MAS Context Spring Talks 2016
Koldo Lus Arana


Video shot and edited by the Graham Foundation.


Lecture by Koldo Lus Arana as part of the MAS Context 2016 Spring Talks in Chicago. The lecture took place on Tuesday, June 7, 2016 at the Graham Foundation. This lecture was presented in partnership with the Graham Foundation.


Architectural Narratives / Building stories

The relationship between architecture and graphic narrative is almost as old as the existence of mass media. From Le Corbusier’s early fascination with Rodolphe Töpffer’s comic strips, to Archigram’s and Utopie’s use of science fiction comic-book anthologies, comics have fascinated architects with their unique capacity to gather together communication, space, and movement. Nowadays, at a moment where digital imaging and video are cornering traditional media, comics and graphic narrative are enjoying a surprising revaluation. A look at architectural publications seems to point that way, showing an increasing interest on the different overlaps between architecture and graphic narrative. Moreover, the diversification of the discipline, paired with new publishing platforms offered by the internet, have fostered the appearance of architectural practices that have adopted comics as a means of expression.

Architectural Narratives / Building stories will present some of Koldo Lus Arana’s recent research on the interactions between comics and architecture, both from a historical perspective and exploring current overlaps: From the work of contemporary architects such as Jimenez Lai, Willem Jan Neutelings and many others who use comics and cartoons within their work, to the presence of architecture in comics such as those created by artists Chris Ware and François Schuiten.


Koldo Lus Arana is an architect, illustrator and architecture scholar. He earned a Master in Design Studies from Harvard GSD in 2008, and a PhD from the University of Navarra in 2013 with the dissertation Futuropolis: Comics and the Transmediatic Construction of the City of the Future. His main lines of research deal with the interactions between architecture and media, and with architectural prospective. He currently teaches Theory and History of Architecture in the University of Zaragoza (Spain).

MAS Context Spring Talks 2016
Geoff Manaugh


Video shot and edited by Matthew Goetz of Lucid Creative Agency.


Lecture and book launch by writer, author, and curator Geoff Manaugh as part of MAS Context’s 2016 Spring Talks series. The lecture took place on Friday, May 27 at Studio Gang Architects. It was co-organized with the Seminary Co-op Bookstore.


A Burglar’s Guide to the City

Burglary requires architecture—without buildings, burglars themselves cannot exist. It is an explicitly spatial crime.

Burglary also has a very peculiar relationship with the built environment, engaging with structures not for their aesthetics or their historical references, but for the tactical value of a handhold, a shadow’s opportunity for stealth, and the potential for illicit entrance posed by rooftops and maintenance corridors.

Geoff Manaugh, author of the new book A Burglar’s Guide to the City, explored more than two thousand years’ worth of heists and break-ins, from the streets of ancient Rome to panic rooms in the 21st century. During the talk, Manaugh discussed several aspects ranging from the surprisingly complicated legal definition of what constitutes an interior space to the everyday tools burglars use to gain entry.

Written after more than three years of research, Manaugh’s Burglar’s Guide includes flights with the LAPD Air Support Division, an introduction to the subculture of recreational lock-picking, a still-unsolved bank tunnel heist in 1980s Los Angeles, and much more.


















All photos by David Schalliol.


Geoff Manaugh is a freelance writer and curator. He is the author of the books A Burglar’s Guide to the City and The BLDGBLOG Book and editor of Landscape Futures: Instruments, Devices and Architectural Inventions. His writings have been published in The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Cabinet Magazine, The Atlantic, Popular Science, The Daily Beast, Domus, Travel + Leisure, New Scientist, and many others. He is the former director of Studio-X NYC, an urban think tank and event space at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.

MAS Context Spring Talks 2016
Kelly Bair


Video shot and edited by Matthew Goetz of Lucid Creative Agency.


Lecture by Kelly Bair as part of the MAS Context 2016 Spring Talks in Chicago. The lecture took place on Tuesday, April 26, 2016 at Studio Gang Architects.


Tight Fade: On Architectural Gradation

Tight Fade: On Architectural Gradation is a collection of recent work by Central Standard Office of Design. The work originates from two rather distant points of influence: popular culture (specifically the Tight Fade haircut) and high art (specifically 2d drawing and 3d objects). In popular culture, “Tight Fade” is a term used colloquially in reference to a vintage haircut. The Tight Fade relies on a set of specific parameters that can be adjusted for various looks however the principle of the cut has remained the same over time: transition across a geometrically intricate surface with varying degrees of smoothness based on a desired effect…or style.

