Page 1


ARCHITECTURE SCHOOL '$%(/01"-+./$'$,0(3$'(01-/6-% architecture education in North America, offering a chronological -3$/3($4 ,# 1-.(" **$5("-, March 7 1/2 x 10 1/4, 400 pp. 109 color illus., 161 black & white illus. $50.00T/ÂŁ34.95 cloth 978-0-262-01708-4

Three Centuries of Educating Architects in North America edited by Joan Ockman with Rebecca Williamson, Research Editor Rooted in the British apprenticeship system, the French Beaux-Arts, and the German polytechnical schools, architecture education in North America has had a unique history spanning almost three hundred years. Although architects in the United States and Canada began to identify themselves as professionals by the late eighteenth century, it was not until nearly a century later that North American universities began to offer formal architectural training; the first program was established at MIT in 1865. Today most architects receive their training within an academic setting that draws on the humanities, fine arts, applied science, and public service for its philosophy and methodology. This book, published in conjunction with the centennial of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA), provides the first comprehensive history of North American architecture education. Architecture School opens with six chronological essays, each devoted to a major period of development: before 1860; 1860–1920; 1920–1940; 1940–1968; 1968–1990; and 1990 to the present. This overview is followed by a “lexicon� containing shorter articles on more than two dozen topics that have figured centrally in archictecture education’s history, from competitions and design pedagogy to research, structures, studio culture, and travel. Joan Ockman is an architecture educator, historian, writer, and editor. Among the books she has edited are Architecture Culture 1943–1968, The Pragmatist Imagination, and Out of Ground Zero. Rebecca Williamson is Assistant Professor of Architecture at the University of Cincinnati.

8 1(-, */(,1 ,#,*(,$#3$/1(0(,& +. (&, New York Review of Books, Bookforum, Next American City, American Prospect, The Progressive, Mother Jones, UTNE Reader, E Magazine, Metropolis, Times Literary Supplement

HISTORICAL ESSAYS BY Stan Allen, Anthony Alofsin, Michael J. Lewis, Mary McLeod, Joan Ockman and Avigail Sachs, Dell Upton

LEXICON ESSAYS BY Annmarie Adams, Marvin Anderson, Kathryn H. Anthony, Gerald Beasley, Mary Anne Beecher, William W. Braham, Jean-Louis Cohen, Ruth Connell, Denise Costanzo, Dana Cuff, Paul Emmons, Thomas Fisher, Richard W. Hayes, DorothĂŠe Imbert, George Barnett Johnston, Tom Leslie, Mark Linder, Louis Martin, Brendan Moran, Jorge Otero-Pailos, Alan Plattus, Anthony W. Schuman, Madlen Simon, Molly Wright Steenson, Marc Treib, Michael Wakeford, Craig Wilkins, Rebecca Williamson



Architecture education in North America has had a unique trajectory spanning three centuries. Its origins were mixed. Architects in the U.S. and Canada initially acquired their skills through apprenticeship, a form of craft training adapted from England. They started to identify themselves as professionals by the late eighteenth century, but it would be another hundred years before programs in architecture—first modeled on the German polytechnic and then on the École des Beaux-Arts—were widely established in universities. These beginnings, with their “American” inflections, coalesced in the twentieth century into the institution known today. This book goes well beyond the story of Beaux-Arts to Bauhaus to reveal how architecture education took shape as a modern discipline and system of professional preparation. In the twenty-first century, as the university and profession confront the challenges of globalization, digital technology, environmentalism, and a market economy, architecture education’s evolution opens up important perspectives on the past and the future. ARCHITECTURE SCHOOL is the first comprehensive history of this subject ever published. It contains contributions by three dozen scholars and includes a chronological overview as well as a thematic lexicon. It is published on the centennial anniversary of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, Inc. Washington, DC Distributed by the MIT Press Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, Massachusetts 02142 Printed and bound in Korea


JOAN OCKMAN editor with REBECCA WILLIAMSON research editor

©2012 Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means (including photocopying, recording, or information storage and retrieval) without permission in writing from the publisher. MIT Press books may be purchased at special quantity discounts for business or sales promotional use. For information, please email or write to Special Sales Department, The MIT Press, 55 Hayward Street, Cambridge, MA 02142. Designed by MGMT. design This book was set in Replica and Brioni and was printed and bound in Korea.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Architecture school : three centuries of educating architects in North America / Joan Ockman, editor; with Rebecca Williamson. p.


Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-0-262-01708-4 (hardcover : alk. paper) 1. Architecture—Study and teaching—United States—History. 2. Architecture—Study and teaching—Canada—History. I. Ockman, Joan. II. Williamson, Rebecca. III. Title: Three centuries of educating architects in North America. NA2105.A73


720.71'173—dc23 2011034844 10










ARCHITECTURE SCHOOL THREE CENTURIES OF EDUCATING ARCHITECTS IN NORTH AMERICA published on the Centennial Anniversary of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, 1912–2012

JOAN OCKMAN editor with REBECCA WILLIAMSON research editor

Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture Washington, D.C. The MIT Press Cambridge, Massachusetts London, England

PART ONE Chronological Overview



Before 1860

Defining the Profession Dell Upton 66


The Battle between Polytechnic and Beaux-Arts in the American University Michael J. Lewis 90


Challenges to Beaux-Arts Dominance Anthony Alofsin 120


Modernism Takes Command Joan Ockman and Avigail Sachs 160


The End of Innocence: From Political Activism to Postmodernism Mary McLeod 202


The Future That Is Now Stan Allen

PART TWO Thematic Lexicon



Architecture School Buildings





Collateral Organizations


Community Engagement


Competitions and Prizes


Computing, Computer-Aided

Libraries Gerald Beasley

Marvin Anderson 266

Landscape Architecture DorothĂŠe Imbert

Anthony W. Schuman 260

Interiors Mary Anne Beecher

Rebecca Williamson 252

History, Theory, Criticism Louis Martin

Alan J. Plattus 248

Historic Preservation Jorge Otero-Pailos

Marc Treib


Nonprofessional Education Michael Wakeford

Design, Media Molly Wright Steenson 370 270

Professional Practice George Barnett Johnston

Degree Nomenclature Rebecca Williamson 374


Race and Diversity Craig L. Wilkins

Design Pedagogy Madlen Simon 380


Regional Factors Ruth Connell

Design/Build Richard W. Hayes 386


Research Brendan Moran

Disciplinarity Mark Linder 392



Structures, Construction, Building

Drawing and Representation


Paul Emmons

William W. Braham

Environmental Technology,


Studio Culture and Student Life Kathryn H. Anthony

Sustainability Thomas Leslie 402 313

Travel, Trips, Study Abroad Denise Costanzo

Ethics Thomas Fisher 409


Foreign Exchanges Jean-Louis Cohen


Gender Issues Annmarie Adams

Urban Design Dana Cuff

Collateral Organizations

was concluded, however, that the ACSA should conduct its own preliminary investigation.3 Out of these early meetings came the establishment of “standard minima,” a matrix of components of architecture

The Role of Professional and Academic Groups in Architecture Education

education that would serve as the basis for school accreditation for nearly two decades. A different set of criteria affecting the professional education of architects had already emerged

In the context of North American architecture education

at the end of the nineteenth century, when indi-

the term collaterals has come to refer to five interre-

vidual states separately instituted standards for

lated organizations: the American Institute of Architects

architectural registration. In 1897 the Illinois state

(AIA), founded in 1857; the Association of Collegiate

legislature approved the first architectural registra-

Schools of Architecture (ACSA), 1912; the National

tion act, based on the state’s recently established

Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB),

regulations for the medical and legal professions.

1919; the National Architectural Accrediting Board

Other states followed suit with their own registra-

(NAAB), 1940; and the American Institute of Architecture

tion examinations, until in 1919 twenty states came

Students (AIAS), formerly the National Association of

together to establish the NCARB.

Students of Architecture (NASA), 1956. This network of

of study, apprenticeship, and examination. Some

professional credentials and, as such, in the evolution of

states limited eligibility for the examination to grad-

architecture education.1

uates of recognized schools. The emerging systems

The collateral organizations owe their existence to a series of developments that began in the nineteenth

of registration of individuals thus also created a need to assess institutions. At a time when a stu-

century, when both the professional identity of the ar-

dent might find architectural coursework in a variety

chitect and the institutional identities of North American

of settings, the ACSA’s standard minima functioned

universities started to acquire distinct contours. Prior

as a means of determining both the adherence to

to that time the title “architect” might be applied to in-

agreed-upon standards on the part of institutions

dividuals engaged in a range of building activities; there

and the conformity of an applicant’s academic

was no single definition and no group to oversee the in-

preparation to those standards.

terests of architects as a class. The AIA ’s founding in 1857 launched a collective de-

By 1919 the three central components of architectural regulation were in place: the AIA , governing

bate on the architect’s professional identity and, through

professional practice; the ACSA , governing educa-

its Committee on Education, on related questions of the

tion; and the NCARB , governing registration. The

architect’s schooling.2 The debate intensified with the

relationship among these entities was characterized

emergence of new state universities in response to the

from the start by a degree of intimacy, as each was

Morrill Land Grant Acts of 1862 and 1890. Often located

inevitably involved in the affairs of the other, but

in rural areas or serving students whose parents had not

also of tension, as each sought to protect its own

had access to higher education, these universities de-

interests and autonomy.

manded the invention of not only new pedagogical models but also administrative ones.

