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A Short History of the Elevator Pitch

The elevator pitch as a genre is something you need to do fast. You need to grab the attention of the executive, a potential client, or a buyer – for it is a rare chance, perhaps your only chance – and you need to make it within a crowd of potentially eavesdropping strangers. That kind of situation has been invented by architecture, and points to the elevator not just as an architectural element, but as a media form. Every media develops in relation to the world around it, to the technology, to the culture and financial realities in which it exists. The elevator as a media form has produced its own genre: the elevator pitch. Understood in this way, elevators provide an ability to speak across class and across positions, even if momentarily. It is the one element in which we all need to stand and wait and the element in which opportunity is given, that has been afforded to us by architecture. Unexpectedly, while the modern elevator could be understood as hyper-standardised and entirely fungible, as a media device, it might produce a suspended moment in which social encounters for creative and norm-defying ideas are being formulated.

(Inspired by the final scene in “This is not a film” (2011) by Jafar Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb in which Panahi meets the rubbish collector in the elevator of his apartment building in which he is under house arrest.)


A Short History of the Elevator Pitch
United Kingdom, 2020
Ines Weizman

31.Oct.2021 1773 views
Ines Weizman Ines Weizman

Ines Weizman is an architect and theorist whose method ‘Documentary Architecture’ studies the material history of buildings, media and technology artefacts. Weizman is head of the PhD program at the School of Architecture, Royal College of Art (RCA) in London. She is the founding director of the Centre for Documentary Architecture (CDA), an interdisciplinary research collective of architectural historians, filmmakers, and digital technologists. With the CDA she curated the exhibition The Matter of Data which was shown in Weimar, Tel Aviv and Berlin. Among her recent publications are Dust&Data (2019), Documentary Architecture (2020) and 100+: Neue Perspektiven auf die Bauhaus-Rezeption (2021).

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