(Austin, 9-13 Apr 2014)
Austin, Texas, April 9 - 13, 2014
Deadline: Jan 15, 2013
List of Conference Sessions
Traditionally, architectural history has understood the internationalization of modernist trends as a defining aspect of the post-World War II context, positioning the United States as a point of origin for many of these developments. Recent studies have begun to move past narratives of mere stylistic dissemination, examining the multiple ways in which architecture and its allied disciplines played a significant role in World War II and Cold War geopolitical negotiations. Nevertheless, a vast number of exchanges in planning and architecture between the U.S. and Latin American countries, which entirely transformed the landscapes of urbanization and modernization across the Americas, are not well understood. For instance, such U.S.-based planning firms as Town Planning Associates (TPA), Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM), and Tippets, Abbets, McCarthy and Stratton (TAMS) spearheaded ventures tied to economic development schemes promoted by various institutions across North, Central and South America. Latin American contexts thus provided the testing ground for such urbanization principles as decentralized planning and the creation of industrial and corporate urban landscapes, ideas pioneered in the U.S. during the Second World War and widely adopted in the postwar context.
Building projects undertaken for religious communities of men and women since the nineteenth century constitute a significant aspect of architectural history, but have received limited academic attention. These sites of education, leisure, labour, domesticity and devotion provide valuable insights into the priorities and ambitions of such communities and their settings. In exploring this facet of global architectural history in ways that take multiple cultural and faith perspectives into account, new insights can be created by identifying important parallels and divergences between historical models, specific traditions, and particular geographies. The subject is especially apt as many of these sites are under increasing pressure and some are facing destruction.
Nineteenth-century architects and theorists made a clear distinction between 'building' and 'architecture': for them, a building became architecture only when historical references were invoked. The development of new constructive materials, in particular cast iron, directly challenged this perceived distinction. A new material possessed no history: how, therefore, could it be architectural?
The development of ornamental cast iron in architecture was seen as a solution to this problem and it flourished in the second half of the nineteenth century. It was a time when some architects, engineers and theorists believed that the fusion of iron and historical and natural motifs would both enact a reconciliation of art and technology and also create a new, modern architectural language. Despite much new research on the structural employment of iron in this period, its decorative use has received no significant attention from historians since the early-1960s. In the light of the waning of modernism's dominance and a questioning of its origins, it is high time for a reassessment of this rich but neglected subject.
This session seeks papers that explore the aesthetics of iron in architecture. Papers may focus on debates in theoretical and critical contexts, from the early nineteenth century onwards; on the relationship between structure and ornament in iron architecture; on the variety of architectural contexts in which iron was employed (railway stations, arcades, seaside buildings, street furniture, warehouses, shops, offices); on perceptions of iron by users; on ornamental iron in Art Nouveau architecture; or on the evaluation of iron in modernist and counter-modernist discourse, from Giedion to Siegfried Kracauer and Walter Benjamin. Session chair: Paul Dobraszczyk, Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow, Art History & Visual Studies, University of Manchester;email@example.com.
When it comes to the use of color, contemporary architecture presents a paradox. Rarely has color been used so freely and exuberantly, encouraged by digital design, new construction materials, and a permissive attitude toward form. And rarely has there been so little systematic thought about color. The theoretical revolutions of the last generation have had much to say about every aspect of architecture – political, social, literary, psychological – but have been notably laconic about color. There has been nothing comparable to the comprehensive theories of color produced by nineteenth-century thinkers such as Goethe, Chevreul, and Owen Jones, who made color a central subject of art and architecture. This session invites papers that examine the changing role of color in contemporary architectural theory, practice, and education, and encourages submissions that look at the issue from an international perspective. Session chairs: Andrew Shanken, Associate Professor, Department of Architecture, UC Berkeley, firstname.lastname@example.org; and Michael J. Lewis, Faison-Pierson-Stoddard Professor of Art, Williams College; email@example.com
Early modern visitors delighted in the gardens and villa estates built throughout the Italian peninsula. Foreigners and local viewers alike took in the antique statuary displays, contemporary sculpture and fountains, architecture, verdant plantings, flowers and exotic naturalia, and sweeping vistas afforded by these sites. Many described their garden experiences in written or visual form, precious documentation of gardens and landscapes later destroyed or dramatically altered by time.