These issues came to a head at the AIA ’s 1919 meeting. The war in Europe had recently ended and

In 1912, at a meeting of the AIA , a small group of

its impact resonated in the discussions. Speaking

men in charge of schools of architecture formed the

for the Illinois chapter, Thomas Tallmadge argued

Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. The

that the spirit of the architectural curriculum should

was intended to serve as a complement to—but

be “that of a new country and a new epoch, instead

not a replacement for—the Committee on Education.

of the past and ancient or modern European world.”

At their second meeting the following year, the ACSA

He further urged that the “so-called Beaux Arts sys-

members discussed the idea of asking the Carnegie

tem of elaborately rendered plans and elevations be

Foundation to support a study comparable to one that

changed,” calling on schools to move toward “the

had been undertaken by the medical profession, known

ultimate end of modernizing and Americanizing the

as the Flexner Report, which had surveyed the current

education of the Architect.”4 Warren P. Laird, rep-

state of medical education in the United States in 1910. It

resenting the ACSA , emphasized the uniqueness of



Registration typically involved some combination

organizations has played an instrumental role in defining

C architecture education, noting its differences from both

of Education and Research, calling for a “continual

professional practice and other university disciplines.

educational process” for AIA members. Taylor’s de-

In response, Dan Everett Waid, the AIA treasurer, coun-

partment subsequently commissioned a new report on

tered that practicing architects had a strong stake in

American architecture education and practice, once

architecture education.5 He recommended that the AIA

again underwritten by Carnegie. Entitled The Architect

exert its influence on state registration boards, which

at Mid-Century: Evolution and Achievement and edited

he saw as having a growing impact on school curricula.

by Banister, the study, which appeared in 1954 as the

The same 1919 meeting saw a renewed call for a com-

first volume of a two-part report, traced the evolution of

prehensive study of architecture education by an inde-

architecture education and practice from 1898 to 1950.8

pendent organization such as the Carnegie Foundation.

It called on both architects and architecture schools to

The ACSA finally realized this project in 1932 with the

engage more actively in addressing the new challenges

Carnegie-funded publication of A Study of Architectural

confronting the nation.

Schools by F. H. Bosworth, Jr., and Roy Childs Jones.

In support of the second of these goals, the AIA turned

Their report began with a description of the fifty-two

its attention to students. In 1955 it sponsored a forum

institutions in the United States and six in Canada offer-

that brought student delegates from sixty-three archi-

ing academic degrees in architecture. An accompanying

tecture schools to the AIA’s Octagon House headquar-

map revealed a clustering of programs around the North

ters in Washington, D.C. The delegates voted to form

American continent that left most of Canada, a broad

the NASA, and the AIA agreed to provide financial support

segment of the western United States, and a somewhat

for the group’s elected president.

smaller but still significant part of the southern United States with few or no schools of architecture. The Bosworth and Jones report argued strongly

In 1957, in a report that included a section titled “Student Problem,” the AIA ’s executive director detailed a long-standing effort to overcome the “disfavor”

against standardization and in favor of experimenta-

with which students tended to view older practicing

tion in the development of architectural pedagogies.


members and the AIA itself.9 He called the student

Following its publication, the ACSA abandoned the

forum held at the Octagon House a “fine public rela-

standard minima it had recommended earlier, and for

tions job” but expressed frustration at the reluctance

the next eight years architecture schools in the United

of both architecture school deans and students to take

States operated in the absence of a formal accreditation

part in AIA activities. The name NASA was changed to the

system. In 1940 the ACSA , AIA , and NCARB finally set up

Association of Student Chapters, AIA (ASC / AIA ) the fol-

the NAAB, but the establishing agreement stipulated that

lowing year, emphasizing the group’s connection to the

the intent was “not to create conditions, nor to have

parent organization.

conditions created, that will tend toward standardiza-

The AIA commissioned a third survey of architecture

tion of educational philosophies or practices but rather

education in 1964. Coauthored by Princeton dean Robert

to create and maintain conditions that will encourage the

Geddes and Bernard P. Spring and issued in 1967, this

development of practices suited to the conditions which

document, widely known as the Princeton Report, af-

are special to the individual school.”6

firmed the broadened pedagogical scope of architectural

The putting in place of a national accreditation system

studies by this date and argued for reframing them under

was more than a way to allay fears that ACSA “had not

the new rubric of “environmental design.” Emphasizing

always used due care in the admission of its members.”7

the necessity for architecture education to give gradu-

It was also an effort to deploy the tools of modern social

ates skills with “real world” applications, the authors

science research in an objective evaluation of the institu-

stressed that the student should be able to “constantly

tions and practices of architecture education. Arising

renew and adapt his abilities” in response to “continuing

at a moment of renewed faith in scientific methodolo-

changes in the social, economic, political, scientific, and

gies and research tools, the NAAB ’ s establishment thus

technological setting of our society.”10

seemed to offer an antidote to long-standing professional anxieties about the architect’s identity, prestige, and usefulness to society.

Collateral Organizations

The report proved so controversial that the ACSA enlisted Clark University psychology professor Bernard Kaplan to perform a “post-mortem” on it at a meeting

In 1947 the ACSA began publishing the Journal of

held in June 1968 in conjunction with the AIA ’s conven-

Architectural Education. Edited by Turpin Bannister,

tion in Portland, Oregon. Kaplan chose not to focus on

the inaugural issue included an article by Walter A.

the report itself, which he termed “pompous and plati-

Taylor, director of the AIA ’s newly created Department

tudinous.” Instead he examined the power struggle over


control of architecture education that it had brought to

schools came under pressure from several angles. In


their “underlying tensions and conflicts.”

1967 the NAAB was dissolved and reestablished as a


Also at the convention in Portland that June, against

separately incorporated agency with the same name, and


an explosive backdrop of assassinations, riots, and cam-

in 1971–72, through bylaw amendments, given additional


pus demonstrations around the United States, Whitney

responsibility for collecting data on the schools. In 1973,


Young, Jr., the executive director of the National Urban

however, the Department of Health, Education, and


League, gave an address to the AIA members in which

Welfare challenged the NAAB ’s failure to enforce mini-


he compared himself to “Stanley in reverse,” searching

mum standards of accreditation and threatened to dis-


the audience for a lone black representative who could

qualify it as an accrediting entity. The NAAB’s reluctance


be his Livingston. He did not mince words in calling the

to enforce standards was a vestige of the policy that had

profession to task for its failure to address the issue

been enshrined in its original charter prohibiting it from


of civil rights, stating that architects to date had been

promoting standardization. The ensuing debates led to


distinguished by their “thunderous silence and …

further restructuring in 1975, including, for the first time,


complete irrelevance.”11

explicit conditions, criteria, and procedures pertaining


to the accreditation process. The NAAB continues to


observe these today.13


Young’s speech marked the beginning of a turbulent period for the collateral organizations. A group of participants in a 1969 ACSA Teacher Seminar drafted a Black

The late 1970s through the early 1990s was a period


Minority Statement, echoing Young’s use of the term

in which the architectural profession enjoyed a rela-


irrelevance in describing the shortcomings of architec-

tively high level of popular appreciation and schools


ture education. It cited the lack of progress in enrolling

had expanding enrollments. The AIA celebrated its 125th


minority students in accredited programs and the dif-

anniversary in 1983 and the ACSA its 75th in 1987. The


ficulties experienced by many historically black schools

same year the ACSA elected its first female president,


(HBCU s) in gaining accreditation.12 Separately, a group

Blanche Lemco van Ginkel; five years later, in 1992–93,


of AIA members founded the National Organization of

the AIA followed suit with the election of Susan Maxman.


Black Architects (later National Organization of Minority

Another Carnegie Foundation report was issued, this


Architects, or NOMA ) at an AIA meeting in Detroit in 1971.

one authored by Ernest Boyer and Lee Mitgang and


published in 1996. Entitled Building Community: A New


dent group ASC / AIA , led by Howard University’s Taylor

Future for Architectural Education and Practice, it


Culver, seized the podium from the AIA president and de-

stressed the architect’s service mission in society.


At the AIA ’s 1970 convention, attendees from the stu-

manded attention to social problems. The group gained

The idea that architects should continue their edu-


in strength and autonomy over the next decade and a

cation throughout their career, first envisaged in the


half. Its budget and administrative structure expanded,

1940s, was ultimately codified in 1994 as the Continuing


and it initiated its own publication, Crit. In 1985 it incor-

Education System (CES). The CES is a set of require-


porated itself as an independent organization under its

ments for all AIA members, and it resembles those

current acronym, AIAS . In ensuing years the AIAS suc-

prescribed by some state registration boards. Of the

cessfully engaged in advocacy on student matters, nota-

eighteen hours of CES credits that each member must

bly calling for fair wages for student interns and, through

satisfy in a year, eight are required to be in the area

its Studio Culture Task Force, influencing the NAAB in

of health, safety, and welfare (HSW); unlike other CES

2004 to adopt standards related to “studio culture”

credits, these cannot be obtained and reported through

as part of the accreditation process.

self-study. Beginning in 2009 four hours of sustainable

The 1970s also saw the birth of the Intern-Architect


Meanwhile, the system of accrediting architecture

the surface, calling on the AIA and the ACSA to address

design credits also became obligatory.

