The idea of a digital venue for conversations on architecture, the built environment, and space was first broached at Architectural History Redefined, a conference hosted to honor the scholarship of Dell Upton at the Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture, the City College of New York (CCNY), on April 13-14, 2018. The conference, spearheaded by Marta Gutman, brought together Upton’s former and current students and colleagues with students and faculty at CCNY and scholars from other institutions in the New York metropolitan area. The format of the panels, comprising 5-minute presentations followed by discussion, produced engaged discussions on a range of topics including design and pedagogy, the history of colonialism and racism, teaching in the classroom, in national parks, and in the prison, and architecture and cities as public culture.
At the concluding roundtable of the conference, Mary McLeod suggested that this critical conversation should be shared with a larger public. Taking this idea on board, the following week, at the Society of Architectural Historians annual conference, Swati Chattopadhyay, Marta Gutman, Zeynep Kezer, and Jeremy White met to discuss plans and possibilities. These initial conversations grew into a more coherent scheme with the participation of William Littmann and Matthew Lasner, and supported by peers who reviewed the proposal and shared their views. Our goal is not to replicate the format of an academic journal, but offer an alternative venue for timely, rigorous and relevant conversation on the role of the built environment and space, broadly constituted.
We thank the planning committee of the April symposium, the participants, and colleagues across the world for their advice and encouragement.
PLATFORM also thanks the many others who helped shape the project, from sharing their thoughts on early proposals to assisting with web programming, including Marcos Gasc, William Littmann, Jeremy White, Miranda Pearce, Alex Cummings (of Tropics of Meta), Meredith TenHoor (of Aggregate), Nancy Levinson (of Places), Avigail Oren (of The Metropole), Laura Wolf-Powers (of Metropolitics), Renee Chow, Max Hirsh, Tania Sengupta, Abby Smith Rumsey, and Katie Lloyd Thomas.