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We live in a time that recommends achieving personal growth through the having of rewarding experiences. Among those experiences, architects hope, are experiences of wonderful buildings. Benedikt argues that this experientialism (as he calls it) turns architecture into a form of entertainment, or a facilitator thereof, rather than what it could and should be, which is not, alternatively, a gateway to heavenly serenity, but rather, an exemplar and facilitator of non-instrumental, second-person, I-You relationships between people, animals, rooms, and things.
After looking to the philosopher Martin Buber and the neuroscientist Michael Graziano to help build the foundations of what he calls relationism, Benedikt will show examples of relational thinking in modern painting and photography, in the life and work of Le Corbusier, Louis Kahn, and Frank Gehry, and—by way of providing tools for further thought—his own research with animation, isovists, the “order of shoulders,” and the “fabric of glances.”
Michael Benedikt is the Director of the Center for American Architecture and Design (CAAD) at the University of Texas at Austin, where he holds the Hal Box Chair in Urbanism and teaches design studio and architectural theory. He is a graduate of the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa and of Yale University.