Historians have traditionally employed primary sources to reconstruct the layout of villa and garden spaces, but these sources may also reveal the physical, emotional and social experiences visitors underwent as they moved through gardens and parks. Visual images, poetic verses, travelogues, legal documents, and personal anecdotes tell us something about how gardens appeared; they also form a picture of how visitors used and understood such spaces and how they perceived the garden owner, fellow visitors, or the nearly invisible laborers who maintained gardens. Though several exemplary studies have engaged contemporary theory to interpret the social significance of particular sites, and a few recent essays address the issue of viewer perception in gardens, there remains no comprehensive study of the social history of early modern Italian gardens.
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The architectural historiography of the "Near East" has been dominated by Western archeological studies of the late 19th-century whose subjects of investigations were historical "products" (e.g. buildings, artifacts), mainly based on observations, and less engaged in a holistic multi-disciplinary research, and rarely involved local researchers. For several decades, these findings defined the intellectual aura of the Non-West history. This trend often disregarded living traditions, which originated those "products," leading to a non-contextualized reading of the Near East history.
PS7. Open Session - Framed Views
Keith Eggener, University of Missouri, Chair
What's in a name? The title "architect" has been around for 2500 years, and "architecture" for 2000. Throughout this time, great care has been taken by architect-authors to define and delimit these Greek and Latin terms. In recent years, however, "architect" and "architecture" have been put into question. In a 2010 "Backseat Interview," Mark Jarzombek opined that "architecture [with its Euro-centric ideology] is out," and that any word whatsoever would be just as good to name the discipline. Similarly, in a 2011 lecture called "Architecture After Discipline," Mason White surmised that we ought to substitute the title with another that better speaks to architecture's "expanded field." With this, he echoed not only Rosalind Krauss but Anthony Vidler, who in a 2004 essay sketched a kind of architecture that is "not exactly architecture".
Like Shakespeare's Juliet vainly wishing that her loved one could "O, be some other name", a growing number of architects seem to be longing for a terminological fix to their disciplinary crises and cross-disciplinary infatuations. This session asks: What is at stake in this anxiety over the architect's name? What would be lost if the title were changed? What might be regained if its full social implications were recovered? And, what examples from the history of architectural discourse can best help us to (re)contextualize and (re)consider such questions?
In his 1976 book, Joseph Rykwert examined "The Idea of a Town" in the ancient Roman world, an anthropology of urban form. Rykwert focused particular attention on the rituals for narrating and performing city foundations, examining ancient texts and considering ancient Roman patterns of town founding as the embodiment of mythical narratives. The early modern Spanish world saw an abrupt increase in the founding of new towns, whether on the peninsula during the last campaigns of the Reconquista in Granada, in the Canary Islands as part of the early Castilian expeditions and colonization, in the Americas as colonial enterprise, or as part of the Bourbon program of economic stimulation in the eighteenth century.
Describing Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc's Dictionary of French Architecture from the 11th to the 16th Century, Frank Lloyd Wright wrote, "That book was enough to keep, in spite of architects, one's faith alive in architecture." Yet what was the nature of the architectural books produced in Wright's own time, when faiths of all kinds were put to the test and when conventional media were under assault? How did architects and theorists reconcile the traditions of architectural literature with what they perceived as a wholly new social landscape, demanding both innovative built forms and novel modes of communication? What visual experience did they believe inhered in the form of the book that made it indispensable to the development of the new architecture?
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Consumer goods, especially furniture, were an important means of expressing America's political and socio-economical strength in the postwar decades. Modern design was used to demonstrate the country's high standard of living and became a signboard of the 'American way of life.' The companies who produced this appealing furniture employed clever export strategies and convincing advertisements; their modern furniture quickly became a staple of office interiors and the homes of the progressive upper-middle class in many parts of the world.
