BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Garbage is not a typical topic of discussion
for an architecture lecture, but in Erie and Niagara Counties alone
we produce about 17.5 million pounds of waste a year. We're not
staring it in the face every day, so where does it go?
Curt Gambetta is a designer and architect who questions the
boundaries that define waste as a public or private dilemma and
considers the role and uses (social, political and otherwise) of
the large-scale infrastructure required to treat our household,
municipal, industrial and technological offscourings.
Gambetta is the 2012 Peter Reyner Banham Fellow in the
University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning and will
deliver the annual Banham Lecture on Feb. 8 at 5:30 p.m. in 301
Crosby Hall, UB South Campus.
His talk, "From Exodus to Attachment: Waste Infrastructure and
the Architecture of Public Life" will be free and open to the
Gambetta says waste "has been disappeared from the city and the
senses by mechanisms of modern sanitation and architecture, moved
to the urban periphery and concealed inside increasingly refined
membranes of storage and movement."
Ruptures or discrepancies in the waste stream -- such things as
a proliferation of bacteria, odor, slime buildup, garbage pileup,
the reappearance of "buried" toxic dregs and other threats to
safety and health -- "are often read as signposts of failure of a
certain project of the modern city," he says. But Gambetta reads
these as productive irritants for working and reworking how we
conceptualize public space.
In fact, he says, "It is within the friction produced by
overlapping claims made to an issue like waste that public life
The lecture is a part of the UB School's Spring 2012 Relocation
Lecture Series, a title that refers to the fact that school's main
building, Hayes Hall, is undergoing renovation and the faculty and
students have been relocated to other sites on the south
Gambetta, a member of the Architecture Department's affiliated
faculty, will discuss how architectural research can, itself, be an
act of design and how it can generate politics outside of the
architectural field to shape new forms of public life.
He has been the moderator of the Urban Study Group mailing list
for the Sarai program in Delhi, India, a program of the Center for
the Study of Developing Countries where he was a resident from 2002
to 2005. His research focuses on the material history of
architecture in 20th century India, as well as the public life of
Gambetta holds a bachelor's degree in political science from
Vassar College in 2002 and received a master's degree in
architecture from Rice University.
The Peter Reyner Banham Fellowship and Lecture memorializes the
work of the prolific British architectural historian, a founder of
the field of architectural criticism who traced the rise and fall
of modernism and society's attitudes toward it. He was a member of
the UB architecture faculty from 1976 to 1980.
The UB Banham Fellowship in Architecture supports design work
like Gambetta's that situates architecture within the general field
of socio-cultural and material critique.