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[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 ...

Article

Elise Madeleine Ciregna

Stonecarving throughout American history has been utilized for various purposes: utilitarian work such as paving, roofing and hitching posts; and ornamental work, such as architectural elements, gravestones and monuments, and sculpture. America’s first professional stonecarvers were mainly trained, skilled artisans from England and Scotland. These men were often called “statuaries” because they were capable of producing highly ornamental carving and sculpture, similar to the work of trained academic sculptors. There was little call for such highly decorative work in the colonies, but as urban centers gradually formed, stone masons found plenty of work in newly emerging cities such as Boston, Philadelphia and New York.

In rural areas many of America’s early stonecarvers were native-born and self-taught. Their skills were most often put to use carving gravestones, which were needed in every community. Both professional and native-born stonecarvers produced beautiful, often idiosyncratic carved work. They worked in the “direct” method of carving, that is carving directly into the stone without creating a preliminary model. Botanist John Bartram designed his own stone house in Philadelphia around ...

Article

Elizabeth Baquedano

Type of sculpture made with melted sugar. It is confined to Mexico, and its origins are uncertain, although it seems likely that it developed in imitation of the Pre-Columbian custom of creating images with tzoalli dough (a Náhuatl term for maize and amaranth seeds kneaded with honey), as described in detail by 16th-century Spanish chroniclers. The latter tradition has survived to the late 20th century alongside sugar sculpture. Aztec deity images were made of clay, stone, wood or tzoalli dough, and less frequently of gold, silver or jade. The last three, more expensive materials, were used for temple images, but tzoalli images were also ‘sacred’, in that pieces were broken off and eaten, perhaps as if they represented the flesh of the gods. The 16th-century chronicler Diego Durán described how birds were made with such dough, with wings, feathers and other details attached to them and painted, techniques also used by modern sugar sculptors....

Article

Gavin Townsend

(TVA)

Federal Agency, founded in 1933. Chartered by the US Congress on May 18, 1933, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) was established to control the flooding of the Tennessee River and to generate the enormous amounts of hydroelectric power needed nationally. To fulfill its aims, TVA constructed dams, hydroelectric plants, locks and housing throughout the Tennessee River basin, employing thousands of workers in Southern Appalachia and providing economic relief and electricity to one of the most impoverished regions of the country.

The first task was to provide housing for TVA’s construction workers in Norris, TN. Under Earle S. Draper, Director of TVA’s Division of Land Planning and Housing, TVA architects in 1934 produced a series of well-designed houses built in traditional styles and materials and arranged along winding roads in the manner of an English “garden city.” Norris included a common central green and a band of wilderness around the town. The arrangement was later used on a much larger scale (...

Article

Peter L. Laurence

Although the theory and practice of renovating cities is ancient, and although the term is still used to refer to similar practices today, “urban renewal” typically refers to the large-scale, federally funded redevelopment projects that took place in US cities in the 1950s and 1960s. Such projects wrought dramatic physical transformations and caused controversial social upheaval. Urban renewal in this sense came into being with the US Housing Act of 1954, although it evolved out of a history of government-funded slum clearance and housing project construction dating back to the 1930s. Following two decades of slum clearance and model housing projects including First Houses (1935), Williamsburg Houses (1937) and Stuyvesant Town (1947), all in New York, the US Housing Act of 1949 was signed into law with broad political support due to a national postwar housing shortage. As the immediate legislative predecessor of urban renewal legislation, the Housing Act of ...

Article

W. C. Foxley

Genre of art inspired by the land and the peoples of the American West, particularly in the period during and shortly after white settlement of the area. It was practised first by explorer-artists and later by permanent settlers of the area. Incorporating the media of painting, drawing and sculpture, such art records the dramatic topography west of the Mississippi River extending to the Pacific Ocean and often deals with the frequently violent events that helped to shape its settlement. The first major depictions of the area occurred in the years prior to the American Civil War (1861–5), but the heyday of Wild West and frontier art was between 1880 and 1910, when such artists as Charles M(arion) Russell and Frederic Remington lived and worked there, depicting the cowboys and American Indians of the region ( see fig. ). It was this type of art that gave rise to the romantic notion of the West as an area of danger, excitement, and dramatic confrontation, stirring the imagination of many easterners. Aspects of the life and culture of the West continued to be treated into the first half of the 20th century. However, by this time both white settlers and their culture had long been dominant, and consequently the fascination that the region had formerly exercised over white artists dwindled....