Development Program. This was created by the NCARB

In 1993 yet another organization affecting the teach-

and AIA to structure the apprenticeship period between

ing and practice of architecture emerged when a group

the completion of a professional degree and the registra-

of architects and others involved in various aspects

tion exam. While individual state licensing boards set

of construction joined with environmental scientists

internship requirements for professional practice prior

to form a private nonprofit corporation known as the

to admission to the registration exam, the IDP instituted

United States Green Building Council (GBC ). In 1994

a system of mentorship by AIA members and defined

members of the group began developing the Leadership

a set of skills for interns to acquire through their

in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED ) system,

on-the-job experience.

which was formally launched in 1998.




C Both the GBC through its LEED system and the AIA

through CES —in particular through its HSW

and sustainable design criteria—have laid claim to determining what constitutes a healthful and safe environment. Both have also sought to expand the architect’s role as an arbiter of the public good. At the same time, as some of their educational services are implicitly bound up with particular materials and construction techniques, they have had to be vigilant about maintaining their independence from commercial interests. The collateral organizations have worked to advance the interests of society at large by assuring that architects possess the credentials necessary to carry out their work. They have also negotiated the (often competing) agendas of their various constituencies of students, faculty, and practitioners. Finally, and not least, they have striven to enhance the prestige of the profession and to make architects indispensable in the construction of the built environment. Yet architects are responsible for just a small fraction of what is built, sharing responsibility with an increasingly broad array of trades and disciplines. Some of these seek recognition of their own professional credentials, while others function outside the reach of regulations. Meanwhile, the architect’s role has itself evolved, tending toward both diversification, with architects exerting professional competency in related areas such as landscape, interior, and urban design, and specialization, with some practices focused on a single building type or process. These interrelated factors revive old questions about the standardization of architecture education and about the unity and autonomy of the profession that have long been at the core of North America’s institutional conversations about architecture. Rebecca Williamson

1 Canada has its own counterpart to the AIA in the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada. The RAIC was founded as the Institute of Architects of Canada in 1907; its name was changed in 1909 to reflect its affiliation with the Royal Institute of British Architects. The Canadian counterpart of the NAAB is the Canadian Architectural Certification Board, which both accredits schools and certifies the credentials of candidates for registration. While most regional licensing authorities in Canada recognize the NCARB Architect Registration Exam, some groups are working toward the implementation of an Examination for Architects in Canada (EXAC). 2 Other professional associations in North America likewise date to the nineteenth century, including the American Medical Association (founded 1847) and the American Bar Association (1878). Europe too saw the founding of architectural institutes and societies in the nineteenth century, including the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1834 and the Société des architectes diplômés par le gouvernement in France in 1877 (subsequently Société française des architectes). 3 ACSA,

Minutes of the Second Annual Meeting, New York, December 27, 1913, citing Abraham Flexner, Medical Education in the United States and Canada (New York: Carnegie Foundation, 1910). Bound volumes of the ACSA meeting minutes and proceedings referred to here are held at the offices of the ACSA in Washington, D.C.

8 The second volume, edited by Francis R. Bellamy and titled The Architect at Mid-Century: Conversations across the Nation, consists of transcriptions of ten conversations held in different cities across the United States with “selected groups of highly intelligent Americans on the immediate future of our country and the kind of professional education which that future calls on our educators to provide for our young men and women” (ix).

Collateral Organizations

9 Report of the Executive Director, Report of the Chapter Affairs ff Committee, February 15, 1957, 43. AIA,

10 Robert L. Geddes and Bernard P. Spring, A Study of Education for Environmental Design: Final Report, sponsored by the American Institute of Architects, Princeton University, December 1967, 9. 11 Proceedings of the 100th Convention of the American Institute of Architects, Portland, Oregon, June 24, 25, 26, 1968, 136. AIA,

12 Black Minority Statement, issued at the 1969 AIA/ACSA Teacher’s Seminar and adopted, with a minor modification, in the Proceedings of the 1970 ACSA Annual Meeting, 4. 13 National Architectural Accrediting Board, Inc. Governance History, October 28, 2008; provided by NAAB.

4 AIA, Proceedings of the Fiftysecond Annual Convention of the American Institute of Architects, Nashville, Tennessee, April 30 and May 1 and 2, 1919, 86. 5 Laird was dean of architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. Waid, who served as treasurer of the AIA from 1915 to 1923 and president from 1924 to 1926, was chief architect of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company in New York for over three decades. 6 AIA, ACSA,

and NCARB, Agreement Establishing a National Architectural Accrediting Board, 1940, 2.

7 Goldwyn Goldsmith, letter to ACSA member schools, April 25, 1938. Compiled with ACSA annual meeting minutes.


Degree Nomenclature

by Ware as early as 1872, but took several years

“Elegant Swords”: A Profession

Committee on Education noted a trend among the

in Pursuit of an Academic Identity

schools to extend the four-year undergraduate cur-

to implement. By 1902 the American Institute of Architects’

riculum with a fifth year. This both allowed graduates The craft of architecture, with modes of transmission of

of four-year programs an opportunity for an additional

know-how acquired over centuries, fits uneasily within

year of concentrated study in design and, in some cases,

the modern university system, a relatively recent inven-

offered students matriculating from less-established

tion whose framework of divisions of knowledge affords

schools a year of study at a prestigious institution.5 In

architecture no obvious home. As one of the founders of

1906 Columbia and Harvard both began requiring pre-

the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture put

professional general studies at the collegiate level as a

it in 1919, it occupies “a ground not recognized as either

prerequisite for architectural studies. At Columbia, this

letters or science … broadly speaking, [it] must be char-

involved two years of studies prior to entering the four-

acterized as art and, as a trembling infant in the stern

year architecture program, for a total of six years of uni-

family of letters and science, it has very little chance

versity study. Harvard required an undergraduate degree

of recognition.”1

for entrance into a three-year graduate program, making

The first collegiate program in architecture in North America to grant a degree in architecture appears to have

While the majority of architecture programs were still

been the short-lived Polytechnic College of Pennsylvania.

within engineering departments, an increasing number

Primarily an engineering program modeled after European

were located in fine arts departments or in schools or

polytechnical schools, the college offered courses leading

colleges of architecture. The majority of schools still of-

to a Bachelor of Science in architecture at least as early

fered a four-year B.S.Arch. degree, but the B.Arch. de-

as 1870.2 For reasons that are unclear, this program was

gree was gaining popularity. Overall, the picture was one

quickly forgotten. Most histories of architecture educa-

of diverse administrative and curricular structures and

tion maintain that Nathan C. Ricker was the first person

degree types.

to receive an architectural degree in North America,

In 1912, at the first meeting of the ACSA , there were

in March 1873. Granted by Illinois Industrial University

enough experienced architectural administrators in at-

(which later became the University of Illinois), the degree

tendance to be able to make comparative judgments

recognized Ricker’s completion of a course of studies

regarding curricula, degrees, and other matters. The

that he and his instructors had assembled from the of-

result was the production of the so-called standard

ferings of an engineering school in a university that had

minima charts. Beginning with a preliminary compila-

been in existence for only a few years.3 At Massachusetts

tion in 1913 and continuing every few years for the next

Institute of Technology, where William R. Ware was hired

two decades, these charts listed the member programs

to create an architecture program in 1865, the school

and their curriculum characteristics, including prereq-

waited until 1868 to admit its first students and gradu-

uisites for admission, duration of studies, degree type,

ated its first class three months after Ricker.

and the percentage of time spent in various curriculum

The Bachelor of Science in Architecture (B.S.Arch.),

components, including design, drawing, history, graph-

emphasizing the scientific side of the discipline and re-

ics, construction and practice, engineering, and general

flecting the influence of German polytechnical educa-

studies. Figure 154 The 1913 chart notes discrepancies

tion, was the standard degree offered by most schools

among the curricular data and the difficulty in compar-

until the end of the nineteenth century. The nomencla-

ing the content of programs offering Bachelor’s degrees

ture was not uniform, however. Syracuse and Cornell

with others, such as Harvard and Columbia, functioning

instead offered a Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch.)

primarily as graduate programs and requiring college-

degree, emulating the custom of named professional de-

level studies prior to admission.

grees in law, medicine, and theology.4 In addition, several


the total course seven years.6

The establishment of graduate programs in architec-

of the early degree-granting schools quickly set out to

ture continued during and after World War I, reflect-

establish postgraduate programs, judging that four years

ing a wider trend in North American universities, with

was not sufficient for thorough architectural training.

