Mark Jarzombek

MIT/ Office of (UN)certainty Research

The much maligned contractor, and architecture’s history of disciplinary disrespect.

The much maligned contractor, and architecture’s history of disciplinary disrespect

"The much maligned contractor, and architecture’s history of disciplinary disrespect"

Wednesday, October 20, 2021
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
A virtual event, via Zoom

De re aedificatoria, written between 1443 and 1452, is seen as the moment when architecture, in Europe that is, sets itself up as a discipline. But in the Preface, Leon Battista Alberti makes it clear that the contractor (faber) plays no part in a conversation about the discipline. The split between architect and contractor is, of course, still with us today. Since architecture is the only one of the so-called arts that is split along economic and class lines, a fundamental question emerges: What does it mean about the nature of our discipline and how it sees itself?

In this talk, Mark Jarzombek, professor of architectural history and theory at MIT, explores the tension between the architect and the faber, and its disciplinary history tracing it forward even into the work of Mies van der Rohe and other more contemporary architects such as Maki and Associates and OMA.

AIA continuing education credits available (1 LU)


Mark Jarzombek.

Mark Jarzombek, Professor of the History and Theory of Architecture at MIT

Mark Jarzombek works on a wide range of topics – both historical and theoretical. He is one of the country’s leading advocates for global history and has published several books and articles on that topic, including the ground-breaking textbook entitled A Global History of Architecture (Wiley Press, 2006) with co-author Vikramāditya Prakash and with the noted illustrator Francis D.K. Ching. He is the sole author of Architecture of First Societies: A Global Perspective (Wiley Press, 2013), which is a sensitive synthesis of first society architecture through time and includes custom-made drawings, maps and photographs. The book builds on the latest research in archeological and anthropological knowledge while at the same time challenging some of their received perspectives. 

Jarzombek’s ground-breaking work on global architecture history was highlighted by a 2.5 million dollar grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that Jarzombek received with co-PI, Vikramāditya Prakash (University of Washington, Seattle), to create a new scholarly entity called Global Architecture History Teaching Collaborative (GAHTC)

Jarzombek's and Prakash's other joint venture is OUR: Office of (Un)certainty Research, which is dedicated to challenging architecture's epistemological and design capacities to bring the conversation back into a world of immersive ambiguities. Architecture (Un)certainty Lab [A(U)L],  is the research wing of O(U)R.