Architecture after God

Page 1

Exploring Architecture Book Series

Advisory Board: Reto Geiser (chair)

Marc Armengaud

Andrew Leach

Catalina Mejía Moreno

Matthias Noell

Sara Stevens

Architecture After God

Kyle Dugdale Architecture After God Babel Resurgent

Birkhäuser Basel

About the
Foreword 6 Preface 8 Introduction 10 1. Babel Resurgent 25 2. Architecture as Metaphor 73 3. T he Claims of Antiquity upon Modernity 105 4. T he Genesis of Architecture 137 5. T he Tower and the Cathedral 177 6. T he Master Builder 215 7. New Faith, New Architecture 253 8. Fabricated Glory 287 9. Death of the Architect 331 Conclusion 394
Credits 426
Author 438
int 440

This new series advances the study of architecture, urbanism, landscape, and design in their respective histories and as professional, conceptual, and intellectual practices. It offers novel and unexpected readings of buildings, analyses of disciplinary discourse and historiography, studies of architectural representation and media, and considerations of socioeconomic, historical, and political forces on cultural transformation.

Its volumes encompass a broad spectrum of periods, regions, and themes, including distinctly cross-disciplinary subjects with close ties to architecture. With a focus on topics informed by contemporary discourses on architecture, landscape, and cities, we work with authors to share scholarship in architectural history that is original and rigorous, as well as engaging and accessible. Shaped by a peer-review process guided by an academic board and a world of accomplished experts, Exploring Architecture provides a platform to emerging authors and established scholars alike. The books in this series present serious research in a compelling voice to reach readers in architecture and its related fields.

Despite the repeated forecast of its imminent obsolescence, the book remains with us. Its material presence and durability persist. It remains weighty, present, and arguably the most important medium for disseminating attentive scholarship on architecture both in its history and as a matter of thought. Our belief in the amalgamation of thorough academic inquiry, the careful design of books as physical objects, but also the expansion of their reach through open-access distribution form the foundation of Exploring Architecture.

Architecture After God is the second volume in this series. Kyle Dugdale explores a fundamental modern ambivalence in God’s authority over architecture: on the one hand, the conception of God removed from a position of commanding authority, understood since the Enlightenment and amplified by Friedrich Nietzsche; and on the other, an “architecture according to God,” which sustains references to the biblical and theological in twentieth-century architecture.

Staged in the shadowy interwar period in Germany, Architecture After God traces the implications of this metaphysi-


cal upheaval for modern architecture and its attempts to create a new world. In doing so, Dugdale takes us on a journey, seamlessly crossing cultural and disciplinary boundaries from architecture into art, poetry, and literature, while narrating two intertwined stories that allude to attempts to recreate the world after God. The protagonist of one thread is the Tower of Babel, long understood as an architectural archetype, confronting the Word of God and the multiplicity of languages by which humans took back their own power. The other follows the Austrian painter and poet Uriel Birnbaum, whose stunning work has to date been largely overlooked by architecture, while being carefully anchored in the philosophical, historical, political, and theological contexts of its time. Birnbaum’s very personal approach to architecture takes its strength not only from history and art, but also from a deeply informed appreciation of the architectural discourses of his time. Reading against the historical image of the 1920s and ’30s as the setting for modernism’s rise, Dugdale offers an open account of what may have emerged from that moment, sometimes presaging, even, the advent of postmodernism. Architecture After God lays out an exceptional range of sources and materials, some that have not been accessible before (or only rarely), including many important German-language contributions alongside those that are more familiar—Bruno Taut, Thomas Mann, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe—that the author introduces through unexpected lenses. Dugdale’s book is a careful and thrilling investigation in which much is unknown, and the rest is out of place.

7 Foreword
Marc Armengaud, Reto Geiser, Andrew Leach, Catalina Mejía Moreno, Matthias Noell, Sara Stevens


The farsighted madman of Nietzsche’s Gay Science announced the death of God in 1882. But the discipline of architecture has been slow to recognize the larger implications of that announcement. This book assesses what is ultimately a vast expansion of the architect’s responsibility: the formidable project of re-creating the world after God. Such an assessment is no small task. It poses challenges that are historical, political, philosophical, and theological. In response, Architecture After God presents a series of overlapping stories that center on Germany during the period between the world wars but cast shadows far beyond. Skeptical of architecture’s metaphysical claims, it introduces new and sometimes unexpected protagonists—philosopher, fraud, visionary, tyrant— in dramatic demonstration of architecture’s broader entanglements. But its fabric is woven around two continuous threads: the familiar account of the Tower of Babel, an architecture that pre-empts the very notion of the death of God; and the less familiar story of its 1924 retelling in a slim volume by the artist Uriel Birnbaum.

That architects should once have been interested in the Tower of Babel is doubtless unremarkable. What is surprising is that in the twentieth century—at the very moment when one might expect such archetypal figures to be fading from the pages of architectural influence, and in exactly those places where the anxieties of modernity play out with the greatest intensity—Babel reasserts itself with greater insistence than ever before. Often its presence is tied to a new consciousness of the absence of God from the narratives of modernity. And here the biblical account takes on a curiously modern cast—addressing problems that suddenly seem newly pertinent, read into the story of a culture that no longer seeks its security in the God of its earlier chapters but turns


instead to the constructions of human ingenuity. Understood as a lesson applicable beyond the limits of its own narrative time and space, the Tower marks the predicament of the architect who must build in a self-consciously modern, godless world. This book approaches its subject from multiple directions. It surveys the plain of Babylon during its excavation at the start of the twentieth century and during its military occupation at the start of the twenty-first. It gazes upward at the soaring towers of New York City, the Babylon of the future. It studies the architectures of the book of Genesis, reading Babel both as culmination of architectonic ambition and as monument to its failure. It evaluates the redemptive promises of Expressionist fabrications in the years immediately after World War I, and the struggles over architecture’s future in the years leading up to World War II. It cites popular novels, hymns of praise to the architect, annotations in the margins of Hitler’s personal library, and manifestos drawn up by the patriarchs of the Bauhaus. It deals in architectural metaphor, utopian aspiration, geopolitical ambition, and a deepening dissatisfaction with the shape of an emerging modernity. It appraises modernity’s religiosity, a human construct to be understood in the image of architecture. And it returns repeatedly to the work of Uriel Birnbaum, a vivid articulation of preoccupations that have not yet been dismissed.

