downloadDownload: Imperfect Health, poster

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Imperfect Health TV: Over 18 hours of programming


Imperfect Health Tour with Curators


Panel Discussion: Health, Habitat, and History

docBook: Imperfect Health

docBook excerpt: "Demedicalize Architecture," The Design Observer, March 2012

Press Resources

Media Contact: Margaret Cox,

docPress release July 27, 2012: Carnegie Mellon University's Miller Gallery Presents US Premiere of "Imperfect Health: The Medicalization of Architecture"

docFeb. 2013 eNews: Last chance to view Imperfect Health. New Events. In the News.

docDec. 2012 eNews: Holiday Hours + Sale, Penn. + Conn.

docNov. 2012 eNews: IS tour to CA, NA/SA, IH

Sept. 2012 eNews: This Friday Imperfect Health reception + events

Fall 2012 eNews: New Season: Imperfect Health exhibit+events, Intimate Science touring US, new Store

June 2012 eNews: Last week in San Francisco + Save the Date: Sept. 14 + June Store

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For high-resolution images for press use, contact


Art Papers: "Imperfect Health: The Medicalization of Architecture is a substantial, research-led exhibition interrogating emerging urban health concerns and the design strategies that engage them…Imperfect Health finds compelling alternatives to the worldview that reduces human conditions to clinical disorders," - Beck Huff Hunter, Art Papers, March/April 2013 issue

FastCo.DESIGN: "The two professions [architecture and design] share uncanny similarities, and their relationship is the basis for Imperfect Health, a fascinating exhibition curated by the Canadian Center for Architecture and on view at Carnegie Mellon University’s Miller Gallery this winter ... The work on display at the Miller Gallery includes failures, scams, and downright fantastical hypotheses about how design can improve everything from asthma to obesity. It also includes plenty of successes," - Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan, "Architecture In The Exam Room: An Exhibition Exploring Design And Medicine," Fast Company, Jan. 2013

Carnegie Mellon Homepage Stories: "Imperfect Health," Jan. 31 2013

Pittsburgh City Paper: "Industry brought prosperity, but it also brought pollution and health problems. These images capture perfectly the contradictions, consequences, and imperfections of human invention." - Nadine Wasserman, "An architecture exhibition aims to reveal the contradictions and complexities inherent in our health-obsessed society," Pittsburgh City Paper, Jan. 2013

Afterimage: "This array of scrupulously assembled materials is a professional resource of breadth and depth … Imperfect Health provides a resource rich with ideas and information and provokes deep thinking along constructive avenues." - Robert Raczka, "Health Cares," Afterimage: The Journal of Media Arts and Cultural Criticism, vol 40 no.4, Jan. 2013

Design & Trend: "Imperfect Health: Exhibition Explores Relationship between Architectural Design and Medicine," Kristyan Morgan, Design & Trend, Jan. 2013

Design Observer: "Exhibition of the Year Award: A smart survey of a subject that, unfortunately, we can all take personally." - Alexandra Lange and Mark Lamster, Design Observer, Dec. 2012

Tribune-Review: "Exhibit looks at buildings, health, wellness"- Kurt Shaw, Tribune-Review, September 22, 2012

The Tartan: "New Miller Gallery exhibit features thought-provoking pieces of social commentary," - Laura Scherb, "Imperfect Health provides societal health report," The Tartan Pillbox, September 17, 2012

Pittsburgh City Paper: "Exhibits this fall address big issues. Art shows exploring health care, energy extraction, warfare, poverty and feminism are among the highlights," - Nadine Wasserman, Pittsburgh City Paper, September 12, 2012

Pittsburgh Magazine: "Best of Culture: September," Pittsburgh Magazine, September 2012

Pittsburgh City Paper: "Short List: September 12-18," Pittsburgh City Paper, September 12, 2012

PopCity: "A first-of-its-kind exhibition at Carnegie Mellon’s Miller Gallery is posing a thoughtful and timely question: can architecture and design really cure what ails us—or only offer imperfect solutions? In an era of indoor living, overuse of Purell and epidemic levels of obesity and diabetes, the question is one that's both critical and charged," "Can architecture make you healthier?" PopCity, Sept. 2012

Domus: “Imperfect Health," Domus, March. 2012

The Architectural Review: “Confronting Architecture's Creeping Clinical Undertones," - Mark Lamster, The Architectural Review, Dec. 2011

Maisonneuve: “New Remedies: Imperfect Health at the CCA," - Eric Mutrie, Maisonneuve, Nov. 2011

Abitare Architect: “Imperfect Health," - Valentina Ciuffi, Abitare Architect, Oct. 2011











