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Interviewed: Dietrich Neumann on New Interdisciplinary Architecture Program at Brown

by Emily Passarelli | Jan 30, 2015
Dietrich Neumann, Past President of SAH, was interviewed recently by the Brown Daily Herald.  Prof. Neumann joined SAH in 1991 and became a Life Member in 2003. 

Dietrich Neumann, professor of history of art and architecture, engages with architecture on a level greater than just teaching theoretical and studio classes on campus. His research investigates the historical significance of architecture from the late 19th century to modern day, and he has published essays on architectural techniques and curated architecturally themed exhibitions.

Born in Germany, Neumann earned his Ph.D. in architectural history from the Technical University in Munich and came to Brown in 1989 as a visiting professor. He became an assistant professor in 1991 and a professor in 1999.

Known on campus for contextualizing the history of art and architecture in terms of urban studies, Neumann sat down with The Herald to discuss teaching, designing classes and the new architecture concentration.

What initially made you interested in architecture, and how old were you at the time?

I think it was early on. I played with Legos a lot and when I was four. I told everybody that I wanted to become an architect.

I have some photos of when I was building a skyscraper. I must have been five at that point, and that skyscraper is bigger than I am. I’m standing there as a little German kid with my Legos, and I decided I was going to be an architect then, and then I started studying architecture in London at the (Architectural Association School of Architecture) and started working in practice. I got a very nice teaching offer in Munich, and I finished my Ph.D. and then came to Brown.

Where specifically is your interest in architecture? Can you tell me a little more about the expansion of the architecture concentration that you are developing?

I’ve always felt that architecture is something that many Brown students are interested in. I’ve worked for a number of years on an attempt to grow this field, and I think that now we are at a point where this is actually happening in collaboration with the two departments I belong to — urban studies and history of art and architecture.

We are launching a new undergraduate track next year that will prepare students better for studying architecture or urban planning and will sort of integrate the humanities and architecture and urbanism. I think the idea is that many schools will give them advanced standing, which means they can get to their masters in two years, instead of three.

There will be more requirements (for the concentration, which) officially starts next year, but we are already organizing classes now. The official launch will be in April, when we are having a big conference jointly with RISD that talks about topics of architecture, urbanism and the humanities.
Read full interview here


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