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Deconstructing the American Mosque Cover

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Deconstructing the American Mosque

Space, Gender, and Aesthetics

By Akel Ismail Kahera

From the avant-garde design of the Islamic Cultural Center in New York City to the simplicity of the Dar al-Islam Mosque in Abiquiu, New Mexico, the American mosque takes many forms of visual and architectural expression. The absence of a single, authoritative model and the plurality of design nuances reflect the heterogeneity of the American Muslim community itself, which embodies a whole spectrum of ethnic origins, traditions, and religious practices. In this book, Akel Ismail Kahera explores the history and theory of Muslim religious aesthetics in the United States since 1950. Using a notion of deconstruction based on the concepts of "jamal" (beauty), "subject," and "object" found in the writings of Ibn Arabi (d. 1240), he interprets the forms and meanings of several American mosques from across the country. His analysis contributes to three debates within the formulation of a Muslim aesthetics in North America—first, over the meaning, purpose, and function of visual religious expression; second, over the spatial and visual affinities between American and non-American mosques, including the Prophet’s mosque at Madinah, Arabia; and third, over the relevance of culture, place, and identity to the making of contemporary religious expression in North America.

Designing Pan-America Cover

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Designing Pan-America

U.S. Architectural Visions for the Western Hemisphere

By Robert Alexander González

Coinciding with the centennial of the Pan American Union (now the Organization of American States), González explores how nineteenth- and twentieth-century U.S. architects and their clients built a visionary Pan-America to promote commerce and cultural exchange between United States and Latin America.

Designing the Creative Child Cover

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Designing the Creative Child

Playthings and Places in Midcentury America

Amy F. Ogata


The postwar American stereotypes of suburban sameness, traditional gender roles, and educational conservatism have masked an alternate self-image tailor-made for the Cold War. The creative child, an idealized future citizen, was the darling of baby boom parents, psychologists, marketers, and designers who saw in the next generation promise that appeared to answer the most pressing worries of the age.


Designing the Creative Child reveals how a postwar cult of childhood creativity developed and continues to this day. Exploring how the idea of children as imaginative and naturally creative was constructed, disseminated, and consumed in the United States after World War II, Amy F. Ogata argues that educational toys, playgrounds, small middle-class houses, new schools, and children’s museums were designed to cultivate imagination in a growing cohort of baby boom children. Enthusiasm for encouraging creativity in children countered Cold War fears of failing competitiveness and the postwar critique of social conformity, making creativity an emblem of national revitalization.


Ogata describes how a historically rooted belief in children’s capacity for independent thinking was transformed from an elite concern of the interwar years to a fully consumable and aspirational ideal that persists today. From building blocks to Gumby, playhouses to Playskool trains, Creative Playthings to the Eames House of Cards, Crayola fingerpaint to children’s museums, material goods and spaces shaped a popular understanding of creativity, and Designing the Creative Child demonstrates how this notion has been woven into the fabric of American culture.


Designing Tito’s Capital Cover

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Designing Tito’s Capital

Urban Planning, Modernism, and Socialism in Belgrade

by Brigitte Le Normand

The devastation of World War II left the Yugoslavian capital of Belgrade in ruins. Communist Party leader Josip Broz Tito saw this as a golden opportunity to recreate the city through his own vision of socialism. In Designing Tito’s Capital, Brigitte Le Normand analyzes the unprecedented planning process called for by the new leader, and the determination of planners to create an urban environment that would benefit all citizens. Led first by architect Nikola Dobrović and later by Miloš Somborski, planners blended the predominant school of European modernism and the socialist principles of efficient construction and space usage to produce a model for housing, green space, and working environments for the masses. A major influence was modernist Le Corbusier and his Athens Charter published in 1943, which called for the total reconstruction of European cities, transforming them into compact and verdant vertical cities unfettered by slumlords, private interests, and traffic congestion. As Yugoslavia transitioned toward self-management and market socialism, the functionalist district of New Belgrade and its modern living were lauded as the model city of socialist man. The glow of the utopian ideal would fade by the 1960s, when market socialism had raised expectations for living standards and the government was eager for inhabitants to finance their own housing. By 1972, a new master plan emerged under Aleksandar Đorđević, fashioned with the assistance of American experts. Espousing current theories about systems and rational process planning and using cutting edge computer technology, the new plan left behind the dream for a functionalist Belgrade and instead focused on managing growth trends. While the public resisted aspects of the new planning approach that seemed contrary to socialist values, it embraced the idea of a decentralized city connected by mass transit. Through extensive archival research and personal interviews with participants in the planning process, Le Normand’s comprehensive study documents the evolution of ‘New Belgrade’ and its adoption and ultimate rejection of modernist principles, while also situating it within larger continental and global contexts of politics, economics, and urban planning. The devastation of World War II left the Yugoslavian capital of Belgrade in ruins. Communist Party leader Josip Broz Tito saw this as a golden opportunity to recreate the city through his own vision of socialism. In Designing Tito’s Capital, Brigitte Le Normand analyzes the unprecedented planning process called for by the new leader, and the determination of planners to create an urban environment that would benefit all citizens. Led first by architect Nikola Dobrović and later by Miloš Somborski, planners blended the predominant school of European modernism and the socialist principles of efficient construction and space usage to produce a model for housing, green space, and working environments for the masses. A major influence was modernist Le Corbusier and his Athens Charter published in 1943, which called for the total reconstruction of European cities, transforming them into compact and verdant vertical cities unfettered by slumlords, private interests, and traffic congestion. As Yugoslavia transitioned toward self-management and market socialism, the functionalist district of New Belgrade and its modern living were lauded as the model city of socialist man. The glow of the utopian ideal would fade by the 1960s, when market socialism had raised expectations for living standards and the government was eager for inhabitants to finance their own housing. By 1972, a new master plan emerged under Aleksandar Đorđević, fashioned with the assistance of American experts. Espousing current theories about systems and rational process planning and using cutting edge computer technology, the new plan left behind the dream for a functionalist Belgrade and instead focused on managing growth trends. While the public resisted aspects of the new planning approach that seemed contrary to socialist values, it embraced the idea of a decentralized city connected by mass transit. Through extensive archival research and personal interviews with participants in the planning process, Le Normand’s comprehensive study documents the evolution of ‘New Belgrade’ and its adoption and ultimate rejection of modernist principles, while also situating it within larger continental and global contexts of politics, economics, and urban planning.