Past Exhibition

Imperfect Health: the Medicalization of Architecture, installation view with cow by Andy Byers, Canadian Centre for Architecture, 2011. Photo © CCA, Montréal
Handicapped and Elderly, diagram 3b from Humanscale 1/2/3: A Portfolio of Information. Henry Dreyfuss Associates, designers, and Niels Diffrient, Alvin R. Tilley and Joan C. Bardagjy, authors. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1974. Collection CCA © Henry Dreyfuss Associates
Link Measurements 1b. from Humanscale 1/2/3: A Portfolio of Information. Henry Dreyfuss Associates, designers, and Niels Diffrient, Alvin R. Tilley and Joan C. Bardagjy, authors. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1974. Collection CCA © Henry Dreyfuss Associates
Office Environment, 1986, gelatin silver print, 38.1 x 48.3 cm. Canadian Centre for Architecture © Lynne Cohen
Mokattam Ridge (Garbage City), Cairo, Egypt, 2009, chromogenic color print, 152 x 190 cm. © Bas Princen.
Speleotherapy: Breathing In, Solotvyno salt mine, Ukraine, 2009, chromogenic color print, 36.5 x 54.4 cm. Kirill Kuletski, photographer. © Kirill Kuletski
In the Air, toxic topography of Santiago, Chile, 2008, digital drawing. Nerea Cavillo in collaboration with C+ arquitectos and In the Air. Courtesy Nerea Cavillo
Industrial Landscape, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1981, gelatin silver print, 30.8 x 40.4 cm. Canadian Centre for Architecture © Bernd and Hilla Becher, courtesy Sonnabend Gallery
Installation view of Imperfect Health exhibition at Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University
Installation view of Imperfect Health exhibition at Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University
Installation view of Imperfect Health exhibition at Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University
Installation view of Imperfect Health exhibition at Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University
Installation view of Imperfect Health exhibition at Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University
Installation view of Imperfect Health exhibition at Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University
Installation view of Imperfect Health exhibition at Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University
Installation view of Imperfect Health exhibition at Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University
Installation view of Imperfect Health exhibition at Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University

For high-resolution images for press use, contact




Imperfect Health

The Medicalization of Architecture
Curated by Giovanna Borasi + Mirko Zardini
Canadian Centre for Architecture, MontrealOrganized by the Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montréal
Sept. 15, 2012 - Feb. 24, 2013

Opening Night: Sept. 14, Friday
4:30pm: Exhibition Tour with the Curators
Co-presented by the Carnegie Mellon University Lecture Series
6-8pm: Get Well Soon Reception. Light refreshments available.
Co-sponsored by the Graduate Student Association.
RSVP: fb

See list of all events. Events are free of charge + open to the public.

We observe — and suffer daily from — the unforeseen consequences of our actions on the environment. We are anxious about ground pollution, food safety, pollen allergies, smog, asthma, cancer, obesity, epidemics, and ultimately, aging. Now that everything is perceived as a possible source of disease, the health, defense and fortification of our own bodies have become obsessive pursuits. We have begun to think of all aspects of our lives in medical terms.

Architecture, urban design, and landscape design are addressing these fears, incorporating medical issues and related concerns in their projects. Their new ideas and solutions are based on the optimistic premise that design has the capacity to deliver individual and collective well-being. Projects propose allergy-free gardens, more trees, cleaner air, soil remediation, and new quarantine spaces to prevent epidemic outbreaks. On the other hand, in addressing health issues, design also introduces new levels of complexity in projects that test industrial methods for food production, stairs that re-educate the obese and infirm, and the segregation of communities by age.

Imperfect Health is not a comprehensive survey of the relationships between health, architecture, cities and the environment. On the contrary, these projects for buildings, interiors, and open spaces are meant to highlight uncertainties and contradictions present in the ideas of health that are emerging in Western countries today, particularly in Europe and North America.

We are exposed to a lot of solutions, but at what cost?

Is the future of architecture in its medicalization?

- Giovanna Borasi + Mirko Zardini


Health is a focus of contemporary political debate in this moment of historically high anxiety. Are architects, urban designers and landscape architects seeking a new moral and political agenda within these concerns?

The Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University is proud to present the U.S. premiere of Imperfect Health: The Medicalization of Architecture. This exhibition has particular resonance in Pittsburgh, a city that has recovered from the collapse of its steel industry through its new health care, education and technology industries, and at Carnegie Mellon, a research institution focused on innovation, interdisciplinary collaboration, and creating and implementing solutions for real problems. Despite decades of revitalization, Pittsburgh still ranks as one of the most polluted cities in the United States, with higher rates of cancer, asthma, and obesity than the national averages.*

Imperfect Health features a wide range of works, including photographs, sculpture, video, research and archival materials, design projects, and architectural models and drawings, that together examine the complex relationships between design and health. The exhibition includes works by an international group of architects, artists, designers, and institutions, including Bernd and Hilla Becher, Berkeley Institute of Design and Intel Labs, BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group), Mel Chin, Todd Haynes, Henry Dreyfuss Associates, Steven Holl Architects, Gordon Matta-Clark, Niall McLaughlin, MIT AgeLab, Morphosis, MVRDV, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, OMA (Office for Metropolitan Architecture), Philippe Rahm, François Roche, SANAA, and Alison and Peter Smithson.