B.Arch., M.Arch., M.A., and M.S. in Architecture degrees

Such programs emerged at M.I.T., Illinois, Cornell, and

variously representing an additional year of study after

Columbia. The graduate program at M.I.T. was described

the Bachelor of Science degree and a total of five or six

D Degree Nomenclature

years of study.7 In 1915 the University of California con-

Figure 154

verted its five-year degree to a model that would later

Comparative chart of architectural curricula at twenty-eight schools compiled for a preliminary report

become known as “four-plus-two”: four years of undersional degree, followed by a two-year graduate curricu-

concerning “standard minima”—minimal requirements for an architectural degree—presented to the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture,

lum leading to a professional degree.8

December 1913

graduate professional curriculum leading to a nonprofes-

The schools also found themselves facing the effects of World War I. The enlistment of students decreased

men had to complete five years for the same degree.

enrollments by half, while demands for content with

Among the differences between the two programs, men

direct application to national needs put pressure on cur-

were required to participate in the university’s coopera-

ricula. In response, the ACSA adopted a resolution in

tive education program (based on alternating cycles of

1918 urging their member schools to “amplify, extend,

professional work and academic studies) and to undergo

or, if necessary, temporarily modify curricula by means

military training.11

of optional or elective courses as to meet adequately—

In addition to debating the duration of studies, the

but without ultimate detriment to their existing teaching


systems—the present urgent demands placed upon the

technical and general studies. These issues came under

architectural profession in war service.”9

discussion in 1922 as educators compared practices in

The war’s end brought new calls to increase the

weighed the proper balance and sequencing of

North America with those in European countries and

length of first professional degree studies from four to

discussed the matter of “mental training.” They asked

five years.10 The University of Cincinnati, whose archi-

whether it was best to start the student “at an early

tecture school was founded during this period, offered

age in the technical training in design to the neglect of

both four- and five-year degrees dependent on gender:

his broader education,” or to “start him with a broad

women could receive a B.S.Arch. in four years, while

academic education, followed by a technical training in


design with the possible danger of his creative facul-

years; the Master’s should include a minimum of twenty-

ties for design having been atrophied by forced neglect

five percent additional course content. The committee

during his academic training,” or else to “train him in the

further called for the implementation of a Doctor of

technical work at the same time that he is carrying on

Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree. The latter should represent a

work of broad academic nature.” They concluded that

minimum of one additional year of “qualitative study” be-

the third approach—concurrent technical and academic

yond the Master’s degree, followed by a thesis based on

study—was most advantageous.


Reflecting back on these debates a decade later, F.H. Bosworth, Jr., and Roy Childs Jones, the authors of a

independent research. The committee did not distinguish between the B.S. and the B.Arch. degrees in its report, nor between the M.S. and the M.Arch. Its report pro-

major study of architecture education in North America

voked wider debate, however, and subsequently the ACSA

published in 1932, commented that while the intention

membership resolved to recommend the discontinuation

of lengthening professional degree studies had been

of the word “science” in architectural degrees.

to spread out the technical content over a longer

In 1931 ongoing concerns about matters of nomencla-

period so as to “allow for a broadening of training by

ture led ACSA president and University of Oregon dean

the inclusion of so-called cultural studies,” the result

Ellis F. Lawrence to form a Committee on Simplification

of the shift by the majority of schools to a five-year

of Degrees.15 Writing to Lawrence that year, Joseph

curriculum had been a net increase in technical content

Hudnut took a different position from the one he had

with only a marginal increase (of three credit hours)

endorsed as a member of the ACSA ’s degree nomencla-

in nontechnical subjects—thus a lesser proportion of

ture committee in 1927. He characterized the diversity

general studies than in the four-year curriculum.13

of degrees as lending “color” to educational processes

The period between the two world wars also saw the

and quipped that color might be more important than

emergence of an increasing variety of curricular models

clarity. At the same time, he described all college de-

in response to new technologies, pedagogical theories,

grees as “survivals of the mediaeval hocus-pocus,” com-

and stylistic directions arising in North American soci-

paring them to the “elegant swords carried by admirals

ety and also arriving from abroad. With Bosworth as its

in the conning towers of submarines. Pretty, but not

president, the ACSA undertook in 1927 to examine the

worth a headache.”16

question of degree nomenclature again. A committee

Bosworth and Jones seemed to concur in their 1932

made up of Joseph Hudnut, G. H. Edgell, and Everett V.

report. Citing Hudnut’s letter, they remarked upon the


Meeks presented a report aimed at relieving the “confu-

proliferation of degree types representing anywhere

sion and misunderstanding” resulting from the prolif-

from four to eight years of study, observing:


eration of degree types—eleven at this time—and the lack of “a universally accepted standard of requirements either in respect to work done or time required for the completion of work.”14 The committee reported that the reaction of deans to the question of whether they might consider changing their degree nomenclatures was: … a hesitant, but unmistakable, negative. The argu-


As representing approximately the same training the


degrees have little meaning. Logic or reasonableness


has nothing to do with them. Any attempt to “reform” them immediately runs foul of every variety of snag in the form of long-established academic tradition in this, that, or the other university.17 The same year the Bosworth report appeared, the ACSA

ments are, first, that the degree of each school has been sanctified by an infinitely venerable tradition to

acknowledging the variety of pedagogic experiments tak-






ing place across North America.18 Whether despite or be-


cause of the grim economic climate, the Depression era


coincided with a renewed move toward longer courses


of study, greater breadth of general education, and more


graduate degree options. By 1935, about two-thirds of


architecture schools had instituted the five-year B.Arch.,


making it the dominant degree designation. Several years


later, though, another war brought a new set of exigen-


The committee recommended, however, that a

cies. Schools acted to shorten the time required for


Bachelor’s degree be awarded at the completion of four

active study in order to release their students to serve.


years and a Master’s degree at the completion of five

Many compressed five years of professional coursework


touch which would inflame to fever pitch an excitable and violent alumni; second, that there are boards, committees, corporations, senates, and faculties of such ponderable if intransegant [sic] natures that they have never been known to do anything whatever; and third, who is the Association of Collegiate Schools anyway, and why would it dictate?


abandoned its standard minima recommendations,


D Degree Nomenclature



Figure 155

Over the course of the 1960s and into the 1970s many

“Modular Framework for Environmental Education,”

programs began to convert their five-year B.Arch. pro-

from Robert L. Geddes and Bernard P. Spring, A Study

grams into the “four-plus-two” format that had been in-

of Education for Environmental Design: Final Report (also known as the Princeton Report), Princeton University, 1967

troduced decades earlier. In 1960 Washington University in St. Louis was among the first schools to institute this change, awarding the B.Arch. degree at the end of the

into four, and educators once again asked how they could

sixth year. Just a few years later, however, in the midst

prepare students to contribute to the national cause.

of the Vietnam War and escalating call-ups in the draft,

With the end of World War II, the emergency mea-

B.Arch. students reported that draft boards were reject-

sures were reversed and graduate education expanded

ing their petitions for deferments for the fifth and sixth

once again in the United States in line with a compre-

years. In response, the faculty hastily voted a change in

hensive plan put forward in 1948 by the President’s

degree nomenclature, transforming the B.Arch. into an

Commission on Higher Education. In 1949 the National

M.Arch. and thus enabling deferments.20

Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB ) established five

The preference for the four-plus-two format was

years as the minimum length of study for an accredited

reaffirmed in a new study sponsored in 1961–63 by the

program, and the majority of schools adopted this model.


Another AIA -commissioned study, published in 1954 and

port led by the deans of the University of Pennsylvania,

entitled The Architect at Mid-Century: Evolution and

M.I.T., and Washington University. The latter report also

Achievement, reflected on the desire to produce better-

called for a standardized definition of advanced degree

educated professionals, but also voiced concerns about

names, although this was not implemented. At the same

the rising cost of education, noting that longer time in

time, reflecting the call for a more interdisciplinary and

school meant more tuition and delayed entry into the

integrated education in the 1960s, as well as the grow-

workforce—luxuries out of reach of many students,

ing number of urban and regional planning and landscape

even in a thriving economy.19

architecture programs allied with architecture schools,

and again in a 1965 Graham Foundation–funded re-


the concept of environmental design education came

conceived as a way to raise the profession’s prestige

into currency.21 The 1967 “Princeton Report,” authored

both publicly and in academia. To date there has been

by Robert L. Geddes and Bernard P. Spring of Princeton

no clear consensus as to whether such a degree should

School of Architecture, paired the four-plus-two model

involve a substantively more rigorous course of study,

with this concept, proposing a “modular jointed frame-

or simply amount to an upgrading of the B.Arch. and

work” to organize a curriculum of preprofessional stud-

M.Arch. nomenclature.24 In 1991, with this debate in

ies pertinent to architecture and related disciplines.

