SAH 2019 Annual International Conference

Providence-skyline
Society of Architectural Historians
72nd Annual International Conference
April 24-28, 2019 | Providence, Rhode Island


The Society of Architectural Historians will host its 72nd Annual International Conference in Providence, Rhode Island, April 24-28, 2019. Architectural historians, art historians, architects, museum professionals, and preservationists from around the world will convene to present new research on the history of the built environment and explore the architecture and landscape of Providence and nearby areas. The conference will include 38 paper sessions, roundtable and panel discussions, architecture tours, workshops, networking receptions, special events, and more.



Conference News



Key Dates



June 5, 2018, 11:59 pm CDT

Deadline to submit a paper abstract

July 31, 2018
Session chairs notify all persons submitting abstracts of the acceptance or rejection of their proposals

August 1, 2018
Session chair and speaker registration opens

August 1, 2018
Annual Conference Fellowship applications open

August 31, 2018
Deadline for speakers to edit submitted abstract online

September 27, 2018
Deadline for speaker and session chair registration (non-refundable) and membership in SAH

September 30, 2018
Deadline for conference fellowship applications

January 8, 2019
Early registration opens. Session chairs and speaker may add tours and events to their existing registration.

January 9, 2019
Speakers submit complete drafts of papers to session chairs

February 19, 2019
Early registration ends

February 20, 2019
Registration rates increase. Tour and event registration opens to the public.

February 22, 2019
Session chairs return papers with comments to speakers

March 4, 2019
Speakers complete any revisions and distribute copies of their paper to the session chair and the other session speakers.

April 19, 2019
Online registration closes


Paper Sessions



Agora to RiverFire: Landscapes Histories of the Public Realm
Architectural Drawings as Artifact and Evidence
Architectural Fallout from Moral Failure
Architecture and Copyright
Architecture and Medieval Cultures of Containment
Coastal Trade, World Trade: The Port Cities of Narragansett Bay
Crossing Borders through Chinese Architecture
Faith in the City
Fantasies of Aristocracy: England and the American Renaissance
Fishing Architecture
Graduate Student Lightning Talks
Historicizing Race and Urban Space in Latin American Cities
Indoor Climate Change
Infrastructure: Global Perspectives from Architectural History
Issues in Indigenous Architectures in North America
Knowledge and Power: The Politics of the Architecture Museum
Land, Air, Sea: Environment during the Early Modern Period
Marginal Landscapes
Mobs and Microbes: Market Halls, Civic Order, and Public Health
Open Session (3)
Pre-construction
Remembering Vincent Scully
Sites of Loss, Sites of Grief, Sites of Mourning
Space, Architecture and Cultural Identity: Materializing Asian America
Space, Time, and the Architectural Treatise
Spaces of Oppression: Creating a History That Fosters Tolerance
State of Emergency: Architecture, Urbanism, and World War One
The Geopolitical Aesthetics of Postmodernism
The Historiography of the Present Condition
The Sound of Architecture: Acoustic Atmospheres in Place
The Spatial, Visual, and Social Effects of Surface in Architecture
The Untold Histories of Peripheral Architecture and Cities
Transatlantic Encounters: Africa and the Americas
Who Did What? New Thoughts on Gilded Age Collaborators
Yours, Mine, Ours: Multi-use Spaces in the Middle Ages


Paper Session Descriptions



Agora to RiverFire: Landscapes Histories of the Public Realm

In the history of urban developments, spaces intended for public use have played critical roles in the character and lived-experience, as well as the economic, political, and aesthetic narratives of cities. They serve as spaces of commerce, markets, discourse, protest, and recreation among other uses and applications. The agora was originally a gathering place for politics with a public circumscribed by power. The public park, exemplified by Central Park, reveals how an idea of a public space and realm was expanded. How have such ideas about the public shaped cities and their landscapes? In the twentieth century, cities have re-imagined rivers and waterfronts once viewed as purely economic as new sites for public engagement and recreation. Providence’s RiverFire suggests a new type of public realm in the urban landscape as does the Highline in New York City.

While historians have considered individual spaces such as the agora or in discussions of the Arab Spring, we have not considered the larger framework of the public realm and urban landscapes. Questions arise as to defining these landscapes as spaces and places that may well determine the public as a community, a concept and a practice. What role then does place have in these discussions? What role intention or design? What role urban context? What contributions might historians make to contemporary discourse on the public realm?

This session seeks scholars from across historic eras and cultures to consider the role of public landscapes within urban developments, the spaces in which a public is intended to interact, engage, and/or gather. Scholars may well include urban and planning historians as well as social and cultural historians, geographers, and sociologists, as well as architectural and landscape historians.

Session Chair: Thaisa Way, University of Washington

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Architectural Drawings as Artifact and Evidence

Architectural drawings have long held a prominent place in the history of architecture. Whether as records of intent, documents of existing structures, or works of art in their own right, they appear regularly in architectural scholarship. This session will focus on the following questions: when does the use of an architect’s project drawings or studies begin to shape the discourse of architectural history—and with what effect? Papers in this session will not only draw out the historiographical record of architectural drawings in scholarship but also illuminate how drawings condition the scholarship we write. This session considers the drawing as an artifact and will interrogate the nature of the evidence it provides.

Fiske Kimball argued that a study of architectural history based on built monuments alone was a mistake. Drawings, he believed, indicated “creative thought.” Kimball’s first book, Thomas Jefferson, Architect (1916) established Jefferson’s reputation on the basis of his drawings (not completed buildings); it also established Kimball’s reputation as an architectural historian. Kimball knew earlier European scholarship, including Heinrich von Geymüller’s 1875 publication that initiated the enduring study of the drawings related to St. Peter’s.

Identifying the historiographical record opens up questions seminal to the birth of our discipline. When do scholars, and in what countries, begin to focus on drawings and to answer what types of questions? Did the existence of drawings elevate the study of certain subjects or architects and marginalize others? What is the significance of the “creative thought” contained in drawings? How and when were collections of drawings established, who had access, and how did that impact scholarship? And finally, as architects move away from two-dimensional drawing does the architectural history and scholarship change? This session welcomes papers from all periods; topics outside of western-based studies are particularly welcome.

Session Co-Chairs: Marie Frank, University of Massachusetts Lowell, and Ann Huppert, University of Washington

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Architectural Fallout from Moral Failure

In their quest to locate historical meaning in architectural form, designers and scholars have long assigned moral positions to buildings. Whole styles, such as the Gothic or the Baroque, have been charged with dishonesty, while specific buildings have also been publically indicted for perceived vices. Ornament has been accused of intractable criminality, while its absence has been derided as puritanical.

The problems of linking human morality and architecture are inseparable from questions of culpability and victimhood, and thus produce a series of seemingly intractable questions: if a building is “evil,” whose fault is it? How, precisely, can architecture cause suffering? Can a depraved architect design a good building for an awful client? Can a morally corrupt building or space be redeemed? What happens when a good building turns bad—when new information comes to light, or old information acquires new meaning? This last question is of particular relevance in the present, as people of conscience grapple with the histories of exploitation woven throughout our built environment.

