Submission Deadline: June 15, 2017, at 5 pm CDT
Conference Chair: Sandy Isenstadt, SAH 1st Vice President, University of Delaware
The Society of Architectural Historians is now accepting abstracts for its 71st Annual International Conference in Saint Paul, MN, April 18–22. Please submit an abstract no later than 5:00 p.m. CDT on June 15, 2017, to one of the 45 thematic sessions, the Graduate Student Lightning Talks or the open sessions. The thematic sessions have been selected to cover topics across all time periods and architectural styles. SAH encourages submissions from architectural, landscape, and urban historians; museum curators; preservationists; independent scholars; architects; scholars in related fields; and members of SAH chapters and partner organizations.
Thematic sessions and Graduate Student Lightning Talks are listed below. Please note that those submitting papers for the Graduate Student Lightning Talks must be graduate students at the time the talk is being delivered (April 18–22, 2017). Open sessions are available for those whose research does not match any of the themed sessions. Instructions and deadlines for submitting to themed sessions and open sessions are the same.
- Abstracts must be under 300 words.
- The title cannot exceed 65 characters, including spaces and punctuation.
- Abstracts and titles must follow the Chicago Manual of Style.
- Only one abstract per conference by author or co-author may be submitted.
- A maximum of two (2) authors per abstract will be accepted.
Abstracts should define the subject and summarize the argument to be presented in the proposed paper. The content of that paper should be the product of well-documented original research that is primarily analytical and interpretive, rather than descriptive in nature. Papers cannot have been previously published or presented in public except to a small, local audience (under 100 people). All abstracts will be held in confidence during the review and selection process, and only the session chair and conference chair will have access to them.
All session chairs have the prerogative to recommend changes to the abstract in order to ensure it addresses the session theme, and to suggest editorial revisions to a paper in order to make it satisfy session guidelines. It is the responsibility of the session chairs to inform speakers of those guidelines, as well as of the general expectations for participation in the session and the annual conference. Session chairs reserve the right to withhold a paper from the program if the author has not complied with those guidelines.
Please Note: Each speaker is expected to fund his or her own travel and expenses to Saint Paul, MN. SAH has a limited number of conference fellowships for which speakers may apply. However, SAH’s funding is not sufficient to support the expenses of all speakers. Each speaker and session chair must register and establish membership in SAH for the 2018 conference by August 31, 2017, and is required to pay the non-refundable conference registration fee as a show of his or her commitment.
LIST OF PAPER SESSIONS
A Matter of Life and Death: Spaces for Healing in the Premodern Era
Affordable Housing Design: Histories of Cross-Cultural Practices
All Ado about Bomarzo
Alternative Histories of the Pavilion
Architectural Preservation in Asia
Architecture and Disability
Architecture and Politics in Germany, 1918–1945 Reconsidered
Architecture of Diplomacy and Defense
Architecture of Finance: Commodities, Securities, and Urban Space
Architectures of the Slave Economy: Past and Present
Archive and Discourse: What Architecture Award Programs Tell Us
Atmosphere and Architecture
Burnt Clay, Cross-Cultural Experiences
Caribbean Architectures from Emancipation to World Heritage
Causes for Admiration: Objective Beauty in Architecture
Cold War Architecture
Colonial Past in the Neo-Colonial Present
Constructing Memory in Ancient and Pre-Modern Architecture
Contemporary Religious Architecture in Latin America
Designing Homo Sapiens: Architecture, Environment, and the Human Sciences
Digitizing Architectural Heritage: What Role History?
Exploring “Form” across Geopolitical Divides
Fleeing the City? The Tragedy of the Commons in the 21st Century
Global Concrete: Aesthetics, Technics, Politics, 1945–1975
Graduate Student Lightning Talks
Histories of Architecture Against
Infrastructure as Artifact
Life to Architecture: Uncovering Women's Narratives
Medieval Structures, Digital Tools, and Architectural Knowledge
Michelangelo Architect: New Approaches
Modern Architecture and the Rise of the New South
Queer History at the Intersection
Reconsidering Renaissance Architecture and Urbanism
Religion in Secular American Architecture
Shaping Muslim Sacred Space in the Diaspora
Thalassic Architecture: Medieval and Renaissance Italy and the Sea
The Architecture of Commercial Networks 1500–1900
The Architecture of the Political Realm beyond the Assembly Room
The Audience for Architectural History in the 21st Century
The Legacy of James Ackerman
The Stagecraft of Architecture
Unheard Voices: New Interpretations of Minnesota's Landscapes
Visualizing Ruined Asia’s
Working with Mr. Gilbert: Cass Gilbert and His Collaborators
PAPER SESSION DESCRIPTIONS
The history of healthcare facilities, regardless of their scale and location, offers valuable insights into the priorities of health, science, and medicine within various civilizations. Whether constructed as part of monasteries in medieval Europe, Chinese palaces in fifteenth-century Beijing, or religious complexes in Ottoman Istanbul, healthcare spaces embodied both social and professional expectations for therapy, caring, and healing. The relationships between the architectural forms associated with healthcare and those of other buildings in the pre-modern era, such as religious buildings, bathhouses, almshouses, and schools reflected wider cultural attitudes towards healing.
This panel invites papers that examine structures and spaces created for healing in the pre-modern era. Submissions could clarify what constituted “health” at a given moment in time, how healthcare architecture responded to contextual issues and traditions, or how the scientific and social/cultural context influenced its design. Papers may focus on a single structure, specialized typologies (e.g., mental health facilities), complexes in a particular city or region, or any other topic relevant to the historical presence of healthcare facilities.
The Papers could also explore the formation of hospitals as an independent building typology; the impact of medical advances on the design of hospitals from various times and geographies; the integration of gardens/outdoor spaces in the design of hospitals; the connections between urban design and healthcare facilities; the involvement of non-architects in the design or construction processes; cross-cultural exchanges on healthcare; the impact of medical training on healthcare architecture; the evolution of interior design responses to medical developments; stylistic connections between hospitals and other building types; the development of specialized hospitals; and the ways in which cultural norms of race, gender, and class shaped healthcare design. We welcome submissions that deploy interdisciplinary and comparative approaches to the analysis of healthcare facilities.
Session Chairs: Mohammad Gharipour, Morgan State University, and Stuart W. Leslie, The Johns Hopkins University
Over the last 150 years the production of affordable housing was closely linked with a strategy to secure the reproduction of labor power. Additionally, since the end of World War II and the subsequent end of the colonial empires, it became increasingly entangled with the cross-cultural transfer of architectural and urban planning knowledge. Governmental agencies played a key role in commissioning alternative approaches for housing low- and medium-income urban dwellers. The housing complexes for Chandigarh’s governmental staff designed in the 1950s and 1960s are cases in point. There were also notable examples sponsored by private companies, and by development aid organizations. The new town built in the late 1950s by the French aluminum company Pechiney in Fria (Guinea) testifies to the former, and the Proyecto Experimental de Vivienda (PREVI) developed in Lima in the late 1960s by the Peruvian government in collaboration with the United Nations Development Program illustrates the latter.
This session invites papers that examine the importance of cross-cultural approaches in the design decision-making process of current and historical affordable housing complexes commissioned or sponsored by international organizations, governmental agencies, or private corporations. Contributors are encouraged to discuss the extent to which architects and urban planners used cross-pollination as a metaphor for their design and discursive apparatus. To what extent bridging the gap between universal values and situated phenomena was employed as a strategy to mitigate spatial inequality? How did “travelling experts” negotiate design solutions with local stakeholders involved in the production of affordable housing? How did development aid agencies adjust generic housing models and policies to the different cultural and geopolitical contexts of the so-called “developing world”? This session will privilege critical and analytical scholarship on case studies that, following Paul Ricoeur, combine tokens of universal civilization with features of national cultures.
Session Chairs: Nelson Mota, Delft University of Technology, and Dick van Gameren, Delft University of Technology
Among historic gardens of Italy, the sixteenth-century Sacro Bosco at Bomarzo remains one of the most studied yet least understood sites, variously interpreted as an expression of “anti-Renaissance” aesthetics, local nostalgia for the Etruscan antiquity, or bizarre blending of humanist poetics and early modern natural history. A garden of unknown authorship and uncertain chronology, with a confusing layout populated by crude sculptures and cryptic inscriptions, it was propelled into prominence after World War II, attracting celebrities of the stature of Jean Cocteau and Salvador Dalí and inspiring another twentieth-century artist, Niki de Saint Phalle, to create her own version in coastal Tuscany. Now one of the “must see” Italian tourist sites, Bomarzo is the closest one ever gets to the idea of a Renaissance Disneyland. Yet, equally remote from the idyllic locus amoenus and the thoroughly rational giardino all’italiana, it does not fall under the familiar landscape typologies and has an oddly anachronistic quality, which does not comfortably fit into its proper historical timeframe. While resonating with both modernist and postmodernist aesthetics, the Sacro Bosco remains a physical mystery as much as a historiographic enigma.
