Christina Cogdell

Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities

20082009 Forum on Change

Christina Cogdell

Art History

Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin

Emergent Genetic Architecture: How Recent Scientific Theories Are Shaping Contemporary Architecture

This research for an interdisciplinary monograph investigates the ways in which contemporary architectural theory and practice derive from recent scientific theories of emergence, self-organization, and complex evolutionary systems. Leading architects now design using computational software that integrates genetic algorithms into the core of their process. Their aim is to incorporate into architecture the sustainable features of self-organizing natural systems, using processes that ultimately may be compatible with genetic engineering. My research critically examines this movement through comparison and contrast with theories of evolution and eugenics within modernist design. It thereby situates emergent genetic architecture within architectural history and raises new questions about its social, cultural, and ethical implications.