Episodes
Sixteenth Street NW in Washington, DC, has been called the Avenue of the Presidents, Executive Avenue, and the Avenue of Churches. From the front door of the White House, this north-south artery runs through the middle of the District and extends just past its border with Maryland. The street is as central to the cityscape as it is to DC's history and culture. In Sixteenth Street NW: Washington, DC's Avenue of Ambitions (Georgetown UP, 2022), John DeFerrari and Douglas Peter Sefton depict the...
Published 05/20/22
Published 05/20/22
In The Invention of Norman Visual Culture: Art, Politics, and Dynastic Ambition (Cambridge UP, 2020), Lisa Reilly establishes a new interpretive paradigm for the eleventh and twelfth-century art and architecture of the Norman world in France, England, and Sicily. Traditionally, scholars have considered iconic works like the Cappella Palatina and the Bayeux Embroidery in a geographically piecemeal fashion that prevents us from seeing their full significance. Here, Reilly examines these works...
Published 04/20/22
Hilton Judin's book Architecture, State Modernism and Cultural Nationalism in the Apartheid Capital (Routledge, 2021) is the first comprehensive investigation of the architecture of the apartheid state in the period of rapid economic growth and political repression from 1957 to 1966 when buildings took on an ideological role that was never remote from the increasingly dominant administrative, legislative and policing mechanisms of the regime. It considers how this process reflected the...
Published 04/19/22
Environmental restoration is a global pursuit and a major political concern. Governments, nonprofits, private corporations, and other institutions spend billions of dollars each year to remove invasive species, build wetlands, and reintroduce species driven from their habitats. But restoration has not always been so intensively practiced. It began as the pastime of a few wildflower enthusiasts and the first practitioners of the new scientific discipline of ecology. Restoration has been a...
Published 04/13/22
On an otherwise normal weekday in the 1980s, commuters on busy Route 1 in central New Jersey noticed an alarming sight: a man in a suit and tie dashing across four lanes of traffic, then scurrying through a narrow underpass as cars whizzed by within inches. The man was William “Holly” Whyte, a pioneer of people-centered urban design. Decades before this perilous trek to a meeting in the suburbs, he had urged planners to look beyond their desks and drawings: “You have to get out and...
Published 04/01/22
Dr. Lucy Donkin’s Standing on Holy Ground in the Middle Ages (Cornell University Press, 2022) illuminates how the floor surface shaped the ways in which people in Medieval Western Europe and beyond experienced sacred spaces. The ground beneath our feet plays a crucial, yet often overlooked, role in our relationship with the environments we inhabit and the spaces with which we interact. “The ground beneath our feet goes unnoticed for the most part. Yet it guides our steps and shapes our...
Published 04/01/22
Philosophers on the art of cinema mainly remain silent about architecture. Discussing cinema as ‘mass art’, they tend to forget that architecture, before cinema, was the only existing ‘mass art’. In Architecture, Philosophy, and the Pedagogy of Cinema: From Benjamin to Badiou (Routledge, 2021), Nadir Lahiji proposes that the philosophical understanding of the collective human sensorium in the apparatus of perception must once again find its true training ground in architecture. Building art...
Published 03/11/22
“The importance of a drawing is immense, because it’s the architect’s language,” said the architect Louis Kahn to his masterclass in 1967. While most studies of Kahn focus on his built works or theory and use drawings mainly to illustrate these, this publication chooses to focus on Kahn's drawings as primary sources of insight into his architectural intelligence and imagination. Lavishly illustrated with over 900 high-quality reproductions of work by Kahn and his associates, incisively...
Published 03/03/22
Migration and architecture have emerged as a new topic of research at a global level. Migrant worker dormitories in Singapore, for example, are sites where structural inequities in architecture and legal regulations have had a significant impact on the living conditions of migrant workers, and they hit the headlines in 2020 as sites for the rapid spread of COVID. Dr Jennifer Ferng joins Dr Natali Pearson on SSEAC Stories to talk about the relationship between architecture and labour, arguing...
Published 03/03/22
Follies in America: A History of Garden and Park Architecture (Cornell UP, 2021) examines historicized garden buildings, known as "follies," from the nation's founding through the American centennial celebration in 1876.  In a period of increasing nationalism, follies―such as temples, summerhouses, towers, and ruins―brought a range of European architectural styles to the United States. By imprinting the land with symbols of European culture, landscape gardeners brought their idea of...
Published 02/23/22
In the world of interior design, mid-century Modernism has left an indelible mark still seen and felt today in countless open-concept floor plans and spare, geometric furnishings. Yet despite our continued fascination, we rarely consider how this iconic design sensibility was marketed to the diverse audiences of its era. Examining advice manuals, advertisements in Life and Ebony, furniture, art, and more, Mid-Century Modernism and the American Body: Race, Gender, and the Politics of Power in...
Published 02/22/22
How do we formulate alternative approaches to the world’s unresponsive or intractable dilemmas, from climate change, to inequality, to concentrations of authoritarian power? Keller Easterling argues that the search for singular solutions is a mistake. Instead, she offers the perspective of medium design, one that considers not only separate objects, ideas and events but also the space between them. This background matrix with all its latent potentials is profoundly underexploited in a culture...