What is Bomarzo and why does it continue to hold an equally strong spell over scholars, tourists, artists, and writers of fiction? Is it a parade of Jungian archetypes, a surrealist manifesto in stone, a Renaissance celebration of monstrosity and violence, or just a product of provincial craftsmanship guided by eccentric imagination? Is it a garden at all, given that its original designation as a “sacred grove” has few analogies in sixteenth-century landscape design? This session invites new scholarly findings and perspectives on the Sacro Bosco that seek to reevaluate its artistic significance, situate it more precisely in its historical context, and explain its historiographic fortunes.
Session Chair: Anatole Tchikine, Dumbarton Oaks
Few would argue with the claim that the pavilion is one of the twentieth century's most significant building types, employed by some of modernism’s most important architects. In the new millennium, the pavilion has again come to prominence. Programs such as the annual Serpentine Galleries' summer pavilion in London have popularized the type, turning these often modestly-scaled temporary structures into a global phenomenon. While many recent pavilions share the formal novelty of their twentieth-century predecessors, the context and purpose of their exhibition is much changed. Few maintain the proleptic attitude and teleological drive of modern pavilions. Rather, today’s pavilions are highly aestheticized spectacles: they leverage architecture as a democratic art and use it as a vehicle for branding. Despite these differences, critical discourses tend to historicize the contemporary pavilion phenomenon through the narrow lens of the heroic avant-garde of modernism. It is also against this legacy that the success of contemporary pavilions tends to be measured, often unfavorably. More than a simple misalignment of modern and contemporary motivations, the hegemony of the Serpentine pavilion as a model obscures other, more complex and nuanced histories of pavilions from around the world, and limits our understanding of the pavilion type.
This session welcomes papers that explore alternative histories of the pavilion, and studies of practices that exist outside the dominant Eurocentric modernist tradition. We invite papers that attend to unexamined case studies and histories of the pavilion, especially those that have been overlooked, obscured by hegemonic narratives, or forgotten in architects’ formative oeuvres. Original analysis concerning trans-historical themes of function, temporality and scale is encouraged. We also welcome contributions that explore the history of pavilions in garden expos, programs for urban renewal and other interdisciplinary contexts, including artist-designed pavilions and their reception in architecture.
Session Chairs: Ashley Paine, University of Queensland, and Susan Holden, University of Queensland
Cities in Asia currently face enormous challenges in preserving their cultural heritage, including their historic architecture, due to rapid urbanization in the wake of unprecedented population and economic growth. This session aims to explore preservation efforts in Asia from theoretical and practical points of view. It addresses questions such as: What gets conversed, who decides and, ultimately, to whom does a nation’s architectural heritage belong? How can urban and economic development accommodate or even enhance the built heritage? How elastic is preservation, that is, what poles—archaeologically detailed restoration; creative interpretation through the lens of contemporary design—define its scope?
With the theory and practice of preservation skewing to nations of the developed west, this session invites papers that aim to develop ideas tailored to developing Asian countries and regions or to Asia more generally. Papers that discuss trans-cultural and transnational matters—such as the preservation of colonial-era architecture—are particularly welcome. Papers may also consider tensions that arise between calls to preserve the existing urban character, identity and efforts to augment urban amenities, pressing housing needs, gentrification, commercial opportunities, tourism prospects, and so on.
From a practical perspective, the session invites case studies of successful preservation projects, whether at the scale of a single building, a compound, a district, or an entire city. Topics can range from technique and design methods to policy making and urban planning. We are especially interested in projects that re-imagine preservation beyond the boundaries of the architectural discipline or challenge the globalized notion of preservation practices, that integrate local contexts and reinterpret traditions, and that involve the public or deal with social justice.
Session Chair: Phi Nguyen, Harvard University
This session will explore how architecture has historically accommodated, and at times failed to accommodate, the disabled subject. From the late twentieth century, the field of disability studies has engaged multi-disciplinary scholars in the humanities, social sciences, and health sciences, who have recognized disability as a key aspect of human experience that reveals the complex interplay of forces—whether cultural, environmental, or political—informing the relationship between individuals and society. Yet despite the integral role that the built world plays in disabled subjects’ interactions with society, scholars of disability studies have rarely centralized considerations of space and materiality in their analyses. Meanwhile, the story of modern architecture has typically excluded the problem of real and varied bodies, often assuming an idealized subject at its center. This panel thus addresses a twofold lacuna, recovering the multivalent ways in which architecture and material culture have shaped, and been shaped by, non-normative human experiences.
We will interrogate both physical and mental disabilities in the context of institutions, vernacular environments, and urban spaces. In what ways have architects envisioned schools intended for disabled subjects, alongside shifting medical and cultural theories? How have alternative modes of engagement with architecture impacted its design and material culture over time? Looking beyond hospitals or institutional architecture, what sources can we draw on to recuperate ‘other’ experiences of modern spaces designed for normalized subjects? Before and after the development of accessible design standards, how did sensorial cues of sight, sound, smell, and touch aid the disabled in navigating built environments? How do these narratives shift our reading and understanding of the history of modern architecture and the city? We invite proposals that engage these and related topics and questions. Papers may address a range of historical and geographical frameworks.
Session Chair: Sun-Young Park, George Mason University
In 1968, Barbara Miller Lane published Architecture and Politics in Germany, 1918-1945, the first systematic attempt to analyze the complexities of German architecture from the Weimar Republic through the Nazi period. This foundational work established key issues that have dominated the discussion of interwar German architecture ever since. It refused the apolitical assessment of Modernism, dared to link discussions of the Bauhaus with those of National Socialist politicians, and took seriously the political and aesthetic function of architecture in Nazi Germany, among other important contributions. To this day, the need to attend to a complex notion of politics for the analysis of this period of architecture is seen as essential.
This session takes up the 50th anniversary of Miller Lane’s text to assess how debates concerning architecture and politics in interwar Germany have changed over time. It calls for papers that directly address Miller Lane but also those that tackle the expanded field of debate since publication of her book. For example, architectural historians have especially extended the geographic purview of their analysis of German architecture in these years, pointing to a variety of diasporic architectural interventions as well as challenging the national paradigm of a coherent “German” architecture. Other kinds of aesthetic architectural traditions such as vernacular ones left out of Miller Lane’s account have become important to the debate about politics just as a wider range of architects (including the long-overlooked role of women architects) has complicated this history. In addition, scholars who may be critical of the blending of architecture and politics are also encouraged to apply. Papers that focus on the relevance of the analytic paradigm in other periods of German architecture are also of interest.
Session Chairs: Kathleen James-Chakraborty, University College Dublin, and Paul B. Jaskot, DePaul University
Human constructions have extraordinary ideological meaning in the realm of international relations. Perhaps nowhere in the United States is this clearer than in references to a wall meant to curb immigration by undocumented workers across the border with Mexico. But other elements of the built environment—from the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to ancient ruins in Palmyra, Syria, to Olympic venues in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil—demonstrate the varied roles that architecture can play in international relations.
That buildings serve important roles in world politics is not unique to the twenty-first-century. In the United States structures ranging from colonial-era defensive forts to Cold War-era bomb shelters were both functional, but also deeply ideological symbols of power and security. Looking beyond U.S. borders, embassy buildings and overseas military memorials and cemeteries all speak to the official role, and intended outward perception, of the United States. Likewise, the spaces created in the U.S. by international delegations (embassies and consulates) and for multi-national purposes (United Nations Headquarters, 1948–52) were equally intentional.
This session, organized by the Vernacular Architecture Forum, will explore the role of architecture, ranging from monumental official buildings to more everyday constructions, in promoting international relations. It will take a global perspective by exploring the role of the U.S. in the world and the role of other powers as they interacted across national boundaries, thereby providing for comparisons across time and place.
Finally, this session will stress the public history component of buildings designed for diplomacy and defense. Many diplomatic building and military installation have become, over time, sites of public commemoration. Presenters will be asked to reflect on how that history continues to live on today.
Session Chairs: Cynthia G. Falk, Oneonta, State University of New York at Oneonta, and Lisa P. Davidson, HABS - National Park Service
Financial capital is increasingly virtual, yet stubbornly material. Capital, information, and communications move across boundless distances nearly instantaneously. Yet many of the same financial centers have dominated global economics for decades, if not centuries. Financial districts endure as critical entities, aggregating the merchants, brokers, and bankers who make the markets that shape the global economy. Building projects that serve the needs of the financial services industry continue to shape the skylines of urban areas worldwide. Exchanges, which grew out efforts by merchants to centralize transactions and to set them apart from other spaces in the city, still play critical roles in financial districts, even after the advent of electronic trading. What role does physical space play even as so much of finance has become increasingly virtual?
This panel invites papers that explore the architecture of finance in broad terms. We seek to create a conversation among scholars who study the spatial peculiarity of trading floors and pits, the evolutions and transformations of financial districts, as well as individual building projects that make legible the architectural needs of the economies in which they are embedded and the connection of financial industries to urban space.
