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Zachary Tate Porter: Cuts and Fills: Constructing a Discourse on Ground

The Steps
November 11, 2016 at 7:00pm

How have architects conceived of the relationship between building and ground? Why are some structures embedded within the earth, while others float above? Should contemporary architects strive for continuity with the surrounding landscape or emphasize the discreteness of architectural form? What ideological frameworks underlie these various approaches? This lecture will trace these questions and others through a discussion of four distinct activities—teaching, curating, designing, and writing—undertaken at SCI-Arc during a yearlong fellowship. Weaving together these diverse pursuits, Porter will demonstrate a multimodal approach to architectural scholarship and speculation. Much like a topographic landscape, the discourse on ground has its own peaks, valleys, and craters. Porter’s research engages this theoretical landscape in order to produce a vocabulary for articulating contemporary positions on the relationship between building and ground.

Zachary Tate Porter headshot

Zachary Tate Porter is an educator, designer, and historian based in Los Angeles. His research focuses primarily on the relationship between building and ground within modern and contemporary architecture. Porter’s PhD dissertation, “Shifting Grounds of Architectural Practice: Boundary Conditions and Field Formations in the U.S. Design Professions,” analyzes the ways in which professional jurisdiction shaped conceptions of landscape and site within American architectural practice during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As the 2015 - 2016 Design of Theory Fellow at SCI-Arc, Porter edited the school’s online journal, Offramp. His work has been featured in gallery exhibitions, art magazines, and online publications, such as Draftery and Better Magazine. Porter currently teaches within the School of Architecture at the University of Southern California.