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The Portfolio and the Diagram

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The Portfolio and the Diagram

Hyungmin Pai

The MIT Press Cambridge, Massachusetts London, England

2002 Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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.

Some of the artworks used in this book contract copyright with ADAGP and VAGA
through SACK. They are protected by international copyright law: no part of these art-
works may be reproduced or reprinted in any form without permission.

This book was set in Adobe Caslon by Achorn Graphic Services Inc. and was printed and
bound in the United States of America.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Pai, Hyungmin.
The portfolio and the diagram : architecture, discourse, and modernity in America /
Hyungmin Pai.
p. cm.
Based on authors thesis.
Includes index.
ISBN 0-262-16206-7 (hc. : alk. paper)
1. Communication in architectureUnited StatesHistory20th century. I. Title.

NA2584 .P35 2002

to my father and mother



Introduction (2)


The Portfolio and Academic Discourse: Formation and Crisis

1 Discourse, Mass Architecture, and the Academic Profession (12)

The Discursive Formation of Mass Architecture and the Academic Profession (13)

The Portfolio and the Architectural Journal (25)

2 The Portfolio and the Academic Discipline (40)

Seeing, Reading, and Drawing: The Discursive Practice of the Portfolio (41)

Composition and the Paradox of Academic Theory (56)

Planning and the Theory of the Plan (64)

3 The Crisis of the Academic Profession (74)

The Architectural Profession in the 1910s: Crisis and Response (75)

Business, Efciency, and Functional Planning (83)


The Search for a New Discipline

4 The Fragmentation of the Academic Discipline (94)

The Changing Ideas of Composition and the Demise of the Analytique (95)

Form versus Function: The Debates of the 1920s (106)

5 Frederick Ackerman, Lewis Mumford, and the Predicament of Form (116)

Frederick Ackerman and the Logic of Regressive Rationality (117)

Lewis Mumford and the Search for Authentic Form (129)

6 The Cognitive Project of the Architectural Journals (142)

The Consumerist Project of American Architect (143)

The Cognitive Project of Architectural Record (148)


The Discourse of the Diagram

7 Scientic Management and the Discourse of the Diagram (162)

Scientic Management and the Birth of the Functional Diagram (163)

From Scientic Management to Architecture: The Discursive Formation of the

Architectural Diagram (176)

8 New Genres and New Formations (198)

Architectural Graphic Standards and the Modern Reference Manual (199)

The Reconguration of the Architectural Journal (218)

9 The Dislocation of the Architectural Discipline (236)

The Diagram as Plan, the Plan as Diagram (237)

The Displacements of Photographic Discourse (253)

Epilogue: The Instrument of Modern Architecture (278)

NOTES (291)


INDEX (371)

1.1. Prefabricated cast-iron columns from Buffalo Eagle Iron Works, Catalogue of
Architectural Design, 1859. (16)

1.2. Plate of cottage house, Design 16, from Pallisers New Cottage Home and Details,
1876. (17)

1.3. Tuscan order from Asher Benjamin, The American Builders Companion, 1826. (18)

1.4. Design XX: Bracketed Country House from Andrew Jackson Downing, The
Architecture of Country Houses, 1850. (19)

1.5. Page from Plumbers Specialties and Supplies section in Sweets Indexed Catalogue
of Building Construction, 1906. (24)

1.6. Perspective view and plans of Palazzo Farnese from Paul Letarouilly, dices de Rome
moderne, 18251860. (26)

1.7. Ground-oor plan of Palazzo Farnese from Paul Letarouilly, dices de Rome mo-
derne, 18251860. (27)

1.8. Plan details of Palazzo Farnese from Paul Letarouilly, dices de Rome moderne,
18251860. (28)

1.9. Front elevation of Palazzo Farnese from Paul Letarouilly, dices de Rome moderne,
18251860. (28)

1.10. Photograph plate of doorway in Morden College from Marvyn E. Macartney, The
Practical Exemplar of Architecture, 1907. (31)

1.11. Measured drawing of doorway in Morden College from Marvyn E. Macartney, The
Practical Exemplar of Architecture, 1907. (31)

1.12. Opening page of letterpress section from American Architect and Building News, July
7, 1900. (33)
Illustrations ix

1.13. Double-page drawing of Detention Hospital from American Architect and Building
News, July 7, 1900. (33)

1.14. Photograph plate of House of A. G. Hyde from American Architect and Building
News, July 7, 1900. (34)

1.15. Rolling Venetian Blinds, advertisement from American Architect and Building News,
July 20, 1878. (35)

1.16. Classied advertisement page from the international edition of American Architect
and Building News, July 7, 1900. (35)

1.17. Table of contents for Architectural Forum, April 1917, showing clear division between
plate and letterpress sections. (36)

1.18. Architectural library in the Pierce Building at Massachusetts Institute of

Technology, late nineteenth century. (38)

1.19. Atelier in the Pierce Building at Massachusetts Institute of Technology during the
late nineteenth century. (38)

2.1. Analytique of doorway by Dsir Despradelle, conducted as a student at the cole

des Beaux-Arts, 1885. (42)

2.2. Comparison of the Orders from William Robert Ware, American Vignola, 4th edi-
tion, 1904. (43)

2.3. Esquisse of plan layout for new campus of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, by
Dsir Despradelle, ca. 1911. (44)

2.4. The Nine Stages in the Indication of a Caryatid from David Varon, Indication in
Architectural Design, 1916. (47)

2.5. Levels of indication in the progression of an analytique from Ernest Pickering,

Architectural Design, 1933. (48)

2.6. Analytical study of the Palazzo Farnese from David Varon, Indication in Architectural
Design, 1916. (49)
Illustrations x

2.7. Worms-eye axonometric drawing of Sainte-Genevive church from Auguste Choisy,

Histoire de larchitecture, vol. 2, 1889. (52)

2.8. Plan of auditorium for the Phoebe Hearst Competition, University of California,
Berkeley, by Dsir Despradelle, ca. 1899. (53)

2.9. Analytical Sketch of a Roman Plan: The Thermae of Caracalla from David Varon,
Indication in Architectural Design, 1916. (55)

2.10. Examples of optical effects adopted from Helmholtz and their applications, from
John Van Pelt, A Discussion of Composition, 1903. (60)

2.11. Analysis of massing from John Robinson, Architectural Composition, 1908. (61)

2.12. Quick sketch by Dsir Despradelle, date unknown. (63)

2.13. Ernest Flagg, plan and parti diagram of St. Lukes Hospital, from Brickbuilder, June
1903. (68)

2.14. Ernest Flagg, comparison of parti diagrams of hospitals, from Brickbuilder, June
1903. (69)

3.1. Advertisement of Modern Homes Department, Sears, Roebuck and Company,

1914. (76)

3.2. Example of house design offered by the Mountain Division of the Architects Small
House Service Bureau, 1923. (81)

4.1. Plans Dealing with Groups Having Fore and Interior Courts from John Haneman,
A Manual of Architectural Composition, 1923. (96)

4.2. Colonnades from John Haneman, A Manual of Architectural Composition, 1923.


4.3. The Use of the Dominant to Provide Unity in Composition of Plural Elements
from Howard Robertson, Principles of Architectural Composition, 1924. (99)

4.4. Examples of the principles of conjugation and punctuation from Trystan

Edwards, Architectural Style, 1926. (101)
Illustrations xi

4.5. A Composition of Geometrical Shapes and Simple Forms from Howard Robertson,
Principles of Architectural Composition, 1924. (108)

4.6. The basic geometrical shapes that build toward the architectural principle of mass,
from Ernest Pickering, Architectural Design, 1933. (112)

4.7. Illustrations of modern buildings that exemplify the principle of mass, from Ernest
Pickering, Architectural Design, 1933. (112)

4.8. Sketches of the evolution of the setback skyscraper from Howard Robertson,
Principles of Architectural Composition, 1924. (113)

5.1. Analysis of Site Plan Relatives from Frederick Ackerman, A Note on Site and
Unit Planning, New York Housing Authority, 1934. (127)

5.2. Nature and the Machine from Lewis Mumford, Technics and Civilization, 1934.

5.3. Esthetic Assimilation from Lewis Mumford, Technics and Civilization, 1934. (137)

5.4. Modern Machine Art from Lewis Mumford, Technics and Civilization, 1934. (139)

6.1. Robert L. Davison, Sketches Illustrating Effect of Style on Cost, Architectural

Record, April 1929. (156)

6.2. 1937 Small House Preview from Architectural Forum, November 1936. (157)

7.1. Movement gure from Jules Amar, Le moteur humain, 1914. (166)

7.2. Chart of Functional Foremanship under Scientic Management from Frank and
Lillian Gilbreth, Applied Motion Study, 1917. (167)

7.3. Organization Chart and Functions of Production Departments from Arthur G.

Anderson, Industrial Engineering and Factory Management, 1928. (168)

7.4. Diagrammatic plan of Jeremy Benthams Panopticon, devised 1787. (169)

7.5. Example of Panopticon building proposed by Bentham. (170)

Illustrations xii

7.6. Plant layout of mill from Carle M. Bigelow, The Organization of Knitting Mills,
Management Engineering, November 1921. (171)

7.7. Adjustable stenographers desk from Lee Galloway, Ofce Management, 1919. (172)

7.8. Typists chair designed to promote proper posture, from William Lefngwell, Ofce
Management, 1927. (173)

7.9. Lamp attached to the hand and the cyclegraph record of its movement path, from
Frank and Lillian Gilbreth, Applied Motion Study, 1917. (174)

7.10. Micromotion studies on lm from Frank and Lillian Gilbreth, Applied Motion Study,
1917. (175)

7.11. Routing diagram of proper work ow in an ofce, from William Lefngwell, Ofce
Management, 1925. (176)

7.12. The Thoroughfare from Charles F. Osborne, Notes on the Art of House Planning,
1888. (177)

7.13. Hoosier Kitchen Cabinets advertisement with circulation diagram, from House
Beautiful, November 1911. (178)

7.14. Routing diagrams comparing efcient and inefcient movement of the houseworker,
from Christine Frederick, Household Engineering, 1915. (179)

7.15. Circulation diagrams from Bruno Taut, Die neue Wohnung, 1924. (180)

7.16. Alexander Kleins diagrams in Illustrations of German Efciency Studies,

Architectural Record, March 1929. (181)

7.17. Lillian Gilbreth, Application of Motion Study to Kitchen Planning: Making a

Cake, from Architectural Record, March 1930. (183)

7.18. Charles G. Ramsey and Harold R. Sleeper, study of typical kitchen layouts, from
American Architect, July 1933. (184)

7.19. George Howe, diagrams and plans of Maurice J. Speiser House, from Architectural
Forum, February 1936. (185)
Illustrations xiii

7.20. Parti sketches from David Varon, Indication in Architectural Design, 1916. (186)

7.21. The Country House Chart, Room by Room, from Architectural Forum, March
1933. (188)

7.22. Space Relation Diagram from William W. Caudill, Space for Teaching, 1941.

7.23. Method for Plotting Heights of Work Surfaces and Kitchen Arrangement
from Architectural Record, January 1932. (190)

7.24. Lawrence Kocher and Albert Frey, page from Dimensions illustrating minimal
kitchen, Architectural Record, January 1932. (190)

