Professor of Contemporary Visual Cultures, University of Edinburgh



  • Ph.D History of Art, University of Manchester (1997)

Thesis: Anti Form: American Sculpture 1966-69

  • MA History of Art University of Manchester (1994)

Thesis (distinction): The British Architectural Press in 1968

  • BA (Hons) Art (Studio Practice) and Art History, University of London Goldsmiths College (1988)
  • Manchester Grammar School (1978-85)


  • 2010-present: Professor of Contemporary Visual Cultures, University of Edinburgh
  • 2009-2013: Dean of Postgraduate Studies, College of Humanities and Social Science, University of Edinburgh
  • 2000-2010: Lecturer/Senior Lecturer, History of Art, University of Edinburgh
  • 1997-2000: Lecturer in Art and Design History and Theory, Liverpool John Moores University
  • 1994-1997: Temporary lecturer in History of Art at University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University, and Liverpool John Moores University
  • 1989-1993 Non-academic posts in publishing in Oxford (UK) and Madrid (Spain), mostly for Macmillan Press Ltd.


  • Sex and Buildings: Modern Architecture and the Sexual Revolution (London: Reaktion Books, 2013)
  • Regenerating Culture and Society: Art, Architecture and Urban Style within the Global Politics of City-Branding, edited with Jonathan Harris (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2010).
  • Brazil: Modern Architectures in History (London: Reaktion Books, 2009)
  • The Anxious City: English Urbanism in the Late Twentieth Century (London: Routledge, 2004)
  • After Modern Sculpture: Art in the United States and Europe, 1965-70 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000)


  • ‘Phallic Architecture’ in Kimmel, M., C. Milrod, and A. Kennedy, Cultural Encyclopedia of the Penis (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2014) pp. 11-13.
  • ‘Forbidden Pleasures/Prazeres Prohibidos’, eRevista LOGO, 3, 1 (2014) pp. 41-51.
  • ‘What are the Ideals of Contemporary Western Architecture?’, in Ewha Woman’s University Museum, Ideals and Art (Seoul: Ewha Woman’s University, 2014)
  • ‘Brazil’s Brutalism: Past and Future Decay at the FAU-USP’, in M. Crinson and C. Zimmerman (eds.) Neo-Avant-Garde and Postmodern: Postwar Architecture in Britain and Beyond (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010) pp. 103-26.
  • ‘Architecture and Economies of Violence: São Paulo as Case Study’, in C. Lindner (ed.), Globalization, Violence and the Visual Culture of Cities (London: Routledge, 2010), pp. 17-31.
  • ‘The Future of the Past, or, Contemporary Tendencies’, translation and commentary on original Portuguese article by Ruth Verde Zein, Art in Translation (November 2009)
  • ‘Sexuality and Urban Design’, Urban Design, 109 (Winter 2009), pp. 28-29.
  • ‘Espaço público e cultura pública: teoria, prática e problemas’, in T. Coelho (ed.) A cultura pela cidade (São Paulo: Editora Iluminuras Ltda, 2008), pp. 33-49
  • ‘Public Space: Designing-in Community’, in D. Clements, A. Donald, M. Earnshaw, A. Williams, The Future of Community: Reports of a Death Greatly Exaggerated (London: Pluto Press, 2008)
  • ‘Brasília’ Superquadras’, Docomomo, 39 (September 2008), pp. 30-5.
  • ‘Brasília After Brasília’, Progress in Planning, 67 (2007) pp. 301-66.‘Brasília depois de Brasília’, Arquitextos, 083 (April 2007), online at‘Towards an Aesthetics of Poverty: Architecture and the Neo-Avant-Garde in 1960s Brazil’, David Hopkins (ed.) The Neo-Avant Garde (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2007) pp. 197-229. ‘Serious Fun’, in Bradley, F. (ed.), Alex Hartley: Not Part of Your World, (Edinburgh: Fruitmarket Gallery, 2007), pp. 73-121.
  • ‘Where is Edinburgh?’ in Morag Bain (ed.) The Northern City (Between Light and Dark) (Glasgow: Lighthouse, 2006) pp. 97-104.
  • Review of Nikolaus Pevsner on Art and Architecture: The Radio TalksPevsner Architectural Guides: Manchester, and The Buildings of England, London 6: WestminsterVisual Culture in Britain, 7, 1 (2006) pp. 117-22.
  • ‘Informe and Anti-Form’ in Andrew Hussey (ed.) The Beast at Heaven’s Gate: Georges Bataille and the Art of Transgression (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2006) pp. 143-54.
  • ‘Modernist Civic Space’, Journal of Urban History, 32, 1 (November 2005) pp. 120-137.
  • ‘The Limits of Non-Plan: Architecture and the Avant-Garde’ in D. Scheunemann (ed.) Avant-Garde/Neo-Avant-Garde (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2005) pp. 283-95.
  • ‘Surreal City: The Case of Brasília’ in T. Mical (ed.) Architecture and Surrealism, (London: Routledge, 2004) pp. 234-48.
  • ‘Architecture and Visual Culture’ in M. Rampley (Ed.) Exploring Visual Culture: Definitions, Concepts, Contexts (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2004) pp. 102-16.‘Remembering, Forgetting, and the Industrial Gallery Space” in M. Crinson (ed.) Urban Memory: History and Amnesia in the Modern City (London: Routledge, 2004) pp. 121-44.
  • ‘The Rotting Sack of Humanism’ in Michael Corris (ed.), Conceptual Art: Theory, Myth and Practice (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004) pp. 169-86.
  • ‘Sculpture’s Anxieties’, The Sculpture Journal VIII (October 2002) pp. 4-11.
  • ‘Apocalypse or Abstraction? The photographs of Morris’s Threadwaste’, The Sculpture Journal (October 2001)
  • Ten essays on contemporary British art and architecture in Mike Storry (ed.), Encyclopaedia of Contemporary British Culture (London: Routledge, 1999)
  • ‘Rethinking Architecture?’(review article) Art History, 22, 1 (March 1999), pp. 131-6.‘The Krazy Kat Problem’, Art History, 20, 1 (March 1997), pp. 168-74.
  • ‘Representing Architecture: The British Architectural Press in the 1960s’, Journal of Design History, 9, 4 (1996), pp. 285-96.


