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“Outside Looking In” Series Continues with University of Houston Architecture Professor

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“Outside Looking In” Series Continues with University of Houston Architecture Pr

Michelangelo Sabatino, Ph.D., associate professor at the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture at the University of Houston, will give a talk February 3 from 12 p.m. to  2 p.m. in the Stuckeman Building jury space. Entitled “Topographies of the Modern: Architectural Environments of Arthur Erickson,” his talk will focus on the evolution of Canadian architect Arthur Erickson. This marks the second lecture of the “Outside Looking In” series.

Sabatino offered the following summary of Erickson’s career trajectory:

“Arthur Erickson’s coming of age as an architect in the mid-1960s coincided with a radical revision of the modernist project in the wake of counter-culture utopianism and widespread access to global frontiers ushered in by jet-age travel and global communication. 

“Through strategic choices of siting (topography) and construction (poured in place and prefabricated reinforced concrete), Erickson grounds his domestic and public architecture in the specificity of place. Yet, his insistence on rethinking and at times subverting conventional approaches to type, ranging from courthouses and museums to the university campus, allows his environments to take part of an architectural renewal and debate of international consequence. By rethinking the relationship between natural and constructed topographies, the role of monumentality in modernist architecture, and the transformative potential of existing types, Erickson develops a practice that propels him to international acclaim in the 1960s and 1970s and that subsequently encounters an eclipse during the 1980s (despite his AIA gold medal) as he negotiates the difficulties of overseeing three offices with an increasingly erratic schedule that leaves little time for creativity or contemplation.”

Sabatino is an architect, critic, and historian whose research and teaching explore the intersection of intellectual history and material culture in the practices of modern to contemporary architecture, design, and urbanism. He trained as an architect and historian at the Universita Iuav di Venezia and the University of Toronto’s Department of Fine Arts. Sabatino is the author of Pride in Modesty: Modernist Architecture and the Vernacular Tradition in Italy (2010) and co-editor of Modern Architecture and the Mediterranean:  Vernacular Dialogues and Contested Identities (2010). Currently, he is working on a book entitled Concrete Utopias: Architectural Environments of Arthur Erickson.

The “Outside Looking In” lecture series was conceived by the Penn State Department of Architecture’s Lecture Committee, which includes Assistant Professor of Architecture Rebecca Henn, Assistant Professor of Architecture Lisa Iulo, and Assistant Professor of Architecture Marcus Shaffer.

Shaffer says the lecture series addresses a significant shift in the industry.

“As the architectural economy that supports conventional architectural practices tanked, we began seeing a lot of interesting work on the periphery that was being produced by people who weren't necessarily calling themselves architects - The New York Times' recent ‘T Magazine’ article on Daniel Arsham is a perfect example. We wanted to take advantage of this period of ‘conceptual expansion’ to invite outsiders, wannabes, hangers-on, and peripheral people in to talk about their take on architecture. Additionally, there are architects who are putting a lot of creative energy into making things that aren't necessarily buildings. If the past is any indication of what we can expect in the present, then we are certain to see a lot of ‘new directions’ in architecture as people look for creative ways to reinvent themselves and the profession.”

Penn State’s H. Campbell and Eleanor R. Stuckeman School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture is a leader in professional design education comprised of an interdisciplinary confederation of strong design disciplines: Architecture, Design, and Landscape Architecture.

For more information, contact Michele Marchetti at