7.25. Ernest Irving Freese, plate from Geometry of the Human Figure, American
Architect, July 1934. (191)

7.26. Photographic measurement of Headroom above the Sleeping Surface from Jane
Callaghan and Catherine Palmer, Measuring Space and Motion, 1943. (192)

7.27. Space shapes of man dressing from Jane Callaghan and Catherine Palmer,
Measuring Space and Motion, 1943. (193)

7.28. Photographic technique of recording a puppet walking diagonally across miniatur-

ized room, from Jane Callaghan and Catherine Palmer, Measuring Space and Motion,
1943. (194)

8.1. Dimensions of furniture used in museums and libraries from Architectural Forum
Data and Details, Number 3, Architectural Forum, June 1932. (200)

8.2. Plate from Clarence A. Martin, Details of Building Construction, 1899. (203)

8.3. Entrance Doorway and Palladian Window, I from Philip G. Knobloch, Good
Practice in Construction, 1923. (205)

8.4. Photograph of cottage house exterior from Walter C. Voss and Ralph C. Henry,
Architectural Construction, 1925. (206)

8.5. First-oor plan from Walter C. Voss and Ralph C. Henry, Architectural Construction,
1925. (206)
Illustrations xiv

8.6. Details of interior nish from Walter C. Voss and Ralph C. Henry, Architectural
Construction, 1925. (207)

8.7. Floor ConstructionLight Rolled Steel Joists from Charles G. Ramsey and
Harold R. Sleeper, Architectural Graphic Standards, 1st edition, 1932. (209)

8.8. Dimensions of the Human Figure from Charles G. Ramsey and Harold R. Sleeper,
Architectural Graphic Standards, 3rd edition, 1941. (210)

8.9. Average Dimensions of Bath Room Fixtures from Charles G. Ramsey and Harold
R. Sleeper, Architectural Graphic Standards, 1st edition, 1932. (211)

8.10. Architectural Terra Cotta from Charles G. Ramsey and Harold R. Sleeper,
Architectural Graphic Standards, 1st edition, 1932. (212)

8.11. Double-page spread on service areas of the general hospital, from Architectural
Record, December 1939. (215)

8.12. Anthropometric data in the 1946 edition of Time Saver Standards adopted from
American Architect, September 1935. (216)

8.13. Double-page layout from Benjamin Betts, . . . And Still We Call It a Profession!,
American Architect, January 1931. (219)

8.14. Table of contents for American Architect, February 1930. (220)

8.15. Table of contents for Architectural Forum, September 1933. (222)

8.16. Functional Chart for Fire Stations from Architectural Forum, September 1933.

8.17. Sample illustration of re station from Architectural Forum, September 1933. (223)

8.18. Construction details for re station from Architectural Forum, September 1933. (223)

8.19. Example of tailing from American Architect, April 1930. (224)

8.20. Double-page layout between advertising and Design Trends section from
Architectural Record, January 1937. (225)
Illustrations xv

8.21. Advertisement for Chase Brass and Copper Company from Architectural Forum,
May 1935. (227)

8.22. Double-page advertisement for Owens-Illinois Insulux Glass Blocks from

Architectural Forum, October 1936. (228)

8.23. Double-page layout from Herbert Matter, Display Presentations for Architects and
Other Designers, Architectural Record, January 1938. (230)

8.24. Page layout from Douglas Haskell, The Modern Nursery School, Architectural
Record, March 1938. (231)

8.25. Plan of hospital admission area from John A. Hornsby and Richard E. Schmidt, The
Modern Hospital, 1913. (233)

8.26. Hospital plan types from John A. Hornsby and Richard E. Schmidt, The Modern
Hospital, 1913. (233)

9.1. Paul Nelson, Museum of Science (or Palace of Discovery), from Architectural
Record, February 1939. (238)

9.2. Method of design using unit plans and block models, developed by the Housing
Division of the Public Works Administration, from Architectural Record, March 1935.

9.3. T-plans developed by the Housing Division of the Public Works Administration,
from Architectural Record, March 1935. (241)

9.4. Page from Apartment House Planning Requirements, Including Basic Dimensions,
Architectural Record, March 1935. (242)

9.5. Minimum Sizes for Compact Bathrooms and Toilets, American Architect, 1934.

9.6. Bubble diagram from Oleg Devorn, Low Cost City Housing Units, MIT thesis,
1934. (244)

9.7. Basic functional units provided with dimensions from Oleg Devorn, Low Cost City
Housing Units, MIT thesis, 1934. (245)
Illustrations xvi

9.8. Thesis drawing of plan and axonometric from Oleg Devorn, Low Cost City
Housing Units, MIT thesis, 1934. (246)

9.9. Thesis drawing of elevation from Oleg Devorn, Low Cost City Housing Units,
MIT thesis, 1934. (246)

9.10. Thesis drawing of construction system from Oleg Devorn, Low Cost City Housing
Units, MIT thesis, 1934. (247)

9.11. Summary chart for Allman Fordyce and William I. Hamby, Small Houses for
Civilized Americans, Architectural Forum, January 1936. (248)

9.12. Scientic Stages in Solution of an Architectural Problem from Henry Wright,

The Modern Apartment House, Architectural Record, March 1929. (249)

9.13. View of curved gallery, La Roche-Jeanneret house, from Howard Robertson and
Frank Yerbury, Examples of Modern French Architecture, 1928. (256)

9.14. Interiors of La Roche-Jeanneret house, from Howard Robertson and Frank Yerbury,
Examples of Modern French Architecture, 1928. (257)

9.15. Juxtaposition by Sigfried Giedion of New Mexico pueblo, California bungalow, and
house designed by Irving Gill, from Architectural Record, May 1934. (260)

9.16. Double-page layout of Neubuehl housing from Sigfried Giedion, The Status of
Contemporary Architecture, Architectural Record, May 1934. (261)

9.17. Double-page spread with photomontage of Rockefeller Center and high-speed pho-
tograph by Harold Edgerton, from Sigfried Giedion, Space, Time and Architecture, 3rd edi-
tion, 1954. (262)

9.18. Dsir Despradelle and Stephan Codman, composite view of grand auditorium
building, part of entry for Phoebe Hearst Competition, University of California, Berkeley,
ca. 1899. (265)

9.19. Elevation and details of Boston Public Library from Masterpieces of Architecture in the
United States, 1930. (266)

9.20. Behold!!! Dsir Despradelle and Stephan Codman, birds-eye view of overall lay-
out, Phoebe Hearst Competition, University of California, Berkeley, ca. 1899. (267)
Illustrations xvii

9.21. Double-page spread of interiors in the Capitol from The Restoration of Colonial
Williamsburg in Virginia, Architectural Record, December 1935. (268)

9.22. Double-page spread of exterior views of the College of William and Mary from
The Restoration of Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia, Architectural Record, December
1935. (269)

9.23. Lawrence Kocher and Gerhard Zieglers Rex Stout house, double-page spread from
House of Rex Stout, Faireld County, Connecticut, Architectural Record, July 1933.

9.24. Double-page composite layout with plans and photographs of interior from House
of Rex Stout, Faireld County, Connecticut, Architectural Record, July 1933. (271)

9.25. Double-page spread of interiors in Frederick Kieslers Space House, from

Architectural Record, January 1934. (275)

9.26. Double-page spread of straw matting used in Frederick Kieslers Space House, from
Architectural Record, January 1934. (276)

This book is the result of my labor in two citiesCambridge, Massachusetts, in the

United States and Seoul, Korea. In this age of globalized networks, it would seem
anachronistic to talk of geographical distance, but with this kind of work they are two
cities that can sometimes seem worlds apart. Though it is based on my dissertation
written at MIT during the early 1990s, much of the thinking and writing in this book
were done in a quite different environment. If there is any merit to this kind of sep-
aration, it is that somewhere hidden between the lines, perhaps to be made visible in
some later work, lie those links and hinges to different, possible worlds.
I have been fortunate to receive the help of many people, but most of all I must
extend my gratitude to Stanford Anderson and Mardges Bacon. Without their
understanding and support, I am quite sure that this book would not have seen the
light of day. Professor Anderson, since my days as a student at MIT, has guided me
with an intellect and character that continue to be part of my growth as a teacher and
scholar. Professor Bacon has become not only an advisor but also a cherished friend.
I must also thank Francesco Passanti, whose criticism was crucial in the formation of
the basic concerns of this book. At the MIT Press, I must rst thank Roger Conover
for having patience and belief in such a belated project. I am also grateful to Matthew
Abbate for his thoughtful editorial work, to Emily Gutheinz for her sensitive design,
and to Lisa Reeve for her assistance throughout the publication process.
I am indebted to numerous libraries and archives for providing resources and
assistance: Rotch Library, Institute Archives, and MIT Museum, Massachusetts
Institute of Technology; Avery Library and its Special Collections, Columbia
University; Department of Manuscripts and University Archives and the Fine Arts
Library, Cornell University; The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Library;
Widener Library, Frances Loeb Library and its Special Collections, and Schlesinger
Library, Harvard University; New York City Housing Authority Archives, La
Guardia Community College; and Special Collections at the Van Pelt Library,
University of Pennsylvania. I would also like to thank Rotch Visual Collections at
Acknowledgments xix

MIT and Visual Resources at the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University,
for the production of the illustrations.
I must thank my colleagues here in the Department of Architecture at the
University of Seoul, especially Kim, Sung Hong and Song, Inho, who willingly pro-
vided their valuable time when I needed someone to talk with. I am grateful to my
graduate students, now and before, here and abroad, who helped me with documen-
tation and resources. Special thanks to my sister, Hyung Il, whose editorial assistance
helped me reach a better understanding of the way I write.
To my wife Myung Uhn, I do not have the words to express my gratitude
because she has become so much part of my being, the happiness of my existence. To
our three children, Kyu Hyun, Kyu Sung, and Kyu Jin, I offer my hope that in a few
years they will understand why their dad was missing on those summer trips. This
book is dedicated to my father and mother, for I know that this has all been possible
because of their love and care.
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The Portfolio and the Diagram

So here we have them before us; the dainty line engrav-

ing of the First Empire neatly reproduced photographi-
cally in a clear black line. The charm of the luxurious old
linen paper, is, of course, no longer there, and the line is
hard, oh, very hard! But how much more easily our
dividers slide over the polished surface, and how much
more clearly we see the drawings under our tracing paper!
Lloyd Warren, Foreword to the American reprint
of Durands Recueil et parallle des dices de tout
genre, 1915

Photographs always have dominated the pages; there

was a long period, in all architectural magazines,
when photographs were plates, and each took a full
page; frequently the page opposite was left blank,
doubtless to heighten the pictorial effect. In those days,
the text, if any, was isolated from the pictures. The
concept of pictorial journalism that we know today
came later (if in fact it has fully come to this date). I
mean the consideration of photographs, plans, sections,
captions, text as a unied communication effort, in
which one element complements, not repeats, the others.
Emerson Goble, editor of Architectural Record,
writing on the occasion of the journals seventy-
fth anniversary, 1966

Writings are imbedded between projects not as cement

but as autonomous episodes. contradictions are not
avoided. The book can be read in any way.
Rem Koolhaas and Bruce Mau, S, M, L, XL, 1995
Introduction 3

