Tom Rossiter


The leading institutional support to the project is provided by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts and Bosch Power Tools – North America.



The leading individual support is provided by Chuck Thurow.

The project is also supported by:
Paola Aguirre
Leslie Bodenstein
Will Forrest
Joanne Gross
Tom Lee
Ann Lui
Jason Pickleman
Craig Reschke
Tom Rossiter


Luftwerk is the artistic vision of Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero. Luftwerk’s art practice focuses on the exploration of what makes a space a place and how art plays a vital role within urban and natural environments. With each individual project, Luftwerk discovers and accentuates the unique connections between architecture, environment and the communities, which interact within these places, transforming their experiences of space and site through light and sound. | @_luftwerk

Iker Gil is an architect, urban designer, and director of MAS Studio. In addition, he is the editor in chief of MAS Context. He is the editor of the book Shanghai Transforming (ACTAR, 2008) and was the associate curator of the U.S. Pavilion at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale. He is the recipient of the 2010 Emerging Visions Award from the Chicago Architectural Club and has been recognized as one of “Fifty Under Fifty: Innovators of the 21st Century” by a jury composed by Stanley Tigerman, Jeanne Gang, Qingyun Ma, and Marion Weiss. | @MASContext

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