This panel investigates the transnational transfer of architectural knowledge from the 1960s to the 1980s in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Encouraged by rapid growth in the developing world, and facilitated by the expansion of international banking and communication systems, many architects, firms, and design schools began exporting their expertise beyond their familiar cultural sphere. Working abroad offered architects the opportunity to realize their formal, technical, and programmatic ambitions--but also demanded a reformulation of existing modes of design, research, and project management. While fundamentally driven by post-colonial conditions within the framework of the Cold War, these transfers often did not conform to broader geopolitical logics: with Japanese firms designing luxury hotels in East Germany, Polish architects working in Iraq, Ghana and the UAE, and Swiss pedagogues formulating design curricula in Mainland China. Moreover, countries like Libya and Singapore recombined architectural principles from many sources, leading to highly syncretic design practices.
Robert Nauman, University of Colorado, Boulder, Chair
PS14. Open Session - Asia and Middle East
Tamara I. Sears, Yale University, Chair
The popular mediation of architecture gives meaning to form. The public is introduced to canonical architecture as well as everyday manufactured vernacular forms through a range of mass media and in the process is taught to recognize desire and consume forms. As a result, mass media is an essential architecture material. This session will critically analyze a range of mass media from advertisements to television and film in order to create a more nuanced and complete understanding of 20th-century architecture. In the process we will consider how popular culture both constructs and perpetuates ideas about the built environment.
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As architectural practices change, and the material culture of the field grows more complex, historians must reevaluate their relationship to the archives. Popular technologies, including computers, television, film, and radio, have produced a surplus of electronic and born-digital source materials. The nature of architectural archives changes with the influx of these types of records. The challenge of preserving traditional architectural materials also raises concerns about accessibility for future scholarship. For example, in 2010 the records of mid-century modernist Minoru Yamasaki were almost lost, and other collections, including those of Philip Johnson and Frank Gehry, are being sold. The result has been a fracturing of large collections and the potential for gaps in the material culture of architectural history.
From the Rust Belt to Silicon Valley, the intersection between architecture and industry has provided a rich and evolving source for the history of architecture. This relationship evokes the smoking factories of the 19th century, or Fordist production complexes of the 20th century, where architects and planners were required to house industry in factories and their workers in nearby housing developments. In planning, this dynamic precipitated the first model towns in Britain, and later the Garden City movement. The 19th century also heralded the rise of entire industrialized regions, such as the British Midlands, the German Ruhr region and the Rust-Belt in the United States. The 20th century revealed the ensuing problems when industry departs. Although vastly different in character, this relationship has continued into the New Economy and the architecture and urbanism of Silicone Valley.
After the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825, Buffalo became a point of intersection between the Eastern Seaboard and the Mid West. It developed into a major transshipment center with grain and produce coming from the Upper Mid West and Canada destined for transport by canal or rail to New York and other Eastern cities. Likewise, because of its location at the easternmost end of Lake Erie, Buffalo became a port of entry to the vast inland sea of the Great Lakes. The forces of transportation, industry, and commerce produced robust prosperity. As the city grew into one of the busiest ports on earth and the nation's eighth largest city, it sought a "higher civilization." In 1869, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux were hired to lay out the first comprehensive municipal park system in the nation. Olmsted was to write that Buffalo was "the best planned city, as to its streets, public places, and grounds, in the United States, if not the world." Sharing the desire to define the image of the city by means of impressive buildings, public and private clients called upon architects from Chicago and New York to design houses, commercial structures, churches and industrial facilities. Wright, Sullivan, Burnham, Saarinen and others came from the Mid-West to create major buildings, while others such as, Upjohn, Richardson, McKim, Mead and White, and George B. Post, arrived from New York. The session seeks to interpret the built environment that this intersection of Eastern and Midwestern architects and landscape architects produced and to explore the influence that prominent out-of-town architects had on local building practice. Session chair: Francis R. Kowsky, SUNY Distinguished Professor Emeritus: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Despite growing attention to globalization within architectural history, the history of architecture's myriad ways of circulating has remained relatively unacknowledged. In studying the networks and infrastructures through which architectural ideas, practices, objects, materials, technologies and media travel, this panel explores new challenges and opportunities in the methodologies of architectural history.
