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Article

Agrest, Diana  

Walter Smith

(b Buenos Aires, 1945).

American architect and theorist of Argentine birth. She received her Diploma of Architecture at the University of Buenos Aires in 1967 and studied further in Paris at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes and the Centre du Recherche d’Urbanisme (1967–9). She moved to New York in 1971. From 1976 Agrest taught at Cooper Union, New York, and at Columbia, Princeton and Yale universities. In 1980 she went into partnership with her husband, Mario Gandelsonas (b 1938), in the firm A & G Development Consultants Inc., in New York. She also formed her own firm, Diana Agrest, Architect, in New York. Agrest was deeply involved in theoretical research, and was a Fellow at the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies, New York, from 1972 to 1984. She was strongly influenced by semiotics and developed the idea that architecture can refer beyond itself, discussed particularly in her essay on architecture and film (...

Article

Atterbury, Grosvenor  

Leland M. Roth

(b Detroit, MI, July 7, 1869; d Southampton, NY, Oct 18, 1956).

American architect, urban planner and writer. Atterbury studied at Yale University, New Haven, CT, and travelled in Europe. He studied architecture at Columbia University, New York and worked in the office of McKim, Mead & White before completing his architecture studies at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Atterbury’s early work consisted of suburban and weekend houses for wealthy industrialists, such as the Henry W. de Forest House (1898) in Cold Springs Harbor on Long Island, NY. De Forest was a leader in the philanthropic movement to improve workers’ housing, an interest that Atterbury shared; through him Atterbury was given the commission for the model housing community of Forest Hills Gardens, NY, begun in 1909 under the sponsorship of the Russell Sage Foundation; the co-planners and landscape designers were the brothers John Charles Olmsted (1852–1920) and Frederick Law Olmsted Jr (1870–1957), the sons of Frederick Law Olmsted. Atterbury developed a system of precast concrete panels to build a varied group of multiple units and town houses suggesting an English country hamlet. He continued his research into prefabrication largely at his own expense throughout his life....

Article

Audsley, George Ashdown  

(b Elgin, 1838; d New York, 1925).

Scottish architect, designer and writer. Trained as an architect, he moved to Liverpool, Lancs, in 1856 and set up an architectural practice with his brother William James Audsley (b 1833) in 1863. With him he wrote Handbook of Christian Symbolism (1865), and together they designed a number of buildings in and around Liverpool, among them the Welsh Presbyterian Church, Prince’s Road, Toxteth (1865–7), Christ Church, Kensington (1870), and the church of St Margaret, Belmont Road, Anfield (1873). For the merchant William Preston they designed the church of St Mary (1873) in the grounds of his house, Ellel Grange, Lancs. Other commissions were for a synagogue and a tennis club. He was among the earliest publishers to exploit the graphic potential of chromolithography, and, contrary to other major books on ornament, he made a case for classifying designs by their basic motif rather than by nationality. He was an expert on Japanese art, lecturing on the subject and between ...

Article

Benjamin, Asher  

Jack Quinan

(b Hartland, CT, June 15, 1773; d Springfield, MA, July 26, 1845).

American architect and writer. Benjamin was one of the most influential architect–writers of the first half of the 19th century in the USA and was trained as a housewright in rural Connecticut between 1787 and 1794. Two of his earliest commissions, the carving of Ionic capitals (1794) for the Oliver Phelps House in Suffield, CT, and the construction of an elliptical staircase (1795) in Charles Bulfinch’s Connecticut State Capitol at Hartford, reveal an exceptional ability with architectural geometry that was to help to determine the direction of his career. Benjamin worked as a housewright in a succession of towns along the Connecticut River during the 1790s. In 1797, dissatisfied with the publications of William Pain, an English popularizer of the Neo-classical style of Robert Adam, Benjamin wrote The Country Builder’s Assistant, a modest handbook for carpenters that was the first such work by an American writer. In ...

Article

Corbett, Harvey Wiley  

(b San Francisco, Jan 8, 1873; d New York, April 21, 1954).