We invite papers that critically explore the problem of moral failure in architecture around the world, particularly its reception by individuals, the public, governments, scholars, and design professionals. There are many potentially productive angles from which to address this topic, ranging from studies of specific buildings that are demolished or shunned due to their associations with moral catastrophe, to the apologetic interpretation of the work of architects known for personal moral failure. Studies of built or unbuilt works tied to the fictional narratives of literature or film are also very welcome, as they offer rare glimpses of buildings that are deliberately crafted to convey moral failure, and can thus shed a great deal of light on the ways that people have viewed, and continue to view, the ethics of architecture in the real world.

Session Co-Chairs: Nathaniel Walker, The College of Charleston, and Peter Sealy, University of Toronto

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Architecture and Copyright

The question of what constitutes inappropriate borrowing of an architectural design is governed by copyright law, a branch of intellectual property that regulates the artistic expression of an idea. In the United States, the Architectural Works Copyright Protection Act (AWCPA) was passed only in 1990. But the relationship between architecture and copyright dates from antiquity: the ancient architect and urban planner Hippodamus of Miletus, the first to implement the systematized planning of gridded cities, sparked a debate with Aristotle as to whether or not the creator of a public good should benefit from his or her creation.

This panel invites papers that explore the relationship of architecture and copyright in the broadest theoretical and historical terms. Of particular interest is the way in which disciplinary definitions of copying and imitation in architecture intersect with or contradict legal notions of copyright. Papers might consider: examples in which architects were accused of copyright infringement and the legal and architectural concepts used in deciding the cases; the historical evolution and framing of copyright law in relation to architecture; cross-disciplinary analysis of the concept of the copy in architecture and its counterpart(s) in law; the specific historical factors contributing to the development and implementation of the AWCPA or other architectural copyright laws; a study of the legal terminology related to architectural copyright, including but not limited to terms such as “transformation,” “derivative works,” “substantial similarity,” “useful,” and “decorative.”

What do architects gain—and lose—through copyright protections? In what way does the law misunderstand or misrepresent architectural traditions of borrowing and appropriating? What does this portend for the future of architectural design? The session invites papers across a range of historical periods and geographic contexts that enable a deeper discussion of the issues at stake in protecting architectural works through copyright.

Session Chair: Amanda Reeser Lawrence, Northeastern University

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Architecture and Medieval Cultures of Containment

In the Middle Ages, Europe and the Middle East became theaters of holy war girded by narratives of containment. The Crusades, and the crusading campaigns launched within Europe’s borders, became part of Euro-Mediterranean life, including conceptions of the built environment far away from the battlefield. The term “containment” in its modern military meaning began with Cold War desires to check the spread of perceived dangers and to protect atomic secrets, but this twentieth-century martial strategy soon became a controlling metaphor of American life, conditioning sexual mores, gender roles, and artistic expression. This session explores how the culture of containment effected medieval architecture, specifically how existential threats (e.g., “infidels,” “heretics,” disease, and other perceived physical or social contagions) emerged in the symbolic logic of building design and related structures. The fortress-churches of Languedoc are foundational examples in this area of research. Scholars are invited to showcase current investigations into how medieval militarism, overtly or covertly, shaped the period’s spatial and architectural “containers” along with the mentalities of the people they housed. Among possible topics of inquiry are the elaborated boundaries and layered media(tions) of sacred architecture (e.g., Romanesque churches), residential enclosures and divisions, or fortress design. Proposals that relate material culture—such as body armor, reliquaries, or furnishings—to the built environment are welcome as are those that highlight destabilized containment narratives and perforated perimeters. Interdisciplinary scholarship exposing ideological investments between and among texts and the built environment, social/religious movements, and public spaces, could play a key role as well. Through an extended timeline beyond the dates of early Crusades, and an expanded geographic scope beyond specific battle sites, this session aspires to test the containment paradigm in the context of Romanesque, Gothic, Arab, and vernacular visual cultures.

Session Chair: Kim Sexton, University of Arkansas

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Coastal Trade, World Trade: The Port Cities of Narragansett Bay

The leading port cities of Narragansett Bay—Newport, Providence, and Bristol—are renowned for pioneering works of architecture, among them the Touro Synagogue in Newport and in Providence, the monumental State House and Industrial Trust Building. But the cities’ significance within the Rhode Island maritime economy, initially agricultural and later industrial, has not received enough emphasis in histories of architecture and urban planning.

Roger Williams’s belief in religious tolerance rejected conventional methods of New England hierarchical town planning. Just as important, the fluidity of the oceangoing trading networks and easy coastal communications on which the Narragansett Bay’s port cities depended facilitated the exchange of commodities, along with architectural and planning ideas. Narragansett Bay merchants and their architects travelled extensively among the port cities of the Atlantic Coast, to the West Indies, and beyond, as Providence bankers strengthened their ties with the region’s metropole New York. Besides their cosmopolitanism, the cities also achieved notoriety as centers of the slave trafficking. Traces of the “triangle trade” are inscribed in Bristol’s Linden Place, for example, and nearby docks, rum distilleries, and warehouses. With the founding after the Revolution of industrial mills in the Blackstone River Valley, arriving immigrants brought new customs, languages, and beliefs.

This session welcomes papers that explore the relationship between Newport, Bristol, and Providence and the port cities of the Atlantic world and beyond. Well-known structures might be re-examined in light of this larger oceangoing geography, from the colonial era networks established between Europe, Africa, and the West Indies to the formation of trading links after the Revolution with Canton and Calcutta, and finally to world markets in the early twentieth century—along with the architecture and planning of the neighborhoods and lesser known communities whose labor fueled the expansion, and continue to distinguish the diversity of the region today.

Session Chair: Gail Fenske, Roger Williams University

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Crossing Borders through Chinese Architecture

Chinese architecture often is considered to be a self-contained and even immature construction system, one that appears to change so little in contrast to the long, complex history of Chinese civilization and erudite literary production. Indeed, it can be argued that through two millennia of history its structural principles have remained largely unchanged. Chinese architecture is further distinguished as a rare if not unique building tradition of perishable materials through this long history, one that sharply contrasts systems of permanent monuments made of stone. Why, then, have builders of cities and magnificent structures from Europe to Japan turned to the Chinese construction system from the fourth century through the twentieth century?

Some emphasize that the standardization and simplification of the Chinese building system has made it easy to be imitated and adapted internationally. Others emphasize that Chinese architecture and its decoration are so identifiable that the system lends itself to imitation. Or perhaps commerce, religion, adventure, and conquest work independently and in combination to result in so much imitation of the Chinese buildings system outside China.

This panel seeks to explore specific examples of the convergence of the Chinese architectural tradition and buildings outside China and to address the global impact of Chinese architecture. Papers that concern border-crossing in Chinese architecture may focus on any time period, from ancient through modern, such as: architecture of contemporary states or kingdoms of ancient or medieval China; connections to or adaptation of Chinese architecture in Central Asia, Korea, Japan or other Asian countries; interpretative imitation of Chinese architecture in the West such as Chinoisserie, or modern or contemporary architecture which is inspired by traditional Chinese architecture.

Session Co-Chairs: Lala Zuo, United States Naval Academy, and Nancy Steinhardt, University of Pennsylvania

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Faith in the City

In 1985, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s ‘Commission on Urban Priority Areas’ published a report entitled ‘Faith in the City.’ It made recommendations about the Church’s place and responsibilities in urban areas, as well as suggestions about public policy issues such as unemployment, housing, education, and urban policy. In its call for action, the Commission argued that Church and State should have ‘faith in the city.’