the background, the five presidents of the collateral

Represented in the report by a graphic image resembling

organizations—ACSA , AIA , AIAS , NAAB , NCARB , and AIAS

a toy, it consisted of six interlocking curricular compo-

(American Institute of Architecture Students)—called

nents that were meant to prepare students for any of

for a single-degree nomenclature to be instituted by

938 possible careers in environmental design, based on

January 1, 2002, while at the same time affirming that

computer-generated calculations.22 Figure 155

“the needs of the various constituencies served by ar-

The Princeton Report provoked more negative than positive reaction and ultimately had little impact on the

program structures leading to that degree.”25 In 1996, another comprehensive report on the sta-

tionship between academic studies and on-the-job train-

tus of architecture education, by Ernest Boyer and Lee

ing. In 1978 the AIA and the NCARB (National Council of

Mitgang, revived the debate over the academic and pro-

Architectural Registration Boards) instituted the Intern-

fessional components of an architect’s formation. The

Architect Development Program, regulating the system

profession’s recurrent laments about the inadequacies

of apprenticeship that had existed informally since the

in the preparation of graduates were met by calls for

beginning of architecture education in North America

recognition of the schools’ role in fostering disciplinary

and giving structure to the technical experience archi-

innovation.26 Meanwhile, the January 1, 2002, deadline

tecture graduates were acquiring in offices. In principle,

passed, leaving the landscape of degree nomenclature

the IDP should have alleviated some of the pressure on

cluttered with an increasing number of subspecializa-

schools to train future professionals for practice, leaving

tions, certificates, joint degrees, and other options

them freer to focus on broad-based education. However,

available to students. Around 2004 some schools began

debates about the respective roles of the academy and

retroactively awarding M.Arch. degrees to prior gradu-

the profession in the architect’s formation carried on.

ates of their B.Arch. programs.27 The same year, the NAAB -accredited

ther growth of graduate studies. Harvard had approved

years of debates about degree nomenclature in archi-

doctoral degrees in architecture, landscape architecture,

tecture and repeated calls for simplification, the early

and city planning as early as 1942, although these pro-

twenty-first century has witnessed a further diversifica-

grams remained largely dormant, and the architecture

tion of degree types.

tance of candidates.23 The University of Pennsylvania initiated its own Ph.D. program in architecture in 1964, and in ensuing decades similar programs emerged at a number of institutions. Harvard revived the Ph.D. in architecture and instituted a shorter research-based Doctor

P R a l i ( o

T c a R S t A P

A H A P ( 1

University of Hawaii became the first school to offer an

tion of degree types, especially in the context of the fur-

and landscape programs soon suspended their accep-

T o B d c t “ I t 1 e n

chitectural education will be best met by a diversity of

schools. By the 1970s attention shifted toward the rela-

The 1970s and 1980s also saw a continuing prolifera-

W t t A A

D.Arch. Despite more than a hundred

Rebecca Williamson

H t e o d y a i u g s a t m M


of Design program in 1985. At first these research- and theory-based programs tended to attract practitioners and educators who already possessed professional

W l 1

credentials, although they adhered to scholarly standards and their curricula were kept separate from the professional degree programs. In a different development, a movement emerged at the end of the twentieth century in support of a professional Doctor of Architecture degree (Arch.D. or D.Arch.). Granting architects a status comparable to that of lawyers, doctors, and dentists, the degree was


M C P 4

M t a m D

D 1 Warren P. Laird, in Proceedings of the Fifty-Second Annual Convention of the American Institute of Architects, Nashville, Tennessee, April 30–May 2, 1919, 86. 2 The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on June 30, 1870, that Clarence Binder received a Bachelor’s degree in architecture. See the chapter by Michael J. Lewis in this book and Jeffrey Cohen, “Building a Discipline: Early Institutional Settings for Architectural Education in Philadelphia, 1804–1890,” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 53, no. 2 (June 1994): 139–83. 3 Paul Kruty, “Nathan Clifford Ricker: Establishing Architecture at the University of Illinois,” in Lillian Hoddeson, ed., No Boundaries: University of Illinois Vignettes (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2004), 3–14. 4 Turpin C. Bannister, ed., The Architect at Mid-Century: Evolution and Achievement, vol. 1 of the Report of the Commission for the Survey of Education and Registration of the American Institute of Architects (New York: Reinhold Publishing Corporation, 1945), 151. 5 Arthur Clason Weatherhead, The History of Collegiate Education in Architecture in the United States, Ph.D. diss., Columbia University (Los Angeles: privately published 1941), 141. 6 Harvard long stood alone among the early programs, with an exclusively graduate program offering only the M.Arch. This degree was awarded after three years of graduate study following a four-year undergraduate degree in another subject, although the university instituted an undergraduate major in architectural sciences for students desiring a preparatory program, effectively producing a four-plus-three model. Bannister, The Architect at Mid-Century, 148. 7 Ibid., 418. 8 Weatherhead, History of Collegiate Education in Architecture, 136. 9 Minutes of the ACSA Executive Committee Meeting, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, April 23, 1918, 49a, 49b. 10 Minutes of the Joint Meeting of the ACSA Executive Committee and a Sub-Committee of the AIA Committee on Education, Washington, D.C., May 3–4, 1920, 70.

11 Plan of Study, School of Applied Arts, University of Cincinnati Catalogue, 1924–1925, 363–73. 12 Minutes of Eighth Annual Meeting of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, June 5–6, 1922, 92. 13 F. H. Bosworth, Jr., and Roy Childs Jones, A Study of Architectural Schools (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1932), 70. 14 Minutes of the Fourteenth Annual Meeting of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, May 9–10, 1927, Appendix C, 1. 15 Minutes of the Eighteenth Annual Meeting of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, April 13–14, 1931, 1, 15–17. 16 Ibid., 3–4. 17 Bosworth and Jones, A Study of Architectural Schools, 95.

became the first school to convert a five-and-a-half-year B.Arch. degree to an M.Arch. degree. The total number of credits was equivalent to that of six-year programs; however, the reduction in the duration of studies set off a controversy within the ACSA.

Degree Nomenclature

25 ACSA News, September 1991, 10. See also Joanna Lombard, “LL.B. to J.D. and the Professional Degree in Architecture,” in Dominique Bonamour-Lloyd and Lawrence W. Speck, eds., Architecture: Material and Imagined. Proceedings of the 85th ACSA Annual Meeting and Technology Conference (Washington, D.C.: ACSA, 1997), 589. 26 Reed Kroloff, “How the Profession Is Failing the Schools,” Architecture, August 1996, 92–93; Robert Segrest, “The Architecture of Architecture Education,” Assemblage 33 (1997): 76–79. 27 Robert Ivy, “Homecomings,” Architectural Record, November 2004, 17.

18 Weatherhead, History of Collegiate Education in Architecture, 200. 19 Bannister, The Architect at MidCentury, 231. 20 Constantine E. Michaelides, “The School of Architecture, 1973–1993: A Personal History,” in Eric Mumford, ed., Modern Architecture in St. Louis: Washington University and Postwar American Architecture, 1948–1973 (St. Louis: School of Architecture, Washington University in St. Louis, 2004), 104. 21 Robert F. Hastings, S. C. Hollister, and G. Holmes Perkins, Report of the Three-Man Commission (Washington, D.C.: AIA, 1963); and G. Holmes Perkins, Robert F. Hastings, Eugene J. Mackey, Lawrence B. Anderson, and Joseph R. Passonneau, “Blueprint ’65: Architectural Education and Practice,” in AIA Journal, October 1965, 53–57. 22 Robert L. Geddes and Bernard P. Spring, A Study of Education for Environmental Design: Final Report, sponsored by the American Institute of Architects, Princeton University, 1967, 30–31. 23 Anthony Alofsin, The Struggle for Modernism: Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and City Planning at Harvard (New York: W. W. Norton, 2002), 301. 24 In 1996, under Dean Martin Harms, Texas Tech University


Voices of Waste Rebecca Williamson

Duisberg Industrial Landscape Park, Peter Latz + Partner, photograph by author




Sustaining and Preserving: “Historic Preservation” and “Sustainable Design” are two sides of the same coin: how we deal with our surroundings and the stuff within them.1 We make stuff; we use stuff, and then, at some point, we may change how we use it or stop using it all together. When we are done with an object, we “throw it away.” By this we imply that we make it go somewhere else, but where? If it is relatively small, it goes in a bag or a bin or out the window. We forget about it, yet it may stay where it landed or continue on a journey, sometimes farther than we ourselves will ever travel. If it is large, say a broken car or an unused building, then it might sit for a long time in the same spot before being re-absorbed into the landscape or succumbing to a more or less violent pillage and reclamation of materials. These two “environmental” movements have roots dating back as early as the 19th century, sometimes with links to religious, moral and nationalist agendas that bore other, less benign offspring.2 Both movements are today nearly unanimous priorities within architecture and related fields. What is not always evident, however, is the way the two domains relate to one another conceptually and how they represent a set of ethical choices that force us to define our place in the world and our responsibilities. Policies, procedures, regulations and labels abound, often resulting in irrational, even counterproductive gestures. Fundamental to decisions about the built environment is a consideration of the life cycle of building materials, from extraction to construction to occupation to demolition and beyond. At each stage of the building’s life, the material impact is significant. We generate waste and we have to figure out what to do with it. Among the bulkiest of our waste problems are the buildings that have no claim to extended life, whether as tokens of cultural heritage, as objects of beauty or as spaces appropriate to evolving needs. These

buildings risk becoming, in effect, trash, as useless as a broken piece of electronics or the packaging of a convenience meal. Our tendency is to want to throw them into the same “away” in which we throw the rest of our useless stuff. How can we differentiate our throwaways? Even in the relatively consistent Western European languages, in which so many common terms are cognates, the words for the stuff we no longer want are multiple and incongruous: rubbish, trash, waste, garbage, rifiuti, spazzatura, Müll, Abfall, Plunder, Schund, basura, escoria, lixo, porcaria, déchets.3 Most convey rejection, disdain, even rudeness, trumpery or nonsense. To talk trash is to insult; to speak rubbish or garbage is to speak in error or ignorance.4 The Italian immondizie, like its French cognate, immondices, derives from the adjective immondo, the inverse of mondo. Originating in the verb root mand- “to adorn,” the Latin adjective mundus or its Italian equivalent mondo means visible, elegant, clean, adorned or clear. As a noun, mondo is the created universe. The world, as locus mundus, is thus a location that is both visible and orderly. The immondo is whatever does not belong in that location: stuff that violates the order that allows us to see our surroundings as a world. It is stuff that is out of place, occluding our view. The English “garbage,” on the other hand, derives from an old French culinary term for giblets, the gizzards and other poultry guts that, as individual elements, constitute messy cast-asides of the more legible breasts and thighs. Gathered like with like and subjected to preparation in a comfit or confit (brined, immersed in fat, slowly heated and preserved in the same fat), these seemingly inconsequential parts become a consistent concoction. Time and transformative operations give value to scraps.




