HISTART 213-001

Architecture in Modernity 1919-2001

2336 Mason Hall
MW 11:30-1:00pm
4 Credit Lecture

This investigation of architecture in modernity from the mid 19th c to the end of the 20th, is based on the premise: we make buildings and cities, and they make us.

Architecture: the design and construction of buildings, cities, and people, a practice that is also not mere building.

Modernity: a chimera, an invention of the last two or three centuries, a word meant to encapsulate industrialization and technological change, the growth of human consciousness in the wake of 18th-century "Enlightenment," and the emergence of the nation state and political theory to accompany it.

Themes of the course: industrialization, urbanization, building technology, real estate economics, politics, avant-garde, art, and culture. We begin with the transformation of architecture from an elite practice restricted to aristocrats and wealthy patrons prior to the French Revolution, to a profession linked to democratization and industrialization after. Explosive urban growth intrinsic to industrial development meant that city-dwellers came to outnumber their rural brethren. The city became the predominant setting for new architecture and the main source of problems and opportunities connected to industrial modernity. The globalization of modern architecture followed, with economic imperialism accompanying world war and global expansion. The last fifty years have seen the emergence of a host of sobering problems connected to urbanization and sustainability, including sprawl, the squandering of resources, and climate change. Architects and engineers must answer, today, for the state and manner of global development in modernity, and what it means for the present. This is the story we unfold in this class.

Field trip: Proximity to Detroit allows us to examine the traumatic modernization of the built environment at first hand. We take one daylong field trip to buildings in and around Detroit. In the past, we have visited the GM Tech Center, Lafayette Park, the Packard Plant, and the Ren Center. Students produce a travel report based on this trip.

HISTART Category for Concentration Distributions: D. Europe and the U.S., 4. Modern and Contemporary.