The report caused a stir as it suggested that neo-liberal policies were largely to blame for the growing spiritual and economic poverty in cities. Globally, it had a familiar echo, identifying a historic break with the pre-Reagan/Thatcher era, when the Church, along with the State, played a key role in urban and suburban development. After World War II, religious bodies were one among a large and diverse group of private actors and NGOs involved in urbanization processes. Yet, in recent architectural and urban history, post-war urban development is often portrayed as being propelled largely by public initiatives. Faith frequently appears entirely absent, even deliberately removed from the discourse.

This session therefore seeks to highlight the impact that religious bodies had on post-war urbanization. Many were actively involved in building community in cities reconstructed after the war. They also created new capital cities, new towns, and expanded suburbs across the globe. The modern places of worship they commissioned played a key role in a country’s social and urban development. Papers are invited that document the development of modern places of worship in relation to urbanization processes. Topics could reveal the ideas of the protagonists who shaped them in the light of broader socio-political and design histories at play. The aim of this session is to create a more nuanced understanding of the development of the post-war civic realm.

Session Co-Chairs: Philip Goad, University of Melbourne, and Janina Gosseye, University of Queensland

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Fantasies of Aristocracy: England and the American Renaissance

This session is organized by the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain.

In recognition of Europe’s unique contribution to Gilded Age American architecture, the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain is inviting papers that explore the trans-Atlantic influence on the United States at the turn of the twentieth century. The new American corporate and financial elite accumulated fortunes that matched and then exceeded Old World nobility. Republican discomfort about extreme wealth gave way to the ideological justifications of social Darwinism and fantasies of aristocracy. The art historian Bernard Berenson articulated a parallel between the “modern” sensibilities of this generation and the merchant princes of the Italian Renaissance. While the economist and sociologist Thorstein Veblen marveled at the power of the “English exemplar” to overwhelm, for the superrich, even the most enticing opportunities for “conspicuous consumption,” Edith Wharton and Ogden Codman declared in The Decoration of Houses (1897) that Louis XIV was not just a style but the style. No surprise, then, that these years saw the re-creation of Italian palazzi, English country estates, and French châteaux.

The Gilded Age has received renewed attention in the expanding literature on the history of capitalism in the United States. Business and economic historians have shown how the period witnessed the emergence of the first truly national upper class in America. This session welcomes proposals which critique Gilded Age excess; which explore how architecture contributed to the expression of an upper-class culture and identity; which analyze its sources and investigate its European provenance; which consider the importance of connoisseurship in the choice of architectural style and interior decoration; which re-examine the idea of an American Renaissance; which identify the emergence of new building typologies; or which discuss the branding of elite architecture. This is an opportunity to revisit a neglected period in American architectural history with a critical perspective of class and power. 

Session Chair: Horatio Joyce, University of Oxford

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Fishing Architecture

Fishing has a strong environmental impact. This session aims to bring together examples of fishing and built practice to develop an historical understanding of how the marine environment, its resources and its architecture relate to each other. Fishermen conceive hunting devices, build houses and harbors, adapt boats, and develop infrastructure for the processing of fish into commercial goods. What is this architecture that fishing produces? What are its landscapes and seascapes? How does it shape onshore, inshore, and offshore maritime geographies?

Political and economic histories recognize relationships between ecology, food, and human societies. What about architecture? Investigating different types of saltwater fisheries and how they link human and non-human systems can help to assess the specific architecture and infrastructure each one generates in relation to sea life, and thereby to relate the human footprint to its biological impact. Scholarly work along these three threads is welcomed:

  1. Fishing and processing techniques: methods of processing and preserving fish depend on climate and available resources. Hence, various fishing techniques generate different maritime movements and geographies, and also relate to distinct naval and urban traditions.
  2. Urban settlements: the relationship between fish and humans is grounded in economic dynamics that both propel the fishing activities and result from them. Harbors are moved and transformed to accommodate new and bigger ships, processing plants adapted in response to consumption habits, and onshore jobs vary in accordance with fishing seasons and climate change. The history of fisheries can make visible this tangle of architecture, technology, environment, and marine ecosystems.
  3. Technological transfers: studying exchanges that occur as fishermen travel is key to opening up the geographical borders of historical narratives. A maritime approach to architecture can thus overcome national and continental boundaries by following a biological resource.

Session Chair: André Tavares, ETH Zurich

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Graduate Student Lightning Talks

The Graduate Student Lightning Talks provide graduate students with the opportunity to test ideas, refine thoughts, and enhance presentation skills among a circle of empathetic and supportive peers. This session is composed of up to sixteen five-minute talks of approximately 650–700 words each that allow graduate students to introduce new and original research in various stages of progress. In their presentations, students are encouraged to raise questions over the direction of their investigations, explore methodology, or present challenges they have encountered in the development of their ideas. Papers should be clearly and concisely presented, with focused and well-chosen images, in order to encourage thoughtful feedback from the audience during the question and answer period. Students at both the masters and PhD levels are invited to apply by submitting a succinct abstract of no more than 300 words. Authors/co-authors must be graduate students at the time of the conference and must present in person at the session. The SAH Board of Directors’ Graduate Student Representative serves as chair of these popular five-minute presentations.

Session Co-Chairs: Jennifer Tate, University of Texas at Austin, and Vyta Baselice, George Washington University

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Historicizing Race and Urban Space in Latin American Cities

Since their foundation in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, black and indigenous populations have occupied different positions in the city vis-à-vis the colonizer’s centrality. These populations remain poor, under-represented and excluded today, they are most likely to live in slums, and significantly less likely to emerge out of poverty.

ECLAC indicates that 8% of the region’s population are indigenous and 30% are black, more than a third of the region’s total. These estimates do not include mixed-race people (Mestizos, Zambos, Mulatoes, etc.). The 2010 Brazilian census showed that Afro-Brazilians make 7.6% of the country’s population, while 43% identified as preto. These two groups, which together amount to half of the Brazilian population, represent almost 80% of those living below the poverty line and contribute under 20% of the national GDP. In the 2005 Colombian census, 10.6% of the population self-identified as Afro-descendant, 70% of whom live in Peri-urban areas.

This session proposes that the conditions of exclusion and marginality in most Latin American cities today are magnified expressions of a segregationist approach to urban planning initiated during the colonial period. We address the question of racial discrimination as a key-contributing factor to the formation of particular urbanisms that have not been rigorously historicized and remain excluded from urban and architectural debates. We aim to develop new understandings of the diverse processes of urbanization taking place in Latin American cities focusing on the contribution of racial minorities to the continuous production of urban space, ‘non-white urbanisms.’

We seek contributions that search for alternative ways of theorizing ‘non-white urbanisms,’ embracing multiple methodological agendas to analyze these pressing urban realities. We are also interested in papers that articulate the prevalence of colonial forms of urbanism with twentieth- and twenty-first-century processes of urban growth, which facilitate the historicization and theorization of ‘non-white urbanisms.’

