Molly Wright Steenson

Molly Wright Steenson is K&L Gates Associate Professor of Ethics and Computational Technologies at Carnegie Mellon University, where she is also Senior Associate Dean for Research in the College of Fine Arts. She is the author of Architectural Intelligence (MIT Press).

  • Bauhaus Futures

    Laura Forlano, Molly Wright Steenson, and Mike Ananny

    Essays, photo-essays, interviews, manifestos, diagrams, and a play explore the varied legacies, influences, and futures of the Bauhaus.

    What would keep the Bauhaus up at night if it were practicing today? A century after its founding by Walter Gropius in Weimar, Germany, as an “experimental laboratory of the future,” who are the pioneering experimentalists who reinscribe or resist Bauhaus traditions? This book explores the varied legacies, influences, and futures of the Bauhaus.

    Many of the animating issues of the Bauhaus—its integration of research, teaching, and practice; its experimentation with materials; its democratization of design; its open-minded, heterogeneous approach to ideas, theories, methods, and styles—remain relevant. The contributors to Bauhaus Futures address these but go further, considering issues that design has largely ignored for the last hundred years: gender, race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, and disability. Their contributions take the form of essays, photo-essays, interviews, manifestos, diagrams, and even a play. They discuss, among other things, the Bauhaus curriculum and its contemporary offshoots; Bauhaus legacies at the MIT Media Lab, Black Mountain College, and elsewhere; the conflict between the Bauhaus ideal of humanist universalism and current approaches to design concerned with race and justice; designed objects, from the iconic to the precarious; textile and weaving work by women in the Bauhaus and the present day; and design and technology.

    Contributors Alice Arnold, Jeffrey Bardzell, Shaowen Bardzell, Karen Kornblum Berntsen, Marshall Brown, Stuart Candy, Jessica Charlesworth, Elizabeth J. Chin, Taeyoon Choi, B. Coleman, Carl DiSalvo, Michael J. Golec, Kate Hennessy, Matthew Hockenberry, Joi Ito, Denisa Kera, N. Adriana Knouf, Silvia Lindtner, Shannon Mattern, Ramia Mazé, V. Mitch McEwen, Oliver Neumann, Paul Pangaro, Tim Parsons, Nassim Parvin, Joanne Pouzenc, Luiza Prado de O. Martin, Daniela K. Rosner, Natalie Saltiel, Trudi Lynn Smith, Carol Strohecker, Alex Taylor, Martin Thaler, Fred Turner, Andre Uhl, Jeff Watson, Robert Wiesenberger

    • Hardcover $35.00 £28.00
  • Architectural Intelligence

    Architectural Intelligence

    How Designers and Architects Created the Digital Landscape

    Molly Wright Steenson

    Architects who engaged with cybernetics, artificial intelligence, and other technologies poured the foundation for digital interactivity.

    In Architectural Intelligence, Molly Wright Steenson explores the work of four architects in the 1960s and 1970s who incorporated elements of interactivity into their work. Christopher Alexander, Richard Saul Wurman, Cedric Price, and Nicholas Negroponte and the MIT Architecture Machine Group all incorporated technologies—including cybernetics and artificial intelligence—into their work and influenced digital design practices from the late 1980s to the present day.

    Alexander, long before his famous 1977 book A Pattern Language, used computation and structure to visualize design problems; Wurman popularized the notion of “information architecture”; Price designed some of the first intelligent buildings; and Negroponte experimented with the ways people experience artificial intelligence, even at architectural scale. Steenson investigates how these architects pushed the boundaries of architecture—and how their technological experiments pushed the boundaries of technology. What did computational, cybernetic, and artificial intelligence researchers have to gain by engaging with architects and architectural problems? And what was this new space that emerged within these collaborations? At times, Steenson writes, the architects in this book characterized themselves as anti-architects and their work as anti-architecture. The projects Steenson examines mostly did not result in constructed buildings, but rather in design processes and tools, computer programs, interfaces, digital environments. Alexander, Wurman, Price, and Negroponte laid the foundation for many of our contemporary interactive practices, from information architecture to interaction design, from machine learning to smart cities.

    • Hardcover $34.95 £27.00