Mardges Bacon

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

  • Le Corbusier in America

    Le Corbusier in America

    Travels in the Land of the Timid

    Mardges Bacon

    How Le Corbusier's first trip to the United States shaped his critique of the country and affected both his work and the diffusion of his ideas.

    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 Cathédrales étaient blanches: Voyage au Pays des Timid Personnes (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 Américanisme. 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.

    • Hardcover $80.00
    • Paperback $33.00
  • Ernest Flagg

    Ernest Flagg

    Beaux-Arts Architect and Urban Reformer

    Mardges Bacon

    This study of one of the most innovative practitioners of the Beaux-Arts movement in America covers Flagg's early training and Beaux-Arts works, his town and country houses, his commercial and utilitarian buildings, the Singer Tower, urban housing reform, and his small houses of modular design.

    Architect of the United States Naval Academy, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Scribner Building, and model tenement houses, Ernest Flagg (1857-1947) advanced the cause of classicism while demonstrating a deep concern for architecture's social responsibility. This study of one of the most innovative practitioners of the Beaux-Arts movement in America covers Flagg's early training and Beaux-Arts works, his town and country houses, his commercial and utilitarian buildings, the Singer Tower (which established a new height record while setting a precedent for New York City skyscraper restrictions in scale and density), urban housing reform, and his small houses of modular design. Flagg, the author notes, combined French nineteenth century aesthetics and the principles of academic classicism with American structural technology to create significant buildings during the Progressive Era from 1890 to 1917. His contributions to zoning and height regulations were essential to New York's first laws governing this aspect of the city's architecture. A confirmed individualist, Flagg produced highly original writings and ingenious inventions for construction techniques in low-cost housing and railroad cars.Flagg's adaptation of classicism and his concern for urban contextualism make this study of his work particularly timely. His designs have immediate relevance for contemporary architects and preservationists, as well as those interested in the social and architectural history of New York City.

    Ernest Flagg: Beaux-Arts Architect and Urban Reformer is included in The Architectural History Foundation's American Monograph Series, edited by David G. De Long. An Architectural History Foundation Book.

    • Hardcover $73.00