Architecture After God is written for those who care about architecture. It addresses those who find themselves wishing for more than the discipline seems to offer, who struggle to reconcile its earlier chapters with its current narratives, who worry that something has been lost in the shift to what is conveniently labeled as modernity. It acknowledges that there is more to the assessment of modernism’s enduring legacy than has often been acknowledged. Its direct engagement with questions of architecture’s ends comes at a moment when many are painfully conscious of the discipline’s failures. But it also appeals to a broader audience: to all those whose consciousness of the structural insecurities of contemporary modernity might prove amenable to architectural exploration.



The relics have lost their power.

They are precious objects, no doubt—laid out on long tables and guarded by surveillance cameras that hang conspicuously from the ceiling. Memories of an older world, they predate the architecture that now contains them. Many predate the institution that now owns them, and some predate the establishment of the nation.

They are relics in another sense too. The relic, after all, is not only an artifact surviving from an earlier time, a thing left behind by history. The word has a more specific meaning. As an object of veneration, it is often an item associated with the death of a saint: a scrap of linen, a splinter of wood, a fragment of mortal remains—a physical reminder, that is, of the death of the sacred. Indeed, the objects on display in this crypt constitute a selection of architecture’s sacred texts, temporarily extracted from their more permanent resting place within the repositories of Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. With one exception their identities are familiar, even canonical. And if architects have largely abandoned their faith in this canon, its influence lingers. It has proved difficult, after all, to identify compelling substitutes; modernity’s candidates for architectural beatification have not always survived closer scrutiny.

But the authority of such relics is not what it was. Today they are approached with altogether different intentions. Each is now open to its most compelling spread, in a loosely chronological array that changes texture and color as it winds its way around the room. A small white tag is attached to each volume, the enigmatic minuscule of its call number an invitation to closer examination.

GGnv90 bi521. It begins, as so often, with Vitruvius. On display is an edition inherited from the sixteenth century, the first printed


The origins of architecture: Vitruvius, De architectura, Cesare Cesariano edition (1521).



Architecturae laus, the praise of architecture: Alberti, De re aedificatoria, second edition (1512), detail.


Albrecht Dürer, Underweysung der Messung, second edition (1538).


translation from the Latin into a modern tongue. ← Fig. 0.1 The black letters of the sacred text are surrounded by an even blacker commentary, with Vitruvian neglect made good by the addition of a vividly imagined woodcut that illustrates the construction of the primitive hut. Adjacent is a passage famous for associating the origins of architecture with the human capacity to see past immediate physical needs, and to contemplate, instead, the infinite—a passage familiar in a more recent translation, published at the very moment when the world was plunging into the chaos of World War I:

Finding themselves naturally gifted beyond the other animals in not being obliged to walk with faces to the ground, but upright and gazing upon the splendour of the starry firmament . . . they began in that first assembly to construct shelters.1

The origins and ends of architecture are here tied as closely to metaphysics as to physics, measured against nothing less than the boundless space of the cosmos. Architecture, in other words, is understood to address not only the act of building, narrowly conceived, but also humanity’s place within the created order. The question of the identity of the original creator, the prime constructor, the ἀρχι-τέκτων, is central to the understanding of the role of the architect.

Architecture as a discipline born of the contemplation of the infinite: this conception stands in uneasy tension with the boundedness of this heavily monitored subterranean space. But immediately adjacent lies a copy of Alberti’s De re aedificatoria, second edition. Jp2 2w. From its opening page there emerges, in direct response to Vitruvius, the lordly figure of the modern architect, possessed of astonishing depths of knowledge and powers of creation, fully equal to the task set before him:

Him I consider the architect, who by sure and wonderful reason and method, knows both how to devise through his own mind and energy, and to realize by construction, what-

13 Introduction

ever can be most beautifully fitted out for the noble needs of man . . . To do this he must have an understanding and knowledge of all the highest and most noble disciplines.2

The publisher has added, in the margin, two words: ← Fig. 0.2 architecturae laus, “the glory of architecture.” In a refrain that builds across the centuries, the omniscient figure of the architect is deemed worthy of mankind’s praise:

In view then of the delight and wonderful grace of his works, and of how indispensable they have proved, and in view of the benefit and convenience of his inventions, and their service to posterity, he should no doubt be accorded praise and respect, and be counted among those most deserving of mankind’s honor and recognition.3

This could serve as a eulogy for the next figure in the library’s hagiographic array: Andrea Palladio, frequently celebrated as history’s most influential architect. The “manifestations of his creative genius” are inscribed on the list of the world’s heritage, and it is to the sites of his veneration that other architects make their pilgrimage.4 He embodies, in other words, a high point in the reputation of the architect; and as such, he functions as a representative figure—a type. Significantly, he himself achieved recognition not, first, through his buildings, but rather through his printed books—these books. 1999  +66, JJaf42 P177 570Bw. In a staggering display of architectural wealth, equal to any medieval cathedral’s exposition of sacred objects, a first edition of Palladio’s Quattro libri dell’architettura lies alongside its first complete translation into English. Circulating around the room, the status of the architectural profession rises and falls with the passing centuries, its achievements measured against the vestiges of antiquity. All things are measured. And always, mortal man measures himself. 1971 Folio 561. To that end, Albrecht Dürer’s treatise on measurement, the Underweysung der Messung, presents a landmark of the impulse to measure other human beings. Historians of perspectival vision



Modernolatria: Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, “Futurismo, definizione,” ca. 1925.


Lyonel Feininger, Kathedrale, cover of Walter Gropius, Programm des Staatlichen Bauhauses in Weimar (1919).

15 Introduction

1. Babel Resurgent

Architecture After


Informed observers might reasonably expect the biblical figure of Babel to fade from the pages of the historical imagination as other narratives prove more compelling to the modern mind. But they would be wrong. Babylon is arguably more famous today than ever before. And its fame ties together what are often held to be quite disparate disciplines: among them architecture, philosophy, theology, and recent military history.

The Birth and Death of God

The opening decades of the twenty-first century delivered a brief but glorious burst of architectural fame for the German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk.

