CriticalMASS 2021 will take place April 9. The Distinguished Visiting Critic is Perry Kulper. Perry Kulper is an architect and an associate professor of architecture at the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. He previously taught for 17 years at the Southern California Institute of Architecture in Los Angeles and held visiting teaching positions at the University of Pennsylvania and Arizona State University. Subsequent to his graduate studies at Columbia University, he worked for Eisenman/ Robertson; Robert A.M. Stern Architects; and Venturi, Rauch, and Scott Brown Architects before moving to Los Angeles. Kulper’s interests include the generative potential of architectural drawing, the different spatial opportunities of diverse design methods, and broadening the conceptual range by which architecture contributes to our cultural imagination. In 2013, he published Pamphlet Architecture 34, Fathoming the Unfathomable: Archival Ghosts and Paradoxical Shadows with Nat Chard. Kulper also is the co-author (with University College London Professor Nat Chard) of Contingent Practices.
History of CriticalMASS
CriticalMass started in 2002. It was the idea of a handful of graduate students wishing to share thesis project work with other graduate schools of architecture from the Southeast Region. At that time, the students were interested in the idea of place and region, and the event sought to bring diverse projects from different institutions together so that the students could share, and perhaps understand, what commonalities might be present in their final project work. The students themselves identified and invited international and national architects and critics to discuss the work and to give an evening presentation. These critics have varied over the past ten years, from those interested in regionalism to those that were launching practices on a more global scale. In all cases, the critics invited reflected the students' interests and the work they had been exposed to in the School of Architecture curriculum.
From the efforts of that first handful of students, CriticalMASS has fostered a tradition of collaboration and exploration across schools of architecture. Year after year, the event continues to inspire students to reach across institutional boundaries and come together with shared interests; no other such forum for cross-institution student interaction and learning currently exists. With coordination from a selected student committee and hard work from graduate student volunteers and faculty advisors, each Spring CriticalMASS hosts a series of presentations and discussions from selected students and Distinguished Guests. Each project that is presented responds to a unifying theme, but explores architectural ideas and issues independently through the lenses of technical methods, urban design, and theory.
The yearly success of CriticalMASS is a result of the effort and dedication provided from the current, first-year graduate class and continued support of the students, faculty, and local practitioners. Together we organize and integrate a unique outlet for student work that has become a respected part of the UNC Charlotte School of Architecture and a joint identity of current graduate students.
2019 Charles Renfro, DS+R