Ph.D. Student Group

* ConCave is a Ph.D. Student-led group in the School of Architecture of the College of Design at Georgia Tech. The group aims at supporting Ph.D. students and their research.


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Book Launch:

Proceeding Book of the ConCave Ph.D. Symposium 2020: Divergence in Architectural Research at Georgia Tech, Atlanta. 




Charles Davis II, Ph.D. [He, him]Assistant Professor of Architecture History and Criticism
University at Buffalo, SUNY
Chair, SAH Race and Architectural History Group


Olivier Vallerand, Ph.D. [He, him]Assistant Professor
Arizona State University


Aimi Hamraie, Ph.D. [they/them]Associate Professor of Medicine, Health, & Society and American Studies
Vanderbilt University


Book Launch:
Proceedings of ConCave Ph.D. Symposium 2020

Hayri Dortdivanlioglu
Marisabel Marratt

School of Architecture Publication
January 2021

ISBN 978-0-9615650-1-5
The essays in this volume have come together under the theme “Divergence in Architectural Research” and present a snapshot of Ph.D. research being conducted in over thirty architectural research institutions, representing fourteen countries around the world. These essays also provide a window into the presentations and discussions that took place March 5-6, 2020, during the ConCave Ph.D. Symposium “Divergence in Architectural Research,” under the auspices of the School of Architecture, Georgia Institute of Technology, in Atlanta, Georgia.

On a preliminary reading, the essays respond to the call of divergence by doing just that; they present the great diversity of research topics, methodologies, and practices currently found under the umbrella of “architectural research.” They inform inquiry within architectural programs and across disciplinary concentrations, and also point to the ways that the academy, research methodologies, and the design profession are evolving and encroaching upon one another, with the unspoken hope of encouraging new relationships, reconfiguring previous assumptions about the discipline, and interweaving research and practice.The research that follows does not seek to define divergence; in fact, it is easier to say what it is not than what it is. For example, divergence is not synonymous with inter-disciplinarity, which emphasizes a sharing across established boundaries. Inter-disciplinarity seeks resemblances and shared methods and motivations, ignoring all the rest.

The search for sameness usually remains on the surface; it is unsustainable over a long- term and ultimately not very effective for investigating the breadth and depth of a discipline. Rather, from within architecture, the projects that follow choose to explore subjects, techniques, and methodologies that diverge, sometimes intentionally, sometimes organically, from the canon of research in architecture. In doing so, they expand the field of exploration and also point to how this canon, once privileged as a means of ordering and defining a distinct cultural and professional identity, may also have inadvertently reduced the subject’s active, living quality–architecture’s agency. These essays take architecture’s agency as primordial, with its variations, energies, and movements, and allow it to shape the course of their research program, their conclusions, and their speculations for the future of research in architecture.


Poster of the spring semester concave lecture series dates, topics, and speakers names. Black, magenta and blue text over white background.


Georgia Tech | Atlanta, GA
This series of workshops and lectures is organized by ConCave, which is a Ph.D. student led interdisciplinary student group in the College of Design. The events will take place online via BlueJeans app in the Spring 21. Events are open to all graduate students in the design related programs at Georgia Tech and also at other institutions.

The theme of the series is “Questioning Disciplinary Foundations. We must accept that our disciplines are founded on certain biases. These biases can be racial, sexist, and ableist. This workshop and lecture series aim to question these biases embedded in the disciplinary foundation of architecture. How can we fight against these biases? How can we create academia that is more inclusive and supportive for minority and marginalized groups? The main deliverable of this series will be producing a course structure that challenges the foundational biases.