Author of “the best-selling German book of philosophy since World War II,”1 Sloterdijk has a reputation for being both provocative and prolific, and his magnum opus, the massive Spheres trilogy, has now been translated into English in its entirety. This itself is a significant accomplishment: the book is variously described as expansive, monumental, even megalomaniac. But in recent years Sloterdijk has been at the very forefront of architects’ attentions. No less a figure than Bruno Latour has stated, without qualification, that Sloterdijk is the thinker of architecture.2 Why such philosophical enthusiasm on the part of the architectural discipline? For one, the focus of Sloterdijk’s thought is explicitly architectural. Beginning, in its opening pages, with the hypothesis that “life is a matter of form,”3 his Spheres trilogy is advertised as nothing less than the late-twentieth-century bookend to Heidegger’s Being and Time. It claims to supplement Heidegger’s analysis of time with a corresponding analysis of space, a category often overlooked within conventional thought.


“Uriel Birnbaum, The Apparition of the Heavenly City (1921–22),” in Peter Sloterdijk, Spheres, vol. 2 (2014).

27 1.1

Not one to undersell his work, Germany’s most commercially successful contemporary philosopher has described the trilogy as an attempt to articulate a theory that construes space as a key anthropological category, on the understanding that “humans are themselves an effect of the space they create.”4 It is no surprise that architects should be drawn to such philosophy, which so explicitly assigns to the space-maker a godlike responsibility for the shaping of humanity.

Another explanation for his allure might lie in Sloterdijk’s capacity for the provocative use of illustrations: a capacity exercised in the pages of Spheres, where architectural images often predominate. The trilogy contains over six hundred illustrations, frequently unpredictable and unpredictably frequent, but always carefully deployed. If this is philosophy, it is illustrated philosophy—architecturally illustrated philosophy, to be precise. Those readers who lack the inclination to work their way through the five-inch thickness of text may prove more ready to scan the accompanying images; and if the conclusions drawn from such an approach should prove more suggestive than precise, that may not, perhaps, do too violent an injustice to the character of Sloterdijk’s argument. In fact the publisher contends that the book “includes a wide array of images . . . to offer a spatial and visual ‘parallel narrative.’”5 It is this parallel narrative that introduces the work of Uriel Birnbaum.

Roughly three hundred pages into the second volume, there appears a thickly outlined drawing reproduced in black and white, ← Fig. 1.1 captioned “Uriel Birnbaum, The Apparition of the Heavenly City (1921–22).” The image is bisected on the diagonal by a massive structure that forms a dark, fully architectural mountainside, composed of stepped terraces, flat-roofed rectang ular masses, arched openings, a vaulted roof, and a viaduct leading to an outlook tower. High up on a ledge stands a solitary figure, looking out over the void beyond. He raises one arm above his head, as if to shield himself against a startling apparition. And indeed, there appears before him a more distant structure, similar in some ways to that on which he stands, but brighter, rising from a substructure that might be interpreted as


billowing rock, and crowned with a great dome. An expanding series of concentric rings radiates from its spherical outline, as if it were transmitting a message to which the figure in the foreground must react.

Upon closer examination, Birnbaum’s appearance proves something of an enigma. There is no mention of him in the credits at the back of the volume, and there is no direct reference to him in the surrounding text. The reader must speculate as to Sloterdijk’s purposes in including the image.

That said, the immediately preceding images establish the context within which one might begin to interpret this parallel narrative. Leafing backward through the pages of the book, they include:

298: a plate from Hartmann Schedel’s 1493 world history, showing the domed Temple of Solomon at the center of Jerusalem’s concentric city walls, their towers overlooking the flatroofed structures within;

296: Mark Tansey’s 1986 “Doubting Thomas,” its incredulous protagonist gazing in astonishment into the void before him;

294: “ Demonstratio De Turris ad Lunæ Cœlum exaltandæ, ἀδυναμίᾳ, sive impossibilitate,” the graphic demonstration, from Athanasius Kircher’s 1679 Turris Babel, that the Tower of Babel could never have reached the heavens;

291: a 1547 etching by Cornelis Anthonisz showing the Tower of Babel at the moment of collapse, struck down by a sudden act of divine destruction;

287: a late-nineteenth-century photograph of German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann at Mycenae’s monumental Lion Gate;

284: the frontispiece of Johann Valentin Andreae’s 1619 Reipublicae Christianopolitanae descriptio, published in the same year as his Turris Babel, showing the utopian city centered on a towering “templum cum prytaneo,” the reference to antiquity giving architectural expression to the symbolic home of a unified people;

29 Babel Resurgent

275: a model of the city of Babylon as exhibited at Jerusalem’s Bible Lands Museum, the Babylonian temple-tower rising in the background within its walled enclosure;

272: a recent photograph of the city walls of Nineveh in modern Iraqi reconstruction;

266: images from Hans Hollein’s 1964 “Aircraft Carrier City in Landscape” series, created at a moment when the Viennese architect had declared man to be master over infinite space;

262: a 1664 drawing of a model of Noah’s Ark, built for the display of fireworks at the inauguration of Pope Innocent X;

261: a 1975 press photograph of Vietnamese boat people afloat in the South China Sea;

259: a fifteenth-century Lombard miniature of Saint Peter steering the barque of the church, with Christ at its center, and a group of text-wielding monks in the foreground facing a company of soldiers—the Word arrayed against the forces of violence; and last, or rather first,

257: a fourteenth-century Flemish miniature of Noah’s Ark afloat upon the flood, its inhabitants safe within the vessel’s architectural enclosure.

The sources of these images may be eclectic; but they tie Birnbaum’s drawing to a very specific set of associations. Those associations are broadly architectural, with the physical dimensions of architecture related to the metaphysical dimensions of human experience. As a group, they speak of containment and of protection from threatening space; of perimeter enclosure and of the definition of a center; of city walls and of city landmarks. Especially prominent is the figure of Babylon, with the tower of Babel in its midst. Babylon, the city and the tower: a city defined, according to the biblical account of Genesis 11, by a physical landmark that is in turn tied to metaphysical ambitions; a city legendary for its walls, a bulwark against the alienating space of the plain of Shinar. Babylon, city of cities, tower of towers.


Although Sloterdijk’s text rarely addresses the accompanying images directly, their parallel narrative is legible. But the illustration by Uriel Birnbaum stands in a curious relationship to this narrative.