Session Co-Chairs: Felipe Hernández, University of Cambridge, and Giulia Torino, University of Cambridge

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Indoor Climate Change            

In the spring of 1922, researchers from the American Society of Heating and Ventilating Engineers conducted the first scientifically-based thermal comfort experiments. This research resulted in building comfort standards that, over the course of the twentieth century, were enshrined in international building codes. While earlier notions of thermal comfort proposed an understanding of the architectural environment in relationship to dynamic exterior climates, this new approach placed it in relationship to a static, interior one. Today, global climate change is heightening our collective consciousness of thermal comfort. It is increasingly difficult to separate unpredictable and extreme exterior climates from controlled, neutral interior ones. Alain Corbin and John Crowley have documented evolving cultural concepts of comfort through the nineteenth century as part of a civilizing process. Yet most twentieth-century accounts of architecture’s indoor climate focus on its technological aspects related to the increasing dominance of air conditioning. Such accounts overlook the idea that thermal comfort, like climate, is not a stable index of energetic balance, but a condition in flux on which human activity and architectural design have a direct impact.

This session seeks alternative narratives of changing indoor climates as part of architecture’s environmental history by asking two interrelated questions: What do different ideas of comfort reveal about attitudes towards exterior climates? How do architectural spaces, and the indoor climates they create, generate notions of comfort? Papers should focus on explicit approaches to indoor climates and thermal comforts. Case studies of specific projects are especially welcome. Topics to consider include: how architectural comforts are shaped by landscape architecture, medicine, sport and leisure; how extreme outdoor climates—tropical, desert, arctic—engender different notions of comfort; and how modalities of attention to different sensuous hierarchies create novel architectural environments.

Session Chair: Andrew Cruse, Ohio State University

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Infrastructure: Global Perspectives from Architectural History

We tend to think of infrastructure in utilitarian terms. But infrastructure emerges from deep within our dreams, instantiating through designed artifacts that in turn give rise to new dreams. In this sense, infrastructure unfolds in excess of itself, dense congeries of always-incomplete social relations, human desires, and material resonances that amplify and expand the world. The Silk Road is at once a collection of architectural forms (caravanseri, fortifications, ports, custom houses, water wells) and a space of world-making across geography and culture. The U.S. Interstate is both a slab of asphalt with supremely engineered fault tolerances, and a space for projecting freedom, mobility, and American power.

Meanwhile, infrastructure tends to obscure the forces of its own production. Immense expenditures of capital and labor shape networked materialities and spaces of flows, even while those expenditures recede into the overdetermined symbolism of the forms themselves. Roads, bridges, dams, docks, pipes, rail lines, and other artifacts seldom reveal their political and economic affordances. Moreover, the extensivity of infrastructure lends it an air of totality and smoothness, obscuring its lumpy, uneven topography. Even as it connects, it disconnects; as it assembles, it dissembles; as it brings some people together, it keeps others apart. Far from a uniform condition, infrastructure projects tend to be unleashed in nervous eruptions at key historical moments, often as exercises in war, nation-building, or imperial control.

Papers that consider infrastructure across a wide variety of forms, locations, and temporalities are welcome. Participants might connect disparate world regions, explore themes across broad spans of time, examine questions of linkage and scale, investigate infrastructure as phenomenon and affect, or trace the interrelation of aesthetics, technology, and power. Papers may cover singular infrastructural elements or whole systems; in all cases, the key criterion is the richness and quality of the argument.

Session Chair: Joseph Heathcott, The New School

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Issues in Indigenous Architectures in North America

Despite extensive recent construction of tribal museums and cultural centers, housing, schools, government centers, and health care facilities, architectures designed by or for Indigenous peoples in North America are underrepresented in architectural discourse and education. This subject is ripe for scholarship, with a multitude of issues related to scholarship and pedagogy, architects and clients, economic and administrative barriers, and challenges of creating meaningful architectures.

Few architectural historians have conducted research on Indigenous architectures. Architectural education in North America rarely includes Indigenous architectures; consequently, most architects are educated inadequately on the architecture and architectural needs of Indigenous communities. Indigenous communities do not have complete control of architectural production because they lack funding and rely on government agencies that are not well integrated. Indigenous communities aim to represent their identities with unique architectures, but the resolution of contemporary needs with traditional values can be a challenge.

The purpose of this session is to expand the discourse on architectures created by or for Indigenous peoples in North America. What barriers have scholars faced in studying Indigenous architectures and how might these be overcome using recent methods or theories? How might Indigenous architectures be included in architectural education? How have Indigenous architects developed successful careers? What strategies have Indigenous clients and their architects employed to communicate effectively with each other? How have challenges of land ownership affected architectural production? How has legislation stifled or accommodated architecture in Indigenous communities? How do architects design culturally relevant buildings that meet needs of contemporary Indigenous communities?

This session invites papers that consider Indigenous architectures in relation to the natural world, contemporaneous architectural production, design processes, economic and administrative challenges, meaning, and use. Papers might focus on a specific issue, building, building type, or architect. They might address tradition, modernity, authenticity, hybridity, identity, power, indigeneity, or postcoloniality.

Session Chair: Anne Lawrason Marshall, University of Idaho

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Knowledge and Power: The Politics of the Architecture Museum

Although architecture museums have only become prevalent in the past thirty years, the first recorded use of the term can be traced back over two hundred years. Since 1806, when Jacques-Guillaume Legrand proposed a ‘complete museum of architecture,’ these institutions have attempted to actively guide architecture’s development. By collecting archives, producing exhibitions, funding publications, organizing lectures, and even commissioning new architectural work, architecture museums have purposefully intervened with architecture. As Foucault has previously argued, power and knowledge are inevitably associated. If power is required for the affirmation of knowledge, knowledge has implications for the constitution of power. Therefore, the production, dissemination, and consumption of knowledge are inevitably, and always, political. As architecture museums have traded in knowledge to forcefully shape architecture’s production, reception, and consumption, they have occupied a territory where power and ideology, knowledge, and legitimacy intersect—where the political is materialized.

Approaching the political realm in a broad sense, this session intends to question the processes and contexts in which architecture museums operate. It aims to investigate the often implicit negotiation of competing knowledges, perspectives, intentions, and interests that occur within these institutions. Grounded in history and theory, this session invites contributions that question the power structures within architecture museums, particularly, their intersection with the political, cultural, and architectural spheres. How have these institutions resisted, subverted, opposed, accepted, or extended political power? What have been the intellectual, cultural, social, aesthetic, and practical implications of such underlying power structures? How have they been materialized? What has been championed and silenced? How has the political realm shaped the discursive territories and the disciplinary archive of museums? How have they shaped the museum’s relation to producers and audiences? By engaging these, and other pressing issues, this session will investigate how political structures have been translated within the architecture museum.

Session Chair: Sergio M. Figueiredo, Eindhoven University of Technology

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Land, Air, Sea: Environment during the Early Modern Period

Contrary to certain strands of scholarship, environmental thinking about ideas of climate, energy, and habitat were at stake several hundred years before the start of the twentieth century. This panel aims to explore how earlier practices concerning architecture and the environment preceded more modern concepts of environmental exploitation and the consequences of man-made interventions. We intend to understand how architectural practices were stoked by the extraction of natural resources during the early modern era. Construction in Venice, for example, meant the state was preoccupied with managing timber resources in the terra firma. During the Age of Exploration, European shipbuilding likewise led to the depletion of timber reserves in places including present-day Iceland, Portugal, and areas located along the Mediterranean. Such deforestation is also evident in practices in sixteenth-century New England by British and French pioneers and seventeenth-century Dutch East Indies traders, who ravaged the northern trees of Java.