  • ‘Building Brasília: the Southern Hemisphere’s Moon Landing’, The Conversation (8 July 2014)
  • Review of Bleak Houses: Disappointment and Failure in Architecture by Timothy Brittain-Catlin, Times Higher (20 March 2014)
  • ‘Edinburgh’s Arrested Development’, Times Higher (6 March 2014)
  • ‘Where are Architecture’s Bravehearts?’, Building Design (21 February 2014)
  • ‘Scotch This Plan’, Foreign Policy (13 February 2013)
  • ‘The Architect of the Future that Never Was’, Foreign Policy (11 December 2012)
  • ‘Space for Sale’, Blueprint 300 (March 2011) pp. 50-5
  • Review of Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live NextBlueprint 303 (June 2011), p. 79
  • ‘No Ordinary Ruin’, Blueprint 299(February 2011) Review of Between Earth and Heaven: The Architecture of John LautnerMap, 18 (Summer 2009), pp. 80-1.
  • ‘Nathan Coley – Highland Remix’ in Edinburgh International Festival, The Enlightenments (Edinburgh: EIF, 2009), pp. 8-9.
  • Review of Hayward Gallery, Psycho BuildingsMap, 15 (Autumn 2008), p. 70.
  • ‘Niemeyer in Brasília’, Blueprint, 263 (February 2008), pp. 34-9.
  • Review of Jane Rendell, Art and Architecture: A Place BetweenArchitect’s Journal (27 September 2007), p. 47.
  • ‘Paulo Mendes da Rocha’, Blueprint, 251 (February 2007) pp. 36-42.
  • ‘The Case for Multiple Cities’, The Scotsman (2 December 2006) Critique, p. 6.
  • Review of Reiach and Hall Arts Faculty Building, St. Andrews, Architect’s Journal, 17, 224 (9 November 2006) pp. 25-35.
  • ‘Ahead in the Clouds’, Frieze, 102 (October 2006) pp. 30-1.
  • ‘The Airbus A380’, Blueprint, 247 (September 2006) p. 42.
  • ‘This Charming Manchester’, Blueprint, 246 (September 2006) p. 29
  • Review of Mike Davis Planet of SlumsBlueprint, 245 (August 2006) p. 77.
  • ‘Tropicália: A Revolution in Brazilian Culture’, Map 6 (Summer 2006) p. 58.
  • ‘Brazil’s Not-So-Hot Tropics’, Blueprint, 242 (May 2006) p. 111.
  • ‘Sculpture in Brazil’, Architect’s Journal (9 March 2006) p. 61.
  • ‘End of Time: Hiroshi Sugimoto’, Map  5 (Spring 2006) p. 55.
  • ‘The Modernist Ruin’, Prospect 121 (March 2006) pp. 29-31.
  • ‘Unbuckle that Belt’, Civic Focus, 53 (Winter 2005-6) p. 5.
  • ‘From Brasília to Alphaville’, Map 4 (Winter 2005) pp. 36-9. ‘26th Bienal de São Paulo’, Map, 1 (Spring 2005) pp. 50-1.
  • ‘Hélio Oiticica’, Map, 2 (Summer 2005) pp. 46-7.
  • ‘Behave!’ The Art Book, 10, 4 September 2003) pp. 21-3.
  • ‘Anything is Possible’, introduction to Grennan, S. (ed.), Life is Good in Manchester: The Annual Programme 1995-2000, Cornerhouse, Manchester, 2001, pp. 7-15.
  • ‘Heavy Metal’ The Art Book (October 2001) pp. 9-11.
  •  ‘Vast book, big practice’, The Art Book, 8, 3 (June 2001), pp. 3-5.
  • ‘Cut Felt: Robert Morris interviewed by Richard J. Williams’, Art Monthly, 208 (July-August 1997), pp. 7-10.
  • ‘Gary Perkins: Getting it Wrong’ in Museo Cantonale d’Arte Lugano, Fragile, 1997


