Cattedra Borromini to Barry Bergdoll


Institutional Communication Service

15 November 2018

The series of public lectures of Cattedra Borromini 2018/19 “Immovable paradoxes:architecture on display since 1750” will kick off on Thursday, November 22. The conferences will be held by Barry Bergdoll, renowned Art and Architecture Historian, and currently holder of Cattedra Borromini 2018-19.

The first public conference “Architecture and public debate” will be held on Thursday, November 22 at 7pm in the Auditorium of USI Teatro dell’Architettura, on Mendrisio campus. The lecture will trace the use of the exhibition as a means of engendering, or channeling and emergence sense of public opinion about matter of taste, urban form, and public policy from some of the earliest of the earliest displays of architectural competitions, notably for the design of a new City Hall in Dublin in the 1760s, through the relationship of exhibition to Revolution in the 1790s to the Soviet Union in the decade after 1917, to recent uses, notably in the wake of the September 11th attacks in New York in 2001.

The other public lectures by Barry Bergdoll within the programme of Cattedra Borromini will be “Style on the world stage” (Thursday, November 29, 7 pm Auditorium, Teatro dell’architettura Mendrisio), “The architectural avant-garde and the techniques of display” (Thursday, March 14, Room A11, Lugano campus), “The architecture exhibition in the 21st century: between spectacle and activism” (Thursday, April 4, 7 pm Auditorium, Teatro dell’architettura Mendrisio). For more information on the lectures:


The series “Immovable paradoxes: architecture on display since 1750”

As the institution and the practices of the modern museum and art gallery evolved from the mid-18th century, slowly a culture of exhibiting architecture also developed. As is well known from the first architecture differed from the other arts in that to exhibit it was to work with representations, either of an existing building or of a future one. Paintings and sculptures often might be moved from place to place in many cases, and rapidly the practices of the fine arts developed in symbiosis with the rising culture of the museum. But architecture was less obviously adept to new cultures, institutions and practices of display. Yet, paradoxically, once architects found their way onto the walls of the Salon in Paris, the Royal Academy in London, and other places of artistic display, sociability, and criticism, a culture of architectural exhibition took hold. The series of four lectures will look at the key aspects of this new practice in four different initiatory moments, and in four different settings, each creating a new possibility for architecture. Common to all practices is the idea, frequently, of the display away from the actual site of construction in a new context which adds meaning, tensions, and possibilities for architecture.


Barry Bergdoll

Barry Bergdoll is Meyer Schapiro Professor of Art History at Columbia University, and one of the curators of the Department of Architecture and Design at MoMA, New York, where from 2007 to 2013 he worked as The Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design. He organised and curated at MoMA several important architecture exhibitions on the 19th and 20th century, to name a few: "Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: Unpacking the Archive" (2017), "Latin America in Construction: Architecture 1955-1980" (2015) e "Henri Labrouste: Structure Brought to Light" (2013). He is the author and publisher of numerous publications such as Latin America in Construction: Architecture 1955-1980 (with Carlos Eduardo Comas, Jorge Francisco Liernur and Patricio del Real, 2015); Henri Labrouste: Structure Brought to Light (with Corinne Bélier and Marc Le Coeur, 2012); Bauhaus 1919-1933: Workshops for Modernity (with Leah Dickerman, 2010); Home Delivery: Fabricating the Modern Dwelling (2008); Mies in Berlin (2001); Karl Friedrich Schinkel: An Architecture for Prussia (1994); Léon Vaudoyer: Historicism in the Age of Industry (1994); and European Architecture 1750-1890, in the Oxford History of Art series (2001). He served as President of the Society of Architectural Historians from 2006 to 2008, Slade Professor of Fine Art at University of Cambridge during the fall semester 2011, and in 2013 he held the 62th A.W. Mellon Lectures in Fine Arts at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. He is member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and of the Royal Institute of British Architects. Cattedra Borromini 2018/2019, Accademia di architettura, Università della Svizzera italiana.


Cattedra Borromini

With the establishment of the Cattedra Borromini, an annual high-level guest professorship in the humanities (to be conferred once every two or three years, starting in the academic year of 2012-2013), Università della Svizzera italiana, the Mendrisio Academy of Architecture and its Institute for the History and Theory of Art and Architecture – ISA wish to underline its commitment to the humanities in their widest sense in relation to the integral part they have played and continue to play in artistic and architectural creation. The Cattedra Borromini consistes of a series of lectures held at USI Academy of Architecture, and a series of public conferences on a specific theme. Previous Chairs of the Cattedra Borromini were: philosopher Giorgio Agamben (2012/13), Art Historian Salvatore Settis (2014/15), and Architecture Historian Jean-Louis Cohen (2016/17).