AboutI am an educator, historian and curator focused on buildings, landscapes, and political economy.
Spaces of Financial Work
Over the past five years, I have researched spaces of financial work — like individual office buildings or entire financial districts — in global cities such as New York, London, Hong Kong and San Francisco. From 2014-16, I lived in the Bay Area, and wrote a masters thesis on the architectural history of the Transamerica Pyramid. I am now organizing this work into a future exhibition and catalog that will examine the building’s corporate history, controversial design and backlash, and how it today has become quintessential to the San Francisco skyline. Between 2017-19 I lived in Hong Kong, where I examined the history of finance and its relationship to Hong Kong’s political economy. I am now finishing this work through my current book project, The Architecture of Stock Exchanges in Hong Kong: Design of a Free Market. As the 2018-19 Emerging Curator at the Canadian Center for Architecture in Montréal, I organized the multimedia research project, Market Landscape: Between Financial Districts and the Planet. This work was done collaboratively with the architect and landscape historian Maxime Decaudin, a PhD Candidate in Art History at Sorbonne Université in Paris.
Architects & Equity
I have been an active member of The Architecture Lobby since 2014. Through the Lobby, I have worked on numerous projects at the chapter and inter-chapter level, including the establishment of chapters in the Bay Area and Twin Cities, and co-editing the 2016 book, Asymmetric Labors: The Economy of Architecture in Theory and Practice. Currently, I am Chapter Steward of the Michigan Chapter, aiming to grow the chapter from its current home at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, into a state-wide collective of people seeking to make a more equitable field of architecture.
I have assisted on architectural exhibitions at the City Gallery of Hong Kong, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Institute for Public Architecture in New York, and UC Berkeley’s Wurster Gallery.
- PhD Architecture
University of Michigan, (2020-Present)
- MPhil Architecture
University of Hong Kong (2020)
- MS Architecture
University of California, Berkeley (2016)
- BA Architecture History
City University of New York (2014)
- Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education
University of Hong Kong (2019)
- Spring School
Global Network in Financial Geography (2018)
- Student Leadership Forum
Design Futures Public Interest Design (2015)
Work Shared in CORE
Other PublicationsManuscripts in Progress
- “The power of the pyramid: Transamerica Pyramid and the corporate architecture of a new world headquarters,” Sben K., journal article manuscript
Magazines and Newsletters
- Asymmetric Labors: The Economy of Architecture in Theory and Practice, ed. Aaron C., Peggy D., Sben K., Eric P., and Manuel S., (New York: The Architecture Lobby, 2016)
- Black Lives Matter, Jonathan M.and Meredith T. with Sben K., (Aggregate Architectural History Collaborative, 2015)
- Sonali D., Sben K. and Y.L. Lucy W., Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain, February 26, 2021. https://www.sahgb.org.uk/features/scholarship-in-communion-writing-on-architecture-and-empire
- Sben K., “Brutality,” New York Review of Architecture, No. 13, July 2020.
- Sben K. and Maxime D., “Detouring the Market Landscape,” Canadian Centre for Architecture, November 29, 2019.
- Joy K., Sben K., Brent S., and Olivier V., “Raising a Family in the Academy,” and in Platform, July 2019.
- Ewan H. and Sben K., “Post-War Paradigm,” The Architectural Historian. Newsletter of the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain, Issue 7, September 2018, 16-19.
2018 Infrastructure Imagination: Hong Kong City Futures, 1972-1988, Curatorial Assistant, Curated by Cecilia Chu and Dorothy Tang, City Gallery of Hong Kong
2016 “Experimental Architecture” exhibit, Curatorial Intern, Curated by Jennifer Dunlop Fletcher and Joseph Becker, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
2016 “Chairs” exhibit, Curatorial Intern, Curated by Jennifer Dunlop Fletcher and Joseph Becker, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
2015 Art + Village + City in the Pearl River Delta, Curatorial Assistant, Curated by Margaret Crawford and Winnie Wong Wurster Gallery, University of California, Berkeley
2014 Total Reset, Exhibition and Residency Coordinator, Curated by Karen Kubey, Institute for Public Architecture, New York, New York
2013 Sky High and the Logic of Luxury, Intern, Curated by Carol Willis, Skyscraper Museum, New York, New York
2013 Urban Fabric 2, Intern, Curated Andrew Dolkart and Carol Willis, Skyscraper Museum, New York, New York
2013 Woolworth Building at 100, Intern, Curated by Gail Fenske and Carol Willis, Skyscraper Museum, New York, New York
2018 “Imperial Sediments: Urban Development of Hong Kong’s Exchange Square (1980-84)” International Planning History Society, Yokohama, Japan, July
2018 “Design of a Free Market: Regulating Hong Kong’s Stock Exchange”
Society of Architectural Historians, Saint Paul, Minnesota, April
2017 “‘Asia’s first ‘intelligent’ building’: Constructing Hong Kong’s Stock Exchange (1985-87)” Graduate Workshop, Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain, London, May
2016 “‘The Future of Jamaica Bay”: Planning the Coastal Landscape of Jamaica Bay (1898-1942)” International Planning History Society, Delft, Netherlands, July
2016 “Transamerica Pyramid: Dirt, Ships, Trees, Banks,” American Association of Geographers, San Francisco, California, April
Conference and Symposium Organization
2019 Co-organizer of architecture MPhil/PhD conference, “Transfers: Movement and Mobility in the Built Environment of Asia and Beyond,” University of Hong Kong, May
2018 Organizer of architecture MPhil/PhD workshop, “Transactions in the Built Environment of Greater China” University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, April
2018 Lead Co-chair of Roundtable on “Labor Issues in the Academy” Society of Architectural Historians, Saint Paul, Minnesota, April
2017 Co-chair of Graduate Student Lightning Talks, “Unbuilding Imperialism” Society of Architectural Historians, Glasgow, Scotland, June
2016 Co-chair of Graduate Student Lightning Talks, “Politics of Representation” Society of Architectural Historians, Los Angeles, California, April
2016 Co-organizer “New Behaviors in Old Cities: Queer Possession and Dispossession of the City,” Immanent Urbanisms Lecture Series, San Francisco, California, March
2015 “History, Theory, Practice Workshops,” The Architecture Lobby, lead co-organizer UC Berkeley, Six evenings in October and November
Panel and Workshop Participation
2018 1st Spring School of the Financial Geography Research Network, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium, May
2016 Port Cultures Roundtable, International Planning History Society Delft, Netherlands, July
2015 Graduate Student Workshop, Society for American City and Regional Planning History Los Angeles, California, November