When we pick up the latest issue of Architectural Record or El Croquis, or when we ip

through the pages of S, M, L, XL, what do we look at, and what do we read? Or per-
haps the more important question would be, how do we use these words and images?
Obviously, the buildings that ll the pages of these books and magazines have
changed in the course of the momentous events of the early twentieth century.
Equally obvious but less clearly understood is the fact that the way we see, read, and
use these documents has also changed. We do not use the glossy photographs of
Frank Gehrys recent museum project, or its form-Z-generated drawings, in the same
way that architects and students of the nineteenth century mobilized the latest win-
ner of the Prix de Rome. Would one place a tracing paper over the illustrations and
plans, trace the contours, consider and analyze the details, and perhaps use the type
in ones next project? Or does one search for the projects concept, retracing a
process that is most often hidden but at times made intentionally explicit? Or do we
now approach our architectural books as if they were pieces of a collage, to be recy-
cled in any way we please? As Emerson Goble pointed out nearly forty years ago, the
relation between the reader and the text has changed since the days when architec-
tural illustrations took the form of plates. That is, a fundamental change has taken
place in the status of architects and their images. It is this transformation in archi-
tectural discourse, as it occurs in America during the rst decades of the twentieth
century, that will be explored in this book.
This book then proceeds on the basic notion that modern architecture is a
discursive practice. It assumes that its place in societywhat it does, how it func-
tions, and the way it is perceivedis conditioned and mediated by a specific set
of discourses: drawings, books, journals, manuals, specifications, and contracts
that are produced within the architectural community. As the built artifact is never
just a mirror to its age, so books and magazines are more than just reflections of a
new architecture, of transformed minds and changing modes of production. They
are themselves, together with the monuments, what constitute architectures
modernity. We may therefore speak of a discursive formation of the architectural
profession and discipline; an institutional site where its authorsarchitects and
scholars, teachers and studentswork within existing genres, develop new ones,
organize concepts and objects into theories, and bring certain modes of discourse
into play.1
Introduction 4

The interest in discourse, then, is not merely a monumentalizing of the text but
is an interest in the institution of architecture, that is, architecture as a profession and
discipline.2 The profession and the discipline, both thoroughly modern concepts,
both essential to grasping architectures value in modern society, must nonetheless be
distinguished. The former refers not only to the historic organization of experts that
emerged in the nineteenth century but, more importantly, to those aspects of the
institution that make it possible for individuals to participate in architecture as a rec-
ognizable and legitimate social practice. As much as architects are enabled by their
participation within a larger social construct, they are also constrained by these same
external conditions. Though the history of the profession and the discipline are irrev-
ocably intertwined in the construction of the architectural institution, they do not run
parallel. The discipline, like the profession, is formed within its social boundaries and
resources but sustains a relatively autonomous eld of practice. It is the body of
knowledge and skills, to borrow Stanford Andersons denition, that cannot be
reduced to the constructs of other elds. The discipline can be known without trac-
ing every work realized by the profession and is the possession of a wider set of
actors than is the profession.3 It is simultaneously an open and closed system: open
in the sense that it can be taught, learned, and transmitted, and closed in the sense
that it requires a commitment to a conventional system of knowledge and practices.
Though I inevitably deal with the profession, it is the discipline that is my central
The idea of discipline is an acknowledgment of a body of skill, knowledge, and
experience that enables architects to perform something very valuable that those
without it cannotthat is, they are able to design buildings. There are certainly good
architects as well as bad ones; and there are those exceptional individuals that are
capable of producing profound work. Yet as much as their talent, there is an under-
lying discipline that enables these particular subjects to function as architects. I imag-
ine, however, that this commonsensical statement will invite doubts even among
those who have gone through a rigorous architectural training, or those who have
tried to convince a client of the worth of their design. Though the discipline is taught
at our schools and practiced as a profession, many will confess that it is difcult to
dene, and perhaps some will even question whether there is any such thing. The
question of discipline is not only a historical and philosophical problem but one that
Introduction 5

architects face in their everyday practice. It is a question of beginning and process, of

what one sees, reads, and draws.
In the historical formation of modern architecture, the indeterminacy of the
answers to these basic questions is a condition made explicit with the demise of the
Beaux-Arts discipline, the last instance in which a specic system of architectural
design was dominant in the Western world. In the case of the United States, the
French system was codied into the countrys architectural institutions in the late
nineteenth century. After this system reached the peak of its inuence at the turn of
the century, the First World War triggered a process that would fundamentally alter
the profession and discipline of architecturea history full of uctuations, but one
that witnessed, by the late 1930s, the disruption, transformation, and ultimate disso-
lution of the academic system. It is in these interwar years that I trace the vicissitudes
of two modern yet distinct discursive formations in American architecture: what I
have respectively called the discourse of the portfolio and the discourse of the dia-
gram. While the portfolio was the central genre in the discursive formation of the
Beaux-Arts discipline, the diagram is most often identied with that confused mod-
ernist tenet referred to as functionalism. However, contrary to certain conventional
expectations, this story of the changing nature of architectural discourse cannot sim-
ply be described as the demise of the portfolio and the birth of the diagram; nor
should it be understood as a parallel reection of the fall of academism and the rise
of modernism.
Clearly, we have long since departed from the notion of the Beaux-Arts as the
adversary of modernism. With the nineteenth-century Beaux-Arts system in
America, we must remind ourselves that we are in a post-Durand, postromantic pen-
sionnaire era, that is, in a fully secularized and rationalized classical tradition. I would
underscore that Beaux-Arts-trained architects were designing hospitals, train sta-
tions, ofce buildings, and museums, often providing innovative designs for difcult,
complex, and thoroughly modern building programs. I would in fact subscribe to
Alan Colquhouns observation that the academic tradition was the beginning of a
revolution rather than the end of a period of decline.4 Yet at the same time, one must
also acknowledge that there is a fundamental gap between a discipline that accepts a
set of conventional forms as given and one that does not. Twentieth-century modern
architecture was neither the inevitable successor to a dead academic architecture,
Introduction 6

nor simply an undisturbed extension of a positivistic paradigm predetermined in the

nineteenth century. Its emergence was a historical process immanent to the demise of
the academic discipline. Much of what we understand as modern architecture was
born not as a separate entity, but on the ruins of the academic system. As an essen-
tial part of understanding the basic conditions of modern architecture, we must look
more carefully at what has been lost, what remains, and what has been altered in this
If the Beaux-Arts system was the last instance of widely shared conventions
holding a discipline together, then it is clear that we cannot assume a singular disci-
pline of modern architecture but must speak of it in the plural. At the same time, we
may identify, discuss, and criticize the conditions in which architects have constructed
their different approaches to architecture. This understanding is consistent with
Michel Foucaults argument that disciplines are organized in opposition to individ-
ual authorship. According to Foucault, disciplines are dened by groups of objects,
methods, their corpus of propositions considered to be true, the interplay of rules and
denitions, of techniques and tools that constitute an anonymous system.5 The
boundary of this anonymous and discursive system is admittedly difcult to delineate,
particularly when it embraces a wide range of texts produced outside of the profes-
sion to be part of its intellectual makeup. Since its discursive eld is always larger than
the direct products of the architectural community, it is never a homogeneous for-
mation. For example, in order to work in a particular social milieu or to attain a cer-
tain kind of patronage, architects may feel the need to be acquainted with a set of
texts that may not be essential to their disciplinary skills. On the other hand, there
may be a body of knowledge, though basic to the architects competence, that is nev-
ertheless regarded as external to the discipline, and thereby deemed marginal to the
architects social denition. In other words, there is a hierarchy within the discursive
eld of architecture, one in which distinctions between core and marginal texts can
be made. And even though this study has few aspirations to being an exhaustive sur-
vey, it can thus stake claim to certain key genres of the eld.
To reiterate, these texts are neither the innocent tools of practice nor merely its
end product, but the very constituents of practice. This is why I have chosen discourse
as the central term of this study instead of other possible terms such as representa-
tion, text, or sign. Discourse, simply put, is language and signs in use. To approach
Introduction 7

architectural representations as discourse is not to examine them as reections of con-

sciousness or objective conditions but to inquire into the power of their utility and
materiality. Within the productive relations of architecture and its adjacent institu-
tions, documents are not only read but are acted upon as material artifacts, almost
always involving transformations from one mode of representation to another. The
term discourse is particularly pertinent to architecture because of the social and pro-
ductive use of signs necessarily entailed in architectural documents. The transforma-
tion of the discipline is therefore to be approached as a history of modes of knowledge
and a history of discursive practices.
The nature of this kind of history can be more clearly understood when con-
trasted with a developmental history of modern architecture.6 By the latter I mean
a history of selected architects, monuments, and texts that are programmatically
woven together and driven by a pregured necessity. Perhaps the most widely rec-
ognized example of this teleological history is Nikolaus Pevsners Pioneers of the
Modern Movement. The modern, for Pevsner, was the result of an evolution toward a
congruence between the subject and the objective conditions of modernity. Modern
architecture is the product of this synthesis, the canonic monuments deemed the gen-
uine reection of a mechanistic civilization.7 The reverse of Pevsners narrative can be
seen in the negative dialectics of Manfredo Tafuris Architecture and Utopia. In the
latter, the trajectory of capitalism drives architecture to a series of projects that can
only be compensations for the loss of those tasks which capitalist development has
taken away from architecture.8 In both cases, the notion of contradiction becomes
the basis of a history of resolutions. For Pevsner, the resolution was manifested in the
stylistic coherence of buildings. For Tafuri, all attempts at resolution, as much as they
reect a certain truth of capitalist society, were ultimately false. And hence he
approached his history as an ideological critique of those attempts at negation and
synthesis. The primary materials in this kind of narrative are buildings, projects, and
drawings, seen as reections of a historical condition; in the case of Pevsner, of reso-
lutions in cultural forms, or in the case of Tafuri, of false resolutions at the level of
ideology. As Fredric Jameson pointed out in his comment on the latter, a key feature
of dialectical historiography was the restructuring of the history of an art in terms of
a series of situations, dilemmas, contradictions, in terms of which individual works,
styles, and form can be seen as so many responses or determinate symbolic acts.9
Introduction 8

