Ph.D. in Architecture Completed Dissertations
Modernity in Translation: Early Twentieth Century German-Turkish Exchanges in Land Settlement and Residential Culture
The Modern Solar House: Architecture, Energy, and the Emergence of Environmentalism, 1938-1959
Daniel A. Barber
Experimentation in the solar house relied on the principles of modern architecture for both energy efficiency and claims to cultural relevance. A passive “solar house principle” was developed in the late 30s in the suburban houses of George Fred Keck that involved open plans and flexible roof lines, and emphasized volumetric design. Spurred by wartime concern over energy resource depletion, architectural interest in solar heating also engaged an engineering discourse; in particular, an experimental program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology led to four solar houses and a codification of its technological parameters. Attention to the MIT projects at the UN and in the Truman and Eisenhower administrations placed the solar house as a central node in an emergent network exploring the problems and possibilities of a renewable resource economy.
Further experimentation elaborated on connections between this architectural-engineering discourse and the technical assistance regimes of development assistance; here by MIT researcher Maria Telkes, who also collaborated, at different junctures, with the architects Eleanor Raymond and Aladar Olgyay. The solar house discourse was further developed as a cultural project in the 1958 competition to design a solar heated residence, “Living With the Sun,” which coalesced the diverse formal tendencies of mid-century modernism to promote the solar house as an innovation in both lifestyle and policy.
Though the examples described are not successful as either technological objects and cultural projects, the story of the modern solar house excavates a history of the present anxiety concerning the relationship between environmental and social conditions. Perhaps most cogently, the narrative reconfigures the role of architecture within such discussions, as a site for both technological innovation and for experimentation in the formation of an environmentalist culture.
State, Civil Society, Architecture: a Critique of the Representations of the Good City
«Età Della Macchina» Marco Zanuso's Architecture and Industrial Design 1945-1972
Forms of Function: Self-Culture, Geometry, and Octagon Architecture in Antebellum America
Building a Continent: Modern Architecture and the Construction of Latin America in the 1950
Patricio Del Real
Dwight Perkins Architect: Civic Representation and Social Reform in Chicago during the Progressive Era, 1893-1933
The Informal as a Project: Self-Help Housing in Peru, 1955-1986
Wilderness Nation: Building Canada's Railway Landscapes, 1884-1929
Exporting Zionism: Architectural Modernism in Israeli-African Technical Cooperation, 1958-1973*
This dissertation explores Israeli architectural and construction aid in the first decades of sub-Saharan African states independence. In the Cold War competition over development, Israel distinguished its aid by alleging a postcolonial status, similar geography, and a shared history of racial oppression to alleviate fears of neocolonial infiltration. I critically examine how Israel presented itself as a model for rapid development more applicable to African states than the West, and how the architects involved negotiated their professional practice in relation to the Israeli Foreign Ministry agendas, the African commissioners' expectations, and the international disciplinary discourse on modern architecture. I argue that while architectural modernism was promoted in the West as the International Style, Israeli architects translated it to the African context by imbuing it with nation-building qualities such as national cohesion, labor mobilization, skill acquisition and population dispersal. Based on their labor-Zionism settler-colonial experience, as well as criticisms of the mass construction undertaken in Israel in its first decade, the architects diverged from authoritarian "high modernism" to accommodate the needs of weak governments.
Focusing on prestigious governmental and educational buildings such as the Sierra Leone parliament, Ife University in Nigeria, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ethiopia, this study brings to the fore the performative capacities of these buildings in relation to the national and international audiences they addressed as vehicles of governance and markers of a desired modernity. In other words, this study charts the international political and economic mechanisms that facilitated these projects, and the national infrastructure they were supposed to catalyze and sustain. Cutting across North-South and East-West dichotomies, the study of this modality of transnational exchange sheds new light on processes of modernization and globalization and exposes their diverse cultural and political underpinnings.
* This research is supported by the International Dissertation Research Fellowship of the Social Science Research Council, and the Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life at Columbia University.
