Lecture Recap and Video: Lateral Office on 'Architecture's Other Agencies: Spatial Practice and New Vernaculars'

Nov. 21, 2022

School of Architecture Lecture Series ~ Haptics of Place: Technologies, Assemblies and Spirit of Place

Mason White and Lola Sheppard, Lateral Office
CAPLA Lecture Series Event
November 2, 2022


Lateral Office's work is interested in expanding an understanding of design to encompass how large-scale territorial activities and hyperlocal everyday actions by users shape and make space, and transform the built environment, in permanent and ephemeral ways. Residents leave traces and transgress intended uses and, in so doing, create their own haptics of place.

This lecture was held in conjunction with Impulse, an installation on the University of Arizona Mall, presented by Arizona Arts Live from October 5 to November 8, 2022. At Impulse, audiences become musicians and artists. Using repetitive units of light and sound, the university campus is transformed into a space of urban play through a series of interactive, illuminated see‐saws. When not in use, the see-saws will stabilize to the horizontal and remain at a lower glowing level. When activated by users and inclined, the see-saws, augmented by LED lights and speakers, will increase in light intensity and emit a randomized sound sequence.

Watch the Lecture

About Lateral Office

Lola Sheppard and Mason White

Lola Sheppard and Mason White, founding partners of Lateral Office. Photo by George Qua-Enoo.

Lateral Office, founded in 2003 by Mason White and Lola Sheppard, is an experimental design practice that operates at the intersection of architecture, landscape and urbanism. The studio describes its practice process as a commitment to design as a research vehicle to pose and respond to complex, urgent questions in the built environment, engaging in the wider context and climate of a project—social, ecological or political. Lateral Office is committed to an architecture that responds directly to the demands of the 21st century—and the subsequent new typologies made possible by an architecture that confronts contemporary cultural challenges. Recent work and research focuses on powerful design relationships between public realm, architecture and environment in northern Indigenous and rural communities. 

Lateral Office’s work has been exhibited in venues nationally and internationally, and they have presented at the Tallinn (2022), Venice (2021, 2014), Oslo (2019), Seoul (2017) and Chicago (2015) Biennales. Lateral Office has been awarded two Holcim Awards Gold for Sustainable Construction for North America (Silver in 2021 and Gold in 2012). They received the Emerging Voices from the Architectural League of New York in 2011, and the 2010 Professional Prix de Rome from the Canada Council for the Arts for their project Emergent North.  

Lateral Office are the authors of Pamphlet Architecture 30, COUPLING: Strategies for Infrastructural Opportunism, published by Princeton Architectural Press (2011) and Many Norths: Spatial Practice in a Polar Territory (2017). They are co-editors of the journal Bracket.

Mason White is a founding partner at Lateral Office. He received his Bachelor of Architecture from Virginia Tech and his Master of Architecture from Harvard Graduate School of Design. He is professor at the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design at the University of Toronto.

Lola Sheppard is a registered architect and founding partner at Lateral Office. She received her Bachelor of Architecture from McGill University and a Master of Architecture from Harvard Graduate School of Design. She is a professor at the School of Architecture, University of Waterloo.

Header image: Plan of inputs and outputs, showing the Salton Sea's potential connection to other sites, flows and ecologies, by Lateral Office. Image courtesy Lateral Office.


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