Consequently, developmental history concentrates on those texts produced speci-

cally for their symbolic functionon polemical drawings and avant-garde
gesturesrather than documents produced within everyday practice. More signif-
icantly, in selecting those documents that conform to a predetermined line of
development, such a narrative must distinguish between genuine and false represen-
tations of consciousness, experience, and objective conditions. The modern is then
sewn together by the threads of those representations that are deemed true to its
A Beaux-Arts drawing, an avant-garde project, a catalogue of standard products
is neither a true nor a false representation of the twentieth century. I am here con-
cerned less with what they symbolize, and certainly not with whether that symbol is
true to its age, than with how they are used. The concern with discourse originates
neither from a hermeneutic quest for truth nor from its corollary, the indeterminate
play of textuality. We must not lose sight of the simple fact that the distinct character
of architectural representation resides in the assumption of building, or the projection
of that possibility. The way we look at, read, and transform texts is manifestly linked
to how we understand and practice modern architecture. Furthermore, I would pro-
pose that this discursive instrumentality of modern architecture is not an inherent
cause to lament the loss of its value, poetic or otherwise. Even if an architectural
drawing is self-consciously unbuildable or has little or no chance of being built, its
peculiar power lies in the basic assumption of projection. These conditions of archi-
tectural discourse require us to look at its materiality; at its ability to make, substitute,
and link worlds; at its wayward power that so often moves in different directions from
intentions and concepts. Representation includes not only the reected image on the
mirror but the mirror itself.
If functionality is what characterizes discourse, it would seem a concept propi-
tious to the study of the diagram, whose dening quality lies also in its instrumental-
ity.10 As I shall argue in the following pages, this does not necessarily mean that the
discourse of the diagram is solely the domain of rationalist ideologues and narrow-
minded functionalists. What I pursue is a critical understanding of how the notion of
function is constructed and what it means for architecture to be an instrument. The
discourse of the diagram is more than the diagram itself. For though the diagram is
the key element, the discourse is a wider formation, a condition in which architects
Introduction 9

construct the discipline in divergent ways. Whereas the Beaux-Arts-trained archi-

tect fashioned the discipline through the portfolio, the discourse of the diagram pro-
vides a new range of possibility in the architects relation to words, images, and
This book is then a historical inquiry into a basic condition of modern architec-
ture. I stress this denition because the book deals with an era and a concept
modernity in American architecture during the 1920s and 1930sthat have
traditionally been difcult to narrate. The absence of an identiable avant-garde, of
buildings that conform to established canons, and the apparent paucity of polemical
literature have contributed to the difculty of writing the story of modern architec-
ture in America. In its simplest forms, there have been two poles of narrative
approaches to the subject. At one end, there is the history based on the architect as
the authorial subject of modern architecturea history of winners and losers. At the
other end, there is the image of America as the locus of modernization without
modernisma naive modernity of grain elevators, engineers, and Fords. In an
attempt to rectify the exclusive nature of this subjective and developmental frame-
work, to rescue some viable notion of modernism, one may add and distinguish
different forms of modernism by inserting multiple actors into the stream of
architectural history. One may also extend the inquiry into the spheres of mass cul-
ture and the vernacular. The discussion, however, is often conned within the frame-
work of a transcendent subject or an autonomous unfolding of the architectural
object. This study attempts neither to recover some hidden avant-garde nor to pre-
sent modernity as a purely objective condition. Instead, it constitutes some rst steps
toward understanding the formation of modern architecture in terms of changing dis-
ciplines and discursive practices. And for this to be possible, one must accept the his-
toricity of the subject and object, departing from the authorial and representational
basis of developmental history.
I thus approach the discourse of the diagram not as a subjective invention, but
rather as a historical condition of the subject. It is not too difcult to understand
that, in charting a history of the diagram, the important issue is not whether it was
Walter Gropius or Lillian Gilbreth who invented the architectural diagram. My
project is to construct a eld of regularity for various positions of subjectivity in
modern architecture.11 It is a kind of history that Foucault has called the study of
practical systems:
Introduction 10

Here we are taking as a homogeneous domain of reference not the repre-

sentations that men give of themselves, not the conditions that determine
them without their knowledge, but rather what they do and the way they do
it. That is, the forms of rationality that organize their ways of doing
things . . . and the freedom with which they act within these practical sys-
tems, reacting to what others do, modifying the rules of the game, up to a
certain point.12

I propose that modern architecture is not just a set of monuments, ideas, and modes
of expression but a quasi-autonomous discipline that participates in and, in certain
ways, transforms the social and material structures of society. In this narrative, mod-
ernism loses much of its privileged position as the creative force of modern architec-
ture. At the same time, I must stress that this approach does not entail a devaluation
of individual work. This is not a position, as it has often been misunderstood, that
does away with the problems of intention, ideology, and individual intervention. As
much as this work seeks to dene the role of texts in the constitution of knowledge,
it involves the constant inquiry into the role of subjectivity or, to use Foucaults
expression, the function of the author.13 The study seeks to understand the bound-
aries and structures of the possibleconditions that are basic to architects but do not
determine what they can do. It is an inquiry into the historical conditions in which
modern architecture strives to become a viable discipline.
Part One

Article II. The objects of this Institute are, to unite in

fellowship the Architects of this continent, and to com-
bine their efforts so as to promote the artistic, scientic
and practical efciency of the profession.

Article III. The means of accomplishing this end shall

be: regular meetings of the members, for the discussion
of subjects of professional importance; the reading of
essays; lectures upon topics of general interest; a school
of education of Architects; [exhibitions] of architectural
drawings; a library; a collection of designs and models;
and any other means calculated to promote the objec-
tives of the institute.
Constitution of The American Institute of
Architects, as amended 1867
Discourse, Mass Architecture, and the Academic Profession 13

The Discursive Formation of Mass Architecture and the Academic Profession

One of the fundamental characteristics of the institution of architecture is that it is

constituted by discourse. As the 1867 charter of the American Institute of Architects
(AIA) illustrates, drawings and books, exhibitions and lectures were indispensable to
the institutional settings and practices that composed what society and the AIA
deemed to be architecture. In contrast to older trades such as carpentry and land
surveying, architecture was established as an institution through the agency of an
array of texts and images. During the latter half of the nineteenth century, in concert
with its claim to the status of high art, both architectural drawing and the literary
practice of history, theory, and criticism began to grow in volume and complexity. In
terms of the profession, contracts, construction documents, and specications codify-
ing the relation between architect, client, and contractor gradually emerged as essen-
tial components to its constitution as a legitimate social practice. In America, the
historical formation of this architectural discourse was particularly complex because
the social and material conditions in which the profession strove to establish its iden-
tity were themselves undergoing radical change. Coinciding with new developments
in technology and changes in the building industry, there was a radical change in the
way printed discourse was produced and distributed. The building of a vast railroad
network, favorable legislation on postal rates, and innovations in technical processes
provided the impetus for an explosion of printed matter. This mass-circulation dis-
course was to be absorbed and consumed by a new kind of reading audience: an
educated, urban middle class eager for cultural identity. In many cases, its themes over-
lapped with those of the architectural community, and consequently from the begin-
ning of its development architecture had to struggle to dene its legitimacy within and
against a ood of competing discourses on building, decoration, and domesticity.
After initial difculties during the early decades of the nineteenth century, the
architectural profession managed to consolidate its position during the postbellum
period. The movement toward professionalizationthe establishment of an educa-
tional system, architectural journals, and licensing lawswas led by architects trained
at the cole des Beaux-Arts or at American schools under its inuence. More impor-
tantly, training at a prestigious European institution lent an aura of cultivated exper-
tise to the architect.1 From the late nineteenth century to the early 1930s, it was in
The Portfolio and Academic Discourse: Formation and Crisis 14

fact possible to identify the discipline of architecture with the pedagogical principles
of the Beaux-Arts. Through individual activities and agencies such as the American
Academy in Rome and the Beaux-Arts Society of Architects (later renamed the
Beaux-Arts Institute of Design), an inseparable link was formed between professional
practice and architectural education. By the end of the nineteenth century, the cole
des Beaux-Arts came to signify a clearly dened method and philosophy of architec-
tural design. Indeed, one could attribute the Renaissance of American architecture
to the inuence of a denite system by which all the young architects [were]
trained.2 It is in this sense that I characterize the architectural institution of this era
as an academic profession.
The emergence of architecture in nineteenth-century America can thus be
described in terms of a dialectic of mass culture and autonomous art. When speaking
of a mass culture of architecture, one may rst think of the new building types of the
nineteenth centurydepartment stores, arcades, museums, railroad stations, and so
on. These architectural environments surely provided the setting for new modes of
spatial, visual, and social experiences peculiar to a developed capitalist society. My
interest in mass architecture, however, lies not in the experience of environments
produced within the domain of high architecture, but in a type of building institu-
tion characterized by its internal logic, mode of social appropriation, and specic
audience. My focus is on the relationship between the discursive formation of mass
architecture and the academic profession, a dichotomy that would be maintained
until its disruption in the early decades of the twentieth century. The birth of this dis-
course of mass architecture was signaled by the circulation of a new set of books,
magazines, and catalogues concerned with a variety of domestic and architectural
matters. These texts were not conned to the internal use of the building industry but
drew their audience from a growing middle class. The discursive formation of mass
architecture followed two distinct nineteenth-century genres: the advice book and
the catalogue. The former consisted of books and magazines aimed at enlightening a
mostly female audience on a wide range of literary, scientic, and artistic subjects.3
Topics related to architectureranging from household management, interior deco-
ration, and gardening, to problems of sanitation and plumbingwere central to the
genres goal of cultivating middle-class norms of domesticity. Among its many types
of literature, the house pattern book was the most architectural, addressing archi-
tects and builders as well as lay audiences.4
Discourse, Mass Architecture, and the Academic Profession 15

Catalogues, on the other hand, were already in widespread use by the mid-
nineteenth century. As the key medium for advertising and distributing mass-
produced goods, catalogues and advertisements constituted the dominant discursive
modes of a nascent consumer societythe critical link between industrial production
and mass consumption. The catalogues related to building dealt mainly with prefab-
ricated ornament, structural elements, and mechanical devices. And in the selection
of these materials and components, they were used not only by architects and builders
but also by homeowners.5 During the late 1870s, another type of architectural cata-
logue appeared in the form of plan books. Created by rms such as Palliser, Palliser
and Company and Robert Shoppell, they mark the birth of what is called the stock
plan or mail-order architecture business in America.6 This was a system in which
the prospective homeowner would rst acquire a cataloguetypically illustrated with
standard plans, perspectives, and elevationsat a very low price (twenty-ve cents
for a copy of Shoppells Modern Houses in 1887). The owner would then select one or
several design items and order them by mail, whereupon a full set of blueprints, spec-
ications, and contracts would be delivered at a price often lower than one-fth of an
architects design fee for a comparable house. Often accompanied by discussions of
architectural style, renovation, and furnishing, the plan book could also function as
an advice book.
It is generally acknowledged that the catalogue and pattern book superseded the
builders guide.7 Widely consulted during the rst half of the nineteenth century, the
builders guide consisted primarily of plate illustrations of classical orders and other
ornamental details. There were few plans and elevations, and even less text. On the
other hand, the pattern book, like most advice books, was composed mostly of text
accompanied by plans and perspective views of rural detached houses. Architectural
historians, approaching these texts as a reection of changing styles and tastes, have
viewed this transition from the builders guide to the pattern book as a phenomenon
that paralleled the decline of the Greek revival and the rise of the picturesque.8
Adding to this interpretation, we should note that there was a fundamental break
between the discursive practices of the builders guide and the pattern book. If the
former was used in a preindustrial era when the carpenter and architect were inde-
pendent designers, builders, and supervisors of a handicraft process, most pattern
book houses built after the Civil War were based on balloon frame construction
embellished with prefabricated details. While the builders guide assumed that the
The Portfolio and Academic Discourse: Formation and Crisis 16

1.1 Prefabricated cast-iron columns from

Buffalo Eagle Iron Works, Catalogue of
Architectural Design, 1859.

carpenter, housewright, and architect were interchangeable concepts, the pattern

book emerged amidst a more complex and fragmented industry, one that was increas-
ingly involved in speculative developments. Mobilizing an array of unskilled labor,
the new industry evolved a building process that brought about the decline of the
local carpenters role as planner and the emergence of a competitive relationship
between architect and mass builder.9
In effect, the pattern book and catalogue provided the prospective middle-class
consumer with a cultural and economic medium of architectural patronage. On the
one hand, the pattern book supplied an authoritative cultural and architectural pro-
gram. In its innite and repetitive varieties, the Victorian idea of moral and social
reform, within the uncertainties and decadence of industrial capitalism, was the the-
matic constant of this genre. Like most advice books, the pattern book emphasized
the physical environment as a medium of reform and functioned as a key agent in the
Discourse, Mass Architecture, and the Academic Profession 17

