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Art and Architecture
Insane Asylums in the United States
Elaborately conceived, grandly constructed insane asylums—ranging in appearance from classical temples to Gothic castles—were once a common sight looming on the outskirts of American towns and cities. Many of these buildings were razed long ago, and those that remain stand as grim reminders of an often cruel system. For much of the nineteenth century, however, these asylums epitomized the widely held belief among doctors and social reformers that insanity was a curable disease and that environment—architecture in particular—was the most effective means of treatment.
In The Architecture of Madness, Carla Yanni tells a compelling story of therapeutic design, from America’s earliest purpose—built institutions for the insane to the asylum construction frenzy in the second half of the century. At the center of Yanni’s inquiry is Dr. Thomas Kirkbride, a Pennsylvania-born Quaker, who in the 1840s devised a novel way to house the mentally diseased that emphasized segregation by severity of illness, ease of treatment and surveillance, and ventilation. After the Civil War, American architects designed Kirkbride-plan hospitals across the country.
Before the end of the century, interest in the Kirkbride plan had begun to decline. Many of the asylums had deteriorated into human warehouses, strengthening arguments against the monolithic structures advocated by Kirkbride. At the same time, the medical profession began embracing a more neurological approach to mental disease that considered architecture as largely irrelevant to its treatment.
Generously illustrated, The Architecture of Madness is a fresh and original look at the American medical establishment’s century-long preoccupation with therapeutic architecture as a way to cure social ills.
Carla Yanni is associate professor of art history at Rutgers University and the author of Nature’s Museums: Victorian Science and the Architecture of Display.
The Oconee Area
The middle Georgia area—including Baldwin, Hancock, Jasper, Johnson, Putnam, Washington, and Wilkinson Counties—is a vast living museum of classic southern architecture. First published in 1972, this sweeping survey remains one of the best books on the topic, covering primitive, Gothic, Greek Revival, and Victorian styles, and beyond.
John Linley’s descriptions of the diverse structures of the Oconee area are illustrated with more than three hundred photographs and representative floor plans. Fine architecture, as Linley shows, is greatly influenced by climate and geography, by the natural resources of the region, and by history, custom, and tradition. He considers these major factors along with such individual features as green spaces—gardens and parks—and town and city plans, viewing the architecture in relation to the whole environment.
The architecture is discussed in chronological order by style and is related to the surrounding country, with each of the seven Oconee area counties presented historically and in terms of its own resources. Touring maps of the counties and the principal towns locate all structures and points of interest mentioned in the text.
Constructing Identity in the Aegean Bronze Age
Ever since Sir Arthur Evans first excavated at the site of the Palace at Knossos in the early twentieth century, scholars and visitors have been drawn to the architecture of Bronze Age Crete. Much of the attraction comes from the geographical and historical uniqueness of the island. Equidistant from Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, Minoan Crete is on the shifting conceptual border between East and West, and chronologically suspended between history and prehistory. In this culturally dynamic context, architecture provided more than physical shelter; it embodied meaning. Architecture was a medium through which Minoans constructed their notions of social, ethnic, and historical identity: the buildings tell us about how the Minoans saw themselves, and how they wanted to be seen by others. Architecture of Minoan Crete is the first comprehensive study of the entire range of Minoan architecture—including houses, palaces, tombs, and cities—from 7000 BC to 1100 BC. John C. McEnroe synthesizes the vast literature on Minoan Crete, with particular emphasis on the important discoveries of the past twenty years, to provide an up-to-date account of Minoan architecture. His accessible writing style, skillful architectural drawings of houses and palaces, site maps, and color photographs make this book inviting for general readers and visitors to Crete, as well as scholars.
Combining design thinking with academic methods of inquiry, Piotrowski traces ancient to modern architectural histories and—through critical readings of select buildings—examines the role of nonverbal exchanges in the development of an accumulated Western identity. Unlike studies that organize around the traditional scheme of periodization in history, Architecture of Thought uses an interdisciplinary approach to investigate a wide spectrum of cultural productions in different times and places.
Building the Antebellum South in North Carolina, Alabama, and Mississippi
The Architecture of William Nichols: Building the Antebellum South in North Carolina, Alabama, and Mississippi is the first comprehensive biography and monograph of a significant yet overlooked architect in the American South. William Nichols designed three major university campuses—the University of North Carolina, the University of Alabama, and the University of Mississippi. He also designed the first state capitols of North Carolina, Alabama, and Mississippi. Nichols’s architecture profoundly influenced the built landscape of the South but due to fire, neglect, and demolition, much of his work was lost and history has nearly forgotten his tremendous legacy.
In his research onsite and through archives in North Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi, Paul Hardin Kapp has produced a narrative of the life and times of William Nichols that weaves together the elegant work of this architect with the aspirations and challenges of the Antebellum South. It is richly illustrated with over two hundred archival photographs and drawings from the Historic American Building Survey.