Voices of Waste

To find a new purpose for waste is an act of redemption that at times can take on spiritual overtones. Salvagers and salvationists alike “saveâ€? someone or something from a worse end, and hope to better themselves in the process. At the same time, salvage is an act of reclamation, of taking ownership and reestablishing value, whether commercial or affective.5 Sorting Waste The French waste-sorting industry identifies two main categories of dĂŠchets: valorisables and non-valorisables. The terms, which echo the phrase mise en valeur, used widely in discussions of historic preservation, imply that we can make use of some waste, put it to work and assign it a value, while other waste will resist further use. The now well-worn mantra “reduce, reuse, recycleâ€? suggests that we limit non-“valorisableâ€? waste in the stream by curtailing its production and only partial consumption; that we reuse stuff that is already there; and failing this, that we transform or reshape the component materials into new forms. The authors of Cradle to Cradle point out, however, that such reshaping is more often “down-cyclingâ€? than re-cycling, as the quality of the material degrades with each change of state while also resisting complete re-absorption into the cycles of production and productive use.6 We assess the value of our buildings in various ways, some analogous to our garbage handling, some not. We may reduce the surface area of human occupation through land policies aimed at reducing sprawl. We reuse buildings frequently, with different terms reflecting the degree to which that reuse involves a change from the state in which we find the building. We preserve, restore or conserve. At times we may even simulate a past, the traces of which had been eradicated or that may never have existed in the first place. Increasingly, scarcity and cost of materials suggest the reuse of building materials, either intact in reassemblies, or transformed and reconfigured,

an echo of the age-old practice of spoliation that has, at times, produced novel reconfigurations, for example in the architecture of Venice. Buildings are not like garbage in every way. They tend to be immobile (hence the French term immeuble), while garbage tends to move until it meets its resting place in a landfill. Furthermore, most buildings carry memories and associations that greatly exceed the affective burden of most cast-off items. In part this is due to their stubborn refusal to budge. They stay in one place long enough that many people pass through and live within them. Thus they acquire “that deep sense of voicefulness, of stern watching, of mysterious sympathy� that Ruskin describes.7 Our garbage, on the other hand, may have spent only minutes or seconds with its fabricator before passing through several transit points to its intended destination, and then, perhaps very soon afterwards, landing in a bin and starting the last leg of its journey toward oblivion. At the same time, when measured by weight, do once-wanted, now useless objects carry any less meaning than buildings? Would it be possible to measure the desires, fears and aspirations buried in our landfills? Garments, containers and gadgets once acquired, perhaps held close for some time, now lie in heaps of the worn, the spurned, the emptied and the sullied. Calvino describes cities in which the piles of rubbish mounting on a city’s perimeter threaten, inevitably, to engulf the inhabitants at the center.8 Their accumulated castoffs will eventually dwarf the city that they recognize and claim as their own construction. What about the opposite impulse: the hoarder who cannot throw away, but feels compelled to save, until surrounded by items that serve no purpose? This extreme benevolence toward stuff results in an inability to consign anything the status of waste. Instead the hoarder hopes the items, however outdated or damaged, could




Rebecca Williamson

someday be useful again. The hoarder, however, does nothing to liberate these objects, does not allow them to circulate and find new value, and instead entraps them in static assemblies, forming a buffer against fears: of want, of change or simply of the unknown. Hoarding seems to bear far greater stigma than purging. We recoil at the clutter it generates. In our collective physical environment, however, we encounter analogous risks in the preciousness of historic districts; these quarters are held thrall to a conception of context that forces the accumulation of like with like, while failing to recognize new patterns of living and their potential forms. Approaches to the Already-There The stasis of a building and the relative coherence of its embodied associations (as opposed to the cacophony of the landfill) render it eligible to be considered for historic preservation. Having endured in a location, having resisted use and weather, it has a status that other objects do not. It has effectively become part of the environment, not through a process of rejection as the stuff of landfills, but through inertia. Preservation forces a consideration of how buildings change over time. Do we identify the building’s “ideal” moment, a state in which it was at its peak? Is this moment historical, when something specific happened, or is it the moment of the building’s origin, or when it looked its best? Is the current state the one we wish to preserve? Do we then alter the existing to return to the better past, or freeze the present to avoid a worse future? Our current systems of assessing value, whether material or cultural, as well as efforts at instituting environmental standards, such as the LEED system in the US or France’s HQE (High Quality Environmental standard) lead to a number of paradoxes. In an effort to make a fresh, “green”

start, we often choose to cast aside the old. We demolish not only the materials but also the embodied gestures of past construction and occupation, wiping away traces of memory to make way for something new that promises to “respect” the “natural” and “historic” qualities of the environment. A number of architecture, landscape and urban design practices in Europe and the US have taken other approaches to the twin problems of sustainability and preservation. They address the problem of the “already-there” in ways that demonstrate a delicate negotiation of historic and cultural values, feasibility, cost, practicality and delight. The following overview will describe practices that deal with some aspect of the built environment, often through interdisciplinary teamwork. Each practice takes on the problem of the endurance of structures that resist classification as historic monuments.9 Lacaton & Vassal Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal ground their practice in an ethical position toward existing structures and sites. They assess the cultural, economic and material value of occupied spaces, then take these into account in crafting strategies to adapt to current and future needs. They enunciated this position most starkly in a commissioned project for a public square in Bordeaux. They could have proposed a radical change, and in so doing might have “made their mark” on the city. However, the more they learned about the site by observing its role in the everyday life of the neighborhood, the more they understood that it was a place of value and beauty that needed not a new face, but renewed attention to its inherent qualities. Elsewhere, their new buildings—both residential projects, such as an apartment complex in Mulhouse, and institutional structures, such as the architecture school in Nantes—make use of pº99



Voices of Waste

prefabricated components in a manner that implies that the finished building is just one assemblage of many in a longer life-cycle of reusable elements. Other projects, such as the Palais de Tokyo, take on difficult or compromised sites and buildings, or budgets so limited as to force an innovative recuperation of available resources. Perhaps their greatest innovation is to merge notions of luxury and economy in public housing. A series of projects, published with coauthor Philippe Druot in a book entitled Plus, show how to reclaim the structures of existing public housing, greatly expand the amount and quality of living space and avoid the community disruption entailed by mass relocations.10 Interboro Interboro Partners, a young planning, urban design and architecture firm led by Tobias Armborst, Daniel D’Oca and Georgeen Theodore, has rapidly developed a portfolio of proposals for sites

fig. 100.1

viewed from the outside as stagnant and blighted. Their approach favors minimal destruction and precisely targeted interventions. Through sensitive assessments of the existing conditions of a place and its potential, aided by the involvement of communities that are disarmed by their noninvasive approach, Interboro promotes long-term below: diagram for “Blot” study of Detroit looking at

possibilities for appropriation of empty adjacent lots by neighborhood residents, Interboro Partners facing page: Dutchess County Mall project showing programmatic propositions for the mall’s disaffected landscape, Interboro Partners




Rebecca Williamson

development strategies through the deployment of relatively light-handed, inexpensive tactics. Applying methods of urban planning, urban design, architecture and landscape architecture to difficult peri-urban conditions such as abandoned malls and vacated downtowns, they produce original projects that often do not “solve” any problem, yet dramatize a condition, fathom its potential and instigate a set of quasi-therapeutic processes. For example, the “Blot” study for Detroit takes the existing condition of the city for what it is: a place in which the loss of building stock has left space for unexpected developments, what the firm characterizes as a “suburbanization” of the city. They neither judge nor sentimentalize the proliferation of lawns and swimming pools on blocks that once were closely packed with row houses, but identify an emerging order consistent with the aspirations of the community.