The urban and rural landscapes of pre-modern Europe were dotted with free-standing chapels serving a wide variety of functions and constituencies. Many still stand above ground (sometimes with new uses), whereas others are documented to varying degrees through archaeological reports, drawings, and written accounts. Yet, despite—or perhaps because of—their ubiquity, these chapels still await the kind of thorough, systematic studies made of chapels built directly onto churches (as at Santa Croce and Santa Maria Novella in Florence) or elite households (e.g., the Sainte-Chapelle). The premise of this panel is that a better understanding of the architectural features and functions of free-standing chapels is crucial to forming a more nuanced picture of their counterparts within churches and households, as well as to broadening our understanding of pre-modern European architecture. Even when visually modest—as many of them were—free-standing chapels raise complex issues of site, social functions, and semantic and architectural relationships to other elements of the built and natural environments. For example, as architecturally discrete religious spaces, free-standing chapels were always to some degree "a place apart," emphasizing separation and distinction, whether devotional (as for the cult of a particular saint), liturgical, social, or some combination of these. Why erect a separate structure, and why in a particular place? Who designed and paid for them? Who used them, and how? This session invites participants to consider these questions and others in regards to free-standing chapels from any period between the High Middle Ages and the Council of Trent, whether presented as individual case studies or as groups of buildings united by shared patronage, architect, forms, or functions. Session chair: Seth Adam Hindin, Adjunct Lecturer, Department of Art and Art History, University of Richmond;email@example.com.
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Studies in European and American art and architecture have long considered how, for political or religious reasons, patrons and their artists reference a "Golden Age" through form, decoration, and construction material from that era. The role of the past has been less thoroughly investigated in Asian architecture.
A conundrum stands at the heart of early modern architecture: treatise authors argued for reasoned analysis by the hypothetical viewer, yet they also suggested responses that slipped beyond the strictures of reason's control. One could calculate mathematical proportions precisely in one's mind, and one could develop a cogent argument about a building's purpose or the status of its owner from logically organized observations of its design. The fifteenth-century Leon Battista Alberti, however, argued for the psychological impact of beauty, while the eighteenth-century LeCamus de Mézières explored how buildings were sequential stage-sets that manipulated response. Such accounts mirrored enigmas inherent to the basic human process of perceiving the surrounding world, as it was described by early modern philosophers: the fallible senses, the deceptive imagination, and the tug of war between reason and the passions.
Plastic was the 20th century's transformative material, but its role in architecture has attracted little attention. After 1910, synthetic Bakelite became essential for electrification of buildings and other systems. Derivatives, like Formica, were employed for surfaces while new synthetics allowed plywood, particle board and plastic-impregnated materials to be pressed and rolled for roofing, wall and ceiling panels, insulation, and other applications. Compression-molded plastics helped define the Art Deco style as designers and mold makers created decorative and functional plastic fixtures and fittings. Plastic products were equated with modernity; and plastic potential was linked to fantastic, utopian and egalitarian visions of the future. The Vinylite House was introduced at Chicago's 1933 Century of Progress Exposition and plastic was visibly, and even overwhelmingly, evident at the 1939 and 1964 World's Fairs.