American architect, teacher and writer. He studied engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, graduating in 1895, and then went to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris (1896), where he entered the atelier of Jean-Louis Pascal and received his diploma in 1900. In 1901 he joined the New York office of Cass Gilbert as a draughtsman, later going into partnership (1903–12) with F. Livingston Pell and, until 1922, with Frank J. Helmle. His earliest major commissions were won in competitions, including those for the Maryland Institute (1908–13) in Baltimore, a variation on a Florentine palazzo, and the classical Municipal Group building (1916–17) in Springfield, MA. From 1907 to the mid-1930s he lectured at the Columbia School of Architecture, which followed the Beaux-Arts educational system. The vertically expressive Bush Terminal Tower (1920–24) on 42nd Street, New York, with its prominent position and slight setbacks in buff, white and black brick, marked his début as an influential skyscraper designer and he maintained his leading position through the 1920s and 1930s. Both in his work and writing for the media, Corbett explored the creative potential of the ‘setback’ restrictions of the New York zoning laws of ...

Article

Cram, Ralph Adams  

Douglass Shand-Tucci

(b Hampton Falls, NH, Dec 16, 1863; d Boston, Sept 22, 1942).

American architect and writer. Cram was the leading Gothic Revival architect in North America in the first half of the 20th century, at the head of an informal school known as the Boston Gothicists, who transformed American church design.

In 1881 Cram was apprenticed to the firm of Rotch & Tilden in Boston. His letters on artistic subjects to the Boston Transcript led to his appointment as the journal’s art critic by the mid-1880s. In 1886 he began his first European tour. In 1888 he founded the firm of Cram & Wentworth with Charles Wentworth (1861–97). With the arrival of Bertram Goodhue, the firm became Cram, Wentworth & Goodhue in 1892, and in 1899 Cram, Goodhue & Ferguson, with Frank Ferguson (1861–1926) having joined the office as business and engineering partner following the death of Wentworth.

Cram was strongly influenced both by the philosophies of John Ruskin...

Article

Downing, A(ndrew) J(ackson)  

Arthur Channing Downs

(b Newburgh, NY, Oct 31, 1815; d Hudson River, NY, July 28, 1852).

American writer, horticulturist, landscape gardener and architect. From the age of seven he was trained in the family nursery garden by his elder brother Charles Downing (1802–85), an experimental horticulturist. Before he was 15, Downing came under the influence of André Parmentier (1780–1830), a Dutch-trained landscape gardener, and he studied the 700-acre estate that Parmentier had landscaped in the English manner at Hyde Park, NY. Downing was also influenced by the mineralogist Baron Alois von Lederer (1773–1842) and the landscape painter Raphael Hoyle (1804–38). In 1834 Downing’s first article, ‘Ornamental Trees’, appeared in journals in Boston, MA, and France. His article ‘The Fitness of Different Styles of Architecture for Country Residences’ (1836) was the first important discussion of the topic in America. He expressed enthusiasm for a variety of styles and insisted they must be used in appropriate settings. His ...

Article

Eisenman, Peter D.  

Malcolm Quantrill

(b Newark, NJ, Aug 12, 1932).

American architect, theorist, writer and teacher. He graduated from Cornell University, Ithaca, NY (BArch 1955), and worked for Percival Goodman in New York (1957–8) and the Architects’ Collaborative in Cambridge, MA (1959). He then went to Columbia University, New York (March 1960), and the University of Cambridge, England, where he completed his PhD in the theory of design (1963) and also taught (1960–63). Back in the USA, he was involved in several unexecuted competition entries and projects (1963–5) with Michael Graves and began to teach (1963–7) at Princeton University, NJ, moving to Cooper Union, New York, in 1967. In that year he became the founding director of the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies, New York, which became a major centre for exhibition and debate in the architectural profession; he also established and edited its influential journal ...

Article

Ferriss, Hugh  

Carol Willis

(b St Louis, MO, July 12, 1889; d New York, Jan 29, 1962).