Sloterdijk’s trilogy opens with a broad and familiar account of modernity’s peculiar anxieties: the emptiness of a newly infinite universe without a defining center, the loneliness of mortal existence in a world convinced “that there is nothing more to look for up there,” the coldness of a newfound freedom without clearly established boundaries, accompanied by the loss of perceived unity in an increasingly diverse culture.6 Taking tentative shape amid the Cartesian meditations of early modernity and rising to the surface in the wake of the Enlightenment, these seething anxieties are understood to have been churned by the currents of twentieth-century history before spreading out across contemporary global consciousness, feeding fears that appear repeatedly in ensuing chapters and find their most articulate expression in German: Raumangst, Weltangst, Todesangst—claustrophobia (literally, fear of space), fear of the world, fear of death. Again and again, the loss of center is tied to the corresponding absence of a defined perimeter: and these anxieties are articulated in geometric terms, understood through the metaphor of architectural form. The philosopher is already familiar with such anxieties: they were articulated in 1882 by the eloquent madman of Nietzsche’s Gay Science, to whom Sloterdijk refers in his opening pages. Like Nietzsche, Sloterdijk makes it clear that these anxieties are tied to the death of God, to modernity’s search for surrogates for what he describes as “traditional theological and cosmological narratives.”7 Indeed, the perceived need for such surrogates is the result of modernity’s conception of those narratives not as products of divine revelation but as human constructs: as structures that are best understood as forms of architecture, and that therefore, just like architecture, are susceptible to obsolescence.

It is immediately clear that the architectural analogy exposes further dilemmas. These dilemmas apply, not least, to philosophy itself. Philosophers, too, have thought of themselves as designers of structures of consciousness that might replace those

31 Babel Resurgent

“traditional theological and cosmological narratives.” Descartes, drawing on antiquity’s prioritization of geometry, insists on the architectural character of his work: “Throughout my writings I have made it clear that my method imitates that of the architect.”8 Kant in turn insists that human reason itself “is by nature architectonic” in its desire to construct a viable system of cognition, while acknowledging in the same breath that since the material available “nowhere allows a first or a starting point that would serve absolutely as the foundation for its building, a completed edifice of cognition on such presuppositions is entirely impossible.”9 His own system is likewise articulated in architectural terms, as an “architectonic of pure reason”—albeit anticipating a critique of the viability of the project to build a “tower that would reach the heavens.”10 Sloterdijk, in reference to Hegel, writes of the erection of philosophy’s “sublime constructions,” having tied the opening sentence of the Spheres trilogy back to Plato’s insistence on the value of geometry to the philosopher.11

Why such architectural enthusiasm on the part of the discipline of philosophy? And is it justified? After all, these architectural comparisons lead to questions that call into doubt the fitness of such substitute constructs.

“Well building hath three Conditions. Commoditie, Firmenes, and Delight.”12 If, for a moment, one were to accept Wotton’s 1624 assertion that the end of architecture is to build well, one might be inclined to require that philosophical structures meet the same conditions. Commoditie, Firmenes, and Delight. Commoditie is perhaps straightforward—the commitment to utility has a wellarticulated legacy in philosophy as in architecture. But firmenes is more elusive. Relative durability can be established empirically over time; but the call for categorical assurance prompts examination not only of superstructural coherence but also of philosophy’s foundation—and this is disputed ground. And delight? The demand that philosophy fulfil criteria of beauty is a heavy requirement—to quote Hegel, “the philosopher must possess just as much aesthetic power as the poet”13—and there is perhaps room for doubt that consensus will be any easier to come by in philosophy than in architecture or in other branches of poiesis.


What is abundantly clear is that architecture offers a vocabulary through which to articulate the anxieties of a godless modernity. Indeed, the discipline seems tied both to the problem and to the solution—both to the articulation of those insecurities and to their proposed remediation. Just as literal architectures are expected to provide physical security, so metaphorical architectures are expected to provide metaphysical security. And in this respect, Sloterdijk’s method is clear. It is architecture—or, more precisely, the city—that occupies the central position in his grand investigation of humanity’s consciousness. The reader is referred to Spengler’s Decline of the West in support of a grand assessment: “World-history [Weltgeschichte] is urban history.”14 Mankind is a city-building animal, and the city is understood as the foremost material and symbolic expression of human achievement—an assertion of cultural autonomy, the context and model for the plausibility structures of subsequent intellectual effort.15

Spengler refers to the city as the “Urphänomen menschlichen Daseins”: the “prime phenomenon,” the archetypal expression, of human being.16 In order to appreciate its original impact, modern readers must put themselves unreservedly “in the place of the wonder-struck primitive who for the first time sees this mass of stone and wood set in the landscape.” Sloterdijk reiterates this imperative, describing “the amazement of an early human” who for the first time sees the massive city loom on the horizon with its walls and towers.17 Such archetypal thinking is deemed important: the return to origins is held to play a clarifying role, stripping away the mystifying accretions of subsequent world-history. The architectural reader is reminded of the still more basic role of the primitive hut in the narratives of architectural essentialism; but if the hut operates at the scale of the individual, it is the city that responds to larger demands. As Spengler puts it, the “peasant’s dwelling” is “the great symbol of settledness” and “the condition precedent” for all else; but what the hut is to the peasant, the city is to the man of culture.18

Where is this ur-city, this Ur-Stadt ? It is tempting to look to the ancient city by the same name, once identified with the birthplace of the biblical patriarch Abraham, its earliest traces, dating

33 Babel Resurgent

6. The Master Builder

Architecture After God


On 26 October 1933, the morning edition of Berlin’s Vossische Zeitung—effectively Germany’s newspaper of record—published a recently circulated statement of solidarity. Signed by 88 writers and poets, the “Vow of Most Faithful Allegiance” was nothing less than a formal declaration of loyalty to Reichskanzler Adolf Hitler. Josef Ponten was among the signatories. Alongside commitments to such abstractions as peace, freedom and honor, the brief text suggested that loyalty to Hitler might receive more concrete expression. It juxtaposed the conscious exercise of power and unity with the insistence that this unity be built around submission to a central figure. And it tied these ideas in turn to the formidable architectonic task of Germany’s reconstruction (Wiederaufbau).1

What role might writers and poets play in such a project of reconstruction? Ponten was perhaps well equipped to answer this question—he was, after all, an architecturally trained author who had described his own writing in architectonic terms. He had characterized the writing of Der Babylonische Turm (The Babylonian Tower) as, itself, a project of construction, designating its chapters in terms of the rising levels of the book’s title; and he had built its narrative around a similar theme. He had also taken up the challenge of his own literary protagonist to assemble a collection of architectural projects that had not, as yet, been built: Architektur die nicht gebaut wurde (Unbuilt architecture).