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In his 2011 plenary speech for the Society of Architectural Historians, Craig Wilkins addressed the "default narratives" that foreclosed a full consideration of the cultural work being performed in architecture today (Wilkins 2011). In this speech, he isolated the complimentary relationship that exists between our assumptions of who is considered an architect, as well as the types of architecture that matters. Though Wilkins explicitly addressed the influence of class in reproducing architectural culture, racial discourses have also been shown to impact professional and academic values (Anthony 2001, Stevens 2002, Kaplan 2006). Since at least the 1970s, revisionist and cultural historians have challenged this situation by recovering the labor of minority actors that participate in constructing the built environment. Yet, the significance of minorities' material culture continues to be overlooked by most general surveys of architectural history. This is even true of new global histories of architecture, which have expanded the list of national traditions that produced "monumental" architectures in history (Jarzombeck, Ching, Parkash 2011). Topics such as Black architecture —understood as either buildings designed by and for African-Americans, or as theoretical discourses that redeploy notion of blackness — have not become standard topics of surveys. These omissions, and many others, prompt a careful consideration of the racial discourses that implicitly underwrite architectural historiography.
Architecture in the 1950s and early 1960s appeared to many observers and participants to be in a state of flux, as an assortment of eclectic designs garnered significant popular and critical attention and modernism's status and future were prominently debated by critics and commentators intrigued by or concerned about the various turns architecture had taken since World War II. Many of these accounts revealed a tangible fear that architecture was at a crucial point, that the hard fought gains of the previous generation might be dissipated by unbridled design freedom. Critics used terms such as "chaotic" and "undisciplined" to describe seemingly foundationless designs characterized by non-traditional forms, a renewed interest in decoration, and an increasing use of historical elements. When Progressive Architecture conducted a "Seminar in correspondence" in 1961 with some of America's highest profile architects, the initial session was titled "The Period of Chaoticism;" with the exception of Mies van der Rohe, most of the participants accepted that variation and exploration were good for architecture and no threat to modernist principles if conducted within the bounds of some form of discipline. In contrast, however, critics like William Jordy, Robin Boyd, and Thomas Creighton fretted about the "new formalism," "the counter-revolution," and the "new sensualism," and the dangers that unbridled exploration posed to modern architecture's future.
Single room, cell, study, boudoir: all words with different connotations but a shared spatial identity as enclosed units intended for single occupancy or individual use. By focusing on the spatial unit of the single room as it has been constructed (literally and figuratively) across periods, geographies and building types, we can explore the intricate interplay between space, cultural meaning, experience and power. Where do we look to determine precisely how and why one single room inflicts punishment or promotes healing, while another preserves privacy, establishes superiority, or fosters creativity? How do single rooms (and their cognates) function and mean differently in different settings – domestic, institutional, commercial, religious, creative – and how is this connected to the spatial arrangements, discourses, and patterns of use at play in these settings?
PS29. Architecture and Improvement in Antebellum America
Between the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, American cities grew rapidly, leading to the expansion of some personal fortunes and the population growth of urban poor. These factors coalesced in opportunities to ameliorate unfortunate conditions, especially for the working and impoverished classes, through new philanthropic institutions that were founded either by government agency or private patronage. Such efforts were emblematic of the period that Daniel Webster called "the age of improvement," alluding to the belief that virtually every aspect of American life could be perfected through citizen will and action. This secular ideal had roots in spiritual awakenings and was nurtured by Republican optimism. It inspired architects of the new houses of philanthropy to address the ideal of improvement through style, planning, and technology, while serving their clients' demands and their own concerns as members of a new and "improving" profession.