Recent concepts of the Anthropocene have centered mainly on questions of sustainable design and technologies from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. However, ideas of the environment originating within the early modern period provide important markers of the pre-history of many of these developments in architecture and urbanism, both within Europe and in its colonial territories. We welcome papers from the late medieval period to the eighteenth century that outline how architectural practices in diverse habitats began to forecast some of the contemporary problems addressed today by environmentalists. How did the micro-climates in Europe, Asia, the Americas, and Oceania affect the architectural and urban development of settlements and coastal cities? Or how did industry drive the construction of buildings and infrastructure including factories, ports, shipyards, and trading depots? How was architecture impacted by state policies towards forest conservation and land management?

Session Chairs: Jennifer Ferng, University of Sydney, and Lauren Jacobi, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Marginal Landscapes

Landscapes cannot exist without boundaries. From the discipline’s beginnings as a hortus—an enclosed space demarcated by walls—to its Enlightenment incarnation as the picturesque view—bounded by a real or imagined frame—landscape has perennially been a matter of edges. Even contemporary practice, having nominally dispensed with the garden and the picturesque as theoretical touchstones, continues to deploy boundary making as both a design strategy and a generator of meaning. Without edges, how could landscape emerge as an object that can be grasped, whether as a physical project distinct from its milieu, a profession-certified commodity within a market economy, or an object of inquiry for a discipline? This session seeks to explore both the historical depth and contemporary ramifications of this theme through an examination of landscape margins, those supplementary regions which enable and yet also escape and undo the object-oriented gesture of boundary making.

Landscape marginality can manifest in various ways, not only in spatial and disciplinary senses, but also through social, legal, and functional marginality. We therefore welcome papers that focus on one or more senses of this theme, including situations where marginality is intrinsic, i.e., “interior,” to a project as well as those where it is perceived as “exterior.” Examples might include leftover spaces in peri-urban landscapes; utilitarian and service components within historic landscapes; landscapes neglected through social or legal marginalization; sites of extraction and waste; and thick landscape edges, such as ha-has, that have their own integrity and which function as parerga. Through analysis of specific cases—whether reframing sites outside the usual bounds of study as “landscapes” or reassessing marginal supplements to well-known projects—our aim is to reposition what is central and peripheral in designed landscapes, and to better theorize how margins interweave, support, and perhaps resist what is habitually designated as essential.

Session Co-Chairs: Michael Lee, University of Virginia, and Vittoria Di Palma, University of Southern California

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Mobs and Microbes: Market Halls, Civic Order, and Public Health

2019 marks fifty years since the central market of Paris was uprooted from Les Halles and transferred to Rungis in the city’s outskirts. By 1971, nearly all of Victor Baltard’s iconic pavilions were demolished. Les Halles, as well as many comparable covered market halls across Europe, North America, and beyond, became flashpoints of protest between urban reformers who argued for functionalism and architectural preservationists who championed the adaptation of historical structures. Despite their polarities, both sides presented the market buildings as artefacts of the Industrial Revolution. In particular, the portrayal of glass and iron markets as antiquated relics made it challenging to fathom how these places originally elicited awe and wonder at the time of their construction.

Congestion, sanitation, and radical changes in the distribution of food supplies are typically cited as reasons for the demise of covered market buildings. Ironically, however, most of the halls were originally conceived to answer these very same factors. As such, this session will situate markets at the intersection of civic order and public health, focusing in particular on how these structures stood in reciprocity with changes in the conception of the public realm. Central to this discussion are two themes: innovations in design, which embodied authority or control; and advancements in sanitation and hygiene, such as the modernization of water systems and the inception of epidemiological and bacteriological research.

We invite proposals across a broad geographical area that investigate how covered market halls were radical interventions that mediated socio-political conflict and disorder. Papers exploring medical and environmental humanities perspectives are also welcome, and these might question how infrastructure, services, technologies, and materials helped facilitate improvements in urban health and food safety. Papers that consider how surviving covered markets contribute to debates surrounding sustainability and neighborhood regeneration are also of interest.

Session Co-Chairs: Samantha Martin-McAuliffe, University College Dublin, and Leila Marie Farah, Ryerson University

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Open Session (3)

Open sessions are available for those whose research does not match any of the themed sessions. Papers submitted to the open sessions are assessed in terms of perceived merit, and not in regard to geography, era, theme, etc.

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Pre-construction

“Pre-construction” is the work done after the design has been settled but before construction has commenced, manifesting as a set of construction documents that includes working drawings, specifications, bills of material, etc. Pre-construction thus documents and translates the architect’s aspirations into actionable instructions to the craftsman or builder. This transfer addresses often intangible aspects of a design into information that exceeds the final building, particularly aspects of its making over time. The collection and organization of pre-construction involves different professions: engineers, general and sub-contractors, estimators and surveyors, specification writers, insurance accountants, etc. Tied to both the architectural and legal professions, pre-construction employs both graphic and verbal languages; the study of which reveals the hierarchies of the culture of building construction.

This session investigates the ways the documents of pre-construction affect our understanding of architecture as a form of knowledge. Papers are not limited to any specific period or geographic location and may include recent forms and technologies of pre-construction. What can the study of the documentation of these processes reveal that studies of the finished building might not? What space-time relationships are exposed in the study of working drawings and specifications? How do the various pre-construction documents work together? How do they address new materials and technologies? How can they reflect or change hierarchies of the job site or reflect tensions, asymmetries, or imperatives of economic and political power?

Session Co-Chairs: Michael Osman, University of California, Los Angeles, and Katherine Wheeler, University of Miami

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Remembering Vincent Scully

This session pays a tribute to Vincent Scully, one of the most inspirational and influential educators of the twentieth century, who died last November 30, 2017, at age 97. Widely recognized as a leader of architectural historians and critics of the United States, he left a rich legacy through his teaching and writings, covering a broad range of subjects in the field. His legendary charismatic lectures at Yale mesmerized several generations of students, many of whom became architectural historians or practicing architects. As a student at Yale himself, Scully benefited first from the teaching and later the collegiate friendship of several outstanding scholars and teachers in the history of art, including George Kubler, Charles Seymour, Jr., and Sumner McKnight Crosby, all of whom had in turn studied under the preeminent French humanist Henri Focillon. Focillon’s conception of style in the visual arts and of the structure and behavior of historical time must have attracted Scully’s attention in particular. Above all, Focillon’s singular ability to penetrate beyond superficial phenomena to grasp the deeper relationships would leave a lasting impression on him.

With impressive erudition and passion, Scully addressed topics that included nineteenth-century American architecture, Greek temples, indigenous North American architecture, the villas of Palladio, French royal gardens, world architecture from prehistory to the present, Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Kahn, and American architecture and urbanism. In later years, his writings deeply explored the theme of preservation of the man-made in balance with the increasingly more fragile natural environment and the ways architecture must respond in a sensitive way to societal needs. Toward the end of his career, the architecture of community became one of his major concerns. Preference will be given to paper proposals that address any of Scully’s areas of expertise and which apply his research methods.

Session Chair: Humberto Rodríguez-Camilloni, Virginia Tech

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Sites of Loss, Sites of Grief, Sites of Mourning

In the 1917 essay "Mourning and Melancholia," Sigmund Freud argued that normal mourning proceeds through a series of steps as one grieves a loss and closes as one's emotional investment in the lost loved one ends. Since Freud's publication, psychoanalysts have reinterpreted mourning as a process of internalization—the emotional link is not totally severed and normal grieving never reaches a complete end; the experience of grief may be re-awakened on anniversaries or similar events, or by objects or sites associated with a lost loved one. 