Published 02/17/22
Cities around the world are formulating plans to respond to climate change and adapt to its impact. Often, marginalized urban residents resist these plans, offering “counterplans” to protest unjust and exclusionary actions. In Form and Flow: The Spatial Politics of Urban Resilience and Climate Justice (MIT Press, 2021), Kian Goh examines climate change response strategies in three cities—New York, Jakarta, and Rotterdam—and the mobilization of community groups to fight the perceived...
Published 02/17/22
Beautiful Light: An Insider’s Guide to LED Lighting in Homes and Gardens (Routledge, 2021) by internationally acclaimed lighting designer Randall Whitehead and lighting industry expert and educator Clifton Stanley Lemon is a combination of idea book, design resource, and product guide. It explores the transition in residential lighting from incandescent light sources to LEDs, and how to apply LED lighting with great success.It begins with the fundamental characteristics of light, including...
Published 02/09/22
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...
Published 01/28/22
Western ruins have long been understood as objects riddled with temporal contradictions, whether they appear in baroque poetry and drama, Romanticism’s nostalgic view of history, eighteenth-century paintings of classical subjects, or even recent photographic histories of the ruins of postindustrial Detroit. Decay and Afterlife: Form, Time, and the Textuality of Ruins, 1100 to 1900 (U Chicago Press, 2021) pivots away from our immediate, visual fascination with ruins, focusing instead on the...
Published 01/21/22
Attempting to derive aesthetic systems from natural structures of human cognition, designers looked toward the “savage mind”—a way of thinking they associated with a racialized subaltern. In Savage Mind to Savage Machine: Racial Science and Twentieth-Century Design (U Minnesota Press, 2021), Ginger Nolan uncovers an enduring relationship between “the savage” and the development of technology and its wide-ranging impact on society, including in the fields of architecture and urbanism, the...
Published 01/18/22
Inspired by the complexity and heterogeneity of the world around us, and by the rise of new technologies and their associated behavior, The Architecture Concept Book (Thames and Hudson, 2018) seeks to stimulate young architects and students to think outside of what is often a rather conservative and self-perpetuating professional domain and to be influenced by everything around them. Organized thematically, the book explores thirty-five architectural concepts, which cover wide-ranging topics...
Published 01/11/22
Architecture and the Senses in the Italian Renaissance: The Varieties of Architectural Experience (Cambridge UP, 2021) is the first study of Renaissance architecture as an immersive, multisensory experience that combines historical analysis with the evidence of first-hand accounts. Questioning the universalizing claims of contemporary architectural phenomenologists, David Karmon emphasizes the infinite variety of meanings produced through human interactions with the built environment. His...
Published 01/07/22
The late 19th and early 20th centuries in Europe were times of intense technological, social and political change and transformation, and so it’s no surprise that much of the art and literature of this period was equal in its innovative intensity, attempting to make sense of times that were radically out of joint. Traditional scholarship on this period has focused on the alienation and disassociation that can be experienced when trying to keep up with the frenetic pace of modern life. But is...
Published 01/05/22
Shajar al-Durr--known as "Tree of Pearls"--began her remarkable career as a child slave, given as property to Sultan Salih of Egypt. She became his concubine, was manumitted, became his wife, served as governing regent, and ultimately rose to become the legitimately appointed sultan of Egypt in 1250 after her husband's death. Shajar al-Durr used her wealth and power to add a tomb to his urban madrasa; with this innovation, madrasas and many other charitably endowed architectural complexes...
Published 01/05/22
In Avant-Garde as Method: Vkhutemas and the Pedagogy of Space, 1920-1930 (Park Publishing, 2020), Anna Bokov examines the history of the Higher Art and Technical Studios (Vysshie khudozhestvenno-tekhnicheskie masterskie) in Moscow, known most commonly by its acronym Vkhutemas. Operating between 1920 and 1930, Vkhutemas was a centre for developing new pedagogical methods to support mass education in art and technology. In this richly illustrated study, Bokov traces how radical experiments in...
Published 12/29/21
Few figures in the American arts have stories richer in irony than does architect Minoru Yamasaki. While his twin towers of New York’s World Trade Center are internationally iconic, few who know the icon recognize its architect’s name or know much about his portfolio of more than 200 buildings. One is tempted to call him America’s most famous forgotten architect. He was classed in the top tier of his profession in the 1950s and ’60s, as he carried modernism in novel directions, yet today he...
Published 12/22/21
Part of the series CAHIM Connecting Art Histories in the Museum, Anna McSweeney's book From Granada to Berlin: The Alhambra Cupola (Kettler Verlag, 2020) is the story of an extraordinary survivor from the Alhambra palace in Granada, Spain: the Alhambra cupola, now in the Museum of Islamic Art in Berlin. The cupola, a ceiling crafted from carved and painted wood, was made to crown an exquisite mirador in one of the earliest palace buildings of the Alhambra. The book is the cupola's biography...
Published 12/21/21