The Dutchess County Mall project, among others with related themes, demonstrates an approach to the “already there” that is both pragmatic and inventive. Through the same kind of “ghostwriting” that helped them find the stories behind the evolution of a Detroit neighborhood in the “Blot” project, Interboro identified the actual and potential commercial and social activity in a landbanked commercial site just a bit too far from New York City to have garnered much interest in recent years. Interboro treats the site almost as if it were a garden landscape, with functions evolving over time, and light physical interventions adapting to the changing needs of the place and its population of vendors and visitors. Peter Latz + Partner Latz + Partner, a German landscape architecture practice, tackles one of the largest and hardest-to-dispose-of by-products of modern




Voices of Waste




Rebecca Williamson

above and facing page: stills from the Auto-lecture analysis of life at the Dutchess County Mall, Interboro Partners




Voices of Waste

industrialization: sometimes contaminated, postindustrial sites. Their projects incorporate vacant buildings and abandoned machinery into active landscapes. They preserve and celebrate the relics of industry and promote long-term development and maintenance programs that support a mix of cultural, recreational and commercial functions. Sensitive to the character and history of the land, this approach preserves and allows for new uses for the existing site, buildings and machinery while complementing their rough industrial character with lush landscaping. The Duisburg industrial landscape park, a project executed by Latz in northern Germany, shows how the “already there” can remain largely intact, woven through with new functions that promote novel uses, vantage points and formal juxtapositions. A tube slides visitors from a perch above a landscape of massive concrete walls down to their base, inspiring a run up ramps and stairs, back to the top again. In other locations, rock-climbers mount other walls, while divers plunge into a huge, reclaimed industrial tank; wetlands host wildlife, and open spaces provide venues for concerts, films and other events. The Dignity of Stuff Each practice explores the potential of existing constructions that lack a resounding historical or aesthetic basis for preservation, yet that have fig. 104.1

sufficient inherent value as “stuff ” to permit them to assume new roles. Their work informs a new generation of practitioners marked by the economic turbulence of recent years. Many want to take stock of what they have inherited, for better or worse, from prior generations, and chart a path that is neither nostalgic nor destructive of resources, whether natural, material or cultural. In their personal lives, some are locavores, do-it-yourselfers or freegans, learning to knit, garden, repair and cook from scratch, skills that may have skipped a generation or more. They shop at farmer’s markets and thrift stores. They romanticize composting. In their professional lives they face job shortages that force them to accept employment they do not consider ideal, or to maintain themselves with work other than that for which they trained. Each, in his or her own way, must reconcile larger cultural and economic forces with the sense of vocation that drives the architect. Those who guide decisions about building and destruction cannot avoid absorbing the shocks of recent years: the growing alarm at environmental degradation, the security concerns raised by violent events and accidents, the realization that our assumptions about our lifestyle entitlements may have been erroneous, and, in many quarters, a sense of an evacuation of meaning from acts and things. How these will play out over time remains to be seen, but one thing seems clear: how we approach what is already present is as important as what we project toward the future. Whether abandoned due to obsolescence, vandalized or sacked for its symbolism or ruined by time and neglect, the discarded building represents a quantity of material arrayed upon the land. On this level, the distinctions between the abandoned mall, the remnants of industry and infrastructure, or civic spaces of another era have to do primarily with material qualities: what it is like, how it has held up, how long it could continue to hold up.




Rebecca Williamson

Of course, we invoke other criteria, such as the historic circumstances associated with the building, its perceived uniqueness or status as an exemplar of a style and the desirability of the location. Based on this second layer of criteria, one building, however frail, demands conservation, while another, perhaps more robust, becomes trash. If we can reclaim the dignity of trash, listening to the voices of waste, this fate is not necessarily a bad one. Spared the cosmetic interventions that preserve only a false image of freshness, the unexceptional building can continue to host evolving modes of occupation. The way we approach buildings reflects a deeper set of considerations about how we assess our own physical existence: notions of beauty and aging, of life and death. Today the human body is contested ground as we debate the merits of treatments, enhancements and even choices concerning the

Notes 01 The sense of “stuff” intended here derives from Ivan Illich’s definition of the term and is informed by John Calvelli’s use of the same in a different context. Citing Tony Fry’s call for sustainment rather than sustainability, Calvelli, a graphic designer, argues that designers must redesign designing, must shift the focus of our attitudes toward stuff, recasting the whole chain of relationships that has brought us to where we are, rather than simply addressing the symptoms of our condition (see John Calvelli, “Design, Designing, Designing Designers, and Redesigning Designing: A Fable on Sustainmnet,” in visual: design: scholarship 3, no. 2(2007): 17-25.) Echoing Guy Debord, he argues that designers must attend to their immaterial communication effects. Calvelli ends with an exhortation from Hippocrates, implicitly comparing design to medicine in its aim to diagnose the present and foretell the future as well as in its mission to help, not harm. As different as the profession of the doctor is from that of the designer (whether of buildings, objects,or graphics),the notion that design should attempt to “cure”is as widespread as it is contested. 02 Joachim Wolscheke-Buhlman and Gert Gröning, “The Ideology of the Nature Garden: Nationalistic Trends in Garden Design in Germany during the Early Twentieth Century,” in Journal of Garden History 12 (1992):73-80. 03 Excluded from this list is a rich collection of nouns to describe organic dejections: Dreck, muck, ordure, crap, etc., many of which evoke both an even greater disgust than that inspired by wasted objects and, at the same time, a promise of fertility. See Dominique Laporte, Histoire de la Merde.

04 The French term poubelle, on the other hand, refers to both the waste container and to the 19th century Parisian prefect credited with conceiving of a particular design for the receptacle and its collection system. 05 The Salvation Army, originally a militantly evangelical group with roots in 19th century England, “religionized secular things,” turning the space of the city street into a “cathedral of the open air.” The early leaders of the Salvation Army adopted a bellicose language and an institutional hierarchy modeled on that of a fighting army. The group’s oldest emblem is a crest featuring crossed swords and the evocation of blood and fire, eliciting associations muted in the current slogan of “Doing the Most Good.” Founded later, Goodwill Industries focused on the redemptive power of work, with slogans such as “Not a Coin in his Hat, but a Tool in his Hand.” The Army and the Industry, adopting different institutional metaphors but sharing roots in Methodist theology, developed a formula of soliciting donations of unwanted items to be reclaimed and employing people previously seen as “wasted” to tend to those items, thus performing simultaneous acts of conversion of individuals and objects. For a history of the Salvation Army see Diane H. Winston, RedHot and Righteous: The Urban Religion of the Salvation Army (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999). (The reference to “religionizing” is from the Salvation Army’s early publication War Cry, cited by Winston on page 13.).

extension or termination of life. By analogy, but without the same nuanced vocabulary, we struggle with how to reconcile ourselves with, and affect, our physical surroundings.11 Perhaps in conceiving of architecture as part of the larger detritus of society, as, in effect, trash, we can establish judgments based on the potential of the existing, respecting the dignity of stuff as a complement to the aesthetic and historical criteria that dominate preservation arguments. In rejecting the elevation of certain buildings above other forms of human production, and in viewing them instead as parts of a large and diverse patrimony of objects, might we not find another kind of value, one that is more practical, but also more durable as a bulwark against the unpredictability of taste and circumstance?12

06 William McDonough and Michael Braungart, Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things (New York: North Point Press, 2002). 07 John Ruskin, The Seven Lamps of Architecture (Leipzig: Bernard Tauchnitz, 2002), 249. 08 Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities (Le città invisibli), trans. William Weaver (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1974). 09 This section includes content obtained from websites of the cited practices, assembled by Chloe Hanna-Korpi. 10 Frédéric, Druot, Anne Lacaton, and JeanPhilippe Vassal, Plus: Large-scale Housing Development (Barcelona: Gustavo Gili, 2007). 11 The age-old parallel between body and building is due for an update, poised to absorb a parallel set of considerations about technology and institutions that are outside the scope of this discussion. 12 Thanks to Sony Devabhaktuni for his insights and suggestions. Thanks also to Arch. Prof. Mario Grosso of the for instigating this exploration through his kind invitation to speak at the International Seminar on Sustainability for Building Renovation and Restoration, Saint John’s International University, Vinovo, Italy, April 16-17, 2009. Related research has been funded by the University of Cincinnati’s University Research Council and Faculty Development Council. Chloe HannahKorpi and Eric Claus provided invaluable research assistance.

Figures 100.1 Interboro Partners, “Blot” diagram from the Improve Your Lot! project for Detroit. 104.1 Peter Latz + Partner, Duisberg Industrial Landscape Park, photograph by author.