An architecture for the new Britain : the social vision of Cedric Price's Fun Place and Potteries Thinkbelt
Stanley J. Mathews
The Fun Palace was based on a constantly varying design for a new form of leisure center. Common citizens could entertain and educate themselves by assembling their own environments using cranes and prefabricated modules in an improvisational architecture. The project suggested some of the most constructive and creative uses of free time in postwar England.
In his 1966 Potteries Thinkbelt, Price further pursued new architectural ideas in the service of the failing industrial sector and its now jobless workers. In it, he proposed the conversion of a vast area of England's once-thriving industrial heartland into an enormous High Tech think-tank, with mobile classrooms and laboratories mounted on the rail lines, moving from place to place, from housing to library to factory to computer center. Price hoped to break down the traditional wall between "pure" and "applied" science and technology, lure the scientists back to Britain, and put the nation at the forefront of advanced technologies.
Coinciding with England's economic and industrial decline and the disastrous period of the "brain drain," the Fun Palace and Potteries Thinkbelt integrated concepts of technological interchangeability with social participation and improvisation as innovative and egalitarian alternatives to traditional leisure and education. At the same time, these projects suggested new models of housing, building construction, and industrial production for post-industrial society. This dissertation posits the Fun Palace and Potteries Thinkbelt as integral to the social and architectural discourses of the time, and traces the reasons why these projects have been influential on the subsequent development of architecture.
Facts and artifacts : Otto Neurath and the social science of socialization
As a housing director, Neurath had nothing but disdain for priceless artifacts and rare artistic collections. He thought that they absorbed the subject's attention without stimulating his or her intellect; they fetishized the "spectacle value" of objects at the expense of being socially informative. As a housing advocate and city planner, meanwhile, Neurath was an ardent critic of picturesque and Baroque planning schemes and a foe of both laissez-faire urbanism and anti-city utopianism. He believed that overly concentrated urban development bred disease and inequality, while its inverse harmed worker productivity. Most of all, he detested Beaux-Arts and Sittesque urban planning on account of the priority they gave to aesthetics, beauty, and "good taste.
Neurath's approach to solving urban and museological issues, I argue, consisted in organizing his thoughts around facts rather than artifacts. Facts, he contended, are interconnected---they're governed by rules rather than exceptions. Artifacts, on the other hand, project the illusion of autonomy; like the "curiosity cabinets" of the 17th century, they are defined by their relative uniqueness or singularity. They pique the imagination, he contended, but they also breed irrationalism---an escape into disorder.
For Neurath, extinguishing this "auratic" urge was central to the project of installing a truly rational culture. In the area of museum administration, I explore in my thesis how Neurath pioneered the use of mechanically reproducible media---photographs, lantern slides, graphic diagrams, and the like. Most famously, he invented a language of pictoral communication known as the International System of Typographic Picture Education ("Isotype"), whose hieroglyphic signs are all but ubiquitous in today's airports, restrooms, and city streets. In the realm of city planning, Neurath was one of the earliest advocates of standardized mass housing. He developed innovative schemes for rationalizing the production of agrarian settlements and organizing and educating building cooperatives. He was instrumental to the careers of countless Neue Sachlichkeit modernists, including Margarete Schutte-Lihotzky, Le Corbusier, Josef Frank, and Cornelis van Eesteren, and carried on an extensive correspondence with the sociologist Ferdinand Tonnies.
In the dissertation, I conclude by critically considering the contradictions and tensions implicit to Neurath's cultural and urbanistic philosophy. I suggest that his example does not simply reflect the musings of an isolated historical figure, but are emblematic of the holistic aspirations of Enlightenment reason.
Savage Mind to Savage Machine: Techniques and Disciplines of Creativity, 1880-1985
Empathetic affinities, Alvar Aalto and his milieus
The dissertation highlights that Aalto, well before he was exposed to architectural modernism, was aware that the ability to transcend national origins lies at the heart of becoming "modern." As a consequence the relationship to his native Finland was ambivalent as increased exposure to other cultures through travel and media allowed Aalto to transform from a small-town-boy first to an aspiring cosmopolite and further to an active member in the international Modern Movement. I will acknowledge that this exposure to other cultures effected his relationship to his country of origin. The chapters, organized chronologically, will trace how Aalto addressed the relationship between national culture and international influence in his writings; how he came to represent these ideas in his buildings; how he saw his role within the international arena at different times (a cosmopolite, a mediator, an Anti-Finn, a patriot); how he was influenced by Finnish and foreign theories about the Finnish nation; and lastly, how he responded to his international reception, which often saw him in essentialist terms as a quintessentially Finnish architect. I will even argue that Aalto's openness to other cultures was shaped and in turn shaped how Finland as a nation came to define its position within the international community.
