February 1, 2012 


A Productive Disagreement between Barry Bergdoll and Leonardo Diaz Borioli addressed the definition of the contemporary figure of the architect and his/her spaces and scales of thought and action and how
 institutions and current projects contribute to the construction of this profile.

Storefront’s Productive Disagreement Series: ? Scale Big Change  discussed a variety of viewpoints from institutional and practice based perspectives including the idea of the socially responsible architect highlighted in the 2010 MoMA  exhibition  Small Scale Big Change: New Architectures of Social Engagement   curated by Andres Lepik and the depiction of other contemporary figures of the architect presented by  Leonardo Díaz-Borioli based on first-hand experience of current projects occurring  in Mexico.

In the Small Scale Big Change catalogue, Barry Bergdoll points out a genealogy between “critiques of orthodox modernism of the 1970s” and the “collaborative attitude” shared by the architects included in the show. In the late 1960s, when MoMA highlighted the discipline’s autonomy through presentations of the individual architect with artistic merits, MoMA’s curator Arthur Drexler was warning the profession about the discipline being prey to the “effete mannerisms of proletarian snobbery” and MoMA curator Emilio Ambasz believed that students of architecture thought that problems “had to be first solved from a sociological point of view. But in all truth, they made bad sociology and even worse architecture…”


Parallel to the work of MoMA favored architects, the discipline continued to engage with socially-oriented projects. However, developmental policies have been long criticized on geopolitical grounds and recent scholarship points out how modern architecture had a far more permanent and vital role to play in the post-war era in the making of the Third World through expert architects shaping the policies towards the developing world.  But how does today’s figure of the architect relate to such history and how are the different models and scales of practice presented today?

About the participants

Barry Bergdoll

Barry Bergdoll is the Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art and professor of modern architectural history at Columbia University. Holding a B.A. from Columbia, an M.A. from King’s College, Cambridge, and a Ph.D. from Columbia, his broad interests center on modern architectural history with a particular emphasis on France and Germany since 1800.


Bergdoll has organized, curated, and consulted on many landmark exhibitions of 19th- and 20th-century architecture including “Home Delivery: Fabricating the Modern Dwelling” at MoMA (2008); “Lost Vanguard: Soviet Modernist Architecture, 1922-32” at MoMA (2007); “Mies in Berlin” at MoMA (2001), with Terence Riley; “Breuer in Minnesota” at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (2002); “Les Vaudoyer: Une Dynastie d’Architectes at the Musée D’Orsay, Paris (1991); and “Ste. Geneviève/Pantheon; Symbol of Revolutions,” at the Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal (1989).


He is author or editor of numerous publications including, Mies in Berlin (winner of the 2002 Philip Johnson Award of the Society of Architectural Historians and AICA Best Exhibition Award, 2002); Karl Friedrich Schinkel: An Architecture for Prussia (1994), winner of the AIA Book Award in 1995; and Lẻon Veudoyer: Historicism in the Age of Industry (1994); and European Architecture 1750-1890, in the Oxford History of Art series. An edited volume, Fragments: Architecture and the Unfinished, was recently published by Thames and Hudson (London, 2006). He served as President of the Society of Architectural Historians from 2006 to 2008.


Leonardo Diaz-Borioli

Leonardo Díaz-Borioli is the Creative Director of Estudio 3.14, an international design firm based in Guadalajara, México, and professor of Design Studio and Architectural History at the Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey. Holding a B.Arch from the Instituto Tecnológico de Estudios Superiores de Occidente , a SMArchS in History Theory and Criticism of architecture from the M.I.T., and currently an ABD PhD at Princeton University. His academic interests center on modern architectural history of Latin America with an emphasis on the discipline’s focus in subjectivity.

Díaz-Borioli has organized and curated exhibitions in Mexico about urban topics, and steers an award winning and internationally published design practice whose projects range from private homes to large scale public projects and urban and landscape design. He is also a consultant to local governments in México. His publications range from newspaper architecture criticism to scholarly pieces published in Turkey, Europe, and the Americas that mainly focus on the creation of the figure of Luis Barragán throughout the twentieth century.



The Productive Disagreements Series is part of Storefront’s programming for the development of conversations between ideologically opposed institutions, critics, artist or architects reflecting on contemporary issues around the globe. The events avoid compromise and agreement as a methodology of dialogical exchange, promoting confrontation and dialogue in order to generate a responsive audience and increase participation obtaining a multiplicity of viewpoints and strategies.