Session Chairs: Gretta Tritch Roman, Bard College, and Aaron Shkuda, Princeton University
This session seeks to expand on our understanding on how slavery transforms the world leaving architecture as its evidence. The economics of slavery is embedded in the form and creation of architectures throughout the world going back thousands of years, leaving its legacy in the present. Without slavery there is no Industrial Revolution, no mass production of consumer goods, no fashion, no rapid urbanization, no railroads, and no modernity. Most architectural histories focus on the colonial era from the West Coast of Africa to the Americas. While slavery in the colonial period was industrialized on a global scale, the system of coercive and violent labor was not invented in the colonial period, nor is it confined to the Atlantic Triangle trade, as many ancient cultures throughout the world utilized slaves, often for domestic, sexual, urban, agricultural, military, or menial tasks. What is more, slavery as still exists in the 21st century, for the drug trade, for sex, and for the production of consumer products and the food system as well as in the construction of high-profile avant-garde cultural monuments in many countries where labor is coerced. It remains a pervasive part of our globalized capitalist system. This session invites scholars with new research to reconsider the architectural traces—past, present, and future—of global slavery systems that have defined our history and that continue to define our contemporary world.
Session Chair: Patrick D. Haughey, Savannah College of Art and Design
Award programs in architecture—the Pritzker Prize, the Aga Khan Award, the European Union Mies Prize for Contemporary Architecture, the Global Holcim Awards, the P/A Awards, among others—participate simultaneously in popular, scholarly, and professional conversations. The winning projects and the response they generate are a measure of how architecture is conceived and received at a particular moment within the discipline, the profession, and culture at large. Looking at more than one cycle—comparing winners across successive editions of the same, or different, award programs—larger patterns emerge; one can trace shifts in architectural production and reception across time and in different cultural and geographical regions.
This session invites papers that examine architectural award programs as archive and as discourse, paying attention to exemplary built work as well as to the disciplinary and institutional agendas that inform the award programs. Within this framework, papers could vary in methodological approach, looking at award programs comparatively, theoretically, historically, analytically, critically, or speculatively.
The award programs looked at could be global, regional, national, or local in scope. They could range in size and focus: from boutique programs like the Architectural League Prize (awarded by the Architectural League of New York) to global spectacles like the World Architecture Festival, organized by the publishing conglomerate EMAP. Papers that look at award programs with explicit pedagogical agendas, like the Curry Stone Prize for Social Design or Architectural Review Emerging Architecture Awards, are especially welcome. Ideally the award programs selected should occur at regular cycles, have clear criteria, and produce material for public dissemination and discussion. The Aga Khan Award, the Mies Prize, and the European Prize for Urban Public Space, are particularly good examples.
Session Chair: Sabir Khan, Georgia Institute of Technology
In 2003, Olafur Eliasson’s The Weather Project filled Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall with the sublime atmosphere of a setting sun. While the imposing dimension of the simulated fireball dwarfed the visitors, it also exposed the grand underpinning of Turbine Hall’s original construction. The work’s artificial setup fabricated an atmosphere that simultaneously used and displayed the formal qualities inherent to the building’s original role as an industrial structure, and that since then informed its transition to a cultural fun palace. The example shows how architecture and atmosphere intersect and yet diverge from one another, and how differently they contribute to the formation of a building’s identity. Beginning where architecture ends, the phenomenological character of atmosphere is both its promise and curse. It propels experiments in architecture and design into unprecedented spheres of speculative conceptualizations; but it also frustrates the historian’s need for an unambiguous terminology.
The panel sets forth to interrogate the role of atmosphere in architecture, seeking to put its notion into sharper relief in terms of both its theoretical and practical function in architecture and its historiography. We call for meaningful categorizations of the relationship between building a discourse with architectural form and forming architecture through discursive concepts. What are the conditions of atmospheres? How does an atmosphere inform technological, material, or collaborative decisions in architecture production? In which way does it relate to modes of representation in capitalism or to identity politics? Also, can its examination contribute to understanding visual culture and its interventionist potential? Situated between the history and theory of art and architecture, we invite papers that grapple with the topic across time and in a global perspective. We are interested in discussions that are grounded in a close reading of their subject.
Session Chairs: Nadine Helm, University of Zurich, and Claudio Leoni, ETH Zurich
Clay is the origin of architecture according to the myths of various construction cultures. The expertise of firing creates new building materials and new formal possibilities that can enhance building activity and living conditions more generally. Burnt clay—a term that covers all types of building materials made by firing—has in fact greatly affected the built environment, from ancient Babylon to contemporary experiments with parametric architecture.
Focusing on burnt clay, this session emphasizes intercultural experiences. Typically, historical treatments of building materials such as burnt clay, whether from a technical or aesthetic point of view, have been monographic, concentrating on particular epochs or cultures. But intercultural experiences such as travel, exile, conquest, migration, missionary work, trade, and the circulation of scientific and technological practices suggest there are new perspectives to be gained regarding the flexibility and material character of burnt clay.
The aim of this session is therefore to open a platform to discuss the historical links across countries and nations. For instance, Spanish Mudejar tiles were carried by Moors expelled to Tunisia or Latin America, where they were assimilated into local building traditions and gave rise to new forms of architecture. Or, as another example, European types of bricks gradually replaced the unique Chinese “blue brick” and brought revolutionary changes to building practice in China from the mid-19th century onwards. Other forms of burnt clay, such as the glazed terra-cotta tiles used in the United States from the late-19th century, likewise have affected buildings elsewhere in the world and await proper scholarly treatment.
We especially welcome papers that revisit conventional architectural and urban histories in view of the mobility of building materials and that consider how the circulation of building materials has helped define the forms of the built environment.
Session Chairs: Changxue Shu, KU Leuven / University of Leuven, and Fernando Martínez Nespral, University of Buenos Aires
Caribbean architectural history has long been the province of lay historians whose sumptuously illustrated volumes contribute to what historical sociologist Mimi Sheller describes as Europe and North America’s five hundred-year long consumption of the Caribbean and its assets. But these works of popular history have also laid the groundwork for a growing body of scholarship that situates questions of style in relation to social, political, and economic developments, or eschews style altogether to consider the myriad ways in which the design and use of built landscapes affects and is shaped by human life.
This session invites papers that move beyond the important but well-established focus on architectures of enslavement to explore built environments of the Caribbean since emancipation. Papers might discuss the depopulation of rural landscapes through emigration, concurrent emergence of building types and developments financed by remittances, and simultaneous transfer of Caribbean forms, spaces, and practices to destination societies. The circulation of development experts from the erstwhile metropole in the 1940s and the tropical vernaculars they developed is yet to be fully understood. Tourism’s appropriation of land and promotion of a global design language of luxury is another topic that begs architectural analysis. It is partly as a consequence of tourism that the region has developed thriving cultural heritage and historic preservation movements that promote particular approaches to architecture that are not always consistent with local needs. These movements have been bolstered by the well-developed field of Caribbean archaeology whose insights have the potential to stimulate exciting new work in Caribbean architectural history. Paper proposals that deal with these and related topics and questions—including papers that problematize the relationship between the Caribbean and Latin America—are invited.
Session Chair: Itohan Osayimwese, Brown University
In the Preface to the “Ordonnance for the Five Kinds of Columns after the Method of the Ancients,” Claude Perrault famously distinguished objective from arbitrary causes of architectural beauty. The scholarly discussion of the Preface has focused on Perrault’s view of proportion as an arbitrary cause, and his emphasis on taste and authority as principles guiding aesthetic judgment. Less attention has been given to how the Preface defines and affirms the beauty of architecture rooted in objective causes, “bound to please everyone.” Amongst these causes Perrault classes rich material, size and magnificence, clean execution of the work, and symmetry.
The Preface sets a benchmark in a long history of architectural but also political, religious, and philosophical reflections aiming to define architectural qualities that inspire universal admiration. Early modern considerations about the ethics of architectural patronage, for instance, put forth rareness and excellence of material, vast size, large expenditure and durability as architectural qualities naturally inducing admiration, now as an aspect of Aristotelian “magnificentia.”
This session seeks to explore historically and critically the belief in objective, universal causes of the admiration of buildings. It wants to test the often implicit assumption in architectural discourse and practice that particular qualities of buildings are necessarily deemed beautiful. By uncovering an at once continuous and fragile belief in objective beauty in architecture, the session also wants to challenge the historiographical assumption that modernity emerged with an increasing awareness of subjectivity and collective or individual taste. We are particularly interested in understanding which qualities are identified as ‘objective’ causes for admiration, and in how these causes are adopted or developed in religious, political or philosophical discourses surrounding architecture.
The session takes the early modern period in Europe as its point of reference, but welcomes contributions covering expanded geographies and chronologies.