In fact the “Vow of Most Faithful Allegiance” was only one of several similar declarations, articulating convergences and conflicts of loyalty that contested all areas of cultural production. In a November 1933 letter to his younger brother, Heinrich Mann had offered his own assessment. Referring to the short-lived chancellor Kurt von Schleicher, who had insisted not long before that Germany’s problems could be solved only by a strong man, Mann,


too, wrote of the task of renewal, albeit from an opposing perspective:

The betting is on a military dictatorship. . . . Not to be foreseen is where and when the real renewal will begin. No question but that it must be preceded by a long and difficult period. . . . Moreover, 88 “writers” have announced their support for the Führer.2

Indeed, in June of 1932 and February of 1933, Heinrich Mann had himself signed two versions of an “Urgent Call for Unity,” demanding the rejection of fascism. This document, too, made appeals to freedom, to concerted action, to the construction of defences. Its effects were immediate. The day after the public posting of the second declaration, Heinrich Mann was forced to withdraw from the Prussian Academy of Arts. Thomas Mann resigned within weeks, as the Academy required its members to affirm their loyalty to Hitler. Ponten, whose membership had originally been proposed in 1926 by Thomas Mann himself, remained a member until 1940. The friendship between Mann and Ponten had, by this date, already dissolved. Although efforts have recently been made to argue that Ponten was neither a Nazi nor a “fellow traveler,” given that his pacifist, cosmopolitan views did not align with those of the National Socialist party, consensus tends to settle around the charge that “Ponten was a conceited, pompous little man, focused on success and therefore prepared for any concession even toward National Socialism.” 3 The enjoyment of professional success, in the publication of books as in the construction of buildings, brought with it certain demands. Indeed, practicing architects were not immune to such pressures. On August 18, 1934, the Nazi party’s official newspaper published an “Artists’ Appeal,” signed not only by such party enthusiasts as Paul Schultze-Naumburg, but also by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe:

We believe in this Führer, who has fulfilled our fervent desire for unity. We trust his work. . . . We belong to the Führer’s


followers. . . . We demand for ourselves only that which we grant to other peoples without reservation; but we must demand it for this people—the German people—because we need and desire its unity, freedom, and honor.4

The motivations for affirming such a declaration are not hard to imagine. Mies van der Rohe, for one, emerges from this chapter as an architect for whom political considerations were distinctly subordinate to the desire to build. The anonymous journalism of an article in Der Spiegel offers a conspicuously unqualified assessment: “Mies wanted to build, no matter for whom—and so he built for communists and for capitalists and for republicans—preferably for patrons who would let him get on with it.”5 This statement amplifies more scholarly texts: Franz Schulze notes that Mies’s attitude in the early part of the 1930s “was a conflicted patchwork of indifference toward national politics in general, hostility toward Nazi philistinism in particular, dedication to architectural principle, and desire to build regardless of who asked him”6. As Schulze adds, “this was, after all, a man who within eight years’ time had designed a monument to a pair of Communist martyrs, a throne for a Spanish king, a pavilion for a moderately socialist government, and another for a militantly right-wing totalitarian state.”7 Ah, to build, to build! At the moment in 1934 when he declared his allegiance to the Führer, Mies was hoping to win from Joseph Goebbels a commission for the German pavilion at the 1935 world’s fair in Brussels—“Mies evidently wanted the commission at almost any price.”8 But Hitler rejected his submission, and in 1937 Mies was required to leave the Academy (signing the required letter of resignation with a dutiful “Heil Hitler!”9). The following year, he left Germany for America. Elaine Hochman has argued that “he left not because he opposed Hitler, but because Hitler had very strong architectural views. Mies left, in fact, because Hitler fancied himself an architect.”10

This statement has been vigorously disputed, not least because of its imagined implications for the dispute between aesthetics and ethics, not to mention the debate over the legitimacy of modernism.11 But if it is arguable whether Hitler’s archi-


tectural aspirations were indeed the reason for Mies’s departure, those aspirations themselves are harder to deny. Among the sites where they become visible are the pages of another book by Josef Ponten, which first appeared shortly after the publication of Der Babylonische Turm.

The Master

In 1919, Ponten published a short story entitled Der Meister (The Master).12 The protagonist is a Baumeister, a master builder or architect. To be precise, he is a Dombaumeister, a cathedral architect, employed as official guardian of one of Germany’s great Gothic cathedrals—“preserver of a great and proud structure.”13

Just as elsewhere in Ponten’s work, so here it is clear that the narrative can be read on more than one level; in this instance, the fate of the cathedral can be compared to that of Germany itself. The building’s integrity is threatened by a hidden structural weakness, and Ponten’s story is built around the architect’s search for a means to save it from imminent collapse. As the story unfolds, it becomes obvious that despite his claims to mastery, the architect is unequal to the task. Various strictly provisional measures have been put into place, plastering over evidence of structural flaws and painting the deteriorating components in bright colors (“with all that color, you don’t notice the cracks”14), but it is clear that a new approach is needed. The architect, whose name is Gottschalk, is at a loss.

Gottschalk is a name of ambiguous interpretation, its original connotation as God’s servant tainted by association with the figure of the rogue, or fool. Within Ponten’s account that ambiguity is doubtless intentional. As the narrative progresses, the promise of salvation appears in the person of Gottlieb (child of God, or, by folk etymology, beloved of God ), a new apprentice recently arrived from the cathedral at Strasbourg—a detail significant for any reader with a stake in the debate over Strasbourg’s national identity. He presents a less equivocal figure: a blond, blue-eyed youth, an orphan who adopted the life of the cathedral masons’

219 The Master Builder

lodge, the Dombauhütte, in awe of the structure’s transcendent significance (“it seemed not to have been built by human hands, but to have been placed into this world from outside, from the infinite”15). To Gottlieb’s mind, the Gothic cathedral stands as an expression of an “inner unity” of metaphysical dimensions.16 It presents a conceptually complete and coherent world of stone, in which the proportions of the crossing determine the dimensions of all other components:

From this measure unfold all the others, whether great or small. The width of the nave repeats three times in the height, and the height repeats three times in the length. Isn’t it wonderful? The unconscious instinct continues to play out this rhythm on the grandest scale, to infinity. And in the smaller elements of the architecture this same unity divides itself into the very smallest detail. . . . What wonderful order! This artificial world is utterly superior to the natural world. In the natural world you often think that this or that should be bigger or smaller. Here each thing is exactly as big or as small as it should be.17

This proportional argument, which ranks architecture as conceptually superior to nature’s created order, is soon reinforced by a stronger numerological assertion:

Art is man’s way of re-creating the world after God, and mankind is superior to God in producing meaningful order. But now comes the greatest, the most beautiful thing of all . . . This one, this unity that we have found and inflected to create meaning—this is precisely the power, the inscrutable something, the beginning and end of all numbers and harmonies. . . . We can master the two and the three, and with them all the others—but the one remains a mystery. It is pure number. It is neither even nor odd; it combines both, it makes up both. It originates from no other number; it is simply there, it is everything . . . it is God! For God is one, and one is without beginning and without end. How can that be


6.1, 6.2

Cover art (unattributed) for Josef Ponten, (top) Der Babylonische Turm (1918), and ( bottom) Der Meister (1942 military edition).

