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Hardcover | $80.00 Short | £59.95 | ISBN: 9780262024792 | 424 pp. | 9 x 9 in | 195 illus., 8 color| August 2001
Paperback | $32.00 Trade | £23.95 | ISBN: 9780262523424 | 424 pp. | 9 x 9 in | 195 illus., 8 color| February 2003

Le Corbusier in America

Travels in the Land of the Timid

Overview

Le Corbusier's first trip to the United States in 1935 is generally considered a failure because it produced no commissions. The experience nevertheless had a profound effect on him, both personally and professionally. Sponsored by the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Le Corbusier promoted his ideas through a lecture tour, exhibition, and press conferences, as well as in meetings with industrialists, housing reformers, New Deal technocrats, and editors. His lectures were watershed events that advanced the cause of European modernism. Yet he returned to France empty-handed and published a bittersweet account, Quand les cath餲ales 鴡ient blanches: voyage au pays des timides (When the Cathedrals Were White: Journey to the Country of Timid People), which faulted America for lacking the courage to adopt his ideas.In this first major study of Le Corbusier's American tour, Mardges Bacon reconstructs his encounter with America in all its fascinating detail. Through extensive archival research and interviews, she presents a critical history of the tour as well as a nuanced and intimate portrait of the architect. Drawing on the methods of microhistory, she also considers how small ordinary events affect larger biographical, architectural, and cultural developments.Bacon notes that Le Corbusier's dialogue with America was drafted within a spirited European discourse on am鲩canisme. She contends that the trip validated his concept of a "second machine age" that would unite standardized industrial methods with a new humanism. Le Corbusier's subsequent work, she suggests, reflected an "Americanization," evidenced by the introduction of tension structures and the textured skyscraper conceived as an integrated system with functions articulated. She also defines Le Corbusier's role in the debate over New York City high-rise public housing.Appearing here in print for the first time are color reproductions of the pastel drawings that illustrated Le Corbusier's American lectures.

About the Author

Mardges Bacon is Professor of Architecture and Matthews Distinguished University Professor at Northeastern University.

Reviews

“"...[An]exhaustively researched and engagingly written study of a telling episode in 20th-century architectural transformations." Martin Filler New York Times Book Review”—
“"[T]he book's breadth of knowledge and attention to detail are faultless." Elain Harwood The Architects' Journal”—
“"...[An] exhaustively researched and engagingly written study of a telling episode in 20th-century architectural transformations." Martin Filler New York Times Book Review”—

Endorsements

“"Mardges Bacon's long-awaited study sheds light on one of the strangest love/hate relationships in Modern architecture: Le Corbusier's infatuation with an idealized America and the bitter delusion that followed. Thanks to previously overlooked archives, the events of Le Corbusier's famous 1935 trip to the United States are framed in a broad discussion of French Americanism. Bacon also reveals the fascinating parallel process through which Le Corbusier recycled themes and methods discovered in America and U. S. city builders absorbed his concepts."--Jean-Louis Cohen, Sheldon H. Solow Professor in the History of Architecture, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, and Director, Institut français d'architecture, Paris”
“"A long-neglected, important topic in Le Corbusier scholarship has finally found its overdue treatment. Mardges Bacon has produced an indispensable, substantial chronicle of Le Corbusier’s visit to the United States. With exceptional acumen and precision, she presents central aspects of his ambiguous relation to American culture and architecture and provides fascinating sidelights of his life."--Adolf Max Vogt, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH), Zurich”
“"This book opens a new chapter in both Le Corbusier scholarship and American studies. While Le Corbusier’s interest in America has been increasingly discussed by twentieth-century architectural historians, there has been no comprehensive study of his important voyage to America. Mardges Bacon’s book admirably fills that gap."--Mary McLeod, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, Columbia University”
“"Mario Carpo's book combines erudition and wit in his path-breaking interpretation of the printed image's impact on architectural design. A renewed intellectual landscape of Renaissance architecture emerges, through an investigation of the way publishing technologies and strategies shape discourse and practical construction. We owe Carpo a well-deserved thanks for his fascinating account of the earliest, and not the least inspiring, encounter between architectural theory and the media."--Jean-Louis Cohen, Sheldon H. Solow Professor in the History of Architecture, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, and Director, Institut français d'architecture, Paris”
“"Volker Welter's book offers a fascinating journey into uncharted territory. The seminal figure of Patrick Geddes emerges from the extraordinary quantity of archival documents as a key thinker on the city and its history. Issues hitherto repressed in the history of modern urbanism, such as the impact of spirituality on town designs, are brought back to the center of attention."--Jean-Louis Cohen, Sheldon H. Solow Professor in the History of Architecture, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, and Director, Institut français d'architecture, Paris”
“"Simon Sadler chronicles the encounter between fantastic technology and the built imagination orchestrated by Archigram during a unique decade. The rigorous historical knowledge offered by his book does nothing to lessen the excitement their designs still generate."--Jean-Louis Cohen, Sheldon H. Solow Professor in the History of Architecture, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, and Director, Institut français d'architecture, Paris”