Physics & Contemporary Art public lecture series returns

April 7, 2021

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 last year 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: Founding principal of Studio Gang, Jeanne Gang, designer of downtown’s Aqua and the UChicago Center in Paris project; Bill Baker, the engineer who designed the tallest structure ever built, the Burj Khalifa; design director of Gensler Chicago, Sasha Zeljic, the architect responsible for the second tallest building ever, Shanghai Tower; Rick Talaske, acoustics consultant and sound system designer for the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park; Ethan Silva, lead fabricator of Amish Kapoor’s steel structure Cloud Gate (“the bean”); Jamie Carpenter, designer of the Midway Crossings light towers and the facade of William Eckhardt Research Center; Erleen Hatfield, visionary designer of complex sports stadiums with retractable roofs, like the Atlanta Falcons Mercedes-Benz Stadium; and David Benjamin, a “biotect” whose firm works with biodegradable materials as unconventional as bricks made with straw and mycelium.  

The 8 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 closed.

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.

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