When the Library of Congress was searching for an architectural historian to write the definitive book on libraries in America, it tapped USC School of Architecture Assistant Professor Ken Breisch.
The book, which will feature prints and photographs of U.S. libraries culled from various Library of Congress collections, is due to be published by W.W. Norton & Co. in 2015.
Breisch, who founded USC’s graduate Historic Preservation Program (now called Heritage Conservation), also teaches popular courses on the modern tradition in Southern California and on the history of American architecture and urbanism. The Southern California course, which covers Native Americans to the present, is a real challenge to fit into one semester.
“The more I know, the more it’s difficult to get through it all,” Breisch said. “Los Angeles is such a great city for architecture.”
This week, he finished the manuscript for a book on the city’s public library, tentatively titled Building the Los Angeles Public Library: An Architectural and Cultural History, 1872-1940.
Society to celebrate its 75th anniversary
And the ever-busy Breisch recently added another highlight to his résumé when he was installed as president of the Society of Architectural Historians, an international organization of academics, preservationists, architects and members of the public interested in studying the built environment.
The society has 2,500 individual members and 689 institutional members arrayed across 56 countries. It publishes a journal, creates curricula for K-12 education and just received a $1.5 million National Endowment for the Arts grant to document the 100 most iconic buildings in each state. Images and information on these 5,000 sites will be freely available to the public on the society’s website.
Founded at Harvard University in 1940, the society is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. Its annual conference will be held in Pasadena in 2016, the final year of Breisch’s presidency.
The society is active and growing, Breisch said.
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