The University of Utah
College of Architecture + Planning


Architecture of Complexity
design, systems, society and environment

June 14-17, 2017
University of Utah
College of Architecture + Planning


Architecture is contextually contingent.  Once the social, economic, and environmental networks and systems that presuppose architecture become a fundamental context for design, then the capability and culpabilities of architecture and its systems become newly, and more intensely, important.  Ulrich Beck suggests that we are in a new phase of modernity in which architects’ operations can be characterized by the development and implementation of contextual systems of increasing hazard. Our belief that society can control the dangers that itself produces is self-defeating.  Ulrich suggests that we wrestle today with the side effects of yesterday’s successes.  How can we ensure a tomorrow that does not suffer from the same fate?


Systems thinking focuses on large-scale dynamic networks, rather than linear cause-and-effect relationships.  In building, thinking systemically requires an equifinality approach: recognition that there are multiple ways to answer the problem of building, which lead in turn to different ways to organize design practice.  Further, systems thinking uses multi-finality: recognition that similar initial conditions of cost, scale, and scope can yield widely different building results. This demands a broader understanding of what constitutes architecture.  It demands a more systemic and holistic approach to the built environment.


Complicatedness is unforgiving in building, and the call for holistic thinking risks being inflated to an obtuse level where the system becomes an unmanageable mess of parts and relationships that become too untraceable to mean much of anything. As such, systems thinking in building practice requires defining the extent of the system – framing the inquiry to determine the specific parts, linkages, and networks.  This makes architecture of complicatedness into an architecture of complexity.  While complicatedness is confusing, alienating, and inefficient; complexity is rigorous, rich, layered, and meaningful.


The conference theme is the architecture of complexity.  It seeks for the creation, clarification, codification and communication of research knowledge on architecture as design, systems, society and environmental networks.  This call is for papers that span the modalities and domains of research, scholarship and creative work in architecture: history, theory, criticism, quantitative, qualitative, technical, applied, classroom, and practice.  This is also a call for allied disciplines in planning, design, engineering and business, as well as the physical and social sciences to ask questions and begin to answer why, what, and how of complexity in the built environment.


Conference Co-Chairs:

Ryan E. Smith

Keith Diaz Moore

Wei (Windy) Zhao

University of Utah



Cityscapes Downtown_S_Greenwood

Conference Location: University of Utah | Salt Lake City, Utah

Conference Dates: June 14–17, 2017

ARCC 2017 Early Registration

until May 1, 2017

  • Registration includes access to all keynote speakers, plenary, paper and poster sessions. Lunch Thursday and Friday and dinner on Friday night are included.
  • Lodging and ground transportation are not included. Room block will be held until Wednesday May 17, 2017.
  • A digital copy of the proceedings is included. Hard copies will be available for purchase online.

The College of Architecture + Urban Planning is located at

375 South 1530 East, Suite 235, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Transportation TRAX-CityCtyBldg_S_Greenwood


There are 2 lodging options that have been provided at a discounted rate for ARCC attendees.

GUEST HOUSE – A block of 75 single king bed rooms have been reserved at the University Guest House located within walking distance of the conference venues on the University of Utah campus with a conference rate of $109/night + 12.6% tax and transient fee.  This is 3-star hotel type accommodations and breakfast is included.  Room block will be held until Wednesday, May 17, 2017.

Attendees are responsible for booking their own reservations – call 801-587-1000 (local) or 888-416-4075 (toll free) to make a reservation. Make sure to reference the “ARCC 2017 Conference” when making your reservation to get the conference rate.  Reservations for this room block cannot be made online.

DORMITORIES – A block of 50 single twin bed dormitories has been reserved on campus at the University of Utah within walking distance of the conference venues.  This option is a $50 registration fee for handling and a $40/night rate.  Dormitories are set up with a private room and a shared bathroom with one other resident.  You may request to share a bathroom with an identified guest in the registration process.  There is a cafeteria next door where breakfast may be purchased.  Reserve your dormitory online.  Dormitory block will be held until Wednesday, May 17, 2017.

For those interested in staying downtown, a map of suggested hotels is provided here (opens as PDF). All suggested hotels are proximate to TRAX, the public light rail system, that has regular access to the university campus. Please note that there is not a conference rate at any hotel other than the University Guest House and Dormitories.


Contact Us

If you have any questions or concerns regarding submission materials or conference details, please take a moment to fill out the form below and we will contact you as soon as possible.

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Ryan E. Smith
Keith Diaz Moore
Wei (Windy) Zhao

– University of Utah, College of Architecture + Planning

Keynote Addresses


Jason F. McLennan is considered one of the most influential individuals in the green building movement today and the recipient of the prestigious Buckminster Fuller Prize, Jason F. McLennan’s work has made a pivotal impact on the shape and direction of green building in the United States and Canada and he is a much sought after presenter and consultant on a wide variety of green building and sustainability topics around the world. McLennan previously served as the CEO of the International Living Future Institute – a leading NGO that focuses on the transformation to a world that is socially just, culturally rich and ecologically restorative. An Ashoka Fellow, Jason is the founder and creator of the Living Building Challenge, widely considered the world’s most progressive and stringent green building program. He is the author of five books: The Philosophy of Sustainable Design, The Dumb Architect’s Guide to Glazing Selection, The Ecological Engineer, Zugunruhe and Transformational Thought.



Steven A. Moore is Bartlett Cocke Regents Professor of Architecture and Planning at the University of Texas at Austin where he teaches design and interdisciplinary courses related to the philosophy, history, and application of sustainable technology. Before completing his Ph.D. in 1996, Moore was the Design Principal of Moore/Weinrich Architects in Maine (1970-91). At UT, he served as Director of the Graduate Program in Sustainable Design (2000-2016), founded the Graduate Portfolio Program in Sustainability (2005), and is Co-founder of the University of Texas Center for Sustainable Development (2003). Moore is a Fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts, a Loeb Fellow of the Harvard Graduate School of Design, the recipient of an Individual Scholar Award from the National Science Foundation. He is the author of many articles, twenty-five book chapters and seven books on the topic of sustainable architecture and urbanism. Moore’s most recent book, the second Edition of Pragmatic Sustainability: Dispositions for Critical Adaptation, appeared in July 2016.

Conference Schedule and Proceedings




Conference proceedings are posted below for download:

ARCC Proceedings 2017 FINAL

You may also order a printed version from