Session Chairs: Maarten Delbeke, ETH Zürich, and Nele De Raedt, Ghent University
At least since Hippocrates first introduced humoral theory to the corpus of western medicine in the 5th century BC, western society has speculated on the capacity for humans to both shape and to be shaped by climate. Consequently, until the early 20th century a significant portion of western medical texts contained advice on urban and landscape design aimed at the modification of climate (temperature, exposure, humidity, precipitation) for the protection and preservation of European health and well-being. Geographers like Denis Cosgrove and Clarence Glacken have documented the important role that this fundamentally social conception of climate played in shaping the imaginative worldview that European colonial powers carried with them across the globe. But historians have documented very little about the specific landscapes or landscape rhetoric that result from this entanglement of ecological systems and human desires, let alone the methods and technologies complicit in shaping them.
This session seeks to explore the relationship between landscape and the modification of climate by asking several interrelated questions: Can we understand the historical alteration of landscapes globally through the lens of climate? In what ways do past conceptions of climate lead to specific landscape adaptations? How do techno-social expectations, fears, or desires around particular climates lead to varying attempts to alter them? What do historical conceptions of climate reveal about contemporary reactions to climate change?
Papers should focus on real, non-metaphorical, attempts to alter climate. The session is open to studies of this topic in both western and non-western contexts. Case studies documenting the discourse around specific designed or vernacular landscapes are especially welcome as paper topics.
Session Chair: Jacob Boswell, The Ohio State University
Any history of the second half of 20th century would be faulty without acknowledging the importance of the Cold War. While it lasted, its ideological and military tensions influenced a wide range of scales of the material world, including the modern architecture of the time. This session aims to explore how this period’s architecture was affected by Cold War.
In historical treatises of architecture, the architect appears as capable of designing war machines as buildings. However, rather than being defined by actual combat, the Cold War entailed a kind of anxious state of peace under the imminent threat of nuclear attack and annihilation. In this context, architects designed a variety of buildings required by perceived Cold War necessities such as remote spying on enemies; disseminating propaganda to dissuade enemy populations from any hostile intentions; increasing the capacity to generate and store different types of energy; and sheltering authorities and civilians in the event of a nuclear attack. Military compounds, listening posts, radio stations, electric power stations, water towers, hydroelectric dams, bunkers, shelters, commemorative monuments, embassies, national pavilions and even some pieces of domestic architecture were designed and built everywhere, all shaped by Cold War attitudes.
Recently, scholars have come to see some of these buildings as innovative works of architecture, as laboratories for prefabrication systems, for new directions in the reinforced concrete structures, or even for architectural experiments drawn from science-fiction books and comics. This session calls for papers based on new research focused on case studies that critically interpret their Cold War context. Canonical and lesser-known cases are equally welcome.
Session Chairs: Ruth Verde Zein, Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie, and Hugo L. Mondragón, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Architectural relics of the modern colonial era dot the cityscapes of former colonies the world over, often prominent in the projected urban identities of cities in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East today. The complex relationships between these extant built environments of colonialism and current users, designers, and preservationists are shifting within the context of contemporary globalization. Though ties between former metropoles and postcolonial centers are generally less overt than they once were—now taking the form of international development loans, educational exchanges, tourism programs, popular culture, and the media—they are nonetheless significant in their sustained influence. Indeed, such neocolonialist links often inform the interpretation, use, and presentation of the past, both within former metropoles and ex-colonies. Inevitably multi-directional, they also generate powerful resistance movements that continue to dismantle notions of hegemonic unilateralism.
In what ways do contemporary neocolonial processes physically affect historic built environments in formerly colonized territories? How do architectural knowledge and practice participate in the maintenance of neocolonial relationships? What have been the products of opposition to neocolonialism? In exploring these and other questions, this panel invites papers that address the place of colonial-era architectures in postcolonial contexts through the lens of contemporary neocolonial processes. Papers should address colonialism of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as experienced anywhere in the world, and the postcolonial situation. Case studies and comparative pieces would ideally be set within larger thematic and/or regional contexts. Works that engage issues such as historic preservation, international heritage management, tourism, architectural pedagogy, cultural imperialism, and other facets of globalization are particularly welcome.
Session Chair: Daniel E. Coslett, University of Washington
In 2 BCE, the Forum of Augustus was dedicated in Rome with much fanfare. An innovative feature of the large and lavish complex was the application of exact copies of the caryatids from the Erechtheum in Athens, multiplied and employed as mere architectural decoration above the forum’s lateral porticoes. The fifth century BCE buildings of the Athenian Acropolis were well known throughout the ancient world. However, for elite Roman viewers—especially men, who conventionally travelled to Athens for a traditional education—their reproduction in the new political heart of Rome was designed to evoke specific memories of Classical Athens, to proclaim Rome’s now-total dominance over the Greek world, and to explicitly compare Augustan Rome to Periclean Athens.
Over the past fifteen years, a renewed interest in the role of ‘social’ or ‘collective’ memory, first outlined by Maurice Halbwachs in 1925, has led to a so-called “memory boom,” as Jay Winter put it, in disciplines across the humanities and social sciences. For the study of the ancient world, this “boom” has focused largely on literature, sculpture, monuments, or public space. This session seeks to expand the discussion with papers that investigate how architecture created or reinforced collective memory. It aims to incorporate topics that cover a wide chronological range—from Antiquity to the Pre-Modern period—and geographical scope to question how the manipulation of memory by architects and patrons varied through time and space. Proposals that present unique methodological frameworks, address the topic of memory within broad and multi-format contexts, and discuss Ancient and/or Pre-Modern viewers are preferred. Proposals with trans- and interdisciplinary approaches are especially welcome, as well as those with innovative theoretical perspectives on the role of memory and neuroscience in the interpretation of architecture.
Session Chair: Anne Hrychuk Kontokosta, New York University
Although central to the cultural heritage of Latin American countries, religious architecture after the Second Vatican Council has scarcely been studied. Aside from a few works—such as Fernando Pérez Oyarzun’s Iglesias de la modernidad en Chile: precedentes Europeos y Americanos (1997), Esteban Fernández-Cobián’s or Tradición, ornamento y sacralidad. La expresión historicista del siglo XX en la ciudad de México” (2012), and assorted writings of Iván San Martín—the varying responses of this heterogeneous area to numerous influences from Europe and North America, as the result of movements such as the theology of liberation, the Neocatechumenal Way, and the introduction of other evangelical currents, have received little scholarly treatment.
With the buildings and places dedicated to religious purposes as its reference points, this session proposes to address the following questions: How did Latin America receive theological changes proposed fifty year ago by the Second Vatican Council, in ideological as well as architectural terms? Following these changes, what are the key characteristics of Latin American religious architecture in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries? How have architectural exchanges between the various Christian denominations in the region transformed religious buildings?
Session Chair: Lucia Santa-Ana, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Concomitant with the rise of Darwinism during the second part of the nineteenth century, humanity was reconceptualized as a species within the animal kingdom, subject to physiological laws and unconscious drives. It appeared only logical then to determine what sort of spatial configurations and sensory conditions would bolster humans’ economic productivity, mental health, security, morality, and physical well-being. In conjunction with the human sciences, architects sought to improve the functionality of the human organism through spatial-aesthetic organization. This endeavor, which has persisted into the twenty-first century, took place in Western, colonial and post-colonial contexts, drawing from fledgling disciplines in the human sciences: psycho-physics, ethnology, eugenics, psychiatry, cybernetics, anthropology, environmental psychology, and neuroscience.
While today the notion of environmental architecture is typically associated with ecological sustainability, its origins are also linked to conceptions of a human’s optimal climatic, biological, and perceptory milieus, which could range in scale from vast natural ecosystems to small designed spaces, laboratories, or even the virtual spaces of projective media. We ask panelists to consider how the human sciences were intimately bound up with constructions of a universal human species which had its counterpart in notions of racial, social, and sexual abnormality. We encourage proposals that examine how architects and planners instrumentalized the methods and assumptions of the human sciences and welcome a wide range of subjects, including (but not limited to) architecture’s relations to anthropological and biological metaphors, perceptual psychology, social engineering, environmental psychology, racial discourses, the application of social sciences and data-mining to processes of urban development, as well as the recent turn to neuroscience.
Session Chairs: Ginger Nolan, University of Basel, and Alla Vronskaya, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich
Digital cultural heritage is an emerging field that offers exciting possibilities and genuine challenges for architectural history. Creative virtual environments that provide interactive interpretations of place, film and sound enriched archives, histories augmented by crowd-sourced data, and downloadable self-guided tour apps for mobile devices, all have potential to engage new audiences, engender alternative meanings and enhance current management practices. The 2003 UNESCO Charter on the Preservation of Digital Heritage acknowledged the capacity of digital technologies to provide a vehicle for recording and preserving the world’s heritage, and broadening access to historic resources. Much activity has since focused on the provision of accurate data for the documentation and management of heritage, and the facilitation of artifact and site presentation for tourism and education. Yet digital technologies have a range of under-explored capacities that can contribute to debates about our relationship with the historical past, the contemporary present, and the imminent future. At the same time, they can drive questions about authenticity and integrity, authorship and intellectual property, and the democratization of heritage and historiography.