Rituals associated with caring for remains can support the mourning process, but traumatic losses with no remains may produce an inability to conduct the normal rituals associated with death and interment resulting in complicated and even unresolvable mourning. Slavoj Zizek suggests the "undead" who return to haunt us are those who were never properly buried. Some psychoanalysts propose that memorial monuments play a role in addressing individual and group mourning after traumatic loss. However, Vamik Volkan has noted that some memorial monuments may serve as "hot boxes" keeping alive feelings of anger and aggrievement.

Such ideas have led to reconceptualization of memorialization and reconsideration of sites associated with loss. This session explores understandings and uses of sites marking individual and/or group loss, grief, and mourning by reaching across disciplinary boundaries to consider how old and new conceptual frameworks may deepen understanding. Papers may also address the sites of trauma and complex traumatic loss, including competing interests of different groups, politics of memorialization, and processes of design. Questions might include: How design responds to individual/personal loss, to group loss, and/or to future generations increasingly distant in time. Case studies of sites examined through interdisciplinary lenses are appropriate as are broader explorations that investigate design at sites of loss, trauma, grief, and mourning.

Session Chair: Jeffrey Karl Ochsner, University of Washington

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Space, Architecture and Cultural Identity: Materializing Asian America

The development of ethnic studies and the increasing influence of architectural trends from Asia have generated only limited scholarship on spaces in the United States shaped and designed by diasporic Asian communities. Urban design and architectural history methodologies generally remain framed within regional and national geographical boundaries, with Euro-North American architectural histories assumed to be largely discrete, with less attention paid to the more fluid spaces of global and cultural hybridity. With the exception of rare exhibitions and biographies of famous designers such as I.M. Pei and Maya Lin, Asian-American voices and faces have been largely absent from architectural history. Scholarship on the Asian-American built environment has drawn primarily from ethnographic and sociological approaches, rather than spatial or architectural modes of analysis.

Scholars such as Dell Upton, Mary Corbin Sies, and Clyde Woods have addressed the complex ways in which different ethnic groups have spatially negotiated identity and belonging. Craig L. Wilkins and others have challenged architectural historians to address issues of diversity and inclusion in the architectural profession. Studies by Gail L. Dubrow, Arijit Sen, and others on historic preservation issues relevant to minority communities, ranging from historic ethnic neighborhoods to wartime internment camps and studies of the cultural landscapes of global mobility, have drawn attention to the historic contributions of Asian-American immigrants and their descendants to the built environment.

This panel will explore emerging relationships between Asian-American studies, architectural history and urban studies. The goal of the panel is to push not only the disciplinary boundaries of architectural history, but also to give concrete space and form to the Asian-American experience. We seek papers that use studies of architectural type, style, and form, as well as alternative methodologies such as studies of cultural landscapes, diasporic mobility, and settlement, post-colonial conditions, racial-ethnic identity, and representation.

Session Co-Chairs: Lynne Horiuchi, Independent Scholar, and Sean H. McPherson, Bridgewater State University

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Space, Time, and the Architectural Treatise

The architectural treatise has attracted considerable scholarly attention in the past two decades. Treatises have been studied as objects in themselves, and their theoretical underpinnings, use, and authors examined. From eleventh-century China, fifteenth-century South Asia, and sixteenth-century Europe, the treatise was a vehicle for codifying architectural practice. Texts were often viewed as a way to bring order to diverse and non-standard building practices and to encapsulate and manage architectural memory. This session will examine the wide social and cultural implications of creating architectural order.

For example, what role did the treatise play in promoting an understanding of various local histories? For, with the expansion of early modern and colonial empires, architectural traditions were often imported and appropriated in geographical contexts that were far removed from their original sites of creation. How then could a treatise be used and understood outside of the place it was originally written or commissioned? What was lost, gained, or modified in geographical translation? As practitioners of various classical and gothic revivals demonstrated the possibility of merging archaic architectural elements and contemporary building plans, the need to codify and classify the past became equally urgent. What attractions did the treatise, with its suggestions of classicism and rationalism, bring for such latter-day practitioners?

This session returns to the treatise to ask new questions about their role around the world, from the eleventh through the eighteenth centuries. By casting a wide spatial and temporal net, we aim to explore a range of political and cultural scenarios that affected the treatise’s meaning. We invite proposals that engage these questions, from any geographical area or cultural context.

Session Co-Chairs: Madhuri Desai, The Pennsylvania State University, and Robin L. Thomas, The Pennsylvania State University

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Spaces of Oppression: Creating a History That Fosters Tolerance

Recent events have brought into focus the profound level of intolerance and lack of empathy in the United States towards certain groups based on ethnicity, race, religion, gender, mental/physical ability, age, income/class, and social behavior. That such attitudes persist, despite effort and progress towards overcoming them, perhaps is not surprising, given their roots in this nation’s earliest history. Beginning in the colonial period, practices, laws, and institutions were established to oppress, control, and marginalize, doing so by means of policy, but also architectural space. Spatial strategies are employed around the world as a tool of oppression; this session interrogates their long-standing, wide-ranging, and often unrecognized use in our own back yard. By doing so, it hopes to begin to create an architectural history that fosters tolerance.

This session’s objectives are both scholarly and pedagogical. It seeks to bring together historical studies of legally-sanctioned oppressive spaces from the fifteenth through twentieth centuries. It also seeks to identify the topics, textual sources, and heritage sites for teaching the history of oppressive spaces. Participants are asked to explore the premise that this architectural history—supported by scholarship as well as classroom and experiential learning—can play a role in creating greater tolerance within society today. Everyone at some point has felt uncomfortable or trapped within his/her physical surroundings. Can an understanding of the oppressive spaces of the past lead to greater empathy towards those in comparable situations today?

Papers may present 1) historical case studies (e.g., plantations, reservations, “camps,” “schools,” “homes,” and other public or private spaces intended to segregate, detain, punish, re-educate, or ostracize) and/or 2) theories, methodologies, and pedagogies related to the subject of oppressive spaces. Papers on institutional buildings in North America are encouraged; those addressing spaces more regional in scale, under-the-radar and/or ambiguous, or located elsewhere will be considered.

Session Chair: Lydia M. Soo, University of Michigan

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State of Emergency: Architecture, Urbanism, and World War One

“Far greater than the infamy of war is that of men who want to forget that it ever took place, although they exulted in it at the time,” wrote Austrian journalist Karl Kraus in The Last Days of Mankind, revealing humanity’s abyss on the eve of World War I. With the centennial of the conclusion of the First World War approaching, we seek to reassess what this cataclysmic global conflict meant for architecture and urbanism from a human, social, and economic perspective.

Histories of design have emphasized wartime advances in mechanization and standardization that opened new fields of inquiry in the aftermath of WWI and blurred the meaning of what constituted architecture. Yet, the war also prompted the rapid development of military-architectural knowledge impacting civilian populations at great human cost. As mechanized trench warfare came to the brink of collapse, hyper-development was accompanied by the re-emergence of systems of underdevelopment, including barter and subsistence economies, as well as mobile kitchens, field railways, and do-it-yourself objects made in the state of emergency.

