May 17th 2022

Mass Housing in Europe, U.S. Shape Local Social and Economic Narrative

The symposium “Housing Blocs: Ordinary Modernism Across the Atlantic” is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, May 20–21, in S. R. Crown Hall. The event will bring a group of national and international speakers to Mies Campus to examine how mass housing, from construction to habitation, compares between the United States and Europe.

The symposium will expand on previous research done on housing behind the Iron Curtain of the Cold War era. The research examines the specific material practices of mass housing production, maintenance, and disposition. The symposium builds from a workshop in October 2021 in Belgrade that positioned inquiry around the mass housing architectures of the U.S. and Yugoslavia, with a specific focus on how contemporary political and social valuation has impacted both conservation of sites and historical scholarship.

As part of Friday evening’s opening reception, guests are invited to visit an exhibit, Building Books, about G. E. Kidder Smith, an architect and photographer who published 15 books during his career starting in 1943. The exhibit is located in Crown Hall in the Graham Research Center on the lower level, and explores the tools that Kidder Smith used to produce visually engaging and researched books. Refreshments will be served.

A full schedule of lectures and events for the symposium can be found here.

A full schedule of three Kidder Smith exhibitions opening in Chicago this week can be found here.