  • The Creative City, 80,000 word book (London: Reaktion Books, 2016. Under contract)
  • Why Do Cities Look the Way They Do? 60,000-word book (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2016. Under contract)
  • ‘When Was ‘Interruption?’’ in Lindner, C., and Jordan, S., (eds.) Global Cities and Practices of Interruption (London: Bloomsbury, 2016). 8,000-word chapter, commissioned
  • ‘Architecture’s Modernisms’, in Meecham, P. (ed.) Companion to Modern Art (New York: Wiley Blackwell, 2016, under contract)
  • ‘Edinburgh on the Couch’, in Breward, C., Sparke, P., and Fisher, F., (eds.) British Design: Tradition and Modernity after 1948 (London: Bloomsbury, 2015, in press)
  • ‘The Picturesque Goes North’, in Donald, A. et al., Venice Architecture Biennale 2014, British pavilion catalogue. 3,000 word essay, in press. ‘Sexualité, L’Éspace Publique, et La Cité Moderne au Brésil’, in Oeschslin, K. (ed.) ‘L’Utopie et Realité de L’Urbanisme’ (Lausanne: University of Lausanne Press, 2014, in press)
  • ‘Phallic Architecture’, essay in Kimmel, M., and Milrod, C., (eds.) The Cultural Encyclopaedia of the Penis (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2015, in press)


  • The Museum of Anything, Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh (May 2014). A one-day interactive installation.
  • The Museum of Everything, Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh (March 2014). A week-long interactive installation.
  • Richard Williams: United States, Stills Gallery, Edinburgh (February 2012). An exhibition of large-scale digital photographs