Quadrante and the politicization of architectural discourse in fascist Italy
Through a detailed study of the journal Quadrante and its circle of architects, critics, artists and patrons, this Ph.D. dissertation investigates the relationship between modern architecture and fascist political practices in Italy during Benito Mussolini's regime (1922-43). Rationalism, the Italian variant of the modern movement in architecture, was at once pluralistic and authoritarian, cosmopolitan and nationalistic, politically progressive and yet fully committed to the political program of Fascism. An exhaustive study of Quadrante in its social context begins to explain the relationships between the political content of an architecture that promoted itself as the appropriate expression of fascist policies, the cultural aspirations of an architecture that drew on contemporary developments in literature and the arts, and the international function of a journal that promoted Italian modernism to the rest of Europe while simultaneously exposing Italy to key developments across the Alps.
Expo 67; or the Architecture of Late Modernity
Inderbir Singh Riar
Inventing the public: modern mass housing and the colonial complex in postwar Singapore and Hong Kong, 1949-63
Constructed Natures of Modern Architecture in Japan 1920-1940 Yamada Mamoru, Horiguchi Sutemi, and Antonin Raymond
Ken Tadashi Oshima
Organization and Abstraction: The Architecture of SOM from 1936 to 1956
Hyun Tae Jung
SOM went through drastic transformations in organization and design in its early years. In the late 1930s, the small architecture office was highly influenced by industrial design. During World War II at the town of Oak Ridge, TN, for the Manhattan Project, the firm fully employed modern design idioms and developed a new organizational structure drawn from collaboration with the 'military-industrial complex.' After the war, the firm became known as both the dominant producer of corporate architecture and an efficient organizer of large-scale projects.
Over the years, SOM has had a critical impact on the prosperity and the dominance of modern architecture in America. However, a critical analysis of its history has not been done. The dissertation illustrates how by combining flexible organizational structures with an efficient design production, SOM was able to produce post-war office spaces that were repetitive yet organic.
Urbanization and the Emergence of the Polykatoikìa. Habitat and Identity, Athens 1830-1974
Modernization, National Image and Ideology: Architectural History in China from the Turn of the Twentieth Century to 1953
Noting that the asynchronous modernization was an unspoken factor acting on all of these architectural histories, this dissertation examines the texts with a specific interest in the nationalistic ideology under-pinning their interpretation of architectural images both traditional and modern. Five types of architectural historians who were involved in the formation of this discipline are examined. They are: western sinologists including John Calvin Ferguson (1866-1945), Walter Perceval Yetts (1878- 1957), Osvald Sirén (1879-1966), Carroll Brown Malone (1886-1973), Paul Demiéville (1894-1979), Gustav Ecke (1896-1971), etc.; progressive Chinese intellectuals Yue Jiazao (1868-1944), Zhu Qiqian (1872-1964) and their fellows of the Society for Research in Chinese Architecture (1930-1945); culturally conservative architectural professionals trained abroad, represented by Liang Sicheng (1901-1972) and Lin Huiyin (1904-1955); architectural modernists, among them the most insightful was probably Tong Jun (1900-1983); and socialist writers Hu Man (1904-1986) and Feng Zikai (1898-1975).
It is found that the historians stated above actually interweaved native learning skills and architectural history, a discipline originated from the West, to fulfill the need for a national identity caused by the asynchronous modernization. This is particularly embodied in the methodologies and historical styles that they remodeled. Contrary to most prevailing post-colonial theories, their methodologies and historical styles exemplify a positive and confident local response to foreign input. By scrutinizing these historical texts, this dissertation provides a new perspective on the early history of global architecture.