November 5, 2013



Let me tell you a wonderful, old joke from Communist times. A guy was sent from East Germany to work in Siberia. He knew his mail would be read by censors, so he told his friends: “Let’s establish a code. If a letter you get from me is written in blue ink, it is true what I say. If it is written in red ink, it is false.” After a month, his friends get the first letter. Everything is in blue. It says, this letter: “Everything is wonderful here. Stores are full of good food. Movie theatres show good films from the west. Apartments are large and luxurious. The only thing you cannot buy is red ink.” This is how we live. We have all the freedoms we want. But what we are missing is red ink: the language to articulate our non-freedom. The way we are taught to speak about freedom— war on terror and so on—falsifies freedom. And this is what you are doing here. You are giving all of us red ink.   – Slavoj Žižek,  Sept 17, 2010, Liberty Square, New York


Over the last few decades, capitalism has entered every single aspect of culture. If we fantasized about postmodernism being the end of capitalism in its lateness, it seems that today, on the contrary, capitalism is as agile as ever. As Žižek  argues in his joke about the Red Ink, we do not have the tools to start imagining alternatives. 


Faced with this impossibility, on the occasion of the book launch of Architecture and Capitalism edited by Peggy Deamer Storefront presented a forum where some of the book contributors and other leading figures in the discourse around politics, economy, architecture and the city presented and discussed some historical and contemporary references on how alternatives have been articulated in the past and how we might be able to articulate them today. 

Participants included Thomas Angotti, Peggy Deamer,  Quilian Riano and Michael Sorkin, among others. 






About the book

Architecture and Capitalism: 1845 to the Present

Edited by Peggy Deamer


“Architecture and Capitalism tells a story of the relationship between the economy and

architectural design. Eleven historians each discuss in brand new essays the time

period they know best, looking at cultural and economic issues, which in light

of current economic crises you will find have dealt with diverse but surprisingly

familiar economic issues. Told through case studies, the narrative begins in the

mid-nineteenth century and ends with 2011, with introductions by editor Peggy

Deamer to pull the main themes together so that you can see how other architects

in different times and in different countries have dealt with similar economic

conditions. By focusing on what previous architects experienced, you have the

opportunity to avoid repeating the past.”


With new essays by Pier Vittorio Aureli, Ellen Dunham-Jones, Keller

Easterling, Lauren Kogod, Robert Hewison, Joanna Merwood-Salisbury, Robin

Schuldenfrei, Deborah Gans, Simon Sadler, Nathan Rich, and Michael Sorkin.”


Peggy Deamer is a professor of architecture at Yale University, New Haven, USA.


Publisher: Routledge, New York

English, 2013, 

Paperback: $40


Hardback: $150.00

ISBN: 978-0-415-53487-1






Quotes from the book

 There’s certainly a conspiracy to make habitation and haberdashery

commutative and we must take care not to let the Man camouflage

us from ourselves by dappling us with art-for-art bromides and celebrity,

studding our skulls with diamonds. Nor should we surrender to our own

side’s dour, paternalist theories (so often produced between sips of Sancerre

as if the way we live our lives is just incidental) and simply assume that all

iconoclasm is just another strategy of bourgeois repression. Call it negation

if you insist. We cross the bridge of irony or cynicism at some risk: who

wants a joyless revolution?”   M. Sorkin. 


About the participants 


Tom Angotti is Professor of Urban Affairs and Planning at Hunter College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York, and Director of the Hunter College Center for Community Planning & Development (CCPD). His recent book, New York For Sale: Community Planning Confronts Global Real Estate (MIT Press, 2008) won the Paul Davidoff Award in 2009 and International Planning History Society Book Prize in 2010. New Village Press recently published Service-Learning in Design and Planning: At the Boundaries, which he co-edited with Cheryl Doble and Paula Horrigan. The New Century of the Metropolis: Enclave Development and Urban Orientalism was published by Routledge in 2012. His other books include Metropolis 2000: Planning Poverty and Politics, Housing in Italy and a book of short stories, Accidental Warriors. Through the CCPD and in collaboration with others, Tom has completed studies on New York City’s PlaNYC2030, Wal-Mart, NYU’s expansion plan, Fresh Direct, and Atlantic Yards. He has collaborated on many community-based plans and written about community land trusts. He is founder and co-editor of Progressive Planning Magazine, and Participating Editor for the journals Latin American Perspectives and Local Environment. He is a Fellow at the American Academy in Rome and served as Fulbright Specialist in India, Italy and Vietnam. Tom previously served as a senior planner with the City of New York and Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Peru. 