  • 30 September 2014, ‘Institution’ for Keywords, Dundee Contemporary Art
  • 20-21 September 2014, ‘Sex, Buildings and Public Sculpture’ for Travelling Dialogues, Atlas, Portree, Skye/ Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum & Arts Centre, Lochmaddy
  • 22 May 2014: ‘When Was “Interruption?’’’, Senate House, University of London
  • 16 May 2014: ‘What are the Ideals of Contemporary Western Architecture?’, Ewha Woman’s University, Seoul, South Korea
  • 26 November 2013: Sex and Buildings’, University College Dublin
  • 22 November 2013: Sex and Buildings’, University of Amsterdam
  • 11 October 2013: ‘Sex and Buildings’, Glasgow School of Art
  • 8 November 2013: ‘You’ll Love the Way it Makes You Feel’, Senses and Sensibility, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Florianopolis, Brazil
  • Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas, Demolish Morningside! Spiegeltent, Edinburgh Festival Fringe (15 August 2013)
  • 10 May 2013: ‘Drop City Blues: Occupy and Architectural Interruption’, New York University, New York
  • 13 August 2012: Chair for Richard Sennett, talk at Edinburgh Book Festival, Edinburgh
  • 3 February 2012: ‘A modern ruin – the United States in Philadelphia’, Stills Gallery, Edinburgh
  • 17 November 2011, ‘‘Ordem e Desordem em Espaço Urbano’, University of São Paulo, São Paulo
  • 17 February 2011, Talk on Brazilian Modernism for visiting students from University of Washington, Chandigarh College of Architecture, Chandigarh, India.
  • 14-16 February 2011, various talks on the University of Edinburgh and the Creative Industries, Delhi, India
  • 12 November 2010, Commentator on Keeping Britain Moving, NACBS, Baltimore
  • 29 October 2010, ‘Sexuality, Public Space and the Modernist City in Brazil’, Maison Blanche La Chaux de Fonds/Université de Lausanne
  • 3 June 2010, ‘Dematerialization After Dematerialization: Whatever Happened to the Dissolution of Sculpture?’, Strasbourg Modern and Contemporary Art Museum
  • 31 March 2010: ‘Sexuality, Space and the Architectural Project: A Provisional History’Henry Moore Institute, Leeds
  • 3 February 2010, ‘Sexuality, Space and the Architectural Project: A Provisional History’Stills Gallery, Edinburgh
  • 7 December 2009: ‘The Museum of the Sexual Revolution: Wilhelm Reich at Orgonon’, University of Manchester
  • 13-16 October 2009: ‘Sexuality, Space and the Architectural Project: A Provisional History’, PROJETAR, Mackenzie University, São Paulo, Brazil
  • 1-2 October 2009, Globalization and Violence workshop, University of Amsterdam
  • 29 April 2009: ‘A Brief History of Nonplace: Theory, Practice and Problems’, University of Liverpool
  • 22 April 2009: ‘Sexuality and Space Revisited’, Architecture and Design Scotland, Edinburgh
  • 10 March 2009: ‘Brazil/Europe: Sexuality, Modernism, and Architecture c. 1930-1960’: ‘University of Edinburgh, Institute for the Advanced Study in the Humanities research seminar
  • 14 February 2009: ‘The Politics of Eros: Sexuality and Modernist Architecture inBrazil, 1930-60’, Whitworth Art Gallery, University of Manchester, Dwelling, Walking, Falling conference
  • 25 November 2009: ‘Sexuality, Modernism, and Architecture: University of Glasgow/Instituto Camões
  • 7 November 2008: ‘Sexuality and Space Revisited’, University of Edinburgh Architecture research seminar
  • 11 April 2008: ‘Public Space and Public Culture” Theory, Practice and Problems’, Centro ITAU Cultural, São Paulo, Brazil
  • 10-12 January 2008: ‘Undeclared Civil War: Architecture and Violence in São Paulo’, University of London Institute, Paris
  • 26 September 2007: ‘About Walking and Buildings’, Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh
  • 27 August 2007: Public discussion with Katrina Brown, curator of public art exhibition, Jardins Publics, Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh
  • 28-29 October 2006: Panel member of ‘Surveillance Society’ Battle of Ideas, Royal College of Art, London
  • 26 October 2006: ‘Rethinking London’s Docklands’, The Wolfe Institute’, Brooklyn College, New York
  • 11 October 2006: ‘The Modernist City after the Modernist City’, University of Leeds, Department of Fine Art, Research Seminar
  • 1 September 2006: ‘Brasília after Brasília’, EUHA 8th Annual Conference on Urban History, University of Stockholm, Stockholm
  • 30 May 2006: ‘Architecture in Britain 1945-1955’, National Gallery of Art, Edinburgh
  • 4 March 2006: Panel member of ‘The Future of Community’, Future of Community Festival, Central St Martins College of Art, London
  • 26 January 2006: ‘Research’, Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh
  • 2 November 2005: Chair of ‘The University Museum in the Twenty-First Century’, Talbot-Rice Gallery, University of Edinburgh
  • 27 October 2005: Panel member of ‘Urban Anxieties’, a discussion organised by Prospect Magazine around my book The Anxious City. 41-43 Princes St., Edinburgh.
  • 7 October 2005: Panel member of discussion on contemporary urbanism, organised by Prospect Magazine Scottish Design Show, Tramway, Glasgow
  • 2 June 2004: ‘Brasília’, DOCOMOMO Scotland Annual Lecture (Edinburgh, College of Art)
  • 30 May 2003: Panel member of ‘Square Politics’, National Gallery, London
  • 6 September 2002: ‘Modernist Civic Space’, 6th International Conference on Urban History, Edinburgh University.
  • 25 February 2002: ‘Rethinking the City with Henderson, Paolozzi and the Smithsons,’ Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh
  • 16 January 2002: ‘Seeing Brasília’, University of Glasgow, Department of History of Art
  • 8 November 2001: ‘Brasília, Modernity and Disappearance’, University of Reading, History of Art Research Seminar
  • September 2000: ‘Brasília as Text’, Comité International pour l’Histoire de l’Art (CIHA) Courtauld Institute, London
  • February 2000: ‘Representing Anti-Form’, College Art Association Annual Conference, New York
  • April 1999: ‘Architects and Dystopias’, ‘Apocalypse’ conference, University College Cork
  • April 1999: ‘Exhibitions and Non-Events’, Association of Art Historians Annual Conference, Southampton
  • March 1999: ‘Form and Anti Form’, Tate Gallery Liverpool
  • September 1998: ‘Informe and Art’, Fundació Tápies, Barcelona
  • April 1998, ‘The All-Embracing Stare: Ehrenzweig and American Sculpture’, Association of Art Historians Annual Conference, Exeter
  • March 1998: ‘Eccentric Abstraction’, Reed College, Portland (OR)
  • January 1998: ‘British Architecture of the 1960s’, Cornerhouse, Manchester


