Rebecca Choi, “White Man’s Got a God Complex”


Wednesday, April 7, 2021, 12:00pm to 1:30pm


Harvard Graduate School of Design—Online

In 1976, Chicago developer Charles Shaw bought nearly one million cubic feet of air above the Sculpture Garden of the Museum of Modern Art for 17 million dollars, relieving the Museum of their debt problems. Bought under New York City’s Transfer of Development Rights, Shaw used his rights to air space in the construction of a 56-floor apartment tower on 53rd Street. Mayor Beame hailed the “self-help project” a success, claiming that the transaction showed “how government and the private sector can cooperate in achieving the common goal of improving lives in the city.”

Transfer of air rights was not new, however the relationship between architects, Harlem, and MoMA in presenting experimental, bureaucratized architectural visions to the public is specific to the late 1960s. This talk discusses these visions and the context of Harlem, where a range of surreptitious and highly choreographed mechanisms of abstraction were tested out and exhibited at MoMA in a demonstration plan for the neighborhood in 1967.

Learn more about and RSVP for this virtual event.