Reinhold Martin is a historian of architecture and media. From early work on the history of corporate architecture in the United States to recent work on universities as media complexes, Martin has studied the material and cognitive infrastructures of cultural, technological, and political-economic modernity. His first book, The Organizational Complex: Architecture, Media, and Corporate Space (2003), showed how architecture, the visual arts, cybernetics, and the social sciences formed an organizing nexus within the post-World War II military-industrial complex. His second book, Utopia’s Ghost: Architecture and Postmodernism, Again (2010), showed how the postmodern injunction against structural change, derived from this corporate complex, failed fully to exorcise the architectural “ghosts” of utopian thought and praxis. Shifting scales, The Urban Apparatus: Mediapolitics and the City (2016) charts a mediapolitics of the contemporary city in a series of essays on the infrastructures of global urbanization. Most recently, Knowledge Worlds: Media, Materiality, and the Making of the Modern University (2021) reconstructs the uneven transition from liberal to neoliberal reason across two centuries in colleges and universities in the United States, as a history of boundaries and figures of thought drawn and redrawn by media complexes.
Martin continues to study historical relations between ideas and things. One current project joins architectural history, philosophical aesthetics, and symbolic form at the threshold of analytic and critical thought; another outlines a political ecology of energy and engineering, from petroleum geology in Texas, to microwave technologies in Silicon Valley, to photovoltaics in New Jersey.
Martin has also been a frequent public essayist on architecture, politics, urbanization, and climate change. At Columbia, he is a member of the Center for Comparative Media, the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, and the Committee on Global Thought, and is a former chair of the Society of Fellows / Heyman Center for the Humanities. At GSAPP, he is former director of the Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture. He was also a founding co-editor of the interdisciplinary journal Grey Room.
Among numerous awards and fellowships, he is the recipient of an honorary doctorate from the Eesti Kunstiakadeemia / Estonian Academy of Arts. Martin holds a PhD from Princeton University, a Grad.Dipl from the Architectural Association, and a B.Arch from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
For over a decade Martin collaborated with Kadambari Baxi in an art-based architecture partnership; their work has been exhibited and published internationally.
Recent articles and book chapters:
“Drawing the Color Line: Silence and Civilization from Jefferson to Mumford,” in Irene Cheng, Charles L. Davis II, and Mabel O. Wilson, eds., Race and Modern Architecture: A Critical History from the Enlightenment to the Present (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2020).
“Media Organize: Persons,” in Timon Beyes, Lisa Conrad, and Reinhold Martin, Organize (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2019).
“Points of Departure: Notes Toward a Reversible History of Architectural Visualization,” in Sabine Ammon and Remei Capdevila, eds., The Active Image: Architecture and Engineering in the Age of Modeling (New York: Springer, 2017).
Selected public writings:
“Exit, Stage Right,” Places, May 2021.
“Abolish Oil: From the Green New Deal to Green Reconstruction,” Places, June 2020.
“Sacred Ground: The Big Easy in the Big Apple,” The Avery Review, May 2019.
“Pittsburgh, Paris, Charlottesville: The Infrastructure Question,” e-flux, September 2017.
“The Demagogue Takes the Stage,” Places, March 2017.