1.2 Plate of cottage house, Design 16, from Pallisers New Cottage Home and Details, 1876.
The Portfolio and Academic Discourse: Formation and Crisis 18

1.3 Tuscan order from Asher Benjamin,

The American Builders Companion, 1826.

cultivation of this moral program. On the other hand, the catalogue provided a mode
of architectural service realized through the act of consumption. Through this char-
acteristically American kind of book,10 a mass architectural patronage in tune with
populist notions of industrial democracy was secured. In summary, while the pattern
book provided the program, the catalogue provided the plans. The mail-order stock
plan business, a logical development of the pattern book, was thus successful in
exploiting two sets of contradictory practices and ideologies: rst, the passive and
contemplative reading of the advice book was joined with the catalogue, a visual
medium that required the participatory act of consumption; and second, a pregured
and authoritative social program of domesticity was combined with the democratic
logic of choice and assemblage. Simply put, the advice genre provided the plan book
with a built-in moral and aesthetic program. Interdependent and inextricably linked
Discourse, Mass Architecture, and the Academic Profession 19

1.4 Design XX: Bracketed Country House from

Andrew Jackson Downing, The Architecture of Country
Houses, 1850.

in forming a mass culture of architecture, they established a comfortable marriage of

architectural form and cultural meaning.
Following nineteenth-century ideals of professionalism, the academic profession
strove to maintain its autonomy in the midst of this mass industrial society.
According to Burton J. Bledstein, the mid-Victorian professional identied himself
as a self-governing individual exercising his trained judgment in an open society
and thus endeavored to achieve a level of autonomous individualism, a position of
unchallenged authority heretofore unknown in American life.11 This ideal of auton-
omy permeated through all the diverse aspects of architectures institutional forma-
tion. It was evident rst and foremost at the level of professional jurisdiction.12 As the
movement toward professionalization intensied in the 1860s, architecture was con-
sciously presented as a cultural institution detached from the political and economic
The Portfolio and Academic Discourse: Formation and Crisis 20

constrictions of capitalist society. Accordingly, the profession rejected mass architec-

ture as its other. On the one hand, claiming superiority over popular builders in their
ethics, expertise, and artistic credentials, architects argued for exclusive jurisdiction
over the building process. On the other hand, the new mass builders and older build-
ing trades, while staking claim to the title of architect, attacked the elitism of the aca-
demic profession. Consequently, throughout the nineteenth century, the proper
substance and boundary of the architect became a key issue, a problematic and
unstable term at the center of intensely competing cultural programs. It could be and
often was used to gain authority in various activities such as land surveying, specula-
tive building, carpentry, design, and of course, the production of cultural texts.
Despite their appeal to populist sensibilities, mass discourses still relied on cultural
authority, and the authors of pattern books and plan books quite logically coveted the
title of architect. Great controversy and consternation resulted, and the architectural
profession promptly condemned them as popular builders unt to hold the title.13
In order to establish exclusive legal jurisdiction over the terms architecture and
architect, it was necessary for the academic profession to distinguish its role from
those of the traditional trades and mass builders. In the rst standard AIA contract
of 1868, it was taken for granted that the architect would oversee construction, or the
job of superintendence. However, by 1884, a revised contract began to distinguish
superintendence from supervision, and consequently architects have until recently
been forbidden from engaging directly in construction.14 During the same years,
another type of document that gained wide usage was the specication. Though the
history of its development is unclear, the use of the specication became a general
practice as the scale and complexity of building began to grow.15 Along with the con-
tract, the specication dened the architects jurisdiction over the tradesman in the
eld and in part marked the transformation of the latter into a construction laborer.
With the instigation of architectural licensing laws, rst passed in 1897 in Illinois,
many of the jurisdictional disputes among builders, craftsmen, engineers, contractors,
and architects found a legal compromise. Thus, the advent of licensing led to a clearer
denition of the architects specic domain. The key effect of this institutional dis-
course was the distancing of the architect from the material process of building. It not
only implied that the architect was detached from business interests but, furthermore,
demonstrated his superior ethical and cultural qualications.
Discourse, Mass Architecture, and the Academic Profession 21

As much as architects strove to attain an elevated status in American society, they

also hoped to bring a sense of autonomous value to the architectural monument. For
the academic profession, architecture was most clearly dened by its capacity to
express the highest ideals of America. Though assuming an industrial society of
diverse cultures, it nonetheless believed that this ephemeral and contingent formation
of modernity, to borrow Baudelaires terms, did not produce a permanent diffusion
of values. Convinced that a clear cultural hierarchy could still be established, the
architects task was to transcend the vagaries of American society toward the eternal
and the immutable.16 In other words, architecture and its monuments were dened
in antithesis to the mundane realities of capitalist society. The most conspicuous
though certainly not the most successful exemplars to this denition of architecture
can be found in the numerous expositions of the late nineteenth and early twentieth
centuriesfrom the Philadelphia Centennial, through the Worlds Columbian
Exposition of 1893, to the Panama-Pacic Exposition of 1915. The Columbian
Exposition was particularly signicant as a cultural text that exemplied what
Lawrence Levine has called the emergence of cultural hierarchy in America. The
physical structure of the expositionthe division between the classical Grand Basin
and the popular carnivals of the Midway Plaisancewas an emblematic display of
the dichotomy between the academic profession and mass architecture. As Alan
Trachtenberg observed, the exposition was itself a proclamation that reality must be
sought in the ideality of high art. The Court of Honor provided the center around
which the rest of White City was organized in hierarchical degree.17 The culture of
the academic profession, embodied in the unied language of the central Court, was
reafrmed by the Midway Plaisancethe space of overt consumption and exotic
pavilions. If the Midway was symbolic of the undisciplined use of eclectic images, the
uniqueness of the Basins architecture was secured through the continuity of the
classical tradition. In a world of changing fashions and eeting experiences, the uni-
ed style of the Basin provided a constant principle that Beaux-Arts architects
applied to their design of modern institutions. The center represented what America
ought to be; and its realization was possible only through the disciplined intervention
of architecture. As Henry Van Brunt, fully conscious of his role in the fair, pointed
out, the high function of architecture is not only to adorn this triumph of material-
ism, but to condone, explain and supplement it.18
The Portfolio and Academic Discourse: Formation and Crisis 22

This high function of adorned and supplemented representation found further

patronage in the City Beautiful movement, so profoundly inuenced by the image of
the White City. The worldly aspirations of an imperial America and the search for
an internal civic order provided the perfect political and cultural context for the val-
ues of the academic profession to be projected into the reform of the city. In other
words, the pursuit of a unied architecture concurred with the ideological needs of
businessmen, politicians, and an enlightened middle class. According to Charles
Moore, the biographer of both Daniel Burnham and Charles Follen McKim, archi-
tects had found receptive clients who no longer thought that they spoke a foreign
language.19 As Elihu Root, secretary of state in Theodore Roosevelts cabinet,
remarked in 1905, the architects now for the rst time are beginning to have the
nation with them.20 The architects capacity to embellish public institutions such as
museums and libraries with noble forms, and consequently to provide a monumental
vision of a unied civic culture, was what separated high architecture from the
unmediated representations of mass builders. Thus, in the two decades between the
Columbian Exposition and the beginning of the First World War, architecture
reached the height of its prestigethe era deemed the American Renaissance.
Finally, the idea of autonomy permeated the body of knowledge and skills
that formed the discipline of architecture. As mentioned in the introduction, the
boundary and substance of the discipline cannot be easily and clearly delineated.
This was also true in the nineteenth century, when the jurisdiction of the architect
covered a wide and contentious eld of practice. Nevertheless, from the late nine-
teenth to early twentieth century, a representative sample of genres constituting the
discursive eld of architecture can be identied. The list would consist of history
texts, treatises, encyclopedias and dictionaries, journals, sketchbooks, builders
guides, construction handbooks, specications, and catalogues.21 Within this dis-
cursive field, we may further outline a hierarchy of core and marginal genres. One
example of the latter would be the construction handbooks, among which Frank
E. Kidders Architects and Builders Pocket-book was the most popular. This manual
was referred to by diverse groups that included not only architects but also car-
penters, mechanics, civil engineers, and other laypersons. Therefore, despite its
wide use among architects and students, it was not considered essential to the aca-
demic professions self-definition. Moreover, Kidders Pocket-book was published
Discourse, Mass Architecture, and the Academic Profession 23

in duodecimo and smaller formats, designed specifically for portable reference

when working on site. In distancing itself from the construction process, the aca-
demic profession relegated this kind of manual to the outer fringes of architectural
The catalogue was another essential yet marginal genre in the discursive eld of
architecture. Even toward the end of the century, a period when architects came to
rely heavily on standardized building components, the catalogue carried little signif-
icance for the discipline. Though architects were already grappling with what was
called the catalogue problem, they regarded the catalogue as merely a means to an
end, having no effect on the integrity of the design process. The trade catalogues that
were sent to the architects ofce came in various sizes and formatsfrom pocket-
size to folios, from thin leaets to hardbound books hundreds of pages thick. As far
as the architect was concerned, the catalogue problem was one of sheer quantity and
variation of information. The professions position concerning this problem was suc-
cinctly expressed in the Sweets Indexed Catalogue of Building Construction. When it
was launched in 1906, Sweets was published by The Architectural Record Company
(merged into Dodge Corporation in 1912), which also owned Architectural Record,
Real Estate Record and Builders Guide, and Dodge Reports. In the introduction to the
rst single volume edition of Sweets, Thomas Nolan, professor of architecture at the
University of Pennsylvania, repeatedly emphasized that the catalogue was not read-
ing material but information for reference, belonging in the same category of the
dictionary, or the telephone book. Its guiding principle was the reference idea, the
logical way of escape from this muddle. In other words, though the information in
the catalogue was necessary to architectural design, it was not treated as an integral
part of the discipline. The issue was simply one of organizing the information in a
concise and systematic way.22 There was no sense that the proliferation of cata-
logues could somehow affect the nature of architectural practice. Instead, the notion
of a scientic standard catalogue and index of building materials was established to
reinforce the ethical dimensions of professional practice. From the producers stand-
point, the catalogue was a form of advertising. Based on this denition, the architec-
tural profession made it clear that it would not be susceptible to the manufacturers
coercive techniques and would follow strict ethical and architectural standards in the
selection of materials and components. In spite of the catalogues central role in a
The Portfolio and Academic Discourse: Formation and Crisis 24

1.5 Page from Plumbers Specialties

and Supplies section in Sweets Indexed
Catalogue of Building Construction, 1906.

design process permeated by the conditions of industrial production, architects were

not obliged to reassess the nature of their discipline. In the rst decade of the twen-
tieth century, there was little doubt that they were the subjects of an architectural
process detached from the contingencies of mass production.
If the catalogue was reluctantly accepted as a marginal part of architectural dis-
course, the pattern book and plan book were rmly rejected by the profession. As
noted, for pattern books and others in the advice genre, the physical environment was
important primarily as a medium for social reform. The internal principles of archi-
tecture were not the central concern. Or in the case of its most famous author,
Andrew Jackson Downing, the principles of architectural design should not be sought
internally but in architectures relation with social and natural conditions. Though
historians such as Vincent Scully have convincingly demonstrated the relevance and
depth of architectural thinking contained in the pattern books of Downing and his
Discourse, Mass Architecture, and the Academic Profession 25

followers, authors like Downing and Calvert Vaux were exceptions, individual talents
able to articulate their principles of design.23
In the catalogue and plan book, architecture retained its value as a commodity for
consumption, thus contradicting the central concept of the academic profession: that
its practice and product existed outside of the market. For the academic profession,
neither culture nor architecture could be perceived as a commodity. Architecture,
claimed Barr Ferree in the rst issue of Architectural Record, is not an article of man-
ufacture that can be produced on demand. It is one of the things not affected by sup-
ply and demand.24 Thus, despite Scullys central observation that Downings pattern
books were origins of an important line of architectural thinking that owered in the
work of Frank Lloyd Wright, the pattern book and plan book, as genres and discur-
sive forms, were never an integral part of the academic profession. The commodi-
cation of architecture, the logic of choice, assemblage, and the pregured program,
all ran against its professional and disciplinary ideals. The fragmented nature of this
design and building process was rejected as an antithesis to the autonomous and uni-
ed discipline of architecture.