Accompanying the exhibition are a book extending the research (published by CCA with Lars Müller and available as an e-book and in print in the gallery), an online TV channel, and public programs including a lecture series, panel discussions, screenings and tours.

* According to the American Lung Association, 2008; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010; Pennsylvania Department of Health, 2011.

Support for Imperfect Health at Carnegie Mellon’s Miller Gallery is provided in part by The Heinz Endowments.



Giovanna Borasi is an architect, curator and editor. As Curator of Contemporary Architecture at the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) since 2005, Borasi has worked on several major exhibitions and their companion books, with a particular interest in how environmental and social issues are influencing urbanism and architecture today. Borasi was editor and writer for Lotus International (1998-2004) and Lotus Navigator (2000-2004), and recently joined the editorial board of Abitare as Deputy Editor in Chief.

Mirko Zardini, an architect, has been the Director and Chief Curator of the Canadian Centre for Architecture since 2005. His research engages the transformation of contemporary architecture by questioning and relooking at the assumptions on which architects operate today. Zardini has been editor for Casabella and Lotus International magazine and his writings have been widely published. He has taught design and theory at architecture schools in Europe and the United States, including Harvard University GSD, Princeton University SoA, Swiss Federal Polytechnic University (ETH) at Zurich, and the Federal Polytechnic at Lausanne (EPFL).

About the Canadian Centre for Architecture

Based in Montréal, Canada, the CCA is an international research centre and museum founded in 1979 on the conviction that architecture is a public concern. Based on its extensive Collection, the CCA is a leading voice in advancing knowledge, promoting public understanding, and widening thought and debate on architecture, its history, theory, practice, and role in society.

About The Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University

The Miller Gallery is Carnegie Mellon’s contemporary art gallery. The gallery supports experimentation that expands the notions of art and culture, providing a forum for engaged conversations about creativity and innovation. The Miller Gallery produces exhibitions, projects, events and publications with a focus on social issues, and is free of charge and open to the public. The gallery was selected “Best of Pittsburgh” by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (2011), Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (2011), and Pittsburgh City Paper (2010, 2011).


Public Events

All events are located at Carnegie Mellon University, free of charge, + open to the public, unless otherwise indicated.

Sept. 14, Fri.
4:30pm: Exhibition Tour with Curators Giovanna Borasi + Mirko Zardini
Co-presented by the Carnegie Mellon University Lecture Series
@ Miller Gallery. Meet on 1st floor.

6-8pm: Get Well Soon Reception. Light refreshments available.
Co-sponsored by the Graduate Student Association.
@ Miller Gallery.

RSVP: fb

Sept. 20, Thurs.
1-5pm: Flu Vaccine Clinic.
Provided by the University Health Services for the CMU community.
Free for CMU students on the student insurance plan, staff and faculty; $17 for spouses/partners and students on other plans (CMU ID required). Payment by check or student accounts only, no cash.

@ Miller Gallery, Purnell Center for the Arts, CMU

Sept. 21, Fri.
6:30-7:30pm: A Conversation with Photographer Iwan Baan.
Presented by the Heinz Architectural Center
@ Carnegie Museum of Art Theater 4400 Forbes Ave.
Baan's photographs are on view in both Miller Gallery's Imperfect Health exhibition and Carnegie Museum of Art Heinz Architectural Center's White Cube, Green Maze: New Art Landscapes. Followed by a reception, with HAC galleries open until 9pm.

Sept. 26, Wed.
4-6pm: Presentation: Air quality, regional pollution exposure, & the Marcellus Shale
by Albert Presto, Center for Atmospheric Particle Studies
Presented by Steinbrenner Institute for Environmental Education and Research + University Health Services
@ Outside of Miller Gallery entrance, Purnell Center for the Arts

Oct. 8, Mon.
4:30pm: Lecture: Re-thinking water quality, policy, and health — an elemental approach by Kartik Chandran. (Director, Biomolecular Environmental Sciences and Wastewater Treatment and Climate Change Programs, Columbia University).
Co-presented by the Distinguished Lecture Series in Environmental Science, Technology, and Policy, and the University Lecture Series
@ Porter Hall #100, on Frew St.

The current paradigm for wastewater treatment is based on a net ‘oxidation’ of its main elemental constituents, carbon and nitrogen. In this presentation, concrete examples of new models for carbon and nitrogen cycling (or lack thereof) are presented as alternate vehicles for energy and resource neutral or positive sanitation.