To register the events, follow this link ︎
Bald man wearing glasses looking upward
Lecture: WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 24, 2021 at 3.30 pm


Charles Davis II, Ph.D. [He, him]
Assistant Professor of Architecture History and Criticism
University at Buffalo, SUNY
Chair, SAH Race and Architectural History Group

This talk extends my critique of whiteness in the discipline of architecture to discuss the structural forces that artificially contain the reach and scope of radical black activism in American architecture schools. Despite sharing a common analytical framework and critical vocabulary with many “subaltern” movements abroad—especially with activists in African architecture schools that have established historical ties with local freedom movements—African Americans routinely tell the story of black creativity in American architecture through an exclusively domestic lens. Within this restricted nationalist narrative, African Americans appear to labor under a regime of racism that is completely unique from that established anywhere else. Yet such a depiction belies the intellectual basis for many historical ties between leading African American and African intellectuals historically, from Alain Locke’s theorization of the “New Negro” during the Harlem Renaissance to the Nobel Committee’s current recognition of the global relevance of Black Lives Matter. Why has an isolationist narrative persisted in African American histories of architecture and what is its effects on black activism in the American academy?

I argue that at least two forces converge to artificially isolate African American architects from meaningful collaboration with African freedom struggles abroad. The first is disciplinary. During the 1990s and early 2000s, scholars in postcolonial studies struggled to develop a unifying rhetoric for their field that incorporated the historical struggles of nonwhite subjects that have yet to reach a “post” colonial condition at home. As Black architects in the United States still labor under the coercive regime of a Eurocentric artistic discipline within a political settler colony, they struggle to imagine that a practical “post” condition might look like. Simultaneously, they labor under an unearned sense of racial “exceptionalism” within the American academy as a result of national rhetorics that define the US as a perfectible liberal democracy that is only temporarily marred by its contentious race relations. These two factors combine by effectively cutting African American architects off from the critical tools of postcolonial studies while constraining them to the role of demonstrating the assimilability of Black subjects within the American architectural academy. This condition, in part, explains the overreliance of professional organization like the AIA on statistics of black licensure to diagnose the problem of racism within the American academy instead of a formal means of measuring the white racism that is embodied by the core curricula of professional schools.

Within this constrained political and institutional context, African American architects need to establish a pan-African rhetoric for “blackness” within the architectural academy that will extend the reach of their influence abroad. One meaningful way forward is to integrate the postcolonial critique of the settler colony into the core curriculum of professional architecture schools. This effort would not only build a bridge between African American and African activism globally, but it would also shift the former’s role within the academy from  a mediator of white national mythology to an agent of black nationalism that is still necessary for developing and maintaining an autonomous cultural project within a settler colony context.

Charles L. Davis II is an assistant professor of architectural history and criticism at the University at Buffalo. He received his PhD in architecture from the University of Pennsylvania and has an M.Arch and B.P.S. from the University at Buffalo. His academic research excavates the role of racial identity and race thinking in architectural history and contemporary design culture. His current book project, tentatively entitled “Black By Design: An Interdisciplinary History of Making in Modern America” recovers the overlooked contributions of black artists and architects in shaping the built environment from the Harlem Renaissance to Black Lives Matter. He has published articles and essays in Architectural Research Quarterly, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Harvard Design Magazine, Log, Aggregate, Append-x and VIA.

Charles is co-editor of the cultural reader Diversity and Design: Understanding Hidden Consequences (Routledge, 2015) and the forthcoming Race and Modern Architecture (University of Pittsburgh, 2020), which collects 18 case studies on the racial discourses of modern architecture from the Enlightenment to the present. His book manuscript, Building Character: The Racial Politics of Modern Architectural Style (University of Pittsburgh, 2019) traces the historical integrations of race and style theory in paradigms of “architectural organicism,” or movements that modeled design on the generative principles of nature. This research has been supported by grants from the Canadian Center for Architecture, the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Bearded man wearing bowtie smiling
Lecture: TUESDAY MARCH 23, 2021 at 5 pm


Olivier Vallerand, Ph.D. [He, him]
Assistant Professor
Arizona State University

Despite its emergence in architectural discussions in the early 1990s, the idea of queerness has yet to fully transform the way we practice, teach or even experience spatial design. If queering design means multiplying possible experiences, queering design pedagogy in turn could mean multiplying points of views and resisting design norms. Based on interviews with design educators and in-class experiences, this talk explores different understandings of "queer space" in architecture and how they have been translated in queer and feminist teaching methods: supporting students; making visible the contribution of diverse people to the profession; challenging ideological assumptions inscribed in pedagogical methods and design principles; and acting beyond schools. These strategies help designers acknowledge the biases and limits of their designs to reduce the harm potentially done by their decisions.

