Case #1: A Debate Between the Architects, Critics and Users

Sat 2 April 2011 3-5pm

A debate, moderated by Joseph Bedford, between John McKean, Alan Berman and Alan Ponter, on the role of Stirling and Gowan's Leicester Engineering Building. The debate will explore the central theme of the current exhibition at The Architecture Foundation, More Than > A Building? Architecture on Trial, asking provocative questions about the conflict between three different understandings of architecture – architecture as an object of design, an object of criticism or an object of everyday use. In doing so, the debate will aim to explore deeper architectural problems: tensions between the way a building should function locally and the ways that it may be formed for a global media audience; tensions between the art of high design and its legacies, and the promise or hope for popular or universal legibility; and tensions between the different attitudes in architectural culture between the international culture in which James Stirling achieved global success and the British culture in which James Gowan continued a strong, but less recognised, career as an architect and teacher.

The debate will be held in the central event space of the exhibition, in an intimate forum aimed at encouraging strong participation.

Joseph Bedford
Joseph Bedford trained as an architect at Cambridge University, The Cooper Union, and Princeton University. He has been a Rome scholar at the British School in Rome and is currently completing his PhD at Princeton University in postwar Architectural History. He is the curator/editor of the exhibition and book, More Than > A Building? Architecture on Trial.

John McKean
John McKean is an Independent Scholar, and former lecturer in the history and criticism of architecture at Brighton University. He is the author of the first monograph on the Leicester Engineering Department Building, written for Phaidon's 'Architecture in Detail' Series. His recent book is Giancarlo De Carlo - Layered Places.

Alan Berman
Alan Berman is a director of Berman Guedes Stretton. He has recently published Jim Stirling and the Red Trilogy: Three Radical Buildings, which assesses the legacy of the Leicester Engineering Building in the context of the series in which it was built, along with the Cambridge History faculty and the Florey Building.

Alan Ponter
Alan Ponter is Emeritus Professor at Leicester University Department of engineering and co-director of the Mechanics of Materials Research group at Leicester University. He first came to the department in 1964, and has been a professor there since 1978, and vice-chancellor of the University, from 1987 to 1997.