  • April 2015, co-convenor with Mark Crinson, ‘The Art History of Architectural History’, session at Association of Art Historians Annual Conference 2015, University of East Anglia
  • 23 June 2014: Organiser and panel member, ‘Fear and Scotland’s Future: A Roundtable’, IASH, University of Edinburgh
  • 6 May 2014: Organiser, ‘Culture, Creativity and Scotland’s Future: A Roundtable’, IASH, University of Edinburgh
  • 29-30 March 2012:  Chair and organiser of Global Policy Dialogue: Sustainability and the City, British Council/University of Edinburgh
  • 22-23 April 2010: Chair and organiser of ‘Refiguring the Global City’, Stills Gallery, Edinburgh/University of Edinburgh
  • 13 April 2007: Convenor and chair of ‘Representing the Monster City’, session at the Art Historians’ Association (AAH) Annual Conference, University of Ulster, Belfast.
  • 28-29 September 2006: Chair of ‘Art and the Body’ symposium, National Gallery of Art, Edinburgh
  • 5 April 2006: Convenor and chair of ‘Disciplinary Ethics’, session at the Art Historians’ Association (AAH) Annual Conference, University of Leeds
  • April 2004: Convenor of ‘Copyright’, a debate at the Art Historians’ Association (AAH) Annual Conference, University of Nottingham, Nottingham
  • 2 November 2002: Convenor and chair of ‘Experiencing the Modernist City’, session at Modernist Studies Association 4th Annual Conference, University of Madison-Wisconsin
  • April 2000: Convenor and chair of ‘Inside the Round: Sculpture and the Spiral’, Henry Moore Institute, Leeds
  • September 1998: Session chair, ‘Work’, International Symposium on Electronic Art (ISEA), Liverpool John Moores University
  • April 1999: Organiser of ‘Theory and Practice’ research forum at Liverpool John Moores University
  • June 1997: Co-organiser of Robert Morris symposium, Henry Moore Institute, Leeds