Olivier Vallerand is a community activist, architect, historian, and assistant professor at The Design School at Arizona State University. He completed a PhD in Architecture from McGill University and post-doctoral research at UC Berkeley. His research focuses on self-identifications and their relation to the use and design of the built environment, on queer and feminist approaches to design education, and on alternative practices of architecture and design. His monograph Unplanned Visitors: Queering the Ethics and Aesthetics of Domestic Space (2020) discusses the emergence of queer theory in architectural discourse. His research has been published in the Journal of Architectural Education, Interiors: Design | Architecture | Culture, Inter art actuel, The Educational Forum,The Plan, Captures, and in the edited volumes Sexuality (Whitechapel Documents of Contemporary Art), Making Men, Making History: Canadian Masculinities across Time and Place, and Contentious Cities: Design and the Gendered Production of Space. He also regularly writes for Canadian Architect.

Aimi Hamraie, an olive-skinned Iranian person with short, dark, curly hair and rectangular glasses, smiles at the camera. They wear a blue shirt and blue-green blazer. Behind them is the blurry green of tree leaves.
Lecture: WEDNESDAY MARCH 31, 2021 at 4 pm

Aimi Hamraie, Ph.D. [they/them]
Associate Professor of Medicine, Health, & Society and American Studies
Vanderbilt University

Typical understandings of disability center on legal standards and guidelines, which often give designers little understanding of “disability culture,” including the myriad ways that disabled people build community by engaging in design practices together. This lecture will begin with an overview of approaches to teaching about disability in design curricula and architecture schools before pivoting to examples of “critical access” centered in disability culture, with examples from the Critical Design Lab.

Aimi Hamraie is associate professor of Medicine, Health, & Society and American Studies at Vanderbilt University, where they also direct the Critical Design Lab. Their research is centered in critical disability studies, design, and science and technology studies. They are author of Building Access: universal design and the politics of disability, a history of the Universal Design movement(2017). Their next book, Enlivened City, addresses New Urbanism, livability, and disability politics.

Round Table Discussion, THURSDAY APRIL 8, 2021 at 4 pm


Ph.D. Program in Architecture



March 5-6, 2020
Georgia Tech | Atlanta, GA

Abstract Book ︎︎︎
Proceeding Book ︎︎︎

Divergence in Architectural Research is an international doctoral symposium organized by the ConCave Ph.D. Student Group in the Georgia Institute of Technology School of Architecture. As a Research I Institute, Georgia Tech offers researchers a divergent academic environment in which to discuss and advance emergent studies in architecture. The goal of the PhD Symposium is to provide a supportive atmosphere for PhD students at different stages in their research to present and receive feedback on their ongoing work. The symposium provides doctoral students a diverse academic ground from which to share their research with established scholars and other graduate students interested in similar research areas. The symposium also aims to enable PhD students to interact and network with other participants and potential collaborators, in order to stimulate an exchange of ideas, suggestions and experiences. The Symposium is open to all Ph.D. students, recent Ph.D.  graduates and postdocs affiliated with any graduate programs currently developing research in architecture and related disciplines, such as building construction, city and reginal planning, cultural and historical preservation etc. Accepted papers will be published in the peer-reviewed proceeding book.

THEME 2020: 
Architecture, as a discipline, embodies various fields of knowledge. Architectural research derives from within its own discipline and diverges into an interdisciplinary domain. Divergence in architectural research implies that there is agency to expand the disciplinary boundary of architecture and produce new fields of knowledge emerging from within the architectural domain. It offers making new connections between different epistemological frameworks and transforms our knowledge of architecture into unanticipated forms. Divergent approaches to interdisciplinary research in architecture prepares scholars and researchers for shared contributions across a rich array of intellectual fields.
The symposium invites all doctoral students to present their interdisciplinary research in five thematic session topics. The chosen topics, listed below, are intended to be inclusive, ensuring a venue for a diverse spectrum of research and welcoming overlaps to stimulate further discussion across sessions.

