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Architecture Before Speech

Edited by K. Michael Hays and Andrew Holder

ISBN 9781934510797

Publication date: 05/17/2022

Inscriptions: Architecture Before Speech presents a theory of contemporary architecture that spans the work of 112 practices in 750 images. Against the popular characterization of contemporary architecture as a centerless field where anything goes and everything is possible, this book argues that much recent work belongs to a collective undertaking. Underneath the impression of kaleidoscopic difference produced by the rapid circulation of design images is a shared mechanism, an agreement about how architectural objects emerge from the procedures of design. This mechanism, which we call inscription, manages to both offer fundamentally intelligible form to architecture’s audiences and advance the field toward novel outcomes. The ensuing work is nothing less than democratically optimistic in its wide appeal and challenging in its cuts against convention.

Featuring essays by Catherine Ingraham, Lucia Allais, Stan Allen, Phillip Denny, Edward Eigen, Sylvia Lavin, Antoine Picon, and Marrikka Trotter, Inscriptions offers a broad array of critical perspectives on work that defines architecture’s second decade of the twenty-first century.


  • K. Michael Hays is Eliot Noyes Professor of Architectural Theory and Codirector of the Master in Design Studies Program at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design.
  • Andrew Holder is Associate Professor of Architecture at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

Book Details

  • 624 pages
  • 8-1/2 x 11 inches
  • Harvard Graduate School of Design