This session explores the theoretical and methodological position of digital technologies in the architectural history, and seeks to supplement the more practical applications considered to date. Papers might address the implications of digital technologies for architectural history; how digital technologies should be theorized in professional discourse; the relationship between scanned data and historical research; investigations of contemporary public commentary as a means to augment conventional professional histories; methodological studies of the benefits and limitations of digital technologies; or inquiries into the value of archiving three-dimensional data while allowing the physical environment to decay naturally. The session would also encourage debate about the de-listing of places and practices of historic significance, and the role that new technologies might play in a grave-to-cradle approach.
Session Chairs: Kelly Greenop, The University of Queensland, and Chris Landorf, The University of Queensland
This session seeks to transcend the epistemic dichotomy that uses one toolbox to analyze the Eurocentric ‘origin’ of modernism, and another to explore its mimicry, transfer, or translation to the architectures of the “other.” It likewise asks why criticisms of the first world of corporate capitalism turns to thinkers such as Manfredo Tafuri, while analyses of the third, postcolonial world to Edward Said and Benedict Anderson. This bifurcated thinking fails to address modernity’s most pervasive impact on the built environment: the dissemination of similar modern forms globally, across different geographies and cultures.
The session therefore asks: how do formally related modern practices implicate diverse, often contradictory political legitimizations, and sustain deep ideological differences? It seeks to identify the particular forms that make architecture capable of participating in the arrangement of diverse political powers. Such research requires a formal analysis that politically engaged scholars tend to avoid because it is too often circumscribed within autonomous disciplinary discourse. But instead of leading to formal, morphological or typological inquiry, the session invites papers that conflate the aesthetic and the political.
This call draws on new formalist thinking in literary studies that question the affordance of form—the limited potential uses or actions latent in each particular form that orders elements in our environment. If architectural forms afford similar ranges of actions wherever they travel, then we can ask, for example, what are the consequences of repetitive mass-produced housing vis-à-vis clusters of diverse residential units, and what can their forms afford in term of the spatial distribution of power. Welcomed are well-documented research papers, both historical and methodological, that ponder the political impact of formal analysis and its potential not only to overcome the geopolitical divide, but also to shift the debate from the identity politics of the 1990s to contemporary political theory.
Session Chair: Alona Nitzan-Shiftan, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology
While the virtues of the city are often proclaimed as a sustainable environment that allows for compact collective living, there is equally a rising interest in the countryside. This stands at the core of this session. The global city is after all sustained by a broadly available agricultural and supply-chain infrastructure. Doomsayers have speculated on the downfall of the city based on food stocks, as hotspots of ecological disruption, and as consumers of natural resources. Newly developed algorithms, just-in-time delivery structures and computerized flow spaces provide risks to the maintenance of food stocks for urban populations. As climate change, population growth, depleted soil and thinning of the countryside threaten to increase food insecurity around the world, turning to the countryside becomes a more viable shift in thinking. As many Greeks may attest, in the breakdown of structured systems, keeping a small plot of land may prove a fundamentally worthwhile investment.
These issues raise some fundamental points in urban thinking. Should we continue to advocate compact living? What experience do we have with respect to the environmental footprint of community gardens and the technological requirements of vertical farming? How do architects overcome modernity’s bias that architecture is an inherently urban discipline? What alternative does the countryside offer to architects? Might it be wiser to return to earlier urban ideals such as Wright’s Broadacre City, Corbusier’s Radiant City, Ungers and Koolhaas’ Archipelago City? How has urbanism been impacted by recent conceptualization that the urban-rural is a continuum rather than two static and oppositional distinctions? How does the rise of eco-villages, eco-tourism, the depopulation of villages, and the thinning of the countryside produce new urban constellations? This session welcomes all papers that put a renewed interest in the countryside in a broader urban perspective.
Session Chairs: Lara Schrijver, University of Antwerp, and M. Christine Boyer, Princeton University
This session explores the extraordinary status accorded to concrete in shaping visions of nationhood, cultural identity, and technological progress during the postwar decades. Throughout this period, concrete would define vast programs of modernization guided by Keynesian policy, dirigiste planning, and Cold War rhetoric. Under enormous reorganizations of capital, theories of mass production connected huge undertakings—housing estates, capital complexes, civic centres—to mandates of technical expertise and economic sovereignty. Similar processes accompanied impressions of Western largesse around the globe, especially in contexts of decolonization. With qualities of bold abstraction, concrete made durable the new architectures of emerging nations. Calls for prefabrication or a powerful primitivisme (soon shopworn instances of “brutalism” as vernacular) promised ever-expanding horizons of modernity. Just how built (or imagined) works exposed asymmetries between advanced industrial knowledge systems and underdeveloped, even impoverished, realities of distant places typically remained unacknowledged.
Numerous themes are open to consideration. How did concrete architectures, when caught between imported plant facilities and local building traditions, reveal tensions within dogmas of nationalization and doctrines of international development? Did concrete express specific environmental values or determine labor relations? Did period literature—consider the popular New Directions in Architecture series that upheld concrete as the ultimate gesture of nations (Japan) and continents (Africa)—shape discourses on style and society? How were emergent social-scientific ideas— cybernetics, systems theory—adopted when designing the institutions, notably university campuses, of growing welfare states (or different regimes, not least the petrodollars fueling plans by Arthur Erickson in Riyadh, Kenzo Tange in Kuwait City, and others in Baghdad or Tehran)? Addressing these or many more questions, papers should examine the political and economic realities quite literally embodied in the aesthetics and technics of concrete. By understanding concrete as material culture, the resulting inquiries can offer critical reflection on contested historiographies of modern architecture.
Session Chairs: Eran Neuman, Tel Aviv University, and Inderbir Singh Riar, Carleton University
The Graduate Student Lightning Talks provide graduate students with the opportunity to test ideas, refine thoughts, and enhance presentation skills among a circle of empathetic and supportive peers. This session is composed of up to sixteen five-minute talks of approximately 650–700 words each that allow graduate students to introduce new and original research in various stages of progress. In their presentations, students are encouraged to raise questions over the direction of their investigations, explore methodology, or present challenges they have encountered in the development of their ideas. Papers should be clearly and concisely presented, with focused and well-chosen images, in order to encourage thoughtful feedback from the audience during the question and answer period. Students at both the masters and PhD levels are invited to apply by submitting a succinct abstract of no more than 300 words. Authors/co-authors must be graduate students at the time of the conference and must present in person at the session. The SAH Board of Directors’ Graduate Student Representative serves as chair of these popular five-minute presentations.
Histories of architecture have revealed and shaped the pervasive presence of power and its agent, capital. The bond between power and the built environment is present in monumental state celebrations, vast privately-developed housing projects, and transnational infrastructural networks. Biopower regulates the authority of our institutions, the distribution of labor, and the construction of our bodies as gendered, racialized entities. Tracing the histories of environments shaped by power, architecture historians have either confirmed its authority by claiming it for the canon, or revealed its operations and their results in the production of buildings, infrastructure, and culture at large. While the former memorializes instances of power, the latter confirms narratives of oppression, and to a certain degree, their inevitability. In contrast to these histories, there is a growing body of research focused on the role of architecture in revolution, occupation, or dissent. This session looks to expand on this work by focusing specifically on the challenges of writing histories of architecture against—against capital, against the state, or other types of power.
We are interested in papers that consider the methodological complications of writing histories of disenfranchised and marginalized groups, and the challenges of representation, partisanship, and operative criticism. How do we position ourselves as historians within these narratives? How do we historicize the production of spaces of defiance? How do we trace systems and networks designed to promote non-compliance? We welcome case studies of architects operating against the state, as well as histories of actors shaping the built environment outside the traditional boundaries of the discipline, provided they reflect on their own historiographic approach. Various scales of research are welcome, from the biopolitics of the body to the transnational exploitation of territories. As a session focused on resistance to power, we are particularly interested in research from underrepresented regions and actors.
Session Chair: Ana María León, University of Michigan
ArtifactIn recent years, infrastructure has become an important topic of study to understand contemporary urbanization, processes of globalization, and the changing role of the state. Inspired by theoretical developments in science and technology studies, this work foregrounds the material but often invisible networks that sustain social life. Macro-scale analyses of highways, airports, power lines, and waste management, amongst other things, reveal the complex interrelations of materials, people, and capital across disparate spaces and geographies. Yet by focusing on these vast systems, these analyses tend to reproduce the technical and economic logics that legitimize grand infrastructural projects as the catalyst of social development. Such logics not only obscure the human consequences and environmental cost of infrastructure building, but also elide the geopolitical inequality that it is part and parcel of. Especially in studies of the Global South, infrastructure appears either as direly lacking, or it is hailed as an effective solution to reduce poverty or mitigate conflict—casting the Global South as a marginal space reliant upon Northern, and increasingly Eastern, expertise.