Peggy Deamer is the Assistant Dean and Professor at Yale School of Architecture. Deamer is a principal in the firm of Deamer Architects. Projects by her and her former firm, Deamer + Phillips, have been featured in various publications including Architecture, Architectural Record, Vogue, and the New York Times. Articles by Ms. Deamer have appeared in Assemblage, Praxis, Perspecta, Harvard Design Magazine, and other journals and anthologies.. Her seminar and advanced studio of 2000–2001 were the subjects of The Millennium House, published by Monacelli Press in 2004. She was the co-editor of Re-Reading Perspecta and the forthcoming Building (in) the Future: Recasting Labor in Architecture. Her theory work analyzes the relationship among architectural labor, craft, and subjectivity.


Cindi Katz  is Professor of Geography in Environmental Psychology and Women’s Studies at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Her work concerns social reproduction and the production of space, place and nature; children and the environment, and the consequences of global economic restructuring for everyday life. She has published widely on these themes as well as on social theory and the politics of knowledge in edited collections and in journals such as Society and Space, Social Text, Signs, Feminist Studies, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Social Justice, and Antipode. She is the editor (with Janice Monk) of Full Circles: Geographies of Gender over the Life Course (Routledge 1993) and of Life’s Work: Geographies of Social Reproduction (with Sallie Marston and Katharyne Mitchell) (Blackwell 2004). She recently completed Growing up Global: Economic Restructuring and Children’s Everyday Lives with University of Minnesota Press in 2004. Katz held a fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, and she continues to work on the project she began there concerning the shifting geographies of late twentieth century US childhood. 


Quilian Riano is the founder and principal of DSGN AGNC, a collaborative design/research studio exploring political engagement through architecture, urbanism, art & activism. DSGN AGNC’s work has been featured at the Venice Biennale, Harvard University, Cornell University, New York’s Center for Architecture, The Van Alen Institute, Parsons The Newschool for Design, The Queens Museum of Art, The Austrian Cultural Forum, Boston Society of Architects, etc. Quilian holds a Masters of Architecture from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design and currently teaches design studio at Parsons, The New School for Design and Pratt Institute of Technology. In practice and academia, Quilian works with community groups and trans-disciplinary teams to create comprehensive research that can be used to propose a variety of targeted policies, actions and designs at various scales — from pamphlets to architectures to landscapes.

Michael Sorkin is the principal of the Michael Sorkin Studio in New York City, a design practice devoted to both practical and theoretical projects at all scales with a special interest in the city. Recent projects include masterplanning in Hamburg and Schwerin, Germany, planning for a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem, campus planning at the University of Chicago, and studies of the Manhattan waterfront and Arverne, Queens. The studio is the recipient of a variety of awards, including three I.D. Awards and a Progressive Architecture Award. Sorkin is the Director of the Graduate Urban Design Program at the City College of New York. From 1993 to 2000 he was Professor of Urbanism and Director of the Institute of Urbanism at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. Previously, Sorkin has been professor at numerous schools of architecture including Cooper Union (for ten years), Columbia, Yale (holding both Davenport and Bishop Chairs), Harvard, Cornell (Gensler Chair), Nebraska (Hyde Chair), Illinois, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Minnesota. Sorkin lectures widely and is the author of many articles in a wide range of both professional and general publications and is currently contributing editor at Architectural Record and Metropolis. For ten years, he was the architecture critic of The Village Voice. His books include Variations on A Theme Park, Exquisite Corpse, Local Code, Giving Ground (edited with Joan Copjec), Wiggle (a monograph of the studio’s work), Some Assembly Required, Other Plans, The Next Jerusalem, and After The Trade Center (edited with Sharon Zukin). Forthcoming are Weed, AZ. and Work On The City, among others. Michael Sorkin was born in Washington, D.C. and received his architectural training at Harvard and MIT.