In this session, we seek to imbed the formation of architectural networks and institutions such as the Glass Chain or Vkhutemas in broader histories of wartime architectural production advanced by governments, institutions, organizations, or citizens in order to interrogate the complex and often violent relationship between front and home front. We particularly welcome papers that address regions impacted by WWI beyond Western Europe, analyzing how architectural agents and institutions mitigated, exacerbated, or actively resisted complicity in this human tragedy. We seek contributions that consider the impact of the ephemeral and the creation of makeshift architecture by women and children in the transformation of wartime urbanism. Finally, we encourage projects that engage economic theories of the war and relate them to post-war debates on cooperation, socialization, and democracy.

Session Co-Chairs: Erin Sassin, Middlebury College, and Sophie Hochhäusl, Harvard University

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The Geopolitical Aesthetics of Postmodernism

In 1983, Paolo Portoghesi connected the rise of postmodernism to Polish Solidarity’s struggle against bureaucratic state socialism. While he extracted architectural messages from a political movement, designers and theorists in Eastern countries and the Soviet Union politically interpreted postmodern architecture. In particular, Charles Jencks’s account of postmodernism spurred a heated debate as to its democratic promises, economic limits, and cultural symbolisms.

Prompting a particular bonding between design and ideology, the flourishing of postmodern aesthetics in the East and West was arguably concomitant to the shift from late socialism to late capitalism. Yet, few postmodern architects would acknowledge their complicity with capitalist expansion, triggering questions related to the circulation of postmodernism dissonant with conventional Cold War histories. This session will enquire into the geopolitical aesthetics of postmodernism, studying its translations in, between and beyond the Western and Eastern divide. Though focused on the 1980s–90s period, the session welcomes narratives exploring pre-histories and sequels to postmodernism’s global expansion. We invite abstracts that address, but are not limited to, the following questions:

  • What were the geopolitical dynamics of architectural postmodernism as its tenets were translated from socialist to capitalist contexts and back?
  • How did late socialist architects understood, translated and domesticated postmodernism, as the quintessential—quoting Fredric Jameson— ‘cultural logic of late capitalism’? How did the experience of socialist countries, and the idea of socialism, shape the work of postmodern architects and theorists in the West? What cases complicate this two-way narrative and how?
  • How did specific and loaded terms such as plurality, meaning, or environment, oscillate between political discourses and aesthetic domains?
  • In what ‘ghostly’ forms (paraphrasing Reinhold Martin) has postmodernism endured since the proverbial end of history around 1990?

We seek richly documented yet conceptually bold papers, traversing histories of postmodernism as an architectural style, cultural logic, and political instrument.

Session Co-Chairs: Léa-Catherine Szacka, University of Manchester, and Maros Krivy, University of Cambridge

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The Historiography of the Present Condition

The writing of a ‘critical history’ of architecture is an adventure fraught with multiple risks and challenges, which has become further exacerbated in our times by the expansion of architectural production over vast geographical territories as well as by the emergence of multiple discourses that were previously overlooked or repressed. Yet the necessity of an overarching comprehensive assessment of the present condition remains a project of great importance, despite the ‘post-modern’ claim that such ‘meta-narratives’ are no longer possible or relevant.

It is in this context that this session proposes to explore the problematic of writing a history of ‘contemporary architecture’ over the past four to five decades. Using the terminology of the ‘contemporary’ remains a temporary framework that recalls Tafuri’s definition of history as a project of crisis, nevertheless calling for the ‘interweaving of intellectual models, modes of production, and modes of consumption,’ leading eventually to a recomposition of various fragments into ‘provisional constructs.’

It is in this context that we may consider recent ‘historiographies’ that have attempted to bring together developments around the world, including emergent regions—like the Persian Gulf, China, and India—in which spectacular growths profoundly impacted architectural practice, on a worldwide scale, and put under question any attempt to examine these developments under a geographical lens.

This session invites papers that address these various questions, and specifically the problematic related to the writing of a history, or multiple histories, which seek to critically interpret and evaluate current architectural developments around the world. The session is open to case studies or examples of ‘micro-histories’ that transcend traditional boundaries by examining the emergence of new architectural trends or movements across different cultures. The initial question remains: can we still attempt to write a meta-narrative covering the past decades, or is this a futile, and irrelevant endeavor?

Session Co-Chairs: Elie Haddad, Lebanese American University, and David Rifkind, Florida International University

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The Sound of Architecture: Acoustic Atmospheres in Place

Orazio Benevoli's baroque musical composition at the end of the seventeenth century exploited Borromini's newly-added balconies in Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza in Rome. Wagner’s romantic nineteenth-century operas benefited from Otto Bruckwald's placement of the orchestra under the scene of Bayreuth Festspielhaus. Le Corbusier’s collaboration with composers Edgard Varèse and Iannis Xenakis for the Phillips Pavilion in 1958 led to the creation of a sound environment designed to match the modern character of the building, capturing the spirit of the epoch. In 2017, Philippe Rahm, working with sound engineers, proposed the creation of new acoustic and thermic atmospheres for the renovation of Maison de la Radio in Paris.

If the relation between sound and architecture manifests the aesthetic and technological considerations of a specific era, how can it grasp and bear witness of the spatial atmospheres architects seek to create in each time period? How does sound disclose existing qualities of space, making them a tangible embodied experience of architecture? How does it reveal, extend, or shrink the built qualities of a place while adding a new and spatially-dominant dimension to it? How are acoustics incorporated in the design process of a space as generator of atmospheres and not treated as a mere a posteriori possibility? How does the collaboration between architects and acoustic engineers, sound artists, or musicians make architecture “sound” differently?

We welcome papers which document architectural attempts to create atmosphere through the use of sound. Projects may be built or unbuilt. This session looks for historical and contemporary accounts from diverse geographical areas and cultures in which sound can amplify, negotiate, override, or even negate a place’s inherent acoustic and material atmosphere and work towards the creation of a new one.

Session Co-Chairs: Angeliki Sioli, Louisiana State University, and Elisavet Kiourtsoglou, ENSA de Strasbourg

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The Spatial, Visual, and Social Effects of Surface in Architecture

This panel seeks to consider, through a variety of case studies spanning from the early modern period through the present, and from diverse geographic regions, the relationships between structures and their surfaces. Built forms announce their material presence or become dematerialized as a result of different cladding techniques. From textiles to stone ornaments, and from stained glass to painted exteriors, these various treatments inflect the way we interpret spatial and visual constructs in our built environment.

The history of architecture is rife with striking examples. In Central Asia, decorative brickwork techniques created the illusion that the facades of mosques, palaces, and tombs were intricately woven, as if cloaked in fossilized textiles. The painted and/or carved surfaces of medieval buildings called into question the architectonic structures beneath. Features such as flying buttresses, rib vaults, and colorful stained-glass clerestory windows complicate the physicality of Gothic cathedrals, giving way to impressions of lightness. In the modern period, the architect Gottfried Semper made cladding central to his theory of spatial enclosures, a concept that would later inspire the thin-skinned glass and steel skyscrapers of Mies van der Rohe. Most recently, the flammable cladding that exacerbated the fire at London’s Grenfell Tower provides an instructive case on the connections between surface, inequality, and the failing accountability of both private and public agencies.