This session seeks to problematize existing approaches to the global study of infrastructure by shifting the terrain of inquiry toward the artifactual. What does it mean to analyze infrastructure as the material and formal expression of particular, historically, and geographically situated lifeworlds? What can railways, highways, and telecommunication networks tell us about the history of subjectivity or the experience of colonialism and anti-imperial struggle? How can historical accounts of infrastructure encompass the politics of the everyday or the formation of global modernity? What interpretive frameworks can help us to reveal the practical, political, and formal qualities of infrastructure that remain unrecognized in mainstream accounts? This session invites papers that address these questions in order to critically reposition infrastructure within architectural, cultural, and spatial histories.
Session Chairs: Kenny Cupers, University of Basel, and Prita Meier, University of Illinois
Professional contributions of women to the built environment remain only partially represented in architectural histories. In the absence of a systematic approach to the subject the prevailing rudimentary patriarchal perspective perpetuates the justification for the adjunct role of women in the profession. This session aims at filling an unrivalled void by giving a voice to the remarkable input of women to the discipline. A number of trailblazing studies have given form to the idea of surveying that extensive legacy. In 1985 the Virginia Tech Professor Milka Bliznakov established the International Archive of Women in Architecture with the purpose of documenting the history of women's contributions to the field. In support of this mission we invite theoretically, historically, and ethnographically grounded contributions that explore the role of women in architecture throughout history.
History: We seek studies that demonstrate how chronological records have been modified toward constructing the power-message of a male dominated profession, and studies that offer visibility to existing women’s networks worldwide.
Practice: Papers are welcome that examine the realms of professional work by women yet go beyond descriptive representations; that address design-build practices through the lens of gender studies yet consider internal mechanisms that affected architecture in diverse regions across the globe.
Education: Submissions may argue on the impact architectural education and professional practice have on each other; may probe different tactics implemented by architecture schools to address gender inequality when developing their curricula and envisioning professional models for graduating women; may delve on women’s professional strategies that recharge historical records with the new force.
Submissions are encouraged that address the broad range of processes of life to architecture: uncovering women’s narratives across borders and cultural divides.
Session Chairs: Anna P. Sokolina, International Archive of Women in Architecture, and Paola Zellner, Virginia Tech
Digital humanities are becoming increasingly important for both architectural education and research. This session aims to highlight the potentials of digital tools and methods for advanced studies of medieval architecture—conceived broadly in time and region—and in particular, the use of non-invasive, computer-based technologies such as laser scanning, interactive visualizations, and spatial modeling. These methods allow for rapid and detailed imaging of architectural space and its temporal alternations, and are particularly valuable for architectural study of medieval structures because we frequently lack textual sources about their creation, their changes over time, and the training of their architects.
Papers may include the investigations of multiple media such as animations, video, and interactive websites in order to explore the communication and comprehension of research in medieval architecture. Papers that address the possibilities of computational and digital tools—beyond imaging and spatial modeling for documentation purposes—and include important questions on concepts of sophisticated structural designs and technologies used in medieval architecture are especially welcome. Topics may include potentially controversial themes that confront the transfer of architectural knowledge in medieval times that can be revealed through parametric research of medieval structures themselves, on one hand, and through traditional methods of architectural histories, on the other. Papers may investigate the prospect of combining computational methods and historiography of medieval architecture to reveal the existence of larger networks of knowledge transfer across times, disciplines, and cultures. Participants are also encouraged to engage in a discussion about the latest developments in digital technologies and humanities, and to question the accuracy, limits, and potentials of emerging methods of studying the history of medieval architecture as well as whether and how these developments raise new questions for future studies of architecture.
Session Chair: Jelena Bogdanović, Iowa State University
The architecture of Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475–1564), "Father and Master of all the Arts," redefined the possibilities of architectural expression for generations. This session will revisit his architecture by unearthing unexpected ties between disparate disciplines, epochs, and ideologies. While Michelangelo the sculptor and painter remains predominant in the public eye, study of his architecture by European and American scholars has accelerated and intensified in recent years, both building and departing from the pioneering studies of de Tolnay and Ackerman over fifty years ago. This session will provide a platform for architectural historians eager to apply new methodologies to Michelangelo’s oeuvre. Possible topics might include: the iterative sketch and computational design; architecture and anatomy; scenography and landscape; architecture and materiality, poetry, and sexuality; Michelangelo’s reception as an architect from his death to Modernism.
Session Chairs: Fabio Barry, Stanford University, and Alexandria Brown-Hedjazi, Stanford University
The critical role modern architecture played in shaping American cities during the immediate post World War Two era is a well-known topic in the history of 20th-century architecture. However, few regions of the United States embraced modern architecture—as something new and literally transformative—as did the American South. The rise of the “New South” during Reconstruction and the gradual transformation of that ideal prompted its twentieth-century proponents to see modern architecture as a literal way to rebuild—and rebrand—the South. This process sought to obscure the inherent injustice of the “separate-but-equal” response to the Civil Rights movement through providing, in some cases, award-winning segregated schools and civic buildings. In other instances the almost total destruction of city centers, such as in Charlotte, NC, and their replacement by modern architecture and urban planning, sought to erase images of the past. This session seeks papers that address the use of modern architecture and urban planning in the South during the period from 1945 to 1980. Possible paper topics include modern architecture as a tool of segregation (or conversely, as tool of integration) and as a rejection of Southern culture (and its replacement with a foreign ideal). Other papers related to this subject are also welcome.
Session Chairs: Lee E. Gray, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and Virginia Price, Independent Scholar
Open sessions are available for those whose research does not match any of the themed sessions. Papers submitted to the open sessions are assessed in terms of perceived merit, and not in regard to geography, era, theme, etc.
Session Chairs: Carol Krinsky, New York University, and Daniela Sandler, University of Minnesota
Two trailblazing works that turned a critical lens on gay identity in architecture are now twenty years old: Stud, Architectures of Masculinity (1996) by Joel Sanders was swiftly followed by Aaron Betsky’s Queer Space, Architecture and Same-Sex Desire (1997). Both authors expanded on male hetero-normative historiography by focusing on a community whose sexuality deviated from straight desire. Since then tentative headway in the domain of civil rights has increased awareness of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer issues in mainstream discourse. Appropriation of certain aspects of LGBTQ culture has ensued and “queerness” has even been theorized as an abstract mode of operation.
This session seeks to do more than drive the archive from the closet, on the one hand, or normalize queerness on the other. Queering history is understood as a political act of resistance to the confines of the canon and its attendant methodologies. Clandestine histories, for example, often demand alternative means by which to decode the ambiguity that commonly shrouds such narratives. A historian might expose these opacities as part of a retroactive project, outline them as a characteristic of the historical subject, or turn elusiveness into a method of inquiry.
The panel seeks papers that address gender identity from a broadly defined queer perspective. Thus far most queer architectural history recounts the stories of individuals, communities and sites from a predominantly male viewpoint. We encourage submissions that take on the intersectional shift away from binary notions of masculinity and femininity. We are interested in queering the gender debate in the field of architecture in general and its history in particular. Does a queer take on history expand on the extant readings of how architecture has been sexualized as a profession, whether with regard to the production of space or as a system of metaphors?
Session Chairs: Dirk van den Heuvel, Delft University of Technology, and Hadas A. Steiner, University at Buffalo, SUNY
Once at the heart of architectural history, the field of Renaissance history has witnessed dramatically falling numbers of scholars in the past two or three decades. In part, this has to do with contemporary architectural production. The severance with our classical past is more evident than ever, and enthusiasm for a period that no longer seems linked to contemporary design has dampened among historians as well. Renaissance scholarship is, in addition, tainted by suspicions of Eurocentrism: recent struggles to identify globalized approaches to architectural history seem to have left Renaissance scholars unscathed.
This session intends offering a productive reflection about the field (a broadly construed ‘long Renaissance’) that includes both a historiographical assessment and specific examples of innovative approaches. Authors of both types of papers should strive to identify the current relevance of the field, its place within and contribution to the broader discipline of history. One approach is to identify the roots of phenomena that developed in the Renaissance and are still operative. The perceived desirability of socially homogenous neighborhoods, for example, which emerged during the Renaissance, shaped modern cities with consequences that are still under our eyes.
Other non-exclusive examples include papers that place Renaissance developments in the context of the network of exchanges with the Islamic Mediterranean, dismantling the view of the Italian Renaissance as a potent and autonomous source of the Western architectural canon. In today’s global situation, such studies embody implicit political significance. Equally appropriate are discussions of architecture and urbanism that delve deeper—to socioeconomic, infrastructural, or political motivations—rather than stopping at formal or symbolic aspirations. Papers that strive to identify the multiplicity of threads knotting under the surface of a mythologized Renaissance characterized by a monolithic classicism are equally apropos.
Session Chair: Carla Keyvanian, Auburn University
The influx of immigrants from Asia and Eastern and Southern Europe in the late nineteenth century is traditionally thought to have displaced Protestant Christianity’s place at the heart of mainstream culture in the United States, and to have heralded a new era of pluralism or secularism. This perceived shift has had disciplinary implications for architectural history: we are more likely to ascribe religion as a central impulse in the built environment of non-Western societies, using this lens to distance these cultures from the techno-scientific and secular ‘progress’ of Western architecture. Eschewing spaces that are explicitly ecclesiastical or religious in character and function, this session seeks to trouble the perceived divide between Western and non-Western cultural production by exploring the continuing influence of religious beliefs and theological differences on American architecture—even though their presence may have been eclipsed by science and technology, capitalist economy, modernity, or overt gestures of democracy and secularism.
