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Architecture, Labour, Capitalism: the architect as worker

A public lecture by Professor Peggy Deamer, Associate Dean, Yale School of Architecture.

PDeamer“Architecture is not a career; it is a calling!”

This lecture examined the problems for the architectural profession when it heeds this cry. Because we too often believe that architecture is a gift to society and concern for money and power an aberration of our métier, we not only fail to properly value our work, we also fail to communicate its proper worth to the population at large. The consequence  - ironically, since we think our gifts are so precious - is a perceived irrelevance and an emasculated value-proposition.

Believing that part of the reason for this is a lack of in-depth examination of the economic nature of architectural work – indeed, our failure to believe that we even DO work - Peggy Deamer traced various work models–creative, professional, knowledge-based, service-based or productive – that can progress our understanding of and advocacy for designers’ work.

This talk was drawn from three books edited by Professor Deamer: Building (in) the Future: Recasting Architectural Labor; Architecture and Capitalism: 1845-the Present; and The Architect as Worker: Immaterial Labor, the Creative Class, and the Politics of Design.

Peggy Deamer is Professor and Associate Dean of the Yale School of Architecture and the former Assistant Dean of Yale University. She is also the principal in the firm Deamer Architects. Her projects with her former firm, Deamer + Phillips, have been featured in various publications including Vogue and The New York Times. She has published over thirty book chapters and articles in journals such as Assemblage, Praxis, Perspecta, Harvard Design Magazine, Log, and edited six books. 

Recently, the focus of Professor Deamer’s work has been the relationship between architectural labor, craft, and subjectivity. She is one of the most prominent thinkers engaged with new technologies that change architectural representation such as parametric modeling and in particular Building Information Modeling (BIM). She approaches this and similar topics from a contemporary Marxist-feminist perspective. Professor Deamer’s work as a theorist of architecture translates into her work as an activist – founder of the Architecture Lobby, an organization advocating for the value of architectural labor, and a protagonist of Parlour, the project dedicated to promoting equity for women in the architectural profession.

Peggy Deamer is a 2016 Institute of Advanced Studies Short Stay Visiting Fellow.