Whether functional or aesthetic, cladding can reveal or hide the tectonic and representational realities of built forms. We invite speakers to propose work through which they explore the theoretical, practical, and/or social implications of surface in architecture around the globe and throughout history from critical perspectives. Of interest for this session are projects that work across media and disciplines to expand, challenge, or provide new insights into the relationships between architecture and its surfaces.

Session Co-Chairs: Kristin Schroeder, University of Virginia, and Alice Isabella Sullivan, Lawrence University

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The Untold Histories of Peripheral Architecture and Cities

This session is organized by the Global Architectural History Teaching Collaborative.

The study of Architectural history established in the late nineteenth century was based on the distinction between East and West, with analysis rooted in the West–namely, England–and its gaze falling upon the rest. This form of paradigmatic analysis placed the West at the core, setting the rest, by default, as the periphery. As the field developed, intellectual attitudes began to recognize the built object as capable of conveying the story of the culture and people of a place. While the architecture of the West, or core, was identified as classic and nationalistic, the architecture of the periphery, placed in direct comparison, was labeled as native and primitive.

Recognizing the limitations of such a categorical analysis, the Global Architectural History Teaching Collaborative (GAHTC) set out to gather and curate a library of the architectural histories of the periphery to re-center those peripheries and tell those stories. The goal of the GAHTC—and, by extension, this session—is to explore the untold architectural histories of the periphery to counter all those histories that were projected onto various sites, skewed by the cultural aim and intellectual attitudes of their critics. These projected histories eschew the complex flows of people and ideas in the production of architectural objects and cities.

This session invites papers that tell the stories and histories of the periphery rather than the canonical center, thus expanding the discussion of non-canonical architecture and places beyond the labels of everyday, vernacular, indigenous. By decentralizing the critique, this session de-sensationalizes non-western architecture, freeing it from a tautological identity as non-classical, primitive, and exotic. In particular, papers that explore the porous connections between people, places, and the global fluidity of ideas in the production of architecture and cities are welcome. Papers that explore methodological strategies for marginalized histories are also strongly encouraged. 

Session Co-Chairs: Eliana Abuhamdi Murchie, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Mark Jarzombek, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Transatlantic Encounters: Africa and the Americas

European colonialism connected Africa and the Americas through the Transatlantic Triangular Trade. The slave trade and the mercantilist economy yielded strategic spaces: slave castles, plantations, slave quarters, market squares, pillories, runaway communities, burial grounds, etc. Post-colonialism meant the uneven treatment of this legacy, from ruin to forgetting to selective memory. In addition, the post-colonial era brought new relationships, such as the founding of Liberia and the return of Afro-Brazilians to Benin. And concepts such as tropical architecture addressed cultural, historical, and environmental commonalities. While some architects, scholars, and artists explored these connections critically (Lina Bo Bardi, Pierre Verger), more recently developers and architectural firms have taken advantage of common languages and new markets for profit (as in Angola).

This session seeks papers from all time periods that address the theoretical, critical, and cultural implications of spatial developments. Can focused case studies provide starting points for a larger dialogue on the past, present, and future of encounters between Africa and the Americas? Papers may deal with architectural and urban history, heritage, or informal spatial practices; and may focus on any portion of Africa and the Americas where the concept of the transatlantic encounter applies. The scope may be a particular site or region; comparative case studies; connections, exchanges, or routes; or discussions of common themes or typologies. In addition, papers may also engage other political and geographic vertices such as Europe, Asia, and the Pacific, as long as they intersect with the main topic. For instance, trans-Pacific and transoceanic trade as an expanded view of the colonial period; or contacts between Europe and North Africa that transferred to the Americas (e.g., the Mudéjar). Papers may deal with architects, buildings, and cities, or may take an interpretive approach to monuments, meaning, and cultural or infrastructural relations, including cultural, literary, and visual representations.

Session Chair: Daniela Sandler, University of Minnesota

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Who Did What? New Thoughts on Gilded Age Collaborators

In the absence of finalized drawings, correspondence, and archives in many well-known architectural practices, the often determinant role of collaborators in the elaboration of a completed building project is obscured. Architectural historians generally attribute design conception or prototype selection to the architect’s office; the introduction of innovative new construction materials or engineering techniques to the architect’s cutting edge erudition; the evolution of floor plans to a close dialogue between client and architect, and the architectural interior decoration to the architect’s visionary eye. To do so however, over simplifies and obfuscates what were once powerful guiding forces.

The social aspirations of a given period may exercise considerable influence on scale, artistic design, and functional plan as may the role of fashionable tastemakers, be they decorators, designers, or art dealers. Indeed, designers may suggest the creation of spaces intended to receive large or small format architecturally mounted works of art or antique salvaged elements. Engineering solutions such as Guastavino vaults or similar methods of structural reinforcement might emerge externally to define an interior aesthetic and some major design projects may pool the forces of several signature architects with the demarcation lines now forever blurred.

We invite papers that analyze these issues of authorship and collaboration. While the extent of conceptual control may vary in each case, it is the creative but now forgotten interchange between leading architects and their lesser-known collaborators that should prove insightful and perhaps challenge widely-held assumptions on who did what in the creation of buildings that particularly have international iconic status.

Session Chair: Paul F. Miller, The Preservation Society of Newport County

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Yours, Mine, Ours: Multi-use Spaces in the Middle Ages

Medieval buildings and spaces were not always used for a single purpose; very often they were used for multiple activities or by diverse stakeholders. Sometimes this sharing of space was successful and mutually beneficial. Alternatively, the use of a space in multiple ways or by different groups could be frustrating at best and deeply antagonistic at worst. This panel is dedicated to these mixed-use spaces, from the smallest vernacular dwellings to the largest castles and cathedrals.

The benefits and challenges of sharing space were perhaps most acute in smaller structures, such as parish churches or minor monasteries. For example, a monastic church might accommodate local laity if a convenient parish church was not available. Such sharing allowed lay and monastic worshipers to pool architectural and clerical resources in an economical fashion. Monumental buildings and complexes could also be called upon to serve the needs of the larger community, even as they maintained a daily routine for their primary constituents. For example, a castle precinct could serve both a residential population and members of the public—with clearly enforced rules of access. Shared space raises questions of power, privilege, diplomacy, and financial responsibility.

This session invites proposals which analyze the multiple uses of religious, civic, and/or private structures and spaces throughout medieval Europe. Particular consideration will be given to presentations which address the participation of non-elites in otherwise elite spaces; clues to their presence may be discovered in the textual record, landscape, or the building fabric itself. In acknowledging the participation of multiple communities within specific structures, we invite presenters to complicate accepted interpretations of the medieval built environment.

Session Co-Chairs: Meg Bernstein, University of California, Los Angeles, and Catherine E. Hundley, Independent Scholar

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CONFERENCE CHAIR
Victoria Young
SAH 1st Vice President
University of St. Thomas

LOCAL CO-CHAIRS
Dietrich Neumann
Brown University

Itohan Osayimwese
Brown University

CONFERENCE SITE
Rhode Island Convention Center
One Sabin Street
Providence, RI 02903

CONTACT
Christopher Kirbabas
SAH Director of Programs
(312) 573-1365


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SAH thanks The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation
for its operating support.
Society of Architectural Historians
1365 N. Astor Street
Chicago, Illinois 60610
312.573.1365
Copyright - (c) 2012