American architect, draughtsman and theorist. He graduated in architecture in 1911 from Washington University, St Louis, where the teaching was Beaux-Arts oriented. In 1912 he moved to New York where he worked as a draughtsman in the large office of Cass Gilbert until 1915, when he launched his career as a freelance delineator. Although his first jobs were mostly illustrations or advertisements for newspapers or magazines, by the early 1920s finished perspective renderings, particularly of skyscrapers and other commercial architecture, became his principal work. Working in carbon pencil, he perfected a rich and dramatic chiaroscuro technique that exaggerated the monumental qualities of structures, suppressing ornament and detail and reducing buildings to the profound power of their simple mass. This abstraction of building forms, which had great influence on subsequent architecture by others, began with a series of ‘zoning envelope’ studies, which Ferriss did in 1922 with Harvey Wiley Corbett; these illustrated how the maximum building volumes permitted by New York’s setback zoning laws of ...

Article

Hilberseimer, Ludwig  

Karl-Heinz Hüter

(Karl)

(b Karlsruhe, Sept 14, 1885; d Chicago, IL, May 6, 1967).

American urban planner, architect, critic and teacher of German birth. After studying at the Technische Hochschule, Karlsruhe, with Friedrich Ostendorf and Hermann Billing (1906–11), he moved to Berlin. His early projects, for example for an opera house in Berlin (1911), followed Ostendorf’s neo-classical lines. During World War I he was first an assistant and later in control of a government department that laid the plans for aircraft workshops and hangars in Staaken and for a flying school and flight research institute in Müritzsee.

Hilberseimer’s style changed after 1918 from neo-classical to Elementarism in which, with the abandonment of classical details, buildings are combined in blocks, are given an uncluttered structure and are organized uniformly and, in the preference for natural materials such as brick over the use of colour, can often create a somewhat barren impression. In 1919 he joined the Novembergruppe and Arbeitsrat für Kunst and in ...

Article

Johnson, Philip  

Franz Schulze

(Cortelyou)

(b Cleveland, OH, July 8, 1906; d New Canaan, CT, Jan 25, 2005).

American architect, critic, and collector. The son of a well-to-do lawyer, he early displayed a keen natural intelligence that was diligently cultivated by his mother. He enrolled as an undergraduate at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, in 1923. A restless nature drew him successively to disciplines as diverse as music, the classics, and philosophy, while emotional turmoil led to several breakdowns that delayed his graduation until 1930. By then, however, he had developed a close friendship with the young art historian Alfred H. Barr jr, who in 1929 assumed the directorship of the new Museum of Modern Art in New York. At about the same time Johnson met another art historian, Henry-Russell Hitchcock, whose article on J(acobus) J(ohannes) P(ieter) Oud (‘The Architectural Work of J. J. P. Oud’, The Arts, xiii/2 (Feb 1928), pp. 97–103) had suddenly focused Johnson’s scattered mental energies on architecture and, more specifically, on modern European architecture of the 1920s....

Article

Kimball, (Sidney) Fiske  

Richard Guy Wilson

(b West Newton, MA, Dec 8, 1888; d Munich, Germany, Aug 14, 1955).

American architect and architectural historian. Kimball was one of the most important architectural historians from the 1910s to the 1940s; in a sense he created the field of American architectural history. His landmark book on Thomas Jefferson lifted his subject from obscurity into a place of prominence in American architecture. In 1922 he authored the first comprehensive study of American architecture from the initial English settlement in the 17th century to the early 19th century. Although a committed classicist for all of his life, his survey of American architecture in 1928 recognized the uniqueness of the skyscraper as a new mode of design. An interest in American design during the early Republic led to the identification of, and a book on, the furniture designer and architect, Samuel McIntire (1940), who was active in Salem, MA. His book on French Rococo design (1943) was one of the first English language appreciations of the subject....

Article

Modernism and architecture  

Kevin D. Murphy

Modernism as an architectural phenomenon, as it was defined by mid-20th-century scholars, was connected to, but distinct from, its manifestations in music, literature, and the other visual arts (see Modernism). Typically, modernist architecture was understood to have been both aesthetically and politically revolutionary, although those claims would be substantially repudiated with Post-modernism, from the 1960s through to the end of the century.