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Al Fresco: When Air Became Fresh Rebecca Williamson Air surrounds us, enters us, and exits us with such constancy that we usually ignore it. Then some discomfort—moisture, odor, a sudden change of temperature, a gust of wind, or some respiratory difficulty—shocks us to attention. Some quality of the air bothers us, or we cannot get something from it that we need. We might find it stale, humid or dry, too hot or cold. Beyond these crude characterizations, our words for air are limited. For the most part, inhabitants of industrialized countries think of air as a colorless, odorless, tasteless mixture of gases, a neutral vehicle for pollutants. We perceive it as an inanimate and generally benign matrix that may harbor toxins, whether those that grow on their own such as bacteria, viruses, pollens, and molds, or those of our own making: the exhaust fumes and particulates of our modes of production and conveyance. 189

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Today our sealed buildings and mechanical ventilation systems reflect our assumption that air has to be managed. In recent years a number of architects have begun to question this impulse, to go beyond the notion of optimization toward an acceptance of the diversity of this stuff that we both inhabit and inhale. Researchers such as Michelle Addington, Michele Boni, Barbara Kenda, and André Potvin explore the potential benefits of a differentiated understanding of our atmospheric environments. Air can be qualified, zoned, and compartmentalized. With such models, they suggest a reversal of the twentieth century’s move toward homogeneity of interior air quality. They point to the potential to reduce the amount of mechanical air treatment required for human comfort while also greatly expanding the range of environmental experience. Air has not always been thin and devoid of character. It has a long history of characterizations and personifications that still reside in the lore of localities. The Italian grandmother who worries about spifferi d’aria is drawing on a patrimony of atmospheric know-how. Mediterranean cultures identified major winds aligned with the cardinal points: tramontana, from the north, levante, from the east, ostro or mezzogiorno from the south, and ponente from the west. Another four winds occupied the points in between: grecale (NE), scirocco (SE), libeccio (SW), and maestrale (NW). Some sources describe other winds, such as aquiline borea, subsolano, euronoto, zeffiro, and cauro. Each wind had a distinct character and an attendant set of benefits and risks. The scirocco, from the Arabic shùrhuq, retains its role as a hot wind from the Arabian deserts, bringing fine sand to parts of Europe. The mysterious Föhn or favonio, a hot wind descending from the north, still makes snow vanish and brings a vague malaise to Alpine locations. While winds breathed upon us from all directions, terrible exhalations also issued forth from the viscera of the earth. Athanasius Kircher’s splendid cross-sections of the globe depict a warren of subterranean caverns venting toward a surface buffeted by the gusts issu190

ing from the mouths of cherubs. Whole areas, in certain seasons, suffered from bad air, and were thus barely inhabitable. Miasma, a vapor laden with the particles of decay, could kill, or so it was thought. There was not much to be done about the airs other than to learn to harness the good they brought and avoid the bad. This intention informed decisions about the placement of cities, streets, and buildings and the arrangement of openings in walls, floors, and roofs. Authorities disagreed about wise practice, however, and offered contradictory recommendations. In the time of the Black Plague, beginning in the mid-fourteenth century, the air of cities was thick with toxins and confusion. People were dying, and the living sought to explain and contain the problem. Was it the ships laden with foreigners and goods that brought the illness with them? Then the ships, with their men and cargo, must be quarantined. Or was it the nonbelievers, whose presence brought ill fortune upon the whole community? Then those people must be forced to live apart, or better yet, burned alive with their belongings in a purification ritual intended to eliminate the contagion. Or was it something already there in the cities themselves, some substance, some structure, some way of doing things at the root of the problem? And if so, what could be done? By trial and error, the city began to constitute itself as a collective entity, the wellbeing of its individual members linked through proximity. In the irresistibly titled Histoire de la merde, Dominique Laporte shows how the early-sixteenth-century French king François I went about trying to regulate waste in the city at the same time as he sought to regularize language. In parallel efforts, he addressed both the visible structures of the city—its streets and public squares—and the invisible structures of communication. This was the same king that invited Leonardo da Vinci to France to paint, yes, but also to indulge his fantasies of cleanliness by designing an ideal city at the site of his Romorantin chateau, with a complex, multi-layered infrastructure built upon canals for moving goods and flushing wastes, a project 191

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halted by an outbreak of malaria in the Sologne swamps. (This was the same François who regularized both the physical infrastructure and commercial activity of the quay by the Louvre and who built himself a pleasure palace at Fontainebleau, the walls painted with erotica, the rooms filled with baths, saunas, and other water features to indulge his guests.) Between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries our relationship with air began to change in response to new technologies and measuring tools. All those airs and winds with their distinct characters began to merge into one air, a unified substance that permeated outside and inside, and that could be dirty or clean, toxic or invigorating. Industrial pollution first gained notice as a public health threat. Alain Corbin argues that perceptions of air quality changed dramatically in the space of a few decades in the mid-eighteenth century when the French “discovered” unpleasant odors and determined some to be deleterious for humans. He details Parisian scientists’ painstaking cataloguing of the stinking mud along the edges of the Seine. While the French relationship with odor seems to have been culturally specific, the interest in an objective qualification of air parallels developments elsewhere in Europe. In his 1614 De statica medicina, the Italian physician Santorio Santorio, a member of Galileo’s circle in Padua, reported on studies that he conducted using his own body as a test site. Contemporary images show him seated in a device intended to weigh all his measurable consumption and excretion. By subtracting the weight of the visible matter that exited his body from that which entered it, he determined that he was losing a large portion of the weight of what he consumed through “insensible transpiration” (transpiratio insensibilis ). Although the ancient Greek anatomist Erasistratus had observed that animals produce “copious emanation” not accounted for by visible excretions, Santorio’s experiments concretized and quantified the relationship between the human body and air in a way that had not previously been attempted. 192

John Evelyn sounded the alarm about the air of London in his 1661 Fumifugium. He based his observations on ancient medical and architectural understandings, the works of Hippocrates and Vitruvius, yet the problems he describes sound modern: the waste of industrial production, smoke choking the city and dirtying its buildings, the presence of noxious particles: “an impure and thick Mist, accompanied by fuliginous and filthy vapour.” He tells his reader that he will consider air … as it is particularly inquinated, infected, participating of the various Accidents, and inform’d by extrinsecal Causes, which render it noxious to the Inhabitants, who derive and make use of it for Life. Neverthelesse, for distinction sake, we may yet be allow’d to repute some Aers pure, comparatively, viz. That which is cleare, open, sweetely ventilated and put into motion with gentle gales and breezes; not too sharp, but of a temperate constitution. In a word, That we pronounce for good and pure Aer, which heat not to sweats and faintnesse; nor cooles to rigidnesse and trembling; nor dries to wrinkles and hardnesse; nor moystens to resolution and over much softnesse. With his 1700 De morbis artificium, Bernardino Ramazzini launched what would become the modern science of occupational health. Drawing upon classical and Renaissance notions of the relationship between air quality and well-being, Ramazzini tracked the incidence of certain maladies in populations exposed to environmental toxins. His study began with sewer workers and extended to many trades. His Italian predecessors in the sixteenth century, such as Alvise Cornaro and Francesco Trento, had explored aerated living conceptually, both in writing and in idealized architectural and urban designs, and physically in built structures such as their own villas and those of 193

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their friends. Ramazzini was the first to observe the interplay between air and health for broad populations and to connect air with work, paving the way for considerations about the ventilation of workspaces and the management of toxins. In 1740 the Italian physician Francisco Torti identified mal aria, or “bad” swamp air, as a cause of “ague” or acute fever. As with the plague, only later would the malaise be attributed to insect-borne pathogens. Torti’s observations reflect a general ambivalence among Italians regarding the effect on the air of the uncontrolled mingling of earth and water, rendering, in the words of Torti’s late-seventeenth-century predecessor Ludovico Testi, the earth “soupy” (inzuppata) and the air foul. Often, indeed, the way to ameliorate the consequences of the illicit mingling of the elements was to introduce a fourth: the purifying force of fire. Yet, as Evelyn had shown, “smoake” itself was among the most pernicious toxins in dense settlements. Benjamin Franklin’s heating innovations (as well his lightning rod) gained attention among European architects and quickly appeared in architectural treatises alongside the customary depictions of the architectural orders. The 1742 Franklin stove, with its later improvements by David Rittenhouse, made it possible to heat interior spaces with greater efficiency while greatly reducing the amount of smoke. This efficiency, in turn, contributed to the development of a notion of interior space as a sealed and uniformly comfortable environment. The expression “al fresco,” in the sense of “taking place or located in the open air,” seems to date from this period. It appears to be a British usage, first attributed to Mrs. Eliza Haywood in her 1753 History of Jemmy and Jenny Jessamy. (For Italians, andare al fresco means to go to jail, comparable to the English expression “in the cooler.”) The concept is a British conceit, reflecting a vision of leisurely life in Italian gardens. It is a touristic and curative approach to air that would animate many a sanatorium and spa sojourn as well as that eighteenth-century European invention, the vacation. Perhaps it was at 194

this moment that air began to lose its multiple and diverse characteristics and acquired the obligation of purity. Henceforth, there were no longer many airs, but one air, subject to quantification, and, eventually, to manipulation and control. Air has always been both a refreshing and corrupting force, yet from one era to another it has lost some meanings and gained others. It seems that today, with the twin desires to find ways to reduce our impact on our environment and to increase the effect of our environment on ourselves through a greater range of perceptions, we may be on the verge of a new understanding of air. Architects and urban designers have begun to seek ways out of the monotony of optimized interior conditions. In seeking spatial articulations, orientations, and deployment of systems that admit gradations of indoor and outdoor states and qualitative differentiation of experience, they can draw upon a rich legacy of pre-modern conceptions of airs, waters, and places, to paraphrase Hippocrates. Faced with the dilemma of whether or how to manage our collective existence, we deploy and debate terms such as “sustainable,” “green,” “global warming,” and “climate change.” The ability to act is hampered by a standoff between differing conceptions of the world, seemingly irreconcilable notions of what constitutes evidence and which human actions could or should play a role in determining the future of the planet. Another layer of the problem about which we hear little has to do with meaning, how we understand the elements that make up our sensorial experience of the world and how we see them in relation to ourselves. Central to this process is reclamation of the qualitative richness of our relationship with air.


publications 2012  

selected publications 2010-12