The Portfolio and the Architectural Journal

If contracts and construction documents dened architecture in relation to the exte-

rior world, genres such as the portfolio, the theoretical treatise, and the historical
textbook structured its internal epistemology. The latter constituted a body of knowl-
edge exclusive to the architectural discipline, and in terms of architectural design, the
portfolio was the most important genre of the academic profession. The history of the
portfolio can be traced back to the rst illustrated architectural treatisesto Palladio,
Serlio, and Vignola. The classic textbooks for students and architects of the nine-
teenth century were Vignolas Regola delli cinque ordini darchitettura, Letarouillys
dices de Rome moderne, and Durands Recueil et parallle des dices de tout genre,
anciens et modernes. Unlike the coarse and fragmented display of architectural ele-
ments in the catalogue, the modern portfolio, using gravure and collotype techniques,
displayed intricate full- and double-page reproductions of monuments and their
The Portfolio and Academic Discourse: Formation and Crisis 26

1.6 Perspective view and plans of Palazzo Farnese from Paul Letarouilly, dices de Rome mo-
derne, 18251860. The whole publication consisted of three volumes, containing 355 line drawings
engraved on copper plates. Palazzo Farnese commanded twenty-ve plates of its second volume.
Discourse, Mass Architecture, and the Academic Profession 27

1.7 Ground-oor plan of Palazzo Farnese from Paul Letarouilly, dices de Rome moderne,
The Portfolio and Academic Discourse: Formation and Crisis 28

1.8 Plan details of Palazzo Farnese from Paul Letarouilly, dices de Rome moderne, 18251860.
1.9 Front elevation of Palazzo Farnese from Paul Letarouilly, dices de Rome moderne, 18251860.
Discourse, Mass Architecture, and the Academic Profession 29

details. The original large-format folios were rare and expensive, which spawned
numerous reduced-size reprints and student editions that could be acquired at a much
cheaper price. Along with these grand publications, periodicals that carried contem-
porary work from Europe, such as the Croquis dArchitecture (18661898),
Architektonisches Skizzenbuch (18521886), and Architectural Association Sketchbook
(18671923), were also widely deployed as portfolios. The earliest of American archi-
tectural journals, such as Architectural Sketchbook and New York Sketch Book were in
fact modeled after these European portfolios.
As I shall later examine in detail, the ability to use the portfolio in the analysis
and production of design was a key part of the architectural discipline. The basic pur-
pose of the portfolio was to place before Architects an absolutely reliable and correct
reproduction of all that pertains to the practice of Architecture, so that an Architect,
or for that matter anyone, could reproduce a given subject from a chimney-stack to a
door knob.25 Though not all reproductions were meant to be used in analytical fash-
ion, the plates in many folios and periodicals could be detached from the binding
to be studied and traced. In these plates, plan, section, and elevation were the domi-
nant modes of representation; the plan, in particular, was considered the quintessen-
tial Beaux-Arts drawing. As we see in Letarouillys illustrations of the Palazzo
Farnese, these orthographic projections framed their object as an identiable and
clearly delineated element (the classical orders, entranceways, vestibules, etc.), includ-
ing the largest single element, the building as a whole. In the portfolio, this object-
centered system was the privileged, if not necessary, mode of architectural illustration.
Compared to the plan and section, the perspective occupied a secondary position
in the academic discipline. For example, a survey of the presentation requirements of
MITs design studios, even until the mid-1930s, shows that students were almost
never required to present perspective drawings.26 In ofce practice, the perspective
was regarded as an important sales tool in competitions and presentation drawings for
clients. Usually executed by professional draftsmen, its appeal was to the layman
rather than to the disciplined architect. Like the terse statement by Theodore Wells
Pietsch that no building is or can be composed in perspective, one encounters
countless warnings against the limits and dangers of the perspective.27 In the Beaux-
Arts system, the perspective was considered an extroverted discourse rather than a
medium essential to the internal construction of the discipline.
The Portfolio and Academic Discourse: Formation and Crisis 30

In this context, the emergence of photography presents an interesting set of

issues. Photography, in comparison with architectural drawing, undoubtedly had an
immediacy that expanded the audience of architectural representation. As Mary N.
Woods has shown, the peculiar power of the photographic image was already under-
stood by astute architects such as H. H. Richardson.28 Yet when photography rst
began to be widely used in the late 1880s, it was used less to explore its own qualities
than to emulate architectural drawing. When photography aspired to the require-
ments of veracity and correspondence, when its function was simply to record the
immobile dimensions of buildings, in the physical as well as historical sense, it stirred
little controversy. The assumption was that the new technical apparatus did not affect
the viewers traditional relation with the object of the camera. From John Ruskin to
Viollet-le-Duc, photography, in continuing the object-centered mode of representa-
tion, was praised for providing accurate reproductions that eliminated the difcult job
of measurement and archaeological rendering.29 When the photograph was asked to
do the same job as the measured drawing, the issue remained one of reproductive
quality. We shall later see, however, that during the rst half of the twentieth century
the function and perception of photography would change quite radically.
In the nineteenth century, another genre of equal importance to the architectural
profession was the architectural journal. Unlike the builders magazines that our-
ished throughout most of the nineteenth century, an architectural periodical aspiring
to the elevated notions of professionalism was nancially difcult to maintain.
Furthermore, because of the unsatisfactory quality of reproductions and fears of pla-
giarism, architects were often unwilling to display their work in this new medium.
Despite such difculties, by the turn of the century several architectural journals were
established through the intervention of large publishers: American Architect and
Building News (AABN), Architectural Record, Architectural Review, Brickbuilder (later
Architectural Forum) in the Northeast, and Inland Architect in the Midwest. These
journals became the major source through which the architectural community famil-
iarized itself with the most recent projects and issues; consequently, the architectural
community came to view the journals as a crucial medium in consolidating the pro-
fession.30 Because acquiring the proper portfolios was so difcult, the most important
function of the journals was to provide illustrations. As Mary N. Woods has accu-
rately stated of the AABN, its illustrations were the magazines reason for existence,
Discourse, Mass Architecture, and the Academic Profession 31

1.10 Photograph plate of doorway in Morden College from Marvyn E. Macartney, The Practical
Exemplar of Architecture, 1907. The photograph has the same function and mode of representation as
the elevation drawing in gure 1.11. In the original edition of this publication, all the illustrations
came in separate plates in a book cover that functioned more as a container box.
1.11 Measured drawing of doorway in Morden College from Marvyn E. Macartney, The Practical
Exemplar of Architecture, 1907. The plate is organized as a combination of elevation, plan, section, and
The Portfolio and Academic Discourse: Formation and Crisis 32

an observation that would apply to most American journals of the period.31 For
example, Architectural Reprint, a short-lived journal dating to 1901, provided edited
versions of foreign books, selecting such material as will be of especial use in the
drafting room.32 Architectural Record was the exception in that it originated as a
literary medium. As a verbal discourse, Record became the key medium through
which the American architectural community came into touch with a literary culture
of architecture. In most cases, however, the architectural journal functioned as a
In these journals, the portfolio was part of a well-ordered format characterized
by the clear separation between different modes of discourse. There were generally
three distinct sections in each issue: the portfolio, letterpress, and advertising. To get
a sense of how the journal was typically organized, let us examine one typical sample
from the turn of the centurythe July 7, 1900, number of AABN. The issue began
with a mostly verbal letterpress section comprised of brief reports on recent events
and an installment of a travelogue serial (A Day in Provence) containing small
sketches and photographs of buildings mentioned in the text. As was usually the case,
the portfolio was placed separately from the letterpress section. In some instances,
full-page illustrations could also be inserted between articles without having any asso-
ciation with the text. In this July 7 number, in connection with the travelogue, sev-
eral pages of the portfolio were devoted to the ancient buildings in Arles. There were
also drawings and photographs, such as a double-page spread of a Detention
Hospital (gure 1.13), a photograph of a house (gure 1.14), and several other illus-
trations, all without connection to the letterpress section. Their verbal descriptions
were not to be found in the plate but in a separate section within the letterpress. The
text was generally kept to a minimum, and in this issue just the architect and title of
the projects were mentioned, information already imparted in the plate. In other
words, based on its quality as a designed artifact and a reproduction, each plate had
to stand for itself without the aid of text.
Advertisements were generally presented in two kinds of format: the full-page
illustration, in which the object was usually presented as part of a complete environ-
ment, and the classied format. While the former could be inserted within the main
text, the latter was placed either in the rst pages before the table of contents, or, as
in the July 7 number, at the end of the magazine. Since its January 1884 number,
Discourse, Mass Architecture, and the Academic Profession 33

1.12 Opening page of letterpress section from American Architect and Building News, July 7, 1900.
1.13 Double-page drawing of Detention Hospital from American Architect and Building News,
July 7, 1900.
The Portfolio and Academic Discourse: Formation and Crisis 34

1.14 Photograph plate of House of A. G. Hyde from American Architect and Building News,
July 7, 1900.

AABN had grouped its advertising into a separate section, organizing its format and
providing a list of advertisers. In the case of Architectural Record, F. W. Dodges orig-
inal intent was to exclude all advertisements and trade notices and place them in
Sweets, hence freeing the journal to pursue its loftier goals.33 Before the late 1920s,
not only in AABN and Record but in almost all of the architectural journals, advertis-
ing was separated from the main text and paged separately. Until this time, the archi-
tectural periodical would be dominated by a segregated organization in which the
portfolio, letterpress, and advertising each possessed its own distinct format.
It is true, however, that the emergence of the architectural journal cannot simply
be regarded as an extension of the traditional portfolio. At a basic level, one may agree
with Beatriz Colomina that architectural magazines, with their graphic and photo-
Discourse, Mass Architecture, and the Academic Profession 35

1.15 Rolling Venetian Blinds, advertisement from American Architect and Building News,
July 20, 1878.
1.16 Classied advertisement page from the international edition of American Architect and
Building News, July 7, 1900.
The Portfolio and Academic Discourse: Formation and Crisis 36

1.17 Table of contents for Architectural Forum, April 1917, showing clear division between plate
and letterpress sections.
Discourse, Mass Architecture, and the Academic Profession 37

graphic artillery, transform architecture into an article of consumption.34 But at the

same time we must also keep in mind the ambiguities of the nineteenth-century jour-
nal, for the new technologies that increased the mobility of images were both the
engine of commodication and the means of professional consolidation. Though the
architectural journal was certainly part and parcel of the expanding commercial mar-
ket of the nineteenth century, it also served as the vehicle in consolidating a discipline
and profession that had to withstand the forces of commodity. The lack of institu-
tional control over the access and distribution of discourse made it difcult to form a
community of shared knowledge and interests. The small community of educated
and trained architects in America was convinced that the establishment of a profes-
sional journal would be crucial in the formation of a common discipline. They were
in agreement with Charles Follen McKim, entrusted with editing H. H.
Richardsons New York Sketch Book of Architecture, in his belief that it was the journals
role to supply brother professionals with the means of keeping themselves and each
other informed in regard to what is going on in their special world.35 We must
remember that, by the late nineteenth century, this special architectural world was
one among many others, and indeed was competing with some of these others for
recognition as a viable institution.
In this increasingly complex world of competing discourses, the portfolio was the
central medium in securing the academic professions autonomy. If the institutional
locus of blueprints and manuals was the construction site, the portfolios place was in
the more reclusive spaces of the atelier and the library. Though we may detect the
spirit of the nineteenth-century atelier even in todays digitalized studio, we must also
understand the changing role of the architectural library. One of the most important
tasks in forming a viable educational system was establishing an architectural library
replete with the requisite folios, treatises, and journals. As the following account of
architectural training at Columbia University at the turn of century reveals, the port-
folio had formed an inseparable link between the atelier and the librarythat is,
between design and the book.