On August 13, 1961, under the cover of darkness, East German authorities sealed the border between East and West Berlin using a hastily constructed barbed wire fence. Over the next twenty-eight years, the Berlin Wall served as an ever-present and seemingly permanent physical and psychological divider in this capital city, and between East and West during the Cold War. Similarly, stark polarities arose in nearly every aspect of public and private life, perhaps nowhere more apparent than in the built environment. In Architecture, Politics, and Identity in Divided Berlin, Emily Pugh provides an original comparative analysis of selected works of architecture and urban planning in East and West Berlin during the “Wall era,” to reveal the importance of these structures to the formation of political, cultural, and social identities. Pugh uncovers the roles played by organizations such as the Foundation for Prussian Cultural Heritage in West Germany and the East German Building Academy in conveying the preferred political narrative of their respective states through constructed spaces. She also provides an overview of architectural works prior to the Wall era, to show the precursors for design aesthetics in Berlin at large, and also considers projects in the post-Wall period, to demonstrate the ongoing effects of the Cold War. Pugh examines representations of architectural works in exhibits, film, journals, magazines, newspapers, and other media, and discusses the effectiveness of planners’ attempts to ‘win the hearts and minds’ of the public. Ideas of home, belonging, community, and nationalism were common underlying themes on both sides of the wall, and instrumental to the construction of cultural and physical landscapes. Overall, Architecture, Politics, and Identity in Divided Berlin offers a compelling case study of a divided city poised at the precipice between the world’s most dominant political and ideological forces, and the effort expended by each side to sway the tide of public opinion through the built environment.
Phenomenology and the Rise of the Postmodern
The first global history of architecture to give equal attention to Western and non-Western structures and built landscapes, Architecture since 1400 is unprecedented in its range, approach, and insight. From Tenochtitlan’s Great Pyramid in Mexico City and the Duomo in Florence to Levittown’s suburban tract housing and the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing, its coverage includes the world’s most celebrated structures and spaces along with many examples of more humble vernacular buildings. Lavishly illustrated with more than 300 photographs, plans, and interiors, this book presents key moments and innovations in architectural modernity around the globe.
Deftly integrating architectural and social history, Kathleen James-Chakraborty pays particular attention to the motivations of client and architect in the design and construction of environments both sacred and secular: palaces and places of worship as well as such characteristically modern structures as the skyscraper, the department store, and the cinema. She also focuses on the role of patrons and addresses to an unparalleled degree the impact of women in commissioning, creating, and inhabiting the built environment, with Gertrude Jekyll, Lina Bo Bardi, and Zaha Hadid taking their place beside Brunelleschi, Sinan, and Le Corbusier.
Making clear that visionary architecture has never been the exclusive domain of the West and recognizing the diversity of those responsible for commissioning, designing, and constructing buildings, Architecture since 1400 provides a sweeping, cross-cultural history of the built environment over six centuries.
Mapping the Everyday
In Archive Everything, Gabriella Giannachi traces the evolution of the archive into the apparatus through which we map the everyday. The archive, traditionally a body of documents or a site for the preservation of documents, changed over the centuries to encompass, often concurrently, a broad but interrelated number of practices not traditionally considered as archival. Archives now consist of not only documents and sites but also artworks, installations, museums, social media platforms, and mediated and mixed reality environments. Giannachi tracks the evolution of these diverse archival practices across the centuries. Archives today offer a multiplicity of viewing platforms to replay the past, capture the present, and map our presence. Giannachi uses archaeological practices to explore all the layers of the archive, analyzing Lynn Hershman Leeson’s !Women Art Revolution project, a digital archive of feminist artists. She considers the archive as a memory laboratory, with case studies that include visitors’ encounters with archival materials in the Jewish Museum in Berlin. She discusses the importance of participatory archiving, examining the “multimedia roadshow” Digital Diaspora Family Reunion as an example. She explores the use of the archive in works that express the relationship between ourselves and our environment, citing Andy Warhol and Ant Farm, among others. And she looks at the transmission of the archive through the body in performance, bioart, and database artworks, closing with a detailed analysis of Lynn Hershman Leeson’s Infinity Engine.
Photographs and Illustrations for U.S. Surveys, 1850-1890
This imaginative study of American visual culture reveals how the political predicaments of a few small bureaucracies once fostered pictures of an extraordinary style. U.S. geographical and geological surveys of the late nineteenth century produced photographs and drawings of topography, American Indians, geologic features, botanical specimens, and specialists at work in the field. Some of these pictures have long been celebrated for their anticipation of a modernist aesthetic, but Robin Kelsey, in this abundantly illustrated volume, traces their modernistic qualities to archival ingenuity. The technical and promotional needs of surveys, Kelsey argues, fostered the emergence of a taut, graphic pictorial style that imitated the informational clarity of diagrams and maps. As this book demonstrates, these pictures became sites of struggle as well as innovation when three brilliant survey artists and photographers subtly resisted the programs they were hired to serve. Discovering a politics of style behind the modernist look of survey pictures, Kelsey offers a fresh interpretation of canonical western expedition photographs by Timothy H. O'Sullivan and introduces two exceptional but largely forgotten sets of pictures: views of the U.S.-Mexico boundary from the 1850s by Arthur Schott and photographs of the Charleston earthquake of 1886 by C. C. Jones.