Organizing Committee:
Academic Advisor: Tarek Rakha
Academic Coordinators: Hayri Dortdivanlioglu & Marisabel Marratt
Exhibition Coordinator: Yousef Bushehri
Accommodation & Logistics: Zorana Matic
Financial Board: Marisabel Marratt, Hayri Dortdivanlioglu
Media & Graphic Design: Hayri Dortdivanlioglu

Organization Board: Heather Ligler, Kurt Hong, Gustavo Do Amaral, Mehmet Bermek, Raha Motamed Rastegar, Fatima Javeed, James Park, Zachary Lancaster
Advisory Board: Steven French (Dean and John Portman Chair, College of Design), Nancey Green Leigh (Associate Dean for Research, College of Design), Scott Marble (William H. Harrison Chair, School of Architecture), Dennis Sheldon (Building Information System), Thanos Economou (Design Computing), Keith Kaseman (Advance Production), Tarek Rakha (High Performance Building), Craig Zimring (Design & Health), Ellen Dunham-Jones (Urban Design), George Johnston (History, Theory & Criticism)

Scientific Committee:
Anjali Joseph / Endowed Chair, Clemson University
Arash Soleimani / Assistant Professor, Kennesaw State University
Arief Setiawan / Assistant Professor, Kennesaw State University
Athanassios Economou / Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology
Azadeh Sawyer / Assistant Professor, Carnegie Mellon University
Benay Gursoy Toykoc / Assistant Professor, Penn State University
Christina Crawford / Assistant Professor, Emory University
Clio Andris / Assistant Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology
Craig Zimring / Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology
Danielle Wilkens / Assistant Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology
Dennis Shelden / Associate Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology
Dimitris Papanikolaou / Assistant Professor, University of North Carolina
Elisa Dainese / Assistant Professor, Dalhousie University
Ellen Dunham Jones / Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology
Eyal Weizman / Professor, University of London
Gabriel Wurzer / Researcher, Vienna University of Technology
George Johnston / Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology
Ingrid Rowland / Professor, University of Notre Dame
Ipek Tureli / Associate Professor, McGill University
Jihan Sherman / Academic Professional, Georgia Institute of Technology
Jean-Hugues Barthélémy / Professor, l’Université Paris-Nanterre, France
Jeffrey Collins / Assistant Professor, Kennesaw State University
John Haymaker / Director of Research, Perkins+Will
Kereshmeh Afsari / Assistant Professor, Virginia Tech
Lars Spuybroek / Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology
Lisa Lim / Assistant Professor, Texas Tech University
Lydia Kallipoliti / Assistant Professor, The Cooper Union
Mine Ozkar / Professor, Istanbul Technical University
Moa Carlsson / Lecturer, University of Edinburgh
Momen El-Husseiny / Assistant Professor,The American University in Cairo
Pavlos Lefas / Professor, University of Patras, Greece
Perry Yang / Associate Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology
Reinhard Koenig / Junior-Professor, Bauhaus-University Weimar
Robert Rosenberger / Associate Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology
Roya Rezaee / Research Scientist, Perkins+Will
Ryan Roark / Ventulett Next Generation Visiting Fellow, Georgia Tech
Saif Haq / Professor, Texas Tech University
Seray Turkay / Assistant Professor, TED University
Siobhan Rockcastle / Assistant Professor, University of Oregon
Sonit Bafna / Associate Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology
Tarek Rakha / Assistant Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology
Thomas Grasl / SWAP Architects
Todd Cronan / Associate Professor, Emory University
Vernelle Noel / Ventulett Next Generation Visiting Fellow, Georgia Tech
Zachary Tate Porter / Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Zenovia Toloudi / Assistant Professor, Dartmouth

ConCave Ph.D. Student Group
+1 404-894-4885

Georgia Institute of Technology
School of Architecture
245 4th Street, NW, Suite 351
Atlanta, GA 30332