Physics & Contemporary Architecture public lecture series returns

April 6, 2022

Clockwise: Chicago Pedestrian Bridges; Shanghai Tower; Digital Structures from MIT; Urban/Landscape Innovations in Singapore

A top flight of architects and structural engineers will present public lectures on some of the most innovative work being done in contemporary structural design as part of a unique physics undergraduate course offered this Spring Quarter at the University of Chicago. 

Sidney Nagel
Stein-Freiler Distinguished Service Professor Sid Nagel

Enrolled undergraduate students, as well as the interested public, can join online for free Thursdays at 5:30 p.m. CST to hear from experts about the marriage of physics and architecture, exploring topics such as acoustics, bridge spans, and the usefulness of living materials.

Physics & Contemporary Architecture (PHSC11800) is a continuation of a course launched two years ago by a pair of physics professors, Stein-Freiler Distinguished Service Professor Sid Nagel and Sewell Avery Distinguished Service Professor Heinrich Jaeger.

With help from the College Curricular Innovation Fund, Nagel and Jaeger conceived of a class that fulfills part of the Physical Sciences Core requirement to engender non-scientists with the ability to understand and assess our understanding of the physical world. Nagel and Jaeger invited experts who could discuss the scientific phenomena behind popular structures.

“It was a real treat to hear about forefront concepts in contemporary architecture and architectural engineering from leading practitioners in their fields,” said Professor Jaeger. This year’s world-class roster of experts is equally exciting.

Heinrich Jaeger
Sewell Avery Distinguished Service Professor Heinrich Jaeger

Highlights include: Caitlin Mueller, Digital Structures, MIT, on "Contemporary Physics for Architectural Design"; Chad Kraus, Dirt Works Studio, on "Tectonics for Earth Architecture"; David Benjamin, The Living, on "Living Materials"; Aleksandar Sasha Zeljic, Gensler, on "Shanghai Tower: Mega-Tall Structures"; Toby Mitchell, SOM, on "Strength from Shape: Shell Structures"; Stefaan Lambreghts, Grant Associates, on "Urban/Landscape Innovations in Singapore"; John Clark, Cordogan Clark, on "Designing the 41st & 43rd St. Chicago Pedestrian Bridges"; Xavier De Kestellier, Hassell, on "Adventures of an Interplanetary Architect"; and Moshe Safdie, Safdie Architects, on a forthcoming topic.

The 9 public lectures of PHSC11800 Physics & Contemporary Architecture at the University of Chicago are open to anyone interested. All lectures take place on Thursdays at 5:30PM CST and they will be presented online as live video conferences.

Registration is now open.

Read the full schedule and guest lecturer biographies.

This lecture series is supported by the College Curricular Innovation Fund and organized in cooperation with the Art, Science + Culture Initiative at The University of Chicago.

View the course poster.

Links to recorded lectures

4-7-22    Caitlin Mueller (MIT):  Computational Physics for Architectural Design

4-14-22  Chad Kraus (Dirt Works Studio): Tectonics of Earth Architecture

4-21-22  David Benjamin (The Living): Living Materials

4-28-22  Aleksandar Sasha Zeljic (Gensler): Shanghai Tower: The Design of Mega-Tall Structures

5-5-22    Toby Mitchell (Skidmore, Owings & Merrill): Strength From Shape:  Shell Structures in Architecture and Engineering

5-12-22  Stefaan Lambreghts (Grant Associates): Urban/Landscape Innovations in Singapore

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