A history of modernist architecture that eventually hardened into a standard account was formulated on the eve of World War II, especially in the influential writings of the Swiss historian, critic, and theorist Sigfried Giedion. In Space, Time, and Architecture, the Growth of a New Tradition (1941), Giedion outlined a teleological history of modernist architecture that began in the Age of Revolution in the late 18th century, and culminated with the ‘high’ modernism of his own time, the salient feature of which he considered to be its lightness, achieved through the use of metal and glass, and inspired by Cubist painting. Already, by the time of Giedion’s writing, German author Emil Kaufmann had proposed the origins for modernism with the ‘Revolutionary architects’ of late 18th-century France: ...

Article

Plaw, John  

John Martin Robinson

(b London, bapt Jan 8, 1745; d Charlotte Town, PEI, Canada, May 24, 1820).

English architect. He started as a bricklayer in Westminster, London, before progressing to architecture. He was among the more idiosyncratic of English Neo-classical architects and one of the pioneers in designing model farm buildings and cottages in the age of agricultural improvement. A fine group of farm buildings by him of c. 1790 survives at Allerton Park, N. Yorks. His plans show a preoccupation with geometrical pattern-making, and his principal executed work, Belle Isle (designed in 1774–5 for Thomas English), Lake Windermere, Cumbria, is a circular house with a segmental dome and portico, similar to a miniature Pantheon. It was widely influential, encouraging Frederick Hervey, 4th Earl of Bristol and Bishop of Derry, to build circular houses at Ballyscullion (begun 1787), Co. Londonderry, and Ickworth (begun 1796), Suffolk, as well as inspiring a full-scale copy in Switzerland, the Villa la Gordanne (1800) at Perroy, Lake Geneva. Like many of his English architect contemporaries, Plaw was interested in novel materials and forms of construction and was among those who experimented with pisé, a French form of mud walling....

Article

Public art in the 21st century  

Jeremy Hunt and Jonathan Vickery

At the turn of the millennium, public art was an established global art genre with its own professional and critical discourse, as well as constituencies of interest and patronage independent of mainstream contemporary art. Art criticism has been prodigious regarding public art’s role in the ‘beautification’ of otherwise neglected social space or in influencing urban development. Diversity and differentiation are increasingly the hallmarks of public art worldwide, emerging from city branding strategies and destination marketing as well as from artist activism and international art events and festivals. The first decade of the 21st century demonstrated the vast opportunity for creative and critical ‘engagement’, activism, social dialogue, and cultural co-creation and collective participation. New public art forms emerged, seen in digital and internet media, pop-up shops, and temporary open-access studios, street performance, and urban activism, as well as architectural collaborations in landscape, environment or urban design.

Intellectually, the roots of contemporary public art can be found in the ludic and the architectonic: in the playful public interventions epitomized in the 1960s by the ...

Article

Relational aesthetics  

Nadja Rottner

French critic and philosopher Nicolas Bourriaud adopted the term ‘relational aesthetics’ in the mid-1990s to refer to the work of a selected group of artists, and what he considers their novel approach to a socially conscious art of participation: an art that takes as its content the human relations elicited by the artwork. Its key practitioners, most of them emerging in the 1990s, include Rirkrit Tiravanija , Philippe Parreno (b 1964), Liam Gillick, Pierre Huyghe, Maurizio Cattelan, Carsten Höller , and Vanessa Beecroft . For example, Carsten Höller installed Test Site (2006) at the Tate Modern in London so that visitors could enjoy the amusement park thrill of large playground slides in the museum’s Turbine Hall, and bond with fellow viewers over their experience. Bourriaud’s collected writings in Relational Aesthetics (1998, Eng. edn 2002) helped to spark a new wave of interest in participatory art.

While Bourriaud omits acknowledging the historical roots of relational art, Marxist-influenced critiques of the changing conditions of modern life, and arguments for art’s ability to improve man’s relationship with reality have a long history in 20th-century art. Critics Walter Benjamin and Siegfried Kracauer were among the first to developed new models for an art of politicized participation in the 1920s. The relational art of the 1990s and early 2000s is a continuation and an extension of traditions of participatory art throughout the 20th century (such as ...

Article

Rowe, Colin  

Stuart Romm

(b Rotherham, England, Mar 27, 1920; d Arlington, VA, Nov 5, 1999).

