At the end of the nineteenth century, MIT occupied an assortment of laboratories, classrooms, offices, and student facilities scattered across Boston’s Back Bay. In 1912, backed by some of the country’s leading financiers and industrialists, MIT officials purchased an undeveloped tract of land in Cambridge. Largely on the basis of a recommendation from John D. Rockefeller, Jr., MIT hired the École des Beaux-Arts–trained architect William Welles Bosworth to build and design a new campus.
Although we spend more than ninety percent of our lives inside buildings, we understand very little about how the built environment affects our behavior, thoughts, emotions, and well-being. We are biological beings whose senses and neural systems have developed over millions of years; it stands to reason that research in the life sciences, particularly neuroscience, can offer compelling insights into the ways our buildings shape our interactions with the world. This expanded understanding can help architects design buildings that support both mind and body.
The discipline of architecture depends on the transmission in space and time of accumulated experiences, concepts, rules, and models. From the invention of the alphabet to the development of ASCII code for electronic communication, the process of recording and transmitting this body of knowledge has reflected the dominant information technologies of each period. In this book Mario Carpo discusses the communications media used by Western architects, from classical antiquity to modern classicism, showing how each medium related to specific forms of architectural thinking.
Maintenance plays a crucial role in the production and endurance of architecture, yet architects for the most part treat maintenance with indifference. The discipline of architecture values the image of the new over the lived-in, the photogenic empty and stark building over a messy and labored one. But the fact is: homes need to be cleaned and buildings and cities need to be maintained, and architecture no matter its form cannot escape from such realities.
This small book on small dwellings explores some of the largest questions that can be posed about architecture. What begins where architecture ends? What was before architecture?The ostensible subject of Ann Cline's inquiry is the primitive hut, a one-room structure built of common or rustic materials. Does the proliferation of these structures in recent times represent escapist architectural fantasy, or deeper cultural impulses?
Every intellectual endeavor relies upon an existing body of knowledge, proven and primed for reuse. Historically, this appropriation has been regulated through quotation. Academics trade epigraphs and footnotes while designers refer to precedents and manifestos. These citations—written or spoken, drawn or built—rely on their antecedent, and carry the stamp of authority.
Architecture remains in crisis, its social relevance lost between the two poles of formal innovation and technical sustainability. In Attunement, Alberto Pérez-Gómez calls for an architecture that can enhance our human values and capacities, an architecture that is connected—attuned—to its location and its inhabitants. Architecture, Pérez-Gómez explains, operates as a communicative setting for societies; its beauty and its meaning lie in its connection to human health and self-understanding.
In Outlaw Territories, Felicity Scott traces the relation of architecture and urbanism to human unsettlement and territorial insecurity during the 1960s and 1970s. Investigating a set of responses to the growing urban unrest in the developed and developing worlds, Scott revisits an era when the discipline of architecture staked out a role in global environmental governance and the biopolitical management of populations.
Trained as an art historian but viewing architecture from the perspective of a “displaced philosopher,” Hubert Damisch in these essays offers a meticulous parsing of language and structure to “think architecture in a different key,” as Anthony Vidler puts it in his introduction. Drawn to architecture because it provides “an open series of structural models,” Damisch examines the origin of architecture and then its structural development from the nineteenth through the twenty-first centuries.
The usual history of architecture is a grand narrative of soaring monuments and heroic makers. But it is also a false narrative in many ways, rarely acknowledging the personal failures and disappointments of architects. In Bleak Houses, Timothy Brittain-Catlin investigates the underside of architecture, the stories of losers and unfulfillment often ignored by an architectural criticism that values novelty, fame, and virility over fallibility and rejection.