221 The Master Builder

made visible? Can it be represented in stone? Yes, it can—in fact, the stonemason does it all the time.18

Where does this reasoning conclude?

People describe the church as a house of God, and they have no idea, fools that they are, how accurate their words really are. For God does not inhabit it in some bodily fashion: it is the body of God, it is God. Everything is God, that is made with intent and with purity of heart.19

It is an assertion that recurs in similar form in Architektur die nicht gebaut wurde: “For wherever men build from the innermost longings of their lives and beings, that is where the holy emerges.”20 And it is perhaps not altogether surprising to discover that into this book, too, the author introduces the motif of Babylon. It appears in a dream, a fantastical vision that seems to flicker between images of Gothic cathedrals and of Babylonian monuments. At first reading, the associations seem incongruous. On the banks of the Euphrates, the cathedral itself takes on the form of Nebuchadnezzar’s palace. “Over there a great stairway with numberless steps worked its way upward. . . . Gothic angels made of stone . . . fluttered up and down the stair.”21 The author is never explicit as to the connection between the Babelic and the Gothic, and the motif is undeveloped. Yet its presence offers a curious counterpart to another anachronism, which is impressed onto Ponten’s publication of the previous year, Der Babylonische Turm. For the front cover of that book bears an illustration of a tower.22 And the architecture of that tower—rising, still unfinished, above the fabric of the surrounding city—is unmistakably Gothic. ← Fig. 6.1 The cover of a subsequent edition of Der Meister shows a comparable scene, the cathedral’s tower rising above the surrounding houses. ← Fig. 6.2 In fact there exist several versions of this cover. For Ponten’s book, which ends with both architect and apprentice plunging to their deaths from the scaffolding of the cathedral, was well received. By 1930, it could be stated that “The Master has now been generally accepted as a great book.”23 Described


6.3, 6.4 (top) Josef Ponten, Novellen (1937); Yale University Library copy. (bottom) Adolf Hitler’s copy of Josef Ponten, Der Meister (1933 edition): inscription.

223 The Master Builder

9. Death of the Architect

Architecture After God


The opening of Birnbaum’s story is bathed in a luminous tranquility. “The world was industrious, orderly and peaceful; thrift and contentedness rendered every circumstance attractive.”1 But it is evidently difficult to reconcile such happiness with the conditions of the immediate present. Instead, the narrator explains this vision by explicit contrast to an experience of suffering that is all too familiar. “No longer did hunger languish in growing hatred of wealth and power.” Whether in 1924 or today, the reader can understand descriptions of plenitude only in imagined contrast to more vivid present realities. Enveloping peace, tranquil prosperity, quiet contentedness: such abstractions are difficult to picture. But violence, hunger, poverty, and resentment—of these, modernity can guarantee direct and personal experience. Something similar can be said of the book’s subsequent architecture, which contributes, as the reader discovers, to the destruction of that quiet prosperity with which the story opens. The heavenly city is introduced as a dream, an immaterial abstraction; despite the intensity of its sumptuous splendor, the reader’s encounter with transcendence proves ephemeral. But the failed cities of the architect’s subsequent efforts are real, and enduring. Indeed, it is precisely their failures that sharpen, by way of contrast, the outlines of the heavenly city’s ideal form. This goes some way toward explaining the need for such a superabundance of architectural experiments. Each of the book’s 33 cities illuminates some aspect of the heavenly ideal; and it is in turn through perceived similarities between those cities and other architectures more familiar to the reader that the vision of the heavenly city gradually accumulates significance. That significance clearly extends beyond the boundaries of the emperor’s opening dream. For Birnbaum’s story is nothing less than a



(left) The Emperor (Der Kaiser) and (right) The Architect (Der Architekt) from Der Kaiser und der Architekt (1924).


critique of the new role assumed by architecture under the conditions of modernity. The memory of plenitude is never fully absent. The vision of the heavenly city serves as a constant point of reference, and the lingering memory of its enveloping peace drives the architect’s exertions. But that memory is also painful; for it becomes clear that the architect is not only the creator of formally magnificent and experientially powerful designs: he is also deeply implicated in shaping structures of dysfunction and oppression—and if his contribution to such injustice is not always deliberate, it is also not accidental. Indeed, it seems to be in the very nature of the exercise of his profession that single-minded ambition should proceed hand in hand with an inattention to collateral harm. The opportunity to build monuments to new laws proves more intoxicating than any commitment to old constraints. In its most ambitious articulation, architecture offers, after all, a thrill of power. “Ah, to build!”2

PLATES 1–2: THE EMPEROR, THE ARCHITECT If Birnbaum’s emperor maintains ties to older structures, the architect is a thoroughly modern character. The contrast is clearly articulated in the book’s opening plates, succinctly labeled “The Emperor” and “The Architect.” ← Fig. 9.1 The emperor sits “in the dusky darkness of his golden throne room”3—accessible to the reader only at the vanishing point of a long one-point perspective. Architecture here reinforces the structures of temporal authority, and the outline of the gilded throne behind the emperor’s head offers the faintest hint of a radiant aura. The surrounding shadows are alive with color. The architect, in contrast, works in the clear, cold openness of his glass-walled studio. There is no need here for perspective; the image is almost entirely flat, adopting the measured two-dimensionality of an architectural elevation. Above the hard lines of the tiled floor, there is little in the way of solid mass; instead, the space of the picture is defined by a gridded framework that measures out the incoming light into squares that make no distinction between horizontal and vertical. Here, amid this mathematical precision, the reader encounters the architect, bent over his drawings, the specificity of his features ceding to the silhouetted posture of



1923 interior view of the engine house at Walter Gropius’s Fagus Shoe-Last Factory, Alfeld an der Leine, built 1911–1925; photograph by Edmund Lill.