  • 2014 Leverhulme Trust, funding for post-doctoral fellow
  • 2014 Carnegie Trust, research support
  • 2012 AHRC-NWO Global Cities and Practices of Interruption. Named participant in network.
  • 2011 Carnegie Trust, support for image reproduction costs:
  • 2008 British Academy, support for image reproduction costs:
  • 2008 Carnegie Trust, research support:
  • 2006 AHRC Research Leave:
  • 2005 Daiwa Foundation Grant for research in Tokyo
  • 2004 AHRB Small Project Grant in Creative and Performing Arts for research in Brazil
  • 2003: Leverhulme Research Fellowship:
  • 2003 AHRB GLAADH sub-project grant for teaching development:
  • 2001 British Academy 44th Congress of Americanists’ Fund


  • 5 PhDs successfully supervised to completion
  • 4 Masters by Research successfully supervised to completion
  • c. 50 masters’ theses supervised to completion
  • Currently supervising 4 PhD students
  • PhD external examiner for London School of Economics, University of Manchester, Winchester School of Art, Chelsea College of Art, University College Dublin


Current appointments

  • AHRC Peer Review College
  • Member of Editorial board for Urban Cultural Studies
  • Member of International Advisory Board for Amsterdam University Press, Cities and Cultures series
  • Member of the editorial board for the Korean Association for Western Art History
  • Member of the editorial board for IDEA the journal of the Interior Design/Interior Architecture Educators Association
  • Regular peer reviewing for publishers including Reaktion, Routledge, Yale. Journal peer reviews for The Journal of ArchitecturePlanning Perspectives, Sociological Theory and others

Past appointments

  • Trustee of Art Historians’ Association (2002-5)
  • Member of Design and Artists’ Copyright Association (DACS) Steering Committee (2002-5)
  • Consultant on development of M.Litt (masters) programme ‘Art: Politics: Transgression: Twentieth Century Avant-Gardes’, University of Glasgow, Glasgow (2007)
  • Consultant for Chambers Harrap Ltd on translations of Anne Bony, Le Design (Paris: Larousse, 2004) and Florence de Mèredieu, Art et Nouvelles Technologies (Paris: Larousse, 2004)
  • Advisor to Lowry Art Centre, Salford (2001)


Current roles 

  • Member of Senatus
  • Estates committees representative for History of Art
  • Web director for History of Art

Previous roles

  • Unit of Assessment Co-ordinator for Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory (34) REF2014 (2012-13)
  • Dean of Postgraduate Studies, College of Humanities and Social Sciences (2009-13)
  • Director of Research, History of Art (2009-12)
  • Director, Graduate School of Arts, Culture and Environment (2005-9)
  • Programme Director of MSc History, Theory and Display (2003-6)
  • Programme Director of MSc in the City (2006-10)
  • Convenor of History of Art Research Seminars (2005-7)


For PhD examining, see ‘Research Students’ 

  • 2007-11: external examiner for M.Litt (masters) programme ‘Art: Politics: Transgression: Twentieth Century Avant-Gardes’, University of Glasgow.
  • 2004-10: external examiner for all BA programmes in History of Art, University of Manchester






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