2019-2020 Lecture Series: RELEVANCE

Architecture’s relevance too often goes un-questioned by those within the discipline, even as it is increasingly marginalized in public discourse and private experience. While we argue that there is no realm of human activity untouched by architecture, there is a clear need to more explicitly demonstrate architecture’s contribution to our environment, broadly defined. How can we more convincingly, authentically, and directly respond to the questions: Why does architecture matter? What is its value and its cultural weight? And how can the relevance of architecture be leveraged, expressed, and experienced?

Architecture enters into a civic discourse with those who inhabit and shape our neighborhoods, cities, nations, and planet. It can provide the social infrastructure for equity, inclusion, justice, and responsibility, making a significant material impact on the complex and urgent issues that define public life. It can be aspirational, making space for questions, ideas, and creativity. Form, material, composition, representation, and production are not only aesthetic concerns; they are also mechanisms for heightening awareness of and engagement with contemporary and future cultures.

All lectures will take place in the HSA auditorium at 720 N. Washington Ave, Springfield, MO. 


Paul Mankins, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C, is principal at substance architecture, a Des Moines, Iowa-based firm that has designed significant and award-winning corporate, residential, civic, and higher education facilities around the country. In addition to being an accomplished and premeated designer, Mankins has also taught at Iowa State University since 1998. He will discuss his practice in relation to this year’s lecture series theme, RELEVANCE.


Rafi Segal is an award-winning architect-urbanist-educator who heads MIT’s Master’s program in Urbanism. His practice takes a multi-disciplinary and system-based approach to addressing socio-economic and environmental challenges to produce collective spaces that impact the way we live. He has worked on the scale of the building, the neighborhood, the settlement, and the region with an aim of creating civic value.

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