157 episodes

Interviews with Scholars of Architecture about their New Books

New Books in Architecture New Books Network

    • Visual Arts

Interviews with Scholars of Architecture about their New Books

    Daniel A. Barber, "Modern Architecture and Climate: Design Before Air Conditioning" (Princeton UP, 2020)

    Daniel A. Barber, "Modern Architecture and Climate: Design Before Air Conditioning" (Princeton UP, 2020)

    Modern Architecture and Climate explores how leading architects of the twentieth century incorporated climate-mediating strategies into their designs, and shows how regional approaches to climate adaptability were essential to the development of modern architecture. Focusing on the period surrounding World War II—before fossil-fuel powered air-conditioning became widely available—Daniel Barber brings to light a vibrant and dynamic architectural discussion involving design, materials, and shading systems as means of interior climate control. He looks at projects by well-known architects such as Richard Neutra, Le Corbusier, Lúcio Costa, Mies van der Rohe, and Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, and the work of climate-focused architects such as MMM Roberto, Olgyay and Olgyay, and Cliff May. Drawing on the editorial projects of James Marston Fitch, Elizabeth Gordon, and others, he demonstrates how images and diagrams produced by architects helped conceptualize climate knowledge, alongside the work of meteorologists, physicists, engineers, and social scientists. Barber describes how this novel type of environmental media catalyzed new ways of thinking about climate and architectural design.
    Extensively illustrated with archival material, Modern Architecture and Climate: Design Before Air Conditioning (Princeton UP, 2020) provides global perspectives on modern architecture and its evolving relationship with a changing climate, showcasing designs from Latin America, Europe, the United States, the Middle East, and Africa. This timely and important book reconciles the cultural dynamism of architecture with the material realities of ever-increasing carbon emissions from the mechanical cooling systems of buildings, and offers a historical foundation for today’s zero-carbon design.
    Daniel A. Barber is an associate professor of architecture at the University of Pennsylvania Weitzman School of Design.
    Nushelle de Silva is a PhD candidate in the Department of Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her work examines museums and exhibitions, and how the dissemination of visual culture is politically mediated by international organizations in the twentieth century.
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    • 1 hr 2 min
    Jodi Rios, "Black Lives and Spatial Matters: Policing Blackness and Practicing Freedom in Suburban St. Louis" (Cornell UP, 2020)

    Jodi Rios, "Black Lives and Spatial Matters: Policing Blackness and Practicing Freedom in Suburban St. Louis" (Cornell UP, 2020)

    In Black Lives and Spatial Matters: Policing Blackness and Practicing Freedom in Suburban St. Louis (Cornell University Press, 2020), Dr. Jodi Rios examines relationships between blackness, space, and racism, in the northern suburbs of St. Louis. She argues that the “double bind of living as Black in North St. Louis County means that Black residents both suffer from, and pay for, the loss of economic and political viability that occurs when they simply occupy space” (1). Rios theorizes “Blackness-as-risk” as foundational to the historical and contemporary construction of metropolitan space. She documents the ways in which Black residents in the north St. Louis suburbs are subject to excessive ordinances and constant policing. Yet, these residents also resist such constraints. After the murder of Michael Brown in August 2014, Black Lives Matter protests erupted throughout St. Louis as well as across the country. Through the lens of such protests, Rios theorizes “Blackness-as-freedom” as “the unique capacity of blackness to embody freedom in the face of death and to imagine other worlds, other futures” (5). Black Lives and Spatial Matters is a transdisciplinary work that draws from history, ethnography, geography, as well as architecture and design, to show how anti-blackness is produced and contested when Black people occupy space.
    Jodi Rios is a scholar, designer, and educator whose work is located at the intersection of physical, social, and political space.
    Reighan Gillam is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Southern California.
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    • 53 min
    Adina Hoffman, "Till We Have Built Jerusalem: Architects of a New City" (FSG, 2017)

    Adina Hoffman, "Till We Have Built Jerusalem: Architects of a New City" (FSG, 2017)

    A remarkable view of one of the world's most beloved and troubled cities, Adina Hoffman's Till We Have Built Jerusalem: Architects of a New City (FSG, 2017) is a gripping and intimate journey into the very different lives of three architects who helped shape modern Jerusalem.
    The book unfolds as an excavation. It opens with the 1934 arrival in Jerusalem of the celebrated Berlin architect Erich Mendelsohn, a refugee from Hitler's Germany who must reckon with a complex new Middle Eastern reality. Next we meet Austen St. Barbe Harrison, Palestine's chief government architect from 1922 to 1937. Steeped in the traditions of Byzantine and Islamic building, this "most private of public servants" finds himself working under the often stifling and violent conditions of British rule. And in the riveting final section, Hoffman herself sets out through the battered streets of today's Jerusalem searching for traces of a possibly Greek, possibly Arab architect named Spyro Houris. Once a fixture on the local scene, Houris is now utterly forgotten, though his grand Armenian-tile-clad buildings still stand, a ghostly testimony to the cultural fluidity that has historically characterized Jerusalem at its best.
    A beautifully written rumination on memory and forgetting, place and displacement, Till We Have Built Jerusalem uncovers the ramifying layers of one great city's buried history as it asks what it means, everywhere, to be foreign and to belong.
    Renee Garfinkel, Ph.D. is a psychologist, writer, Middle East television commentator and host of The New Books Network’s Van Leer Jerusalem Series on Ideas. Write her at r.garfinkel@yahoo.com.
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    • 54 min
    Jose Sanchez, "Architecture for the Commons: Participatory Systems in the Age of Platforms" (Routledge, 2020)

