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The Buell Center and AD—WO, Columbia University

New York, United States


The Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture was founded at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation (New York City) in 1983. In recent years, the Center has convened conversations among overlapping constituencies, including academics, students, professionals, and the general public. Its current project addresses the topic of Architecture and Land in the Americas, in its historical significance and contemporary relevance. The Center’s director, Lucia Allais (b. London, 1974), is a historian and critic of architecture whose work focuses on the relation between architecture, politics, and technology in the modern period and on the global stage.

AD—WO (Partners: Jen Wood b. Naarm/Melbourne, Australia, 1984, & Emanuel Admassu, b. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 1983), is an art and architecture practice based in New York City, and by extension, between Melbourne and Addis Ababa. The practice aims to establish an operational terrain between architecture’s content and container: equally committed to designing buildings and reimagining their sociopolitical contexts. Founded in 2015, AD—WO has undertaken projects in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Germany, and the United States. Their work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, Studio Museum in Harlem, Architekturmueum der TU Munchen, and Art Omi. AD—WO’s work is part of the permanent collection at the High Museum of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago.


Chicago Cultural Center


78 East Washington Street, Chicago, IL


The Loop


The Chicago Cultural Center serves as one of the main exhibition venue sites for CAB 5, featuring projects from more than 80 participants from ten countries. 

Opened in 1897, the Chicago Cultural Center is a Chicago landmark building operated by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and is home to free cultural exhibits and programming year-round.

Chicago Cultural Center
Chicago Cultural Center

CAB 5 Contribution

Project Overview

100 Links: Architecture and Land, in and out of the Americas

There is architecture in the simplest of tools. Gunter’s chains and  corner mounds are devices that measured and marked vast  territories during the colonization of North America. The sixty-six-foot  chain, tagged and divided into 100 links, combined decimal and  English systems so that eighteenth-century surveyors could lay out  fields, farms, towns, and, eventually, the Jeffersonian grid. The  mounds were dug out from four pits to show where the grid  intersected and where plots could be bought. Together, these tools  enabled the conversion of earth into land, and inextricably linked  liberty to property. Any alternative way of being with the world—by  Indigenous communities who considered themselves as belonging to  the land, not the other way around, or by enslaved peoples who  invented new modes of life despite being declared property—were  odious obstacles to this brutal dynamic. 

The project 100 links unsettles the historical and ongoing dynamics  of enclosure and dispossession by redefining land not as object  but as relationship. It invites visitors to move beneath sagging chains,  amidst wall-mounted tags, and around pits filled with books for the  taking. These books unpack the lineage of a paradox that still feeds  development today: as soon as any territory is enclosed, new  architectures have to be invented to declare land an endless resource  again. To unsettle land today is to reflect on the techniques that  sustain this legacy, to find solidarities across history and geography,  to heed the work of contemporary abolitionists and indigenists, and  to generate robust forms of unlanded freedom. 


Credit: The Buell Center and AD–WO, Columbia University 

With support from The Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American  Architecture at Columbia GSAPP and Elise Jaffe + Jeffrey Brown

The City is the Site