Oct. 16, Tues.
4:30pm: Panel Discussion: Health, Habitat, and History with various experts
Presented by the Department of History
@ Rangos Room 2, University Center 2nd floor.

Caroline Jean Acker, Associate Professor and Head, History Department, Carnegie
Mellon. “Networks and Neighborhoods: Syringe Exchange as Public Health

Jay Aronson, Associate Professor of History, Carnegie Mellon. “Disaster Response
and Public Health in Urban Environments

Zachary Falck, Adjunct Instructor, History Department, Carnegie
Mellon. “Agricultural Remedies.”

Andrea R. Fox, Associate Professor of Family Medicine, University of Pittsburgh;
Chief Medical Officer, Squirrel Hill Health Center. “Thinking about Tomorrow: Aging
in Places

Andrew Simpson, Doctoral Candidate, History Department, Carnegie Mellon. “The
Life and Death? of Urban Academic Medical Centers

Joel A. Tarr, Professor of History, Carnegie Mellon. “Energy Transitions,
Environment, and Health

Lisa Tetrault, Associate Professor of History, Carnegie Mellon: “What’s Gender Got
To Do with It?"

Panel Q&A

Oct. 23-24, Tues. - Wed.
CMU Campus Sustainability and Food Day Celebration
@ various locations on Carnegie Mellon University campus
Events include a farmers market and a presentation by Melinda Hemmelgarn, M.S., R.D. titled "F.A.R.M.: Food, Art, Revolution, Media: Changing the Way We Think to Change the Way We Eat. Exploring the power of images and stories to transform and support healthy food, farmers and communities." 

Feb. 13, Wed.
12-5:40pm: Therapeutic Massage: Masseuse Kathryn Kane will be available for 5 to 20 minute chair massage sessions*
@ Miller Gallery. Co-presented by the CMU School of Drama.
$1-2 per min. sliding scale price. Cash or check preferred, but credit/debit cards also accepted on site.
Schedule an appointment by Feb. 12, 4pm to or call 412.268.4754
Kathryn Kane graduated from the D'Ancona School of Muscle Therapy and has been a independently practicing massage therapist in Pittsburgh since 1994. She is a licensed MT for the State of Pennsylvania. In addition to basic massage study she has studied Shiatsu, deep tissue, and Thai massage. She will tailor her work to what her clients need.
*Chair massage is not recommended for pregnant clients.

Feb. 21, Thurs.
9:30am: Lecture: We are what we eat… and what we build: Designing Healthy Communities by Richard J Jackson MD, MPH (Environmental Health Sciences, Urban Planning, Pediatrics, UCLA).
Presented by the University Lecture Series
@ Magee-Womens Hospital Auditorium, 300 Halket Street. Zero level.

Dr. Richard Jackson is a pediatrician who analyzes and addresses the impact of the environment on health, particularly children’s health. He has done extensive work on pesticides, and in epidemiology, infectious diseases and toxicology. Over the past decade much of his work has focused on sustainability and how the 'built environment', including architecture and urban planning, affects health. Dr. Jackson was for nine years the Director of the US Centers for Disease Control National Center for Environmental Health, and has recently hosted a related US Public Television series,

Feb. 22, Fri.
12-6:30PM: Imperfect Health exhibition on view @ Miller Gallery, Purnell Center for the Arts
6:30-8:30pm: Film Screening: Danube Hospital (Donauspital). (Dir. Nikolaus Geyrhalter, Germany, 2012)
Co-presented by the Carnegie Mellon Faces International Film Festival

$5 Seniors + Students, $8 Others. Ticket can be purchased online. Pretzels from Hofbrauhaus and other healthy refreshments will be provided prior to the screening.
@ McConomy Auditorium, University Center.
An experimental documentary on one of the largest and most modern hospitals in Europe. "Geyrhalter is providing a complete view that would be impossible for any one subject, from any perspective, to grasp. This is more than a total picture; it is an X-ray. We are shown various medical procedures such as MRIs, eye surgery, emergency room care, and the like. But we also see administrative meetings, the strategic planning of the chaplaincy, the mixing of large vats of food in the lower-level kitchen, a patient arriving on the rooftop helipad, and other such 'restricted' areas... Danube Hospital reflects an intervention into the international debate on so-called socialized medicine [and] might be understood as a kind of macro-metonym, for a system that is not at all perfect but that works much more than it doesn’t."
- M. Sicinski, "A Metonymic Cinema”, July 2012

April 8, Mon. (POSTPONED)
6:00pm: Alan H Rider Distinguished Lecture: "What's Next?" by Winy Maas (MVRDV; Imperfect Health exhibiting architect)
@ Carnegie Library Lecture Hall. Presented by the CMU School of Architecture Spring Lecture Series, cosponsored by the Heinz Architectural Center at Carnegie Museum of Art; and supported, in part, by public funds from the Netherlands Cultural Services.