The Berlage

Session Room K

Behind the Book

Thomas Weaver

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Jonathan Wolstenholme, Books on Books, 2003 © Jonathan Wolstenholme

In this lecture Thomas Weaver will discuss the making of a series of recent MIT architecture books, all of whose authors have already spoken in this series. In this sense, the talk will pull back the curtain on what is involved in the publication of a book, and will cover (in no particular order) authorial angels and divas; how to write a nice sentence; how to use an image; how to design a book when there is no graphic designer; how to subvert peer review; how to find subsidies to afford those things that publishing deems embellishments; the unrelenting pedantry, mindless bureaucracy and overwhelming disinterest in books within academic publishing; the vagaries of digital publishing; all the while making a plea for the ongoing importance of architecture to communicate not just its best ideas and images but its whole meaning through the form of that thing called a book.

Thomas Weaver is an architectural writer, teacher and editor, and senior commissioning editor for art and architecture at MIT Press. Weaver served for more than ten years at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London, further establishing his international standing as an editor and publisher. Weaver earned degrees in architecture and architectural history from the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London, and from Princeton University. In addition to his editorial work, he has maintained a parallel academic identity, teaching, writing, and curating for various schools and universities, including the Cooper Union, the Architectural Association, and most recently, at the Berlage Center for Advanced Studies in Architecture and Urban Design, TU Delft.

The Berlage Sessions, a seven-part seminar series entitled “About the Book,” examines recent scholarship and their respective book production, from building biographies and academic anthologies to memoirs and novels. Topics will include El Lissitzky’s project for a “horizontal skyscraper,” a meditative tour of a family’s house on the Sardinian Coast, an account of the life and work of the architect Minoru Yamasaki, the role of modernism and material culture played in the aspiring Black American middle class of the early twentieth century, a critical-paranoid investigation of the paradoxes of OMA’s enigmatic Villa Dall’Ava, the emergence of world histories of architecture, and the tenuous relationship of eighteenth-century England to late-capitalist modernity through the lives and times of ceramics entrepreneur Josiah Wedgewood. The series will conclude with a reflection on how and for whom is architectural history is written.