While the design of mosques, churches, or synagogues is a clear example of religion’s relationship to architecture, this panel is interested in excavating religious undertones of projects that appear secular or are avowedly irreligious, such as commercial buildings, town planning, infrastructure, housing, or skyscrapers. Projects from all historical periods are welcome. Those located outside the U.S. qualify as “American” if their conception or execution is attributable to American architects or patrons. Papers might explore the aspirations of minority religious communities in shaping secular projects, examine how Protestants attempted to leverage architecture to maintain their hegemony, or ask whether theological differences between orthodox and liberal factions within a particular religion are articulated in secular spaces. The focus of a paper may also lie somewhere other than the analysis of physical space, exploring instead religion’s role in labor relations within the building industry, or in writings of architectural theoreticians and historians.
Session Chair: Azra Dawood, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
What makes a space sacred? Is it the place and its architectural elements, the ritual it shelters, or an intersection of these things? Over the course of the last 1400 years, the mosque has become a central locus for congregational worship and certain formal elements have predominated, including dome and minaret. In recent years in Europe and the United States, there has been an increase in politicized responses to mosque architecture, including Switzerland’s 2009 ban on minaret building. Thus, in addition to builders and architects, overt governmental strictures and instances of local resistance can wield great influence over the form and design of mosques in the diaspora. This session seeks papers that address not only recent case studies in the production of Muslim sacred space, but also new research that brings historical and theoretical perspectives to bear on the topic. Additionally, papers that explore sacred space beyond the structure of the mosque are encouraged.
In terms of mosque architecture, the first millennium of Islam provides us with a rich and variegated history of diasporic building, because the religion rapidly expanded across North Africa, east to India, and into China. Architectural innovation was necessitated by differing materials and techniques, as well as shifting aesthetic, cultural, and political considerations. Such negotiations continued into the subsequent millennium, which in the last century have included, among other things, colonization, nation-building, transnationalism, and the rise of the “starchitect.” All of these elements contribute to a complicated architectural terrain that can influence mosque development in myriad ways—yet dome and minaret forms persist as primary focal points for both Muslims and non-Muslims. By bringing together papers that reflect on a range of time periods, this session will promote comparative and cross-regional studies, allowing greater investigation into the forms of mosque design and the responses they generate.
Session Chair: Alisa Eimen, Minnesota State University, Mankato
This session proposes to broadly explore the conditions of and the borders between ephemeral and permanent architecture in a wide range of building types and situations, such as expositions and biennials.
Since the construction of the Crystal Palace in 1851, designers have responded to various temporary versus permanent building conditions for expositions in different ways, including through choice of building materials and design forms. In some cases, fair structures planned to be short lived continue to stand decades later or exist through reconstructions. More recently, designers have attempted to respond to the great disconnect between the extensive use of resources to construct short-lived buildings for expositions marketed as promoting sustainability with various levels of success. Expo 2000 in Hannover required countries to have a clear plan for the reuse of their pavilions. Meanwhile, Expo 2005, held in Aichi, Japan, required countries to construct pavilions out of prefabricated units that resulted in less interesting architecture, but allowed for easy disassembly and efficient repurposing of the materials and site after the event closed.
Questions to be explored in this session include: What opportunities do designing temporary buildings offer architects? How does the need to create a short-lived building with its destruction clearly in mind inform its design? What happens to a temporary building’s significance if it is left to decompose in situ? How does the perception of a building change if viewed as impermanent versus permanent? What does it mean to recreate a temporary structure as a more permanent copy? While explorations relating to the built environments of expositions and other temporary events, such as biennials, are particularly welcomed, papers that address other forms of ephemeral buildings, such as nomadic shelters, ice hotels, or tent camps, or that examine the border between temporary and permanent architecture in other situations are strongly encouraged.
Session Chair: Lisa D. Schrenk, University of Arizona
In his seminal text, Nomos of the Earth (1950), the political theorist Carl Schmitt studied the concept of “sea-appropriations.” He observed that such declarations of territory were powerful extensions of traditional terrestrial sovereignty, which included juridical rights over land, applied to the space of the sea. Schmitt asserted that land and sea spatialities became relational during pre-modernity. It was then that the globe was extensively measured, resulting in the first nomos of the earth. Using Schmitt’s claim as a departure point, this session, organized by the Italian Art Society, offers a provocation to probe how architecture impacted and was shaped by water bodies—including the Mediterranean, but also lakes and rivers—as they were territorialized. How were watery borders delimited, negotiated, and even extended through architecture? In late medieval Genoa, for example, massive earth- and sea-work transformations were undertaken to provide larger areas for anchoring vessels; how might such projects be thematized as thalassic architecture and infrastructure? Additionally, given present realities and politics about climate change, what ecological stakes were at play in late medieval and Renaissance thalassic architecture? Papers might investigate topics including the construction and use of ocean-inspired architecture such as boats, arsenals, and customs houses; harbor fortification; the production of knowledge about maritime environments and their architecture; resource extraction; and how monuments such as light beacons and religious maritime shrines structured Italian navigation and experience of the sea. Important legalistic issues were key to seafaring trade; did maritime insurance impact sea vessels? Papers might explore how the multiethnic and plural aspects that characterized ports were inflected in architecture, or how such places constructed and projected their identity through architecture. While papers focused on Italy are preferred, submissions that address similar issues in other geographic places will be considered.
Session Chair: Lauren Jacobi, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Improvements in communications and transport technology during the early modern period enabled new forms of global connectedness. Exploiting these technologies, European kingdoms were able to extend their reach and influence throughout the world, establishing lucrative markets for exotic goods. Embedded within the processes of imperial expansion and international commercial competition were sophisticated networks of trade relations, embracing metropolitan financial centers and local markets. Characteristic of this chain of transaction were the buildings that gave it physical form—a facilities infrastructure that enabled the processing, storage, and shipment of goods.
This session invites proposals that engage directly with the history of trade and infrastructural architectures in the context of commercial networks. It asks participants to consider ideas of spatial integration and common enterprise that such networks relied upon and engendered. Questions include: in what ways were buildings concerned with trade shaped by their location within wider networks of related structures? What role did standardization and seriality play in the erections of such buildings? How did corporate identity affect type, style, and ornamentation? And, what relationships existed between spatial organization and technical specification in the ordering, processing, and conservation/preservation of goods?
The session especially welcomes proposals that engage wider historiographic frames of reference, such as regional, oceanic, and World/Global historiographies, methods of cultural and historical geography, the history of ‘things,’ as well as economic and business history, to provide further insight into the extended and systematized nature of networked space. This may include consideration of the colossal joint-stock corporations of the early modern period, such as the Asian and African trading companies of Britain, Holland, and France; smaller national and international mercantile syndicates of early modern Europe; or, later in the nineteenth century, large-scale agricultural, transportation, and mining corporations operating in Africa, the Americas, and Australasia.
Session Chairs: G. A. Bremner, University of Edinburgh, and Katie Jakobiec, University of Oxford
Historically, the municipal architecture of democratic societies has served to represent its political structure and its people. This architecture is often a source of pride, affirming cultural identity. Yet the political space of the city is a network that reaches beyond traditional representational architecture and assembly rooms to the multitude of other spaces where meetings and negotiations take place. This phenomenon invites us to revaluate the political architecture of the city to better understand and express the network of architectural forms (municipal buildings, service points, informal meeting spaces, and others) that formalize the relationship between citizens and political entities. This session is interested in architecture beyond representation: architecture that is productive of political space, framing the type of negotiation that produces the political landscape of a city.
This revaluation can engage with transformations to urban architecture and politics through a range of considerations including diffuse public and private boundaries, new technologies, accelerated movement, citizen action, etc. and new paradigms of flows, assemblages, and networks that change the way we understand political architecture and space. It can also be developed by the analysis of historical sites and their evolution, between preservation and actualization, or case-study-based theoretical reflection.
In what ways does architecture produce political space beyond official assembly rooms? What is the reach of this space and how does it connect with the urban social realm? How is existing architecture used in the production of political space in the city? How do collective-individual interfaces transform over time and according to different social structures? What do these interfaces afford the city in terms of democratic politics?
Session Chairs: Thomas-Bernard Kenniff, University of Quebec in Montreal, and François Dufaux, Laval University
In 1946, BBC listeners were first introduced to Nikolaus Pevsner’s broadcasts on art and architecture. Not only did he translate primarily visual subjects into auditory discourse, he also helped introduce architectural history to an audience much wider than a purely academic one, encouraging listeners to explore their hometowns with a new visual curiosity. Lessons in architectural history can now be found not only in lecture halls and printed media, but also in museums, at heritage tourism sites, and online. Architectural history research pervades popular culture: viewers of The Man in the High Castle series saw a digital manifestation of Albert Speer’s Berlin, and video games allow players to walk through the illusory cityscapes of Piranesi, the Futurists, and even Archigram.