This collection of work looks to these techniques and others unique to both references and adapts them to produce new architectural effects, material strategies and formal sensibilities. Through drawings and objects, the work constructs relationships between opposites such as contrasting profiles (ie. pitched roofs to arched roofs) and material transitions (ie. opaque to transparent). Moving beyond color as a primary vehicle for studying gradation, the work seeks to uncover ways in which architecture engages other visual element transitions such as planar to volumetric, material to immaterial, and 2 dimensions to 3 dimensions.


Kelly Bair is principal of Central Standard Office of Design, an architectural research studio based in Chicago. Her work has been exhibited in New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, Chicago, and Detroit. Most recently her work was exhibited in the 1st Chicago Architecture Biennial (2015) and the upcoming 16th International Architecture Exhibition in the U.S. Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in collaboration with Kristy Balliet of Balliet Studio and Bair Balliet. Bair is an Assistant Professor of Architecture at University of Illinois at Chicago. She is also co-founder of Possible Mediums, a collaborative of four Midwestern architects and educators interested in shaking up the context and format in which architecture is taught, produced, and engaged.

MAS Context Spring Talks 2016
Photography and Place


Video shot and edited by Matthew Goetz of Lucid Creative Agency.


Panel discussion with Richard Cahan, Karen Irvine, and David Schalliol as part of the MAS Context 2016 Spring Talks in Chicago. The panel discussion about photography and place took place on Thursday, March 24, 2016 at Perkins+Will in their new office at The Wrigley Building.


While explored from different disciplines and points of view, photography and place are aspects closely associated with the work of all three presenters. In each case, photography is used for different goals, from preservation of the built environment to documenting a vanishing community or the relationship between architecture and symbolism.

Author Richard Cahan’s latest book, Richard Nickel Dangerous Years: What He Saw and What He Wrote shares the photographs and writings left behind by the late photographer considered the father of Chicago’s historic preservation movement.

Curator Karen Irvine’s latest exhibition Grace of Intention looks at the links between architecture and photography through the lens of the idea of the monument, and included works by international artists such as Basim Magdy, Iman Issa, and Jan Kempenaers. During the event, Karen also discusses her most recent essay for artists Joachim Brohm and Valentina Seidel on the newly-opened Saint Trinitatis Church in Leipzig designed by the architects Schulz und Schulz.

Sociologist and photographer David Schalliol’s work explores the relationship between urban communities and the built environment, especially on the South Side of Chicago and Northwest Indiana. In addition to his photographic work, David is filming The Area, a feature-length documentary about Chicago’s Englewood community being displaced by the Norfolk Southern’s 47th Street Terminal expansion.


Thanks to graphic designer Larry Mayorga for the teaser film. To see more of his work, please visit:

MAS Context is supported by a grant by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts and by private donations. For information about how to support MAS Context, please visit:






Richard Cahan is an author and co-owner of the Chicago-based publishing company CityFiles Press. He has published several critically acclaimed books, including Edgar Miller and the Handmade Home, Vivian Maier: Out of the Shadows, and most recently Richard Nickel Dangerous Years: What He Saw and What He Wrote. Richard was the director of CITY 2000 and worked as the picture editor at the Chicago Sun-Times.

Karen Irvine is curator and associate director of the Museum of Contemporary Photography (MoCP) at Columbia College Chicago. She has organized over forty five exhibitions of contemporary photography, at the MoCP and other venues including the Hyde Park Art Center; Rockford Art Museum; Lishui International Photography Festival, China; Daegu Photography Biennale, South Korea, and the New York Photo Festival. She has a BA in French and International Relations from Tufts University, Medford, MA, an MFA in photography from FAMU, Prague, Czech Republic, and an MA in art history from the University of Illinois at Chicago. | @MoCP_Chicago

David Schalliol is an assistant professor of sociology at St. Olaf College who explores the transformation of urban centers through hybrid ethnographic, filmic, and photographic projects. His work was recently featured in the Chicago Architecture Biennial, and in 2014 the Japanese publisher Utakatado released his first book, Isolated Building Studies. Schalliol contributed to Highrise: Out My Window, an interactive documentary that won the 2011 International Digital Emmy for Non-Fiction. His current film project, The Area, is about the displacement of more than 400 families by the expansion an intermodal freight terminal. | @metroblossom

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