    Jose Sanchez, "Architecture for the Commons: Participatory Systems in the Age of Platforms" (Routledge, 2020)

    Architecture for the Commons: Participatory Systems in the Age of Platforms (Routledge, 2020) dives into an analysis of how the tectonics of a building is fundamentally linked to the economic organizations that allow them to exist. By tracing the origins and promises of current technological practices in design, the book provides an alternative path, one that reconsiders the means of achieving complexity through combinatorial strategies. This move requires reconsidering serial production with crowdsourcing and user content in mind. The ideas presented will be explored through the design research developed within Plethora Project, a design practice that explores the use of video game interfaces as a mechanism for participation and user design.
    The research work presented throughout the book seeks to align with a larger project that is currently taking place in many different fields: The Construction of the Commons. By developing both the ideological and physical infrastructure, the project of the Commons has become an antidote to current economic practices that perpetuate inequality. The mechanisms of the production and governance of the Commons are discussed, inviting the reader to get involved and participate in the discussion. The current political and economic landscape calls for a reformulation of our current economic practices and alternative value systems that challenge the current market monopolies.
    This book will be of great interest not only to architects and designers studying the impact of digital technologies in the field of design but also to researchers studying novel techniques for social participation and cooperating of communities through digital networks. The book connects principles of architecture, economics and social sciences to provide alternatives to the current production trends.

    Bryan Toepfer, AIA, NCARB, CAPM is the Principal Architect for TOEPFER Architecture, PLLC, an Architecture firm specializing in Residential Architecture and Virtual Reality. He has authored two books, “Contractors CANNOT Build Your House,” and “Six Months Now, ARCHITECT for Life.” He is a professor at Alfred State College and the Director of Education for the AIA Rochester Board of Directors. Always eager to help anyone understand the world of Architecture, he can be reached by sending an email to btoepfer@toepferarchitecture.
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    • 30 min
    Diana Darke, "Stealing from the Saracens: How Islamic Architecture Shaped Europe" (Hurst, 2020)

    Diana Darke, "Stealing from the Saracens: How Islamic Architecture Shaped Europe" (Hurst, 2020)

    Visitors around the world have travelled to Europe to see the tall spires and stained glass windows of the continent’s Gothic cathedrals: in Cologne, Chartres, Milan, Florence, York and Paris. The trappings of Gothic architecture have become shorthand for “medieval Europe”.
    Yet in Stealing from the Saracens: How Islamic Architecture Shaped Europe (Hurst: 2020), Diana Darke investigates the Islamic origins of Gothic architecture, tracing its history through pre-Islamic Syria through the Islamic empires to the tall European cathedrals between the 12th and 17th centuries. The book sold out on its first day of sale, in part due to its review in The Guardian, which called the book "an exhilarating, meticulously researched book that sheds light on centuries of borrowing."
    In this interivew, Diana Darke and I talk about the origins of what we consider to be “Gothic architecture”, how those styles came to Europe, how this history of cultural and intellectual exchange may have gotten lost, and what we miss when we code something as fully “European”, fully “Islamic”, or fully any kind of culture.
    Diana Darke is an Arabist and cultural expert who has lived and worked in the Middle East for over thirty years. Among her better-known books are The Merchant of Syria: A History of Survival and My House in Damascus: An Inside View of the Syrian Crisis.
    You can find more reviews, excerpts, interviews, and essays at The Asian Review of Books, where you can find its review of Stealing from the Saracens. Follow on Facebook or on Twitter at @BookReviewsAsia.
    Nicholas Gordon is a reviewer for the Asian Review of Books. In his day job, he’s a researcher and writer for a think tank in economic and sustainable development. He is also a print and broadcast commentator on local and regional politics. He can be found on Twitter at @nickrigordon.
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    • 37 min
    Philip D. Plowright, "Making Architecture Through Being Human: A Handbook of Design Ideas" (Routledge, 2019)

    Philip D. Plowright, "Making Architecture Through Being Human: A Handbook of Design Ideas" (Routledge, 2019)

    Architecture can seem complicated, mysterious or even ill-defined, especially to a student being introduced to architectural ideas for the first time. One way to approach architecture is simply as the design of human environments. When we consider architecture in this way, there is a good place to start – ourselves. Our engagement in our environment has shaped the way we think which we, in turn, use to then shape that environment. It is from this foundation that we produce meaning, make sense of our surroundings, structure relationships and even frame more complex and abstract ideas. This is the start of architectural design.
    Philip D. Plowright's book Making Architecture Through Being Human: A Handbook of Design Ideas (Routledge, 2019) is a reference book that presents 51 concepts, notions, ideas and actions that are fundamental to human thinking and how we interpret the environment around us. The book focuses on the application of these ideas by architectural designers to produce meaningful spaces that make sense to people. Each idea is isolated for clarity in the manner of a dictionary with short and concise definitions, examples and illustrations. They are organized in five sections of increasing complexity or changing focus. While many of the entries might be familiar to the reader, they are presented here as instances of a larger system of human thinking rather than simply graphic or formal principles. The cognitive approach to these design ideas allows a designer to understand the greater context and application when aligned with their own purpose or intentions.
    Bryan Toepfer, AIA, NCARB, CAPM is the Principal Architect for TOEPFER Architecture, PLLC, an Architecture firm specializing in Residential Architecture and Virtual Reality. He has authored two books, “Contractors CANNOT Build Your House,” and “Six Months Now, ARCHITECT for Life.” He is a professor at Alfred State College and the Director of Education for the AIA Rochester Board of Directors. Always eager to help anyone understand the world of Architecture, he can be reached by sending an email to btoepfer@toepferarchitecture.
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    • 32 min

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