School of Architecture to Host ‘Cultivating Imaginaries’ Symposium

The School of Architecture will host “Cultivated Imaginaries: Superblock and the Idea of the City,” a Harry der Boghosian Fellowship symposium on Wednesday, May 5 from 1–4 p.m. ET.

Free and open to the public, the online event represents the culmination of a yearlong design research and teaching effort conducted at the School by Liang Wang, Harry der Boghosian Fellow, 2020-21.

Liang WangLiang Wang Credit: Cherelle Champfleur. 2019 All Rights Reserved.Throughout the academic year, Wang, the school’s fifth Boghosian Fellow, has taught an architecture studio and two professional electives focusing on his research project, “The Architecture of the Commons.” By engaging the idea of “commons” in relation to the disciplinary knowledge of architecture and particularly through the lens of the superblock development, Wang and his students have contemplated the role of architecture as both common means for spatial production and common knowledge in conceiving new modes of collective life and the idea of the city.

Organized as a live, roundtable discussion, the symposium will open a broader discussion on the new possibilities that might follow from a rigorous reconceptualization of the relationship between the superblock—its architecture, urbanism and socio-political processes—and the idea of the city—in both western and Chinese contexts—through its history, imaginary and representation.

Symposium participants include Eve Blau, adjunct professor at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, where she is director of research and co-director of the Harvard Mellon Urban Initiative; Peter Carl, former professor at the University of Cambridge and London Metropolitan University; Nancy S. Steinhardt, professor of East Asian Art and curator of Chinese Art at the University of Pennsylvania; and Jianfei Zhu, professor of East Asia at the School of Architecture Planning and Landscape at Newcastle University. Michael Speaks, dean of the Syracuse University School of Architecture, along with Wang, will moderate the discussion.

View of Xian, China, taken September 2012. Credit: Navjot Singh, 2021“We are thrilled to have such a stellar group of scholars join us for this special event, and I am deeply grateful for all the unwavering support from our school, especially Dean Speaks, throughout my fellowship teaching this year,” says Wang. “We believe this is a timely discussion not only to address some of the critical disciplinary questions related to the discourse of the superblock—its term, concept and “reality”—but also to provoke all of us, as designers and engaging citizens, to challenge the spatial, social, and political status quo and imagine a more equitable, sustainable, and humane future city.”

The Boghosian Fellowship at the School of Architecture was established in early 2015 in memory of Harry der Boghosian ’54 by his sister Paula der Boghosian ’64. Designed to give faculty members, early in their careers, the opportunity to spend a year developing a body of design research based on an area of interest while teaching, the one-of-a-kind program has helped the school attract the best and the brightest emerging professors.

To register for the symposium, visit