From the Vitruvian Man to Le Corbusier's Modulor, the human body has served as both measure and metaphor in architectural design. In scholarly considerations of this relationship, it is often architecture which is seen to change while the status of the body remains static, a biological constant unaffected by historical time. This session is devoted to research which takes both buildings and bodies to be in dynamic and reciprocal evolution. It poses one overarching question: how does a period's understanding of the body as a cultural subject or object of scientia impinge upon architectural thought or design? For instance, historians often observe that Gothic architecture appealed to the senses, but how had the understanding of the senses evolved at that time, and how was this knowledge framed culturally and then translated into new demands on space? How were traditions in mortuary architecture or places of execution affected by human dissections as early as the thirteenth century? How did the inscription of cultural values on the body help shape architectural form or organization? Whereas Barbara Stafford in Body Criticism brilliantly analyzed new relationships between aesthetic and medical practices in the Enlightenment – all made possible by the visibility of formerly unseeable parts of the world – this session emphasizes pre-Enlightenment cultures and science. Misconceptions of various "dark" ages or "dark" geographies can still blind historians to unlikely inspirations for architectural form in so-called pre-scientific societies. Theoretically adventurous submissions are welcome, as are those arguing for the full inclusion of the pre-modern era within research on sexed, medical, and architectural bodies as well as spaces and behaviors. Proposals on modern topics will be considered, provided they establish a transformation of a pre-modern condition. Session chair: Kim Sexton, Associate Professor, University of Arkansas; firstname.lastname@example.org,
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An important part of architectural history entails the study of life within, among, and between the designed spaces of buildings, but the temporal lives of buildings themselves pose a peculiar challenge to architectural historians. As a product of constantly shifting plans and processes, buildings are always caught within a continuous narrative where they inevitably change form, through growth and decay; they are remodeled, expanded, gutted, demolished, forgotten, or rebuilt. The conservator and the architectural historian both search for the origins of these processes, reconstructing primary forms through fragments, photographs, plans, and other historical evidence. Yet this process of reconstruction simultaneously scrapes away the temporal accretions and patterns of use that constitute the very materiality of architectural history. How might this dialectic between preservation and restoration, historical development and the purity of original form, cultural memory and temporal oblivion be re-imagined through an analysis of conservation as an activity sensitive to the temporal experiences of buildings and spaces?
Taking James Clifford's seminal pairing of "roots and routes" as point of departure, this panel invites papers that examine diasporic architecture as a site where various visionaries of identity, nation, and history come together and interact in complex ways. In much of earlier literature on diasporic settlements, diaspora and the nation state were often treated as self-evident categories. Only in recent years have scholars started to examine the development of diasporic identity and nationalism as a co-evolving process of hardening the boundaries of fluid identities. This panel seeks to explore the spatialized inscription of the diasporic understandings of homeland, self, loyalty and modernity in the context of the nation state's emergence as the primary marker of political and cultural recognition. Papers may consider questions such as: How was a nation symbolized outside the actual nation? In what ways did architecture help define a coherent disaporic collective memory for an internally fractured community? How did the significations of a particular design enable the intersection of national identities and class hierarchies? And how did the built environment inscribe diasporic subjects through its unique reconciliation of space of crossings with historical time?
Starting with London's Great Exposition of 1851 and up to Expo 2010 in Shanghai, international expositions have enjoyed considerable attention from architectural historians, even if the range of the issues they address has been relatively predictable. In particular, most of the scholarship on nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century expositions has not focused on individual pavilions but on the overall role of these events as the architectural expression of industrialization and the dominance of the West. Conversely, the expositions that took place after the World War I have been largely discussed in terms of projects produced by remarkable architects, such as Melnikov, Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier, Fuller, Safdie, and, more recently, Calatrava, Gehry, Ando, MVRDV, and Kuma. Whatever case may be, most of world's fairs' pavilions have been dismissed as one-liners, leaving little mark in architectural history.
Whatever happened to postmodernism in architecture? After the term has been furiously debated in the 1970s and enjoyed fashionable status during the 1980s, its validity slowly eroded, until it has been silently replaced by minimalism, neo-modernism, deconstruction, etc. Yet it can be argued that these tendencies still belong to the larger legacy of post-modernity as a cultural condition, in difference to postmodernism as an architectural style. Or shall we think of the modernities as contested, but unfinished and reflexive projects, which means that we have never been postmodern, but rather witnessed another iteration of massive changes in society, economy and culture? On the other hand, critics turned to architecture as prototypical agent or symptom of post-modernity, even if its historic forces had fundamentally challenged the discipline.
Diane Ghirardo, University of Southern California, Chair
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