335 Death

9.3, 9.4

(left) Uriel Birnbaum, The Emperor’s Dream (Des Kaisers Traum), from Der Kaiser und der Architekt (1924); (right) Bruno Taut, The Building Site (Das Baugebiet), from Alpine Architektur (1919): detail.


the Architect his discipline. The creator is observed in the act of creation, his authority clearly drawn from the work of his own hands.4

Here, as elsewhere, it is hard to tie Birnbaum’s drawings to any singular precedent. And yet the general association is clear. The architect’s studio belongs to a lineage represented by a 1923 photograph that documents the interior of the powerhouse at Walter Gropius’s Fagus factory. ← Fig. 9.2 Its architecture epitomized “a modern, technological, and professional world” in which workers could be understood as “active subjects, masters of machinery.” As such, it “stood as a metaphor for faith in humane progress. The space and light of the architecture evoked the advent of a liberated and better world: the world of modern technology.”5

Here too, the physical domain of architecture expands to encompass an attitude toward metaphysics. If Gropius’s work is typically placed squarely within the tradition of modernist functional architecture—of a New Objectivity understood as an articulation of sober realism, a rejection of Expressionist excess— its description here aligns more directly with those redemptive claims advanced by the Expressionists and later interpreted by Colin Rowe “as a gospel—as, quite literally, a message of good news.” This, argues Rowe, explains its power: “For, when all the smoke clears away, its impact may be seen as having very little to do with either its technological innovations or its formal vocabulary. . . . One definition of modern architecture might be that it was an attitude towards building which was divulging in the present that more perfect order which the future was about to disclose.”6

Rowe goes on to excerpt from the words of Hermann Finsterlin an assertion that architecture’s goal is the construction of “the kingdom of heaven on earth.” The aspiration embedded in the lucid world of Birnbaum’s second plate is not, after all, so distant from that of the plate that immediately follows it: the vision of the heavenly city. ← Fig. 9.3

PLATE 3: THE EMPEROR’S DREAM Its description occupies no more than two paragraphs. Yet that is deemed sufficient. For one of the defining features of the heavenly city is its self-evidence. The vision is admittedly fleeting, its character more closely related to poetics than to science, its description more invested in the language of

Death of

light and color than in the vocabulary of analytic form. But the emperor is conscious that its architecture is perfect: it possesses that character ascribed by the writer of the book of Ecclesiastes to the work of God, whereby “nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it”7—the same character that is later ascribed by Alberti, echoing Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, to the perfect work of architecture, and taken up once more as a rallying cry by architects in the early twentieth century.8 Expressed in different terms, the heavenly city of the emperor’s vision is understood to possess the elegant simplicity of an instantly comprehensible geometric proof. It is an architecture of perfect communication, moving the emperor to breathless delight. And he saw that it was good.

The list of the city’s perfections can be extended. It is unique and yet comprehensive; it encompasses a spectrum of colors— “blue like the summer sky, purple like the sunset and emerald green like the early morning, fused with a milky white and a piercing black”—that combine to generate a sumptuous beauty. Multiplicity here resolves into unity without sacrificing diversity; and this polychromatic coherence is paralleled in its form, “appearing as a tangled throng of structures beyond count; and yet on closer examination the restlessness of small buildings always flowed together.” The city is both many and one, both limitless and contained—“small, and yet infinite.”9 Indeed, the reader may be reminded of that identity, unity and ontological security ascribed by Peter Sloterdijk to the architecture of the Mesopotamian city, defined both by its towering center and by its boundary condition. Not by coincidence, after all, does Sloterdijk illustrate his argument with Birnbaum’s drawing. Yet there are no traces here of the anxieties that are equal and opposite to the certitudes of the Mesopotamian city’s architecture: Raumangst, Weltangst, or Todesangst—fear of space, fear of the world, fear of death. On the contrary, the heavenly city elicits overflowing happiness: it possesses the redemptive powers ascribed to the shining city of Taut’s Alpine Architektur, ← Fig. 9.4 delivered by its architects to a grateful people for whom “Earth, previously a poor dwelling, shall become a good dwelling.”10 It possesses the


radiant centrality that also defines the dream of the city crown: it boasts that defining structure that is able by the very force of its architectural presence to lift the surrounding city out of the heaviness of earthly being. “The shining city was crowned by an immense golden-green dome, stretched above it all, seeming by the very thrust of its great vault to hold the city suspended in the heavens.”11 And for once, its boundary is not exclusive but inviting. The architectural function of the wall, elsewhere the marker of a hostile environment, a reminder of unresolved violence, is here redeemed.

To the contemporary reader, such perfection can prove irritating—it may answer to the fullness of Paradise, but it finds no correspondence in lived experience, and seems calculated instead to underline the abundant failures of all ready points of comparison. Of this discrepancy Birnbaum is aware. Yet the heavenly city plays a critical role within the structure of his narrative: for it serves to clarify the aspirations of the architect’s subsequent cities. The ideal, in other words, clarifies the real, in ways that become increasingly insistent as the story progresses. And the effect of the ideal is not restricted to the realm of metaphysics; it has a tangible impact on lived experience. That impact is, first of all, destructive: disrupting the emperor’s sleep, consuming his thought, undermining his contentment. But Birnbaum’s account makes it clear that it is precisely this that makes possible the work of the architect. It is the emperor’s discontent with present reality that prompts his turn to architecture—after dismissing, in the persons of the physician and priest, the competing practices of science and religion. The discipline of architecture is presented as a response to the consciousness of a fundamental flaw, here as in the opening chapters of Genesis: fig leaf, city walls, tower. And here as there, metaphysical anxieties and physical responses map onto one another in a recognizable pattern: exposure/covering, violence/enclosure, fear of dispersal/construction of identity.

PLATE 4: THE EMPEROR AND THE ARCHITECT Birnbaum’s reader does not wait long for a demonstration of the contrast between abstract ideal and solid reality. If the heavenly city represents an architecture that is perfectly comprehensible, the architect’s


first city is a systematic exercise in miscommunication. And just as the architectural reader may recognize himself in subsequent descriptions of Birnbaum’s protagonist (“eyes reddened by long nights without sleep, unwashed and unkempt, still wearing his work-stained drawing-smock”12), so he is here confronted with a scenario that is uncomfortably familiar. Arriving for his first client meeting, the architect listens but does not hear. He is interested only in the opportunity to develop his own voice, to articulate his own project, and he can barely conceal his contempt for his client’s architectural ignorance. “Feeling an urge to be alone with the visions that were bursting forth within him, he interrupted the emperor’s childish descriptions, suggested that he return one week later to review the developed plans, and left.” The architect values the client only as the means to achieve his own architectural ends. Architecture is not, after all, a service profession.

