Alexandra Staub (Pennsylvania, USA): Whose Architecture? Whose Identity? Examining Ethics and Stakeholder Theory as a Framework for Architectural Production

Cultural production finds constant reinforcement through the built environment yet defining what “culture” is has become an increasingly contentious in recent years. Despite social problems such as economic stratification and social intolerance, few architects and planners have addressed how the accompanying cultural paradigms are related to the production of the built environment, as well as the architect’s role in this process.

This talk will examine cultural production through stakeholder theory to explore the process and consequences of our designs. Stakeholder theory, first proposed by R. Edward Freedman in the 1980s as a management model, allows a nuanced exploration of how architectural production practices intersect with social and cultural needs, and what alternatives to current production systems might look like.

Alexandra Staub is a professor of architecture at Penn State University and an affiliate faculty of Penn State’s Rock Ethics Institute. Her research focuses on how our built environment shapes, and is shaped by, our understanding of culture. This interest leads her to examine not just what we build, but also how we get there: design processes and their social implications, the economic, ecological, and social sustainability of architecture and urban systems, interpretations of private and public spaces, architectural ethics understood as questions of power and empowerment, and how social class or gender shapes our expectations for the use of space.
After receiving her B.A. from Barnard College in New York, Alexandra Staub studied architecture at the University of the Arts in Berlin, where she graduated in 1991. She received her Ph.D. at the Brandenburg University at Cottbus. She has published two books, Conflicted Identities: Housing and the Politics of Cultural Representation in 2015 and The Routledge Companion to Modernity, Space, and Gender in 2018, as well as countless articles and reviews. Her current work focuses on the intersection of architecture and urban design with ethics, stakeholder theory, and social justice concerns.

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