This piece asks the question: “what is architectural theory?” It asks what the phrase “architectural theory” names for us, how architectural theory differs from theory per se, and what are its distinctive features that might remain the same despite changing historical epochs.

  • “I think architectural theory shares many of the characteristics of theory in other disciplines…”

  • “There are plenty of architectural theorists who […] want to make truth claims.

  • “Part of the problem there does become whether architectural theory ties itself to particular schools, or if it ties itself to the educational process.”

  • “Architectural theory is about finding little moments of opportunity in the world…”

  • “It seems to be framed around certain books, certain canonical texts about which we are all very familiar, in a way, an apparently clear course of knowledge.”

  • “…I don’t think it’s coincidental that this blossoming of architectural theory in the 1960s coincided with the maturation of many people who were among that first generation who were forced to speak alongside their objects and were forced to defend them in front of juries.”

  • “Architecture, like art or music, expresses things that are really hard to put into words.”

  • “Architectural theory requires history.”

  • “Architectural theory’s role, and this is what makes it different from criticism, is to pick our what Deleuze writing on Foucault called “unknown points,” […] little moments of unknown possibility.”

  • “The way I would differentiate it from theory is that criticism is specific, a specific work, a specific thinker.”

  • “Another characteristic of architectural theory is its plurality and promiscuity.”



Arianna Corradi

Issue Editor

Joseph Bedford

Senior Editor

Joseph Bedford


Trudy Watt


Joseph Bedford,


Joseph Godlewski, Jake Matatyaou, John May, Ginger Nolan, Bryan E. Norwood, Ivonne Santoyo-Orozco, Meredith TenHoor, and Marrikka Trotter.