Carla Keyvanian & David Serlin

Fellow Shoptalks

Carla Keyvanian & David Serlin

Color photograph of the facade of an abandoned, crumbling early-twentieth-century hospital administration building, with an overcast sky

Original administration building (abandoned) for the Progetto Ophelia, ca. 2018

Carla Keyvanian
The Hospital of Santo Spirito in Sassia in Renaissance Rome: Architecture, Antiquarianism, and a Modern Notion of History

This talk focuses on a fifteenth-century building that has been overlooked by modern scholarship because its architect is unknown and it does not fit within current notions of “Renaissance architecture.” Carla Keyvanian offers a close reading of the architecture to reveal the extraordinary set of correspondences that tie together the architectural, structural, and ornamental schemes of the building. She suggests the designer was one of the most important humanist-architects of the period, who displayed in the architecture the link between the study of ancient ruins and the development of a new understanding of history based on material evidence.

Carla Keyvanian is the National Endowment for the Humanities/Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Post-Doctoral Rome Prize in Renaissance and Early Modern Studies and professor in the School of Architecture at Auburn University.

David Serlin
Discovering the Progetto Ophelia: Toward a Genealogy of Empathic Hospital Design

The Progetto Ophelia, a residential psychiatric hospital in Potenza designed in 1905 by Marcello Piacentini, was (and remains) remarkable for its innovative use of light, smell, sound, and tactility as experiential adjuncts to the hospital’s goals of rehabilitation and long-term care. One could argue, however, that the Progetto Ophelia was part of an emergent movement within late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century hospital architecture that used sensory design elements as a form of empathic attunement to the needs of its patients. This short talk will situate this very early work by Piacentini (whose career took an unexpected turn when he became the central architect of Fascist Italy under Mussolini), among related examples drawn from the first decades of the twentieth century. Like the Progetto Ophelia, these examples not only pioneered forms of architectural empathy but challenge conventional histories of the modern hospital as institutions of hostile medicalization or else benign neglect.

David Serlin is the Arnold W. Brunner/Katherine Edwards Gordon/Frances Barker Tracy Rome Prize Fellow in Architecture and associate professor in the Department of Communication at University of California, San Diego.

The shoptalks will be held in English.


Date & time
Monday, January 25, 2021
6:00 PM
AAR Zoom
Central European Time
Rome, Italy