The most engrossing part of the freehand course consists in the tracing,
copying, analysing and designing incidental to the study of architectural his-
tory. This work continues throughout the four years, with a parallel course
The Portfolio and Academic Discourse: Formation and Crisis 38

1.18 Architectural library in the Pierce Building at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, late
nineteenth century.
1.19 Atelier in the Pierce Building at Massachusetts Institute of Technology during the late
nineteenth century. A series of ateliers were connected directly to the library shown in gure 1.18.
Discourse, Mass Architecture, and the Academic Profession 39

in ornament under Professor Hamlin. The thoroughness of the attention

given to it and the magnicent library equipment that makes this thorough-
ness possible, may, we think, be designated as the chief characteristic of the
school. If draughtsmenship be the portal, so to speak, to the Temple of
Architecture, then the library for historical research may be considered as the
inner cella or holy of holies.36

As we see in gures 1.18 and 1.19, atelier and library were interlocked in forming the
institutional site of academic education in the late nineteenth century. As one histo-
rian has noted of the nineteenth century, the monument was regarded as a recollec-
tion of the past and a reminder of the future; and in that sense it was also the
residuum of the historical continuity of architectural meaning.37 The portfolio, as the
repository of past monuments and the source of future designs to be sketched along
its pages, reproduced this continuity.
Like most architectural drawings, the portfolio was not a unique work of art but
a form of notation. In other words, like the musical score, it was produced to provide
the means for its performance in another medium. Following Nelson Goodmans
distinction between autographic and allographic forms of representation, it clearly
possesses the characteristics of the latter.38 But in contrast to working drawings, a spe-
cial status can be awarded to the portfolio. While working drawings, like contracts
and specications, work within representational conventions shared with the build-
ing industry, the portfolio was not meant to be transposed into a different eld of dis-
course. It functioned as a productive agent of the same discursive medium that
circulated within the architectural community. It is then not surprising that Paul
Philippe Cret could state that, as far as architectural exhibitions were concerned, it
is not the public which is to be appealed to and beneted but the architects them-
selves.39 The portfolio, as I shall discuss in more detail in the following chapter, was
constructed as a self-referential yet productive system of representation. It func-
tioned, to use Bruno Latours term, as an immutable mobile.40 That is, the portfo-
lio presented architectural objects that could be moved from Paris to New York
without losing any of their objective power as usable norms. In the portfolio, an
autonomous and internal history of architectural monuments was formed, reinforced
rather than deprecatedat least for several decadesby modern reproduction.

Independence, courage and power of conception, apart

from books and precedentsthat is what the sketch in
the loges signies, the bottom stone of the foundation of
the Ecole system;knowledge and skill, alive within
a mans own personality, yielding self-dependence and
ability to bring the imagination to bear. . . .
And then observe the care, the persistency, with
which the organic character of the conception is insisted
upon. This is not a question of mere aspect; of super-
cialities, which may or may not be beautiful, according
as a man is rich or poor in the more feminine qualities
of the mind, the qualities whose search is for mere
external beautythis is a question of the very body
and blood, the enduring substance and the living
stream of the work of architecture,the beauty which
inheres in the structure itself. This is a question of the
quality by virtue of which all great work has been
great, by which the parts have been wrought into a
whole of harmony and unity. What is a plan, a section,
an elevation? They are nothing but technical symbols
of the thing itself, which they shadow forth and check,
and show to be harmonious, logical and right and oth-
erwise. And this is what the School strives constantly
to teach, and what thousands of our architects today,
and yesterday more even than today, have been forget-
ting, and even virulently denying.
John Galen Howard, The Spirit of Design at the
Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Architectural Review, 1898
The Portfolio and the Academic Discipline 41

Seeing, Reading, and Drawing: The Discursive Practice of the Portfolio

For American architects of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, the cole
des Beaux-Arts not only was a prestigious academic institution but represented a spe-
cic method and philosophy of architectural design. Though the Beaux-Arts is often
identied with its exuberant historicism and elaborate renderings, its central peda-
gogical goal, as it was formulated in the latter half of the nineteenth century, was to
train students to integrate the complex programs of modern building into a unied
composition. Increasingly large numbers went to Paris to study the modern French
methods and returned eager to apply and spread the fundamental lesson of the
Beaux-Arts system, that is, the discipline of architectural design. In order to under-
stand this complex system of pedagogy, theory, and practice, we must rst grasp the
two essential components of its methodthe analytique and the esquisse. The ana-
lytique, as a codied design problem dealing with the basic elements of architecture,
provided the foundation for all subsequent training in design. It consisted of exercises
in the design of relatively small architectural elements, either constituting part of a
buildingas in the case of a door, balcony, or loggiaor as a structure by itself, such
as a small pavilion or ceremonial arch. In the Beaux-Arts system, style was a problem
of the analytiquethe study of architectural elements and their proper combination
(disposition) into an integrated design. With Durands Prcis des leons darchitecture
providing its extreme manifestation, the nineteenth century saw style deprecated into
a secondary matter that did not appeal to the real achievements of architecture. Yet
at the same time, even a glimpse through Durands Recueil (the Grand Durand) or
William Robert Wares American Vignola, for many years the standard American
textbook on the classical elements, would show that style remained basic to the dis-
cipline.1 As American Vignolas summary plate on the classical orders succinctly shows,
the ability to manipulate their proportion and modules was essential to all scales of
If the analytique was concerned with the part, the esquisse dealt with the whole.
Composition, another key Beaux-Arts concept that referred to the whole design, may
also be considered a counterpart to the analytique.2 However, for reasons to be dis-
cussed later, it was the esquisse that more accurately represents the discipline of tak-
ing hold of the total architectural scheme. Through the esquisse, the student was
The Portfolio and Academic Discourse: Formation and Crisis 42

2.1 Analytique of doorway by Dsir Despradelle, conducted as a student at the cole des Beaux-
Arts, 1885.
The Portfolio and the Academic Discipline 43

2.2 Comparison of the Orders, summary plate of the proportional rules of the classical orders,
from William Robert Ware, American Vignola, 4th edition, 1904.

trained to produce the quick sketch for the parti of the analytique or the larger Class
B and A problems. The term parti derives from the phrase prendre parti (to take a
side, make a decision) and to say a parti was well found (trouv) was to praise a
design for the integration of the whole. Quite simply, the esquisse was the critical
founding act of design. To reiterate John Galen Howards statement prefacing this
chapter, it was the bottom stone of the foundation of the Ecole system. With the
student secluded from reference material, teachers, and other students and given only
a short amount of time, the production of the esquisse was the most difcult aspect
of academic training. Moreover, students were not allowed to deviate from the
original sketch, working with the original parti and, in the case of larger projects,
The Portfolio and Academic Discourse: Formation and Crisis 44

2.3 Esquisse of plan layout for new campus of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, by Dsir
Despradelle, ca. 1911.
The Portfolio and the Academic Discipline 45

developing it into a rendered design that satised the requirements of the program.
In the French concours system, departing from the original sketch would make the
design hors de concours, allowing no credit toward advancement. Producing an esquisse
that could be submitted to the concours was in itself difcult; it required even greater
skill to produce one that could be worked out successfully into a complete detailed
project. Most American schools did not follow the competition method of accruing
credits toward a diploma and maintained programs with a xed design curriculum.
Nevertheless, the discipline of committing oneself to the original esquisse persisted
within this framework. Furthermore, compensating for the absence of competitions
within the curriculum, most schools participated in the competitions sponsored by
the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design, which adhered strictly to the coles concours
The logic of the esquisse was also central to ofce practice. As the following
account of Stanford Whites approach to design illustrates, the esquisse was the foun-
dation of design work in the hierarchically organized architectural ofce.

Whites designs were conceived spontaneously; and he was little bothered by

precedent or formulas. In directing his draughtsmen he expressed his
thought always with a pencil rather than discussion. After covering, often
times, yards of tracing paper with alternative solutions for work under con-
sideration, he would eliminate all but two or three of the most pleasing and
turn these over to his draughtsmen to do somethingwhich he would
either reject at sight or (if this something was found favorable) use as the
basis of future study.4

It was Stanford Whites responsibility and capacity in producing the quick sketch of
the parti that distinguished him from his subordinates, who simply worked out his
basic schemes. In another revealing statement concerning the status of the parti,
Montgomery Schuyler stated that George B. Post had fullled his role as an archi-
tect as the maker of the parti, or the layout which he devised with a view not only
to convenience but also to dignity and impressiveness. For Schuyler it was essentially
the discipline of the parti that dened the architect: the man who does that, call him
what you will, is an architect, even though he should leave all his buildings in the
The Portfolio and Academic Discourse: Formation and Crisis 46

Together, the analytique and the esquisse provided the basis for conceiving
architecture as a whole in which all the parts were harmoniously integrated. The
essence of Beaux-Arts teaching, so aptly summarized by A. D. F. Hamlin, was in
thinking of the building as an artistic unity . . . an object of artistic design in plan,
composition and detail.6 It was an understanding that elements exist as part of a
whole, and that the whole can again be an element. To quote an example provided
by Marco Frascari: A column is a detail as well as it is a larger whole, and a whole
classical round temple is sometimes a detail, when it is a lantern on the top of a
dome.7 In the Beaux-Arts system, a new design was conceived as a harmonious piece
of an existing condition: an element of an architectural conguration, as in the ana-
lytique, or more conceptually, part of an architectural type or urban fabric. The ana-
lytique was then not only a piece of the whole but also its miniature. That is, it was
part of an analogical system rooted in the persistent tradition of classical mimesis.
The function of the portfolio must therefore be understood within this mimetic
system. As mentioned, Beaux-Arts training consisted of rigorous exercises in tracing
and manipulating the illustrations of the portfolio, particularly those in plan, section,
and elevation. Indication in Architectural Design, published in 1916 by David Varon, a
former student in Julien Guadets atelier in Paris, provides an explicit elaboration of
the way the portfolio was used in this process. Indication, the key term of the book,
denoted the graphic and visual skills required in training the eye and hand.8 As a
technique, indication was the skill of drawing at different levels of abstraction,
whether the object was the scale of a sculptural column, a portal, or the plan of a large
building. Cultivating the ability to move from simple diagrammatic lines to detailed
forma process that may be called gurationand the complementary skill of
drawing simple lines with a generative idea in mindthe capacity for abstraction
were essential to academic pedagogy. Drawing had always been a crucial part of the
academic discipline, and indication was not merely a static method of redrawing but
a mechanism of altering and transforming. It is thus not surprising that a contempo-
rary review of Varons book, essentially a manual on architectural representation,
could consider it a practical treatise in the theory of architecture.9 In other words,
indication was not merely a drawing technique but a process of seeing, reading, and
drawing that underlay the Beaux-Arts logic of architectural creativity. The term itself
contains the sense of drawing as an act of revealing something that is hidden, some-
The Portfolio and the Academic Discipline 47