This session will address a number of questions. Who is our audience when we write architectural history in the 21st century, and with today’s wider range of media, what methodologies should we use to engage this audience? In the academy, who are our students, and what departments do we serve? What role does architectural history play in professional architectural programs at undergraduate and postgraduate levels? In practice, how do we use new digital documentation technologies effectively and what are the viable alternatives for print-based research dissemination? What of the non-academic audience and of research being done by amateurs, disseminated through local groups? Finally, how can we inspire life-long learning, engagement, and advocacy rather than a bucket-list approach to architectural exploration?
This session aspires to create a panel of presenters from different perspectives: proposals are welcome from architectural historians within the academy, private practice, and the non-profit sector, as well as from those in conservation, preservation, museum studies, and the visualization of the built environment.
Session Chairs: Danielle Willkens, Auburn University, and Jonathan Kewley, Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England
James Ackerman (1919–2016) was among the most significant and widely read architectural historians of the past century. A student of Richard Krautheimer and Erwin Panofsky, he followed their model of scholarship that eschewed grand theories in favor of a close reading of historical sources and material objects, but he surpassed them in his ability to enliven his subjects and engage his readers. His books on Michelangelo (first published in 1961) and Palladio (1966), published in multiple editions and languages, remain the most authoritative and often cited works in the field. Even single articles such as “‘Ars Sine Scientia Nihil Est’: Gothic Theory of Architecture at the Cathedral of Milan,” (The Art Bulletin 31 : 84–111), or “Architectural Practice in the Italian Renaissance,” (Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, 13 : 3–11), to name only two, have spawned entire fields of historical inquiry. The same might be said for Ackerman’s publication of his Mellon lectures in The Villa: Form and Ideology of Country Houses, 1990, or his investigation of Renaissance approaches to drawing and representation in Origins, Imitation, Conventions, 2002. Both Ackerman’s collection of essays, Distance Points: Essays in Theory and Renaissance Art and Architecture, 1991, and his newest book, Origins, Invention, Revision: Studying the History of Art and Architecture, 2016, are testaments to the breadth of his scholarship, spanning a range of topics, from optics to photography; chronologies from Gothic architecture to Frank Gehry; and geographies from the United States to India. Contributions may consider a single essay or book of Ackerman’s in relation to subsequent scholarship, or reflect more broadly on his approach to architectural history and its implications for scholars today.
Session Chair: Cammy Brothers, Northeastern University
Borrowing from a theatrical metaphor: what unseen forces worked “backstage,” in the production of modern architecture? The means for execution of design and planning projects are often less acknowledged than the ends. Certain institutional structures, for example, privilege the intellectual or creative work of design, relegating the scaffolding provided by editing, organizing, or documenting to a subordinate position. The former attests authorship or genius, the latter is named as project management or labor for hire. To interrogate such hierarchies, we seek geographically diffuse work that posits a history of architectural “stagecraft” to generate new models immanent to the history of colonial and postcolonial modern architecture and planning. The end form—whether a modern arts complex in Asia or the Americas, a European or African border camp, an imperial or national headquarters, or a city plan—is less vital here than our efforts to limn obscured apparatuses that have receded into the background. We seek to invert conventions as well as categories.
A border between the formal and the informal may appear in a shadow history of the “off-stage,” thought through figures, institutions, media, communications, or curation. How do disparate practices articulated through invisibility, absence, or obscurity cohere as a new subject? Following Rancière, that “there is history because there is an absence,” how does this conceptual figure-ground relationship relate to architectural historical method? Thinking with Carolyn Steedman, how do we write “history less as stuff . . . and more as process,” in a historical tradition that pivots off built or visual-material referents? How often were the invisible practices upon which we seek to shed light “manned” by those other than white men, and precisely how were they gendered and racialized? By naming and inscribing them in the history, what purchase may be gained on theory?
Session Chairs: Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi, New York University, and Claire ZImmerman, University of Michigan
Unheard Voices: New Interpretations of Minnesota’s Landscapes
In popular culture—e.g., the TV series Fargo—Minnesota tends to be a land of wintry plains, Scandinavian-inflected accents, and a predominantly white population. Of course, Minnesota is and always has been far more diverse than this, both topographically and culturally. Its varied ecosystems range from vast prairies to dense hardwood forests, and its ethnic make-up includes Ojibway and Dakota peoples, the descendants of Europeans and Africans, and most recently, people coming from Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, India, China, Korea, Somalia, Ethiopia, Liberia, and Mexico.
Scholarly interests on Minnesota’s buildings and landscapes have changed accordingly. Over the years works including Donald Torbert’s A Century of Art and Architecture in Minnesota(1958) and David Gebhard and Tom Martinson’s The Architecture of Minnesota (1978) have documented the state’s built environment, often with a focus on style. Recently, the digital humanities have provided new platforms including the Minnesota Historical Society’s MNopedia (2001) and the Society of Architectural Historians’ SAH Archipedia. These resources, along with numerous more focused studies, reveal the varied and changing environments shaped by a host of individuals, communities, builders, planners, architects, and landscape architects over the past three centuries. Competing perspectives, broadened approaches to heritage, and the significance of race, ethnicity, and gender have received increasing attention. Historic sites like Fort Snelling are being reinterpreted, and scholars are addressing a range of previously neglected topics from the effects of racial segregation on automobile travel to the evolution of postwar suburbs and the preservation of modernism.
This session seeks papers that provide a deeper understanding of neglected, but important aspects of the state’s wide-ranging landscapes. Papers dealing with the built legacy of immigration, competing interests, everyday environments, urban revitalization, landscapes beyond the Twin Cities, environmental concerns, gender, race, and historic preservation issues are particularly welcome.
Session Chair: Victoria Young, University of St. Thomas
Ruins serve as a trope for artists, architects, intellectuals, and historians to re-conceptualize the trajectory of history across the globe. From Hegel’s recourse to ruins as evidence of linear historical development to Benjamin’s use of ruins to challenge those same narratives, the disorienting, fragmented nature of ruins encourages a panoply of interpretative response. Under the various ravages of history, the means through which these sites and symbols are effaced, reused, received, and visualized shift depending on the cultural and historical moment reanimating them. This session examines the multiple meanings and uses of ruins across disciplinary borders within the broad context of Asia, and investigates how “the ruin” as site, structure, history, bête noire, or any other conceptual framework (or foil) can begin to expand our understanding of this specific architectural and urban situation.
In their mangled and potentially incoherent form (post-disaster/postwar landscapes, the urban cacophony of rapid development, slum growth, etc.), the disjunctive gaps of ruins evolve into spaces for the creation of new and occasionally solipsistic meaning. Our focus on the visualization and representation of ruins potentially covers the ethics of documentary film and photography, the economics of renewal, the principles of conservation, the politics of memorial design, the motivations of picturing history in museums and textbooks, or the social and environmental cost of urban expansion and megacities. Papers in this panel will address questions involving a critical examination of ruins as seen in various media forms: How are these legacies visually maintained? Through what mechanisms are these sites imagined? What role does ‘authenticity’—of form, material, site, etc.—play in the visual propagation of the ruin? How have various media come to mediate our knowledge, experience, and expectation of ruins?
Session Chairs: Carrie L. Cushman, Columbia University, and Nicholas Risteen, Princeton University
It will have been 20 years since a major symposium has explored the life and career of Cass Gilbert (1859–1934). One of the great American architects of the early 20th century, Gilbert’s star had been eclipsed by the rise of modernism. Increased appreciation of the architect dubbed a “modern traditionalist” has led to new scholarship. The past 20 years have seen the renovation and restoration of such important Gilbert buildings as the Essex County Courthouse, Newark, N.J.; the Waterbury, Connecticut, City Hall; the St. Louis Public Library; the Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College; and the Minnesota State Capitol. Two of Gilbert’s iconic works, the U.S Supreme Court (1934) and the Woolworth Building (1913), have celebrated their 75th and 100th anniversaries, respectively. The vast Gilbert archives, however, still hold numerous untold histories.
From Gilbert’s early career in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he designed houses, churches, warehouses, and office buildings, to his career in New York, where he was known for his public and commercial buildings, Gilbert was a master networker and collaborator. Gilbert had only one partner at the beginning of his practice; his achievements were accomplished with the help of his skilled office staff and architectural renderers, innovative engineers like Gunvald Aus and Rafael Guastavino, and some of the era’s most noted painters, sculptors, and artisans. All had to adhere to the standards that Gilbert set for his work.
This session is seeking papers that focus on Gilbert’s role as a collaborator from St. Paul to New York City: studying architects who trained in his office and oversaw his commissions; clients who worked closely with Gilbert on their buildings and may have commissioned more than one building from him; and artists, artisans and engineers who helped bring Gilbert’s work to national attention and in turn were helped by Gilbert.
Session Chairs: Marjorie Pearson, Summit Envirosolutions, and Mary Beth Betts, Public Design Commission