Drawing Boundaries Cover

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Drawing Boundaries

Architectural Images in Qing China

Anita Chung

Qing China (1644–1912) witnessed a resurgence in architectural painting, a traditional subject category known as jiehua, or boundary painting. Drawing Boundaries concerns itself with the symbolic implications of this impressive and little studied reflorescence. Beginning with a concise and well-illustrated history of the evolution of the tradition, this exciting new study reveals how these images were deployed in the Manchu (Qing) imperial court to define political, social, or cultural boundaries. Characterized by grand conception and regal splendor, the paintings served to enhance the imperial authority of rulers and, to a segment of the elite, to advertise social status. Drawing Boundaries thus speaks to both issues of painting and architectural style and the discourse of powerful cultural forms. In addition to the analysis of how the style of image construction suggests these political and social motivations, the book identifies another aspect of traditional architectural representation unique to the Qing: the use of architectural representation to render form and space. Anita Chung makes the fascinating observation that these renderings create an overwhelming sense of “being there,” a characteristic, she argues, that underscores the Qing concern for the substance of things—a sensibility toward the physical world characteristic of the period and emblematic of a new worldview.

Droit de cité pour le patrimoine Cover

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Droit de cité pour le patrimoine

Jean-Michel Leniaud

La conservation du patrimoine résulte de facteurs complexes, non seulement de choix scientifiques et d’intérêts politiques ou financiers, mais aussi de positions mémorielles, voire d’idéologies. Dans une trentaine de textes ici rassemblés, Jean-Michel Leniaud expose les enjeux de l’habitus patrimonial qui s’est composé pour que, dans la cité, une place soit faite à l’héritage.

Farm House Cover

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Farm House

College Farm to University Museum

Now available for the first time in paperback, Farm House tells the story of the first structure built on the Iowa State University campus. Mary Atherly provides a comprehensive history of the Farm House from its founding days to its role as the center of activity for the new college to its second life as a welcoming museum visited by thousands each year.

Construction on the little red brick house on the prairie began in 1860, two years after the state legislature passed a measure providing for the establishment of the State Agricultural College and Model Farm. In the 1860s, as the only finished house on campus, the building was the first home for all new faculty members, farm managers, farm superintendents, the college’s first president, and their families. In the 1870s, after the college officially opened its doors, the Farm House also served meals to as many as thirty people each day, most of whom boarded there.

As the college grew, the house became home to the deans of agriculture; it was expanded in 1886 and renovated in the 1890s. After the last dean of agriculture moved out in 1970, the Farm House was lovingly restored to its nineteenth- and early twentieth-century appearance. Now a National Historic Landmark, it opened to the public as a museum on July 4, 1976.

This second edition includes a discussion of the archaeological dig of 1991, which carefully excavated the area under the Farm House, and thoroughly documents the extensive renovation and reconstruction of the exterior of the house during the 1990s. New photographs add to the first edition’s rich array of images and a foreword by Gregory Geoffroy, ISU’s president since 2001, adds to its historical content. The history of Iowa’s only land-grant university and its impressive cultural and educational impact on the state and the nation as it evolved from model farm to college to modern multipurpose university is inseparable from the history of the Farm House.

Flights of Imagination Cover

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Flights of Imagination

Aviation, Landscape, Design

Sonja Dümpelmann

Flora's Empire Cover

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Flora's Empire

British Gardens in India

By Eugenia W. Herbert

Like their penchant for clubs, cricket, and hunting, the planting of English gardens by the British in India reflected an understandable need on the part of expatriates to replicate home as much as possible in an alien environment. In Flora's Empire, Eugenia W. Herbert argues that more than simple nostalgia or homesickness lay at the root of this "garden imperialism," however. Drawing on a wealth of period illustrations and personal accounts, many of them little known, she traces the significance of gardens in the long history of British relations with the subcontinent. To British eyes, she demonstrates, India was an untamed land that needed the visible stamp of civilization that gardens in their many guises could convey.

Colonial gardens changed over time, from the "garden houses" of eighteenth-century nabobs modeled on English country estates to the herbaceous borders, gravel walks, and well-trimmed lawns of Victorian civil servants. As the British extended their rule, they found that hill stations like Simla offered an ideal retreat from the unbearable heat of the plains and a place to coax English flowers into bloom. Furthermore, India was part of the global network of botanical exploration and collecting that gathered up the world's plants for transport to great imperial centers such as Kew. And it is through colonial gardens that one may track the evolution of imperial ideas of governance. Every Government House and Residency was carefully landscaped to reflect current ideals of an ordered society. At Independence in 1947 the British left behind a lasting legacy in their gardens, one still reflected in the design of parks and information technology campuses and in the horticultural practices of home gardeners who continue to send away to England for seeds.

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