2.4 The Nine Stages in the Indication

of a Caryatid from David Varon,
Indication in Architectural Design, 1916.

thing that is not immediately visible. An effective drawing revealed its basic idea
the partiwhile simultaneously facilitating the further development of sections, ele-
vations, and details. Placing a tracing paper over a plate and following the lines of the
underlying plan, one was not merely copying, or in Beaux-Arts slang, cribbing;
rather, it was an act of searching for the many lines already encrusted in the drawing.
The nature of this process may be more precisely understood by following
Varons description of how the Palazzo Farnese should be analyzed. We may easily
imagine Varon using Letarouillys meticulous renderings of the Palazzos plan (g-
ures 1.6, 1.7, and 1.8).

Naturally the start must be made with the plan. In order the better to under-
stand the grouping of the masses, and their relation, the student must disre-
gard small details and, no matter how elaborate the plans he consults may
The Portfolio and Academic Discourse: Formation and Crisis 48

2.5 Levels of indication in the progression of an analytique: from simple sketch to rendered
project, from Ernest Pickering, Architectural Design, 1933.
The Portfolio and the Academic Discipline 49

2.6 Analytical study of the Palazzo Farnese from David Varon, Indication in Architectural
Design, 1916. Refer to the Farnese engravings in Letarouilly, dices de Rome moderne, in
gures 1.6, 1.7, 1.8.
The Portfolio and Academic Discourse: Formation and Crisis 50

be, his rst sketch will be like Figure 1, Plate XXIV [gure 2.6 in this book]
which shows what is called the block plan, where only the courts and circu-
lations are indicated in white, while the rest is hatched. He will observe that
the rear parts are thicker than the sides; and that the circulation vestibules
are likewise more generous in the former than in the latter. He can easily
read the plan at least in so far as concerns the relationship of the parts to one
another and to the whole. He remarks at a glance the thickness of the front
wing, which with its monumental access constitutes the most important part
of the structure, involving the reception halls and galleries, while the sides
are assigned to functions of comparatively lesser importance. He also notes
that the circulations on either side are proportionate to the thickness of the

In this passage, Varon is asking the student to look carefully at the Farnese plan and
reconstruct its basic parti. In the rst sketch, the student must read and draw the basic
outline of the plan, its circulation system and the distribution of inner and outer
space. Even at this scale, we can see that the parti drawing indicates the relative size
of the column elements in key areas of the plan. Varon then asks the analytical stu-
dent to consider the same plan in detail.

The rst story being the most important, he sketches it, (Figure 2) still on a
rather small scale, where he can not do more than indicate the component
parts, yet, thanks to the delicate sense of touch which has developed, he can
present a fair idea of this plan in spite of the simplication and the smallness
of the scale. For instance, the piers of the court are merely indicated by dots
which, however, are heavier than those representing the columns of the front
vestibule. The student, being struck by these interesting piers, sketches the
plan of one in detail, as in Figure G. The same process of detailing is used
in case of all parts offering a peculiar interest.11

The next step is then to read the elements in relation to the parti, and subsequently
to visualize the whole three-dimensional mass and space through the plan and its
details. In this move to detail, Letarouillys plate of the plan elements in gure 1.8
The Portfolio and the Academic Discipline 51

would have been the constant source of reference. As one can see from drawings A
to F in Varons plate, the orders and piers are either hatched or shadowed in such a
way that ornament is read as part of the wall mass. There is no distinction between
structure and ornament, and it is irrelevant whether the surface is cladding or part of
the structural mass. As Marco Frascari pointed out, the analytique as graphic analy-
sis of details had its development in a period in which architects did not have to pre-
pare working drawings showing the construction of details.12 The wall and its
ornamentthe pochare treated not as a tectonic entity but as a gestalt, a visual
mass seen in section.
For example, in the half-column section G, the outline of the order not only is
clearly delineated but is extended into the wall mass, indicating the diameter of this
hypothetical cylindrical mass. Though that is not the way the vestibule structure is
physically constructed, that is the way it must be visualized: a planar mass that can be
extended vertically into a three-dimensional geometry, through which the height,
elevation, and spatial quality of the inner court can be visualized. The architect must
be able to pull up the plans and push through the sections and, along the way, deter-
mine the contours of space and movement. As John Galen Howard noted, the prop-
erly trained student has above all achieved the power to see things in the round, as
it were, objectively and of three dimensions, not at upon paper.13 With its possibil-
ity for simultaneous views of plan, section, elevation, and vaulting, Choisys worms-
eye axonometrics in his Histoire de larchitecture are perhaps the best-known drawings
that demonstrate this visual and structural principle, a mode of vertical and horizon-
tal extension based on the principles of descriptive geometry.14 Hence in the Beaux-
Arts system, it is clear that we are dealing with geometrical masses and voids,
organized primarily as a visual experience. As was often stated, with both derogatory
and positive intentions, the student of the cole was taught to plan with his eyes.15
Yet at the same time, it must also be underscored that the object of the archi-
tects gaze was not the bare and valueless lines of geometric gures but a densely
encoded mass of conventional ornament. In other words, within the lines of these
drawings, particularly in the plan and section, there was a depth accumulated through
the history of architecture, the interpretations of a buildings character, exemplary
solutions to thematic problems in architecture, and variations within the norms of
classicism. Furthermore, the plan was synchronically associated with the different
The Portfolio and Academic Discourse: Formation and Crisis 52

2.7 Worms-eye axonometric drawing of

Sainte-Genevive church from Auguste
Choisy, Histoire de larchitecture, vol. 2,

aspects of the project, such as its construction, space, and facade. To follow Guadet,
one must read a plan as one reads a book or a musical score: Yes, there are beau-
tiful plans and I nd this a legitimate expressionbut in the sense that good books
are good because we read them or a musical score is good because of its content and
not because of the arabesque look of the calligraphy with which it is written.16 A
good plan sustained a depth and transparency achieved through the dessin techniques
of entourage, poch, and mosaquegraphic codes that made the plan legible to an
architectural audience. Echoing Guadets analogy with the musical score, J. Stewart
Barney offered the following assessment of the Beaux-Arts plan:

By the French teaching, the plan is an assemblage of symbolic indications,

and when rendered in accordance with their rules of shades, tones, values,
etc., is as perfectly understood by their judges as would be a musical score to
the leader of an orchestra, and establishes between them and the student a
The Portfolio and the Academic Discipline 53

2.8 Plan of auditorium for the Phoebe Hearst Competition, University of California, Berkeley, by
Dsir Despradelle, ca. 1899.
The Portfolio and Academic Discourse: Formation and Crisis 54

perfect medium of communication. The student, if he is a master of the art,

can at will suggest to the judges gayness, sadness, light and air, or the
absence of botha beautiful view or a dense forest.17

Without these dense visual codes of shades, tones, values, the extension from plan
to the three-dimensional structure, as demonstrated by Le Corbusier and Mies dur-
ing the 1920s, must involve a different set of parameters.
Beaux-Arts practice not only involved such analytical vision, but design was itself
realized within the density of its lines and markings. Let us imagine that a Beaux-
Arts architect is working on a project with a large central rotunda. Following
Guadets suggestion that the Baths of Caracalla be carefully studied, he may turn to
Durands Recueil to analyze the plan of the Baths while at the same time searching
out his own solution. Our architect may produce drawings similar to David Varons
varied indications in gure 2.9. Perhaps with a tracing paper placed directly over
the plate, he will leave a set of dark markings, at rst tentative but gradually grow-
ing bolder, over the printed lines of the portfolio. In effect, the search for a new
composition would result in another set of traces, hidden within the lines of the
Grand Durand. The product of this search, if acknowledged by the profession as a
work worthy of publication, will nd itself in the pages of another portfolio. Another
architect may then discover the Baths of Caracalla encrusted in the lines of this new
Like the notational system of music, architectural representation was not a mere
repetition of identical performances. Each performance of a typical score adds to the
abstract thickness of the notations. The design process was therefore a search
within and over these dense traces, reading into and drawing out architectural ideas.
A line could be sensitive, even tentative, feeling its way and clinging on to the idea,
as it were, in order to suggest it in all its multifarious complexity.18 This simultane-
ously analytic and synthetic procedure could be applied to all stages of design, and
was a practice essential to the progressive development of a project. Architectural
design was then a discursive practice in which the plan functioned as the visual ful-
crum of an overlapping process of hermeneutics and transcription. This process
involved a kind of planar vision that must be distinguished from pictorial percep-
The Portfolio and the Academic Discipline 55

2.9 Analytical Sketch of a Roman Plan: The Thermae of Caracalla from David Varon,
Indication in Architectural Design, 1916.
The Portfolio and Academic Discourse: Formation and Crisis 56

tion. Though the latter provides the illusion of being in the space, its perspective is
isolated and static. The plan and section can never actually be experienced, but
through their privileged status as a visible object, they simultaneously represent and
generate the whole. In the sense that the plan makes visible knowledge and informa-
tion that is not present in the optical world, it approaches Ernst Gombrichs de-
nition of a map.19 It was, furthermore, a map that could generate other maps. To
borrow an axiomatic phrase by Paul Philippe Cret, the sections are the diagram of
the whole composition and should be its sources.20 The Beaux-Arts plan was then a
diagram; not only in the sense of being a reduction or abstraction of reality, but also
because it was an instrument of creating something else. At the same time, it was a
diagram within an analogical system of part and whole, past and present. The lines,
dots, and shades of the plan were to be read as an analogue, a notation dense with
differences and transformations. Through the cultivation of a planar vision, as John
Galen Howard so aptly stated, the Beaux-Arts student was taught to solve his prob-
lems in space and thence to derive his solution in diagram.21 If we dene the diagram
as a kind of drawing that possesses instrumental relevance within a system of rela-
tions, the Beaux-Arts plan was the diagram par excellence.

Composition and the Paradox of Academic Theory

The discourse of the portfolio, the mimetic practice of transcribing past monuments
toward the present, may very easily be understood as a phenomenon of historicism.
It would seem logical to assume that architectural history formed a harmonious rela-
tion with the practice of the portfoliothe history a primarily verbal discourse that
would legitimate the use of the visual in the portfolio. The relation, however, was not
so simple. In the Beaux-Arts tradition, architectural history had always been empha-
sized as a key component of the architects education. However, