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Architecture, Landscape and Amer Culture

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Architecture, Landscape and Amer Culture

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Architecture, Planning, and Consumer Culture on the American Home Front

Andrew M. Shanken

In a major study of American architecture during World War II, Andrew M. Shanken focuses on the culture of anticipation that arose in this period, as out-of-work architects turned their energies from the built to the unbuilt, redefining themselves as planners and creating original designs to excite the public about postwar architecture. Shanken recasts the wartime era as a crucible for the intermingling of modernist architecture.

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The Architecture of Madness

Insane Asylums in the United States

Carla Yanni

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.

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Building Zion

The Material World of Mormon Settlement

Thomas Carter

For Mormons, the second coming of Christ and the subsequent millennium will arrive only when the earth has been perfected through the building of a model world called Zion. Throughout the nineteenth century the Latter-day Saints followed this vision, creating a material world—first in Missouri and Illinois but most importantly and permanently in Utah and surrounding western states—that serves as a foundation for understanding their concept of an ideal universe.

Building Zion is, in essence, the biography of the cultural landscape of western LDS settlements. Through the physical forms Zion assumed, it tells the life story of a set of Mormon communities—how they were conceived and constructed and inhabited—and what this material manifestation of Zion reveals about what it meant to be a Mormon in the nineteenth century. Focusing on a network of small towns in Utah, Thomas Carter explores the key elements of the Mormon cultural landscape: town planning, residences (including polygamous houses), stores and other nonreligious buildings, meetinghouses, and temples. Zion, we see, is an evolving entity, reflecting the church’s shift from group-oriented millenarian goals to more individualized endeavors centered on personal salvation and exaltation.

Building Zion demonstrates how this cultural landscape draws its singularity from a unique blending of sacred and secular spaces, a division that characterized the Mormon material world in the late nineteenth century and continues to do so today.

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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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Manhood Factories

YMCA Architecture and the Making of Modern Urban Culture

Paula Lupkin

Between the Civil War and the Great Depression, the Young Men's Christian Association built more than a thousand community centers across the United States and in major cities around the world. Dubbed "manhood factories" by Teddy Roosevelt, these iconic buildings served as athletic centers and residential facilities for a rapidly growing urban male population.

In Manhood Factories, Paula Lupkin goes behind the reserved Beaux-Arts facades of typical YMCA buildings constructed in this period to understand the urban anxieties, moral agendas, and conceptions of masculinity that guided their design, construction, and use. She shows that YMCA patrons like J. P. Morgan, Cyrus McCormick Jr., and John Wanamaker hoped to create "Christian clubhouses" that would counteract the corrupting influences of the city. At first designed by leading American architects, including James Renwick Jr. and William Le Baron Jenney, and then standardized by the YMCA's own building bureau, YMCAs combined elements of men's clubs, department stores, hotels, and Sunday schools. Every aspect of the building process was informed by this mission, Lupkin argues, from raising funds, selecting the site and the architect, determining the exterior style, arranging and furnishing interior spaces, and representing the buildings in postcards and other printed materials.

Beginning with the early history of the YMCA and the construction of New York City's landmark Twenty-third Street YMCA of 1869, Lupkin follows the efforts of YMCA leaders to shape a modern yet moral public culture and even define class, race, ethnicity, and gender through its buildings. Illustrated with many rarely seen photographs, maps, and drawings, Manhood Factories offers a fascinating new perspective on a venerable institution and its place in America's cultural and architectural history.

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A Manufactured Wilderness

Summer Camps and the Shaping of American Youth, 1890–1960

Abigail A. Van Slyck

Since they were first established in the 1880s, children’s summer camps have touched the lives of millions of people. Although the camping experience has a special place in the popular imagination, few scholars have given serious thought to this peculiarly American phenomenon. Why were summer camps created? What concerns and ideals motivated their founders? Whom did they serve? How did they change over time? What factors influenced their design? To answer these and many other questions, Abigail A. Van Slyck trains an informed eye on the most visible and evocative aspect of camp life: its landscape and architecture. She argues that summer camps delivered much more than a simple encounter with the natural world. Instead, she suggests, camps provided a man-made version of wilderness, shaped by middle-class anxieties about gender roles, class tensions, race relations, and modernity and its impact on the lives of children. Following a fascinating history of summer camps and a wide-ranging overview of the factors that led to their creation, Van Slyck examines the intersections of the natural landscape with human-built forms and social activities. In particular, she addresses changing attitudes toward such subjects as children’s health, sanitation, play, relationships between the sexes, Native American culture, and evolving ideas about childhood. Generously illustrated with period photographs, maps, plans, and promotional images of camps throughout North America, A Manufactured Wilderness is the first book to offer a thorough consideration of the summer camp environment.

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Medicine by Design

The Architect and the Modern Hospital, 1893–1943

Annmarie Adams

In the history of medicine, hospitals are usually seen as passive reflections of advances in medical knowledge and technology. In Medicine by Design, Annmarie Adams challenges these assumptions, examining how hospital design influenced the development of twentieth-century medicine and demonstrating the importance of these specialized buildings in the history of architecture.

 

At the center of this work is Montreal’s landmark Royal Victoria Hospital, built in 1893. Drawing on a wide range of visual and textual sources, Adams uses the “Royal Vic”—along with other hospitals built or modified over the next fifty years—to explore critical issues in architecture and medicine: the role of gender and class in both fields, the transformation of patients into consumers, the introduction of new medical concepts and technologies, and the use of domestic architecture and regionally inspired imagery to soften the jarring impact of high-tech medicine.

 

Identifying the roles played by architects in medical history and those played by patients, doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals in the design of hospitals, Adams also links architectural spaces to everyday hospital activities, from meal preparation to the ways in which patients entered the hospital and awaited treatment.

 

Methodologically and conceptually innovative, Medicine by Design makes a significant contribution to the histories of both architectural and medical practices in the twentieth century. 

 

Annmarie Adams is William C. Macdonald Professor of Architecture at McGill University and the author of Architecture in the Family Way: Doctors, Houses, and Women, 1870–1900 and coauthor of Designing Women: Gender and the Architectural Profession.

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The Suburban Church

Modernism and Community in Postwar America

Gretchen Buggeln

After World War II, America’s religious denominations spent billions on church architecture as they spread into the suburbs. In this richly illustrated history of midcentury modern churches in the Midwest, Gretchen Buggeln shows how architects and suburban congregations joined forces to work out a vision of how modernist churches might help reinvigorate Protestant worship and community. The result is a fascinating new perspective on postwar architecture, religion, and society.

Drawing on the architectural record, church archives, and oral histories, The Suburban Church focuses on collaborations between architects Edward D. Dart, Edward A. Sövik, Charles E. Stade, and seventy-five congregations. By telling the stories behind their modernist churches, the book describes how the buildings both reflected and shaped developments in postwar religion—its ecumenism, optimism, and liturgical innovation, as well as its fears about staying relevant during a time of vast cultural, social, and demographic change.

While many scholars have characterized these congregations as “country club” churches, The Suburban Church argues that most were earnest, well-intentioned religious communities caught between the desire to serve God and the demands of a suburban milieu in which serving middle-class families required most of their material and spiritual resources.


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Women and the Everyday City

Public Space in San Francisco, 1890–1915

Jessica Ellen Sewell

In Women and the Everyday City, Jessica Ellen Sewell explores the lives of women in turn-of-the-century San Francisco. A period of transformation of both gender roles and American cities, she shows how changes in the city affected women's ability to negotiate shifting gender norms as well as how women's increasing use of the city played a critical role in the campaign for women's suffrage.

Focusing on women's everyday use of streetcars, shops, restaurants, and theaters, Sewell reveals the impact of women on these public places-what women did there, which women went there, and how these places were changed in response to women's presence. Using the diaries of three women in San Francisco-Annie Haskell, Ella Lees Leigh, and Mary Eugenia Pierce, who wrote extensively on their everyday experiences-Sewell studies their accounts of day trips to the city and combines them with memoirs, newspapers, maps, photographs, and her own observations of the buildings that exist today to build a sense of life in San Francisco at this pivotal point in history.
 
Working at the nexus of urban history, architectural history, and cultural geography, Women and the Everyday City offers a revealing portrait of both a major American city during its early years and the women who shaped it-and the country-for generations to come.

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