Iain Boyd Whyte

Iain Boyd Whyte is an English architectural historian. He is the author of several books including Bruno Taut and the Architecture of Activism, and the translator of Industriekultur: Peter Behrens and the AEG (MIT Press, 1984).

  • The Crystal Chain Letters

    The Crystal Chain Letters

    Architectural Fantasies by Bruno Taut and His Circle

    Iain Boyd Whyte

    The Crystal Chain - "Die glaserne Kette" - was a utopian correspondence initiated by Bruno Taut in 1919-1920, in which a small group of like-minded architects and artists exchanged ideas on what form the architecture of the future should take. Unfettered by the demands of practicability, the members of the group described their visions of an ideal society and of a beneficent architecture in a series of dazzling, fantastic letters and drawings. Although the letters are referred to in almost every survey of twentieth century architecture, this is the first book to offer in English the complete texts of all the known Crystal Chain letters, including some which have never been published in German. The letters are accompanied by illustrations, an introductory essay, and explanatory notes. The Crystal Chain Letters document the crisis of modernism that afflicted German architectural theory in the years immediately following the First World War. The trauma of the war and the subsequent social unrest led the radical architects to reject the materialism and positivism that had characterized the "Kaiserreich." The result was an ideological and aesthetic vacuum, and the search for suitable alternatives provided the basis for the correspondence. After a year of intense theoretical speculation, several of the links in the chain, including Bruno and Max Taut, Walter Gropius, Hans and Wassili Luckhardt, and Hans Scharoun, emerged as leading advocates and practitioners of the new architecture in Germany.

    • Hardcover $50.00


  • Biopolis


    Patrick Geddes and the City of Life

    Volker M. Welter

    An examination of the work and influence of Scottish urban planner and theorist Patrick Geddes.

    The Scottish urbanist and biologist Patrick Geddes (1854-1932) is perhaps best known for introducing the concept of "region" to architecture and planning. At the turn of the twentieth century, he was one of the strongest advocates of town planning and an active participant in debates about the future of the city. He was arguably the first planner to recognize the importance of historic city centers, and his renewal work in Edinburgh's Old Town is visible and impressive to this day.

    Geddes's famous analytical triad—place, work, and folk, corresponding to the geographical, historical, and spiritual aspects of the city—provides the basic structure of this examination of his urban theory. Volker Welter examines Geddes's ideas in the light of nineteenth-century biology—in which Geddes received his academic training—showing Geddes's use of biological concepts to be far more sophisticated than popular images of the city as an organic entity. His urbanism was informed by his lifelong interest in the theory of evolution and in ecology, cutting-edge areas in the late nineteenth century. Balancing Geddes's biological thought is his interest in the historical Greek concept of polis, usually translated as city-state but implying a view of the city as a cultural and spiritual phenomenon.

    Although Geddes's work was far-ranging, the city provided the unifying focus of nearly all of his theoretical and practical work. Throughout the book, Welter relates Geddes's theory of the city to contemporary European debates about architecture and urbanism.

    • Hardcover $45.00
    • Paperback $45.00
  • Industriekultur

    Peter Behrens and the AEG, 1907–1914

    Tilmann Buddensieg and Henning Rogge

    Most histories of 20th century design cite Peter Behrens's seminal influence on three of his former protégés - Gropius, Mies, and Le Corbusier - and mention the turbine factory and arc-lamp he designed for the German electric company, the AEG. Now the full story of the extraordinary collaboration between Peter Behrens and the AEG is disclosed in this extensive account of his industrial, graphic, and architectural designs. Illustrated with 600 halftones, 31 line drawings, and 53 four-color plates, and augmented by substantial essays, it is one of the most complete documentations of any designer's contribution to industry that has been assembled in the modern period.

    During the years that Behrens worked as artistic director for the AEG, he exercised complete control over the company's image. The resulting "industriekultur" was expressed in everything from factory buildings and worker housing to electric appliances and railroad cars, from graphic communications like signage and trademarks to letterheads and mailing labels. Behrens's idea that. a company can promote its identity through a consistent design program had repercussions far beyond Germany. Many of today's corporate giants consider design an integral part of their management policies; in Behrens's time, it was still considered a bold and controversial experiment.

    In addition to the vast array of visual material from the AEG's archives, the book contains essays by Tilmann Buddensieg, Henning Rogge, Fritz Neumeyer, Karin Wilhelm, Gabriele Heidecker, and Sabine Bohle on Behrens's relationship with the AEG's management, his predecessors and successors, the AEG's rise to dominance in the electric industry, and Behrens's design of exhibitions, graphics, and public utilities. There are also pieces by several of Behrens's contemporaries and a selection of Behrens's own writings appearing for the first time in English. A fully-illustrated appendix with biographical details of the AEG principals, and a comprehensive bibliography and index conclude this rich account.

    • Hardcover $90.00
    • Paperback $29.95