American architectural historian, theoretician and educator. Born in Yorkshire, Rowe studied at the Liverpool School of Architecture, where he would later return as a tutor (1950–2), influencing several students of future international prominence, such as James Stirling . Between these periods Rowe had served in the British Infantry (1942) and studied at the Warburg Institute in London under Rudolf Wittkower (1945–6). In 1952 Rowe came to the USA, where he briefly taught at Yale University before taking an academic post at the University of Texas in Austin. After a short return to England where he taught at Cambridge, Rowe eventually settled in the United States to become the Andrew Dickson White Professor of Architecture at Cornell University for 28 years. Although Rowe became an American citizen in 1984, he received the Royal Institute of British Architects’ highest honor, the Gold Medal, in 1995. Colin Rowe was renowned as a major intellectual influence in the field of architecture and urbanism during the second half of the 20th century, pioneering a critical reappraisal of the modern movement’s espoused rupture with history. In his famous essay “The Mathematics of the Ideal Villa” (...

Article

Scully, Vincent J.  

Dietrich Neumann

(b New Haven, CT, Aug 21, 1920).

American architectural historian and critic, Sterling Professor Emeritus of Art History at Yale University. Scully attended Yale University as an undergraduate student from 1936 to 1940, returning after the war to its graduate school in Art History. Under the direction of architectural historian Henry-Russell Hitchcock, Scully’s dissertation, “The Cottage Style” used the buildings of Newport, RI as the starting point for an examination of the domestic American architecture in the Eastern USA in the 19th Century. Upon graduation in 1949, Scully was immediately hired to join the Art History Department as faculty. Less than two years later, two large sections from his dissertation were included in Antoinette Downing’s publication The Architectural Heritage of Newport, Rhode Island, 1640–1915 (Cambridge, 1952). Scully’s own The Shingle Style: Architectural Theory and Design from Richardson to the Origins of Wright appeared in 1955, winning the annual Award of the College Art Association.

Its second edition of ...

Article

Smith, Thomas Gordon  

Elizabeth Meredith Dowling

(b Oakland, CA, April 23, 1948).

American architect, educator, historian and writer. Smith’s lasting contribution to architecture was reintroducing the teaching of classical and traditional design that had been supplanted in American architectural education by modernist precepts. These modernist ideas originated in the early 20th-century at the Bauhaus in Germany.

Smith’s academic training began in 1970 with a Bachelor of Arts in painting from the University of California at Berkeley. After an extensive period of study and travel in Europe, including trips to Rome and Vicenza, he refocused his training on architecture and received a Master of Architecture in 1975 from the University of California at Berkeley. Smith’s early architectural projects expressed the current Postmodern style that incorporated historic elements in an otherwise modern building. His growing interest in canonical classicism influenced his decision to apply for the Rome Prize in Architecture, which allowed him to study at the American Academy in Rome in 1979. He was included in the seminal ...

Article

Society of Architectural Historians  

Damie Stillman

[SAH]

Professional organization devoted to the study of architecture worldwide. Founded in 1940 by a small group of students and teachers attending summer session at Harvard University, the Society of Architectural Historians (SAH) has grown into the leading professional and scholarly organization in the world concerned with various aspects of the built environment. With a membership of around 2700, composed of architectural historians, architects, planners, preservationists, students, and other individuals interested in the subject, as well as nearly 1000 institutions worldwide, it publishes a scholarly periodical, the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, whose topics range from antiquity to the present day around the world; a monthly electronic Newsletter; and a multi-volume book series of detailed guides to the architecture of the individual American states, Buildings of the United States (BUS). The Society sponsors an annual meeting, held each year in a different part of the USA or Canada, or occasionally elsewhere, where members present scholarly papers, discuss these papers and other architectural topics, explore the area via a series of tours, and learn of the award of a number of prizes for notable accomplishments in the field, as well as designation of Fellows of the Society for lifetime contributions to architectural history. These include four book awards, the Alice Davis Hitchcock, Spiro Kostof, Elisabeth Blair MacDougall, and Antoinette Forrester Downing, for architecture, the built environment, landscape architecture, and preservation, respectively; the Philip Johnson Exhibition Catalogue Award; the Founders’ Award for the best article published in the ...