Shelley Hornstein takes up the relationships of architecture, memory and place. Her research also investigates sites of Jewish memory and culture in the built, largely urban, environment.

In thinking about the importance of place, she is also exploring the idea of travel and tourism in both the physical sense of bodily mobility as well as in the imagined sense in the mind’s eye. How do we imagine places? What is a place’s connection to site and history? What is a site, and what is a sight? Hornstein’s most recent project, Starlets and Starchitecture, will address the imbalance of women in architecture by questioning the concept of “starchitect.” and the branding of architectural sites for local tourist economies.

What do we remember about a city and why? Iconic buildings such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Guggenheim Bilbao museum in Bilbao, Spain mark cities and leave an indelible memory for tourists. When we think of a place we’ve travelled to see, the buildings or sites linger in our memory. In recent years, particularly since the construction of the Bilbao museum by Frank Gehry, architects have become celebrities so that while our identification of a place is often associated with the building and the cultural memory informed by it, the name of the architect is now the feature. Yet the constellation of “star” architects, or “starchitects” (Daniel Libeskind, Frank Gehry, Herzog and De Meuron, Norman Foster, Rem Koolhaas, among others) is almost
exclusively male. Zaha Hadid is arguably the exception to prove the rule. While some important women architects have, in the past, produced significant works, they were often relegated to secondary or even invisible positions thanks to husband-and-wife type teams (Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, Charlotte Perriand and Le Corbusier, or Charles & Ray Eames). The world of celebrity architects is decidedly male, and as Hadid suggests, it is a world that for women is taboo.

Selected topics she has been invited to speak about are:

  • Topography Under Glass: How Photography Changed our Understanding of Architecture and Place
  • New Eyes, New Narratives:Postcards of the Holy Land and Diasporic Readings
  • Curating the Holy Land in Picture Postcards
  • Starry, Starry Site
  • Memory and Place
  • New Terms for a City:  Jewish Museums on the Site of History
  • Fashioning Toronto from Bandbox to Big Box:  Eatons, Yorkdale, and the Open City
  • A Star is Born
  • Curating Place: Maps, Starchitecture and Museums-Without-Borders
  • Google Earth is Out of Site
  • Exhausted Sites of Memory
  • Toronto, Starchitecture & Exhibition-ism
  • Jewish Women Spies Travelling by the Light of the Moon
  • Unravelling Histories: memory, Place and Urban Narratives
  • Digital Diaspora
  • Groundswell:  Berlin and Paris Remember on the Site of History
  • Matters Material:  On the Meanings of Houses and the Things Inside Them
  • Of Borders and Itinerant Memories since Bilbao
  • Paradise in Postcards
  • Night Lights
  • Artful Identities
  • Architecture, Chaos, and the Matter of Place
  • Entre ciel et terre et l’ordre emergent:  le musée juif de Berlin
  • La Phenomène Bilbao
  • La photographie de l’Architecture et la Carte Postale
  • Nomadic Smoothness and the Memorial to Walter Benjamin
  • Invisible Place, Buried Memory, and Parisian Topography
  • Mémorial des Martyrs de la Déportation, Georges-Henri Pingusson, 1962
  • Back to the Future: Cybermaps and the New Atlas of Jewish Geography
  • The New Fluid Atlas of Virtual Space