K. Michael Hays and Andrew Holder Exhibition Lecture: “Architecture Before Speech: A Conversation”

Mack Scogin Merrill Elam - Wolfsburg Science Center (1999)

Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects, Wolfsburg Science Center, 1999

Please join us for a evening with K. Michael Hays, Eliot Noyes Professor of Architectural Theory, and Andrew Holder, Assistant Professor of Architecture, as they discuss their exhibition, Inscriptions: Architecture Before Speech (Druker Design Gallery, January 22 – March 11, 2018).

If recent theory has highlighted architecture’s turn to evident resemblance and signification, we argue this tendency has also produced its other: The landscape of contemporary practice is filled with work whose motivating interests are anterior to meaning and averse to thematization; they are, in a way, pre-speech. Projects in this mode are born of the original human postulate to claim a place in the world, to confirm having been there, to make and mark a difference. “Inscriptions” is a broad survey of work that problematizes, resists, and exceeds signification by appealing to other kinds of cultural engagements, agreements, and fantasies of architecture’s origins. Important projects by Harvard University Graduate School of Design faculty spanning more than 35 years of practice are interspersed as conceptual keystones among works from emerging architects across the American academy, offering a theory of the structural relationships that bind and organize even the apparent delirium of the contemporary field.


A reception for the exhibition will take place in the Druker Design Gallery immediately following the lecture.


List of Participating Practices in the Exhibition:

Ajay Manthripragada

Alex Maymind

Ania Jaworska


Besler & Sons

Bittertang Farm

Bureau Spectacular

Central Standard Office of Design

Christ & Gantenbein


Curtis Roth



Design with Company

Ellie Abrons

Endemic Architecture

Ensamble Studio

Erin Besler


Farshid Moussavi Architecture

Farzin Farzin

Filip Tejchman

First Office



Gabriel Fries-Briggs

Höweler + Yoon

Hume Coover Studio


Jesús Vassallo

Johnston Marklee


Kiel Moe

Kyle Miller


Laida Aguirre


Machado Silvetti

Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects


Medium Office

Meredith Miller and Thom Moran

Michelle JaJa Chang


Mira Henry

Mircea Eni of Small Office



New Affiliates

Norman Kelley

Office KGDVS

Outpost Office

PARA Project

Paul Preissner Architects

Pezo von Ellrichshausen

Preston Scott Cohen



Sean Canty

SIFT Studio



Studio PM



The Open Workshop

Toshiko Mori Architect


Volkan Alkanoglu | DESIGN


Young & Ayata





K. Michael Hays is Eliot Noyes Professor of Architectural Theory at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, as well as Interim Chair for the Department of Architecture. Hays joined the Faculty of Design in 1988, teaching courses in architectural history and theory. Hays has played a central role in the development of the field of architectural theory and his work is internationally known. His research and scholarship have focused on the areas of European modernism and critical theory as well as on theoretical issues in contemporary architectural practice. He has published on the work of modern architects such as Hannes Meyer, Ludwig Hilberseimer, and Mies van der Rohe, as well as on contemporary figures such as Peter Eisenman, Bernard Tschumi, and the late John Hejduk. Hays was the founder of the scholarly journal Assemblage, which was a leading forum of discussion of architectural theory in North America and Europe. From 1995 to 2005 he was Chair of the PhD Committee and Director of the GSD’s Advanced Independent Study Programs. In 2000 he was appointed the first Adjunct Curator of Architecture at the Whitney Museum of American Art, a position he held until 2009. Hays received the Bachelor of Architecture degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1976. From MIT he received the Master of Architecture degree in Advanced Studies in 1979, and the Doctor of Philosophy in the History, Theory, and Criticism of Architecture and Art in 1990.

Andrew Holder is an educator, occasional author, and co-Principal of the The LADG. His research interests include the construction of architecture as an inanimate subject as well as novel methods of engaging historical precedent and the production of complex form in a post-digital discipline. Andrew’s recent work has been published in Young Architects 16, LogPidgin, and Project. He is a frequent lecturer and guest critic at institutions across the United States and has held teaching appointments at the University of Michigan, the University of Queensland, the University of California, Los Angeles, Sci-Arc, and Otis College of Art and design.  His design work has received numerous awards including the 2014 League Prize from the Architectural League of New York, multiple citations from the American Institute of Architects Los Angeles Chapter, and the Boston Society of Architects Unbuilt Architecture award. Andrew is a Harry S. Truman Scholar, an Oberdick Fellow at the University of Michigan, and a Robert B. Pamplin Jr. Fellow at Lewis & Clark College. He received a Master of Architecture with distinction from the University of California, Los Angeles and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Lewis & Clark College.

Anyone requiring accessibility accommodations should contact the Public Programs Office at (617) 496-2414 or [email protected].