PLATE 5: THE PLANS The failure of comprehension is mutual. Returning as agreed, the emperor “stood helpless before the teeming red and black lines of the plans and elevations of the city, and stared even more helplessly at the complex sketches of individual building components, interrupted by page-long calculations.”13 Indeed, the miscommunication extends beyond the architect- client relationship. Just as the emperor fails to communicate with the architect, so the architect’s drawings fail to communicate design intent; and these in turn offer little more than an approximation, imperfect at best, to the eventual built reality—a reality that in due course will undermine the relationship between architect, patron, and public. Later stages in Birnbaum’s story spell out the progressive breakdown of mutual trust, as each new city is completed, each scheme falls short of its promise, and each party learns to doubt the intentions of the other. The very process of architecture assumes the form of a long chain of successive miscommunications, each tenuous link weighed down by negotiated contingency, by material instability, by tectonic complexity, by wearisome calculation, by interpersonal conflict, by the very gravity of earthly existence. The translation from ideal into reality is never straight and true, nor clear and distinct. Its distortions are the very stuff of contract documents, with which the practicing


architect is painfully familiar. Hence the conceptual superiority of unbuilt architecture. “The best of what is built, my son, is built only on paper.”14 This is, after all, another way of asserting the superiority of the heavenly city.

That misalignment, that all-too-predictable deviation from the true, has been deemed constitutive of human nature—“out of the crooked timber of humanity no straight thing was ever made.”15 Here too can be found a contrast between the ideal and the real. For within Birnbaum’s account, what is most consistent is the architect’s self-interest: the human animal’s impulse, if not controlled by a strong master or restrained by universally valid laws, to assert its will over others of its kind. Indeed, the suggestion that this assertion of will should be expressed most adequately in terms of architecture corresponds perfectly to Hablik’s conception of architecture as the exercise of power, or to Finsterlin’s description of architecture as “power made concrete, the will turned to stone.”16 That metaphor raises other associations too, tied in turn to the figure of the strong master: Kant’s sovereign (Oberhaupt), Nietzsche’s leader (Führer), or Ponten’s architect (Baumeister). Such terms sit uncomfortably alongside Taut’s assertion, in his inaugural Crystal Chain letter of December 1919, that “within the framework of cooperation, everything should be left to the free will of the individual.”17

The failure of communication exacerbates the imbalance in power. Birnbaum’s architect exercises his professional authority over the emperor, while resenting all the while his dependence on his client’s patronage. And yet that same miscommunication is productive. For it is precisely the failure to communicate that sponsors the extension of the project. This is true within the narrative scope of Birnbaum’s text: without such misunderstanding, there would be no 33 cities, no 50 pictures, no gloriously illustrated book. But it is also true, in more enigmatic ways, for the architectural project tout court. Within the client’s failure to articulate an exhaustive account of desire lies the architect’s opportunity for creative exploration; it is precisely because the drawing omits to communicate the predictable shortcomings of the design that the project is allowed to continue; and within the ultimate failure,

Death of the Architect


With necessary adjustments and not a little embarrassment, I find myself dispensing thanks to God, to country, and to Yale.

I am grateful to Karsten Harries, whose work first provoked my research at Yale, and whose writing remains the model for an engagement with architecture that takes seriously its entanglements with history, philosophy, and theology. I am also grateful to Kurt Forster, for planting seeds of curiosity; to Robert Stern and Deborah Berke, for nurturing them within a hospitable environment; to Karla Britton, Stanislaus von Moos, and Anthony Vidler, for their encouragement; and to Mario Carpo, Eckart Frahm, George Knight, Eeva-Liisa Pelkonen, and Emmanuel Petit, for their generosity along the way. Various groups have advanced my research. Preliminary work was presented to the long-suffering Society for Utopian Studies, and later speculations were tested on the Society of Architectural Historians. At a moment that proved formative for my writing, Julia Weber invited me to take part in a workshop hosted by the Comparative Literature department of Berlin’s Freie Universität. The Rare Book School’s Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in Critical Bibliography provided an enormous boost to my bibliographic expertise, as did the support of the Bibliographical Society of America. I am grateful to David Birnbaum at the Nathan and Solomon Birnbaum Archives in Toronto, whose helpfulness was aptly expressed in his readiness to underwrite the cost of a train ride home, eighty years later; to Karin Bürger at the University of Potsdam’s Moses Mendelssohn Center, who allowed me to spend unusually long hours in the Uriel Birnbaum Archive; to Kevin Repp at Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, who introduced me to Der Kaiser und der Architekt; and to the Rare Book and Special Collections Division at the Library of Congress. I thank David Marold and Bettina Algieri


at Birkhäuser for their patience; I thank series editor Reto Geiser for his faith; and I thank the anonymous reviewers of my manuscript for their advice.

I am grateful for my parents, Richard and Rotraut, who taught me to ask questions; for my brother Eric, who led the way; for Lydia, who did much to speed the writing of this book; and for Ella and Zanna, who did much to slow it down. This book is dedicated to the memory of my father, who liked the fourth chapter.

This would not be the first architectural text to express gratitude for royal patronage. But I owe a debt of thanks to HRH The Prince of Wales—now King Charles III—for making possible my incipient studies at Harvard several years ago. This book builds on his expressed commitment to an architecture that acknowledges its spiritual significance.

Finally, as prime recipient of gratitude, and notwithstanding the book’s title, I acknowledge the God to whom Uriel Birnbaum’s work was dedicated, and in whom we live and move and have our being.

New York City, September 2022



Kyle Dugdale teaches history, theory, and design at Yale School of Architecture. He holds an undergraduate degree from Corpus Christi College, Oxford, a professional degree from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, and a doctoral degree from Yale. A resident of New York City and a licensed architect, he has also taught at Columbia and at the City College of New York. He is a Senior Fellow in the Andrew W. Mellon Society of Fellows in Critical Bibliography. His research has been supported by the Society of Architectural Historians, the Bibliographical Society of America, and the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, and his work has been published in journals including Perspecta, Thresholds, Utopian Studies, and Wolkenkuckucksheim.


For God is in the heavens, and thou art on the earth: therefore let thy words be few. Ecclesiastes 5:1, with regrets.

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Kyle Dugdale
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