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Designing the Centennial

A History of the 1876 International Exhibition in Philadelphia

Bruno Giberti

The 1876 United States Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia was not only the United States' first important world's fair, it signaled significant changes in the very shape of knowledge. Quarrels between participants in the exhibition represented a greater conflict as the world transitioned between two different kinds of modernity--the Enlightenment of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to the High Modern period of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. At the center of this movement was a shift in the perceived relationship between seeing and knowing and in the perception of what makes an object valuable--its usefulness as a subject of study and learning versus its ability to be bought and sold on the market. Arguments over design of the Centennial reflected these opposing viewpoints. Initial plans were rigidly structured, dividing the exhibits by country and type. But as some exhibitors became more interested in the preferences of their audience, they adopted a more modern stance. Objects traditionally displayed in isolated glass boxes were placed in fictive context -- the necklace draped over a mannequin, the vase set on a table in a model room. As a result, the audience could more easily perceive these items as commodities suitable for their own environments and the fair as a place to find ideas for a material lifestyle. Designing the Centennial is a vital first look at the design process and the nature of the display. Bruno Giberti uses official reports of the U.S. Centennial Commission and photographs of the Centennial Photographic Company, as well as the ephemera of the exhibition and literary accounts in books, magazines, and newspapers to illuminate how the 1876 fair revealed changes to come: in future world's fairs, museums, department stores, and in the nature of display itself.

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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.


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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.

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Designs on the Public

The Private Lives of New York’s Public Spaces

Kristine F. Miller

New York City is home to some of the most recognizable places in the world. As familiar as the sight of New Year’s Eve in Times Square or a protest in front of City Hall may be to us, do we understand who controls what happens there? Kristine Miller delves into six of New York’s most important public spaces to trace how design influences their complicated lives. 

 

Miller chronicles controversies in the histories of New York locations including Times Square, Trump Tower, the IBM Atrium, and Sony Plaza. The story of each location reveals that public space is not a concrete or fixed reality, but rather a constantly changing situation open to the forces of law, corporations, bureaucracy, and government. The qualities of public spaces we consider essential, including accessibility, public ownership, and ties to democratic life, are, at best, temporary conditions and often completely absent.

 

Design is, in Miller’s view, complicit in regulation of public spaces in New York City to exclude undesirables, restrict activities, and privilege commercial interests, and in this work she shows how design can reactivate public space and public life.

 

Kristine F. Miller is associate professor of landscape architecture at the University of Minnesota.

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Detached America

Building Houses in Postwar Suburbia

James A. Jacobs

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Discipline Of Architecture

Andrzej Piotrowski

In the vast literature on architectural theory and practice, the ways in which architectural knowledge is actually taught, debated, and understood are too often ignored. The essays collected in this groundbreaking volume address the current state of architecture as an academic and professional discipline. The issues considered range from the form and content of architectural education to the architect’s social and environmental obligations and the emergence of a new generation of architects. Often critical of the current paradigm, these essays offer a provocative challenge to accepted assumptions about the production, dissemination, and reception of architectural knowledge. Contributors: Sherry Ahrentzen, U of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; Stanford Anderson, MIT; Carol Burns, Harvard U; Russell Ellis, UC Berkeley; Thomas Fisher, U of Minnesota; Linda Groat, U of Michigan; Kay Bea Jones, Ohio State U; David Leatherbarrow, U of Pennsylvania; A. G. Krishna Menon, TVB School of Habitat Studies, India; Garth Rockcastle, U of Minnesota; Michael Stanton, American U, Beirut; Sharon E. Sutton, U of Washington; David J. T. Vanderburgh, Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium; and Donald Watson, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

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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.

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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.

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Enclaves of America

The Rhetoric of American Political Architecture Abroad, 1900-1965

Ron Theodore Robin

Whether determining the style of its embassies or the design of overseas cemeteries for Americans killed in battle, the U.S. government in its rise to global leadership greatly valued architectural symbols as a way of conveying its power abroad. In order to explain the political significance of American monuments on foreign soil, this illustrated book explores the efforts made by the United States from 1900 to 1965 to enhance its image as a military and economic force with displays of artistic achievement.

Originally published in 1996.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

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