UW News

April 19, 2018

Vikram Prakash’s ‘ArchitectureTalk’ podcast explores topics ‘at the edge of the known’

UW News

Vikram Prakash, professor of architecture and creator of the ArchitectureTalk Podcast.

Vikram Prakash, professor of architecture and creator of the ArchitectureTalk Podcast.Dennis Wise

Vikram Prakash says his weekly “ArchitectureTalk” podcast got its start, as many things do, from a student’s idea.

Prakash is a professor of architecture in the University of Washington College of Built Environments. An architect himself, he is also an author, a theorist and an architectural historian.

He said he has always felt “energized” by discussions in seminars and at conferences of “impromptu topics at the edges of the known, discussed and well traversed.” But such conversations, he said, “usually dissolved in time, unable to survive the scrutiny and surveillance of the published work.”

Vikram Prakash’s “ArchitectureTalk” podcast is available on ITunes, GooglePlay, Stitcher, TuneIn, YouTube, Spotify and all other major podcasting platforms. Sign up for the mailing list here.

Prakash said he was lamenting just that — and the lack of “new media conversations on contemporary architectural thinking” — in a seminar when a student suggested simply, “Why don’t you start your own podcast?”

Sixteen episodes after its September 2017 debut, Prakash’s “ArchitectureTalk” podcast has been downloaded about 6,300 times from listeners in more than a dozen countries. The recordings are available on all major podcast platforms, including iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, Soundcloud and more.

Discussion themes range from general topics like historic preservation, modernism and urbanism to how fashion and art curation dovetail with architecture, the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, architecture in the Islamic world, and Seattle’s architectural culture.

The podcast, Prakash said, is intended not just for practicing professionals in the field but “architects, architectural thinkers, anyone interested in architecture, particularly from other disciplines. People in general.”

For one recent episode — perhaps his favorite yet, downloaded more than 600 times — Prakash interviewed B.V. Doshi, of India, the 2018 recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, which is akin to a Nobel Prize of architecture. Prakash said he was amazed when the famous architect “was happy to speculate on the ‘best’ buildings of his long career, and then ventured to candidly discuss the very serendipitous way in which he was inspired to design them.”

Who said: “There is no such thing as … architecture!”?

Vikram Prakash begins each ArchitectureTalk podcast with recordings of three famous architects. Here’s who is saying what.

  • Architecture is really the art and science of turning fiction into fact.”
    — Danish architect Bjarke Ingels.
  • Sometimes real architectural life interferes with intellectual architectural life.”
    – Architect Rem Koolhaas, who designed the iconic Seattle Central Library.
  • “There is no such thing as …. architecture!”
    — Architect Louis Kahn, at a 1972 conference. He went on, however, to vigorously defend the “spirit of architecture.”

Another memorable moment was when Ayah Rahmani, an associate professor of architecture at Washington State University, “upended my understanding of public and private when he suggested that in an Islamic city the street is private and the home public,” Prakash said.

UW talents are included in the podcast, too, such as when Prakash spoke with landscape architecture professor Jeff Hou and urban design associate professor Manish Chalana for a talk on “messy urbanism.” His producer for the podcast series is Elizabeth Umbanhowar, a doctoral student in landscape architecture.

Prakash said he listens daily to — and is inspired by — NPR interviewer Terry Gross, and agrees with her thinking that any story is interesting if you dig deep enough.

He said he’s always on the lookout for podcast guests and topics.

“It could be a story I have just read online, or a conversation with a friend at a bar. I am also looking for a vast multidisciplinary spread,” Prakash said.

​”In a sense, I am trying to see how people ​from different perspectives and backgrounds look — or could be made to look — at architecture.”


To learn more about Prakash and his work, contact him at vprakash@uw.edu. Follow him on Twitter: @VikramThings.