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David Gissen will present a lecture at 4:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 23, in Ken and Linda Sue Shollmier Hall, Room 250 of Vol Walker Hall, on the U of A campus, as part of the fall lecture series in the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design. 

Gissen is a New York-based author, designer and educator who works in the fields of architecture, landscape, and urban design.

In his lecture, “The Architecture of Disability,” Gissen will outline a few key concepts from his new book, The Architecture of Disability: Buildings, Cities and Landscapes Beyond Access (University of Minnesota Press, 2022). While disability critiques of architecture usually emphasize the need for modification and increased access, The Architecture of Disability calls for a radical reorientation of this perspective by situating experiences of impairment as a new foundation for the built environment.  

Gissen will discuss how the book’s provocative proposal for “the construction of disability” fundamentally reconsiders how people conceive of and experience disability in the world. 

Gissen is professor of architecture and urban history at Parsons School of Design, The New School. He lectures and teaches internationally in the areas of architecture, interior, urban and landscape history, theory and design. Recent lectures include presentations at Princeton University, Yale University, The Museum of Modern Art and The Center for Architecture, New York.

In addition to The Architecture of Disability, he is the author of Subnature: Architecture’s Other Environments (Princeton Architectural Press, 2009) and Manhattan Atmospheres (University of Minnesota Press, 2013). His architectural and design works have been exhibited and published widely — in the Venice Biennale (2016, 2021), Canadian Centre for Architecture, and the Center for Architecture in New York.

Gissen has held several distinguished academic appointments: Dean’s Visiting Professor at the Columbia University, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation (ongoing); Eero Saarinen Visiting Professor of Architecture at Yale University (2019-20); University Professor (2019-20) at the Institute for Art and Architecture, Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna, Austria; and Visiting Professor of Architecture History in the Ph.D. program in the History, Theory, & Criticism of Architecture and Art at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2015).

While on the U of A campus, Gissen will also lead a Together in Diversity and Design workshop from 2-5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 24, in Vol Walker Hall, working with Gabriel Díaz Montemayor, associate professor of landscape architecture and assistant dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the Fay Jones School.   

This workshop will offer participants a speculative design exercise, informed by critical architectural concepts of disability and human impairment. Rather than explore ways to make existing buildings and building types more “accessible,” participants will reimagine the physical forms of buildings in more comprehensive ways. They will reimagine a series of multistory historic and modernist buildings on the Fayetteville campus in a one-story form.  

The Oct. 24 workshop with Gissen is open to all Fay Jones School students. Students interested in participating should send an email to Díaz Montemayor at to add their names to the list of participants and to calculate model making materials. 

Gissen is the school’s fall 2023 Together in Diversity and Design presenter 

The school is pursuing continuing education credits for this lecture through the American Institute of Architects. 

This lecture is free and open to the public. Seating is limited.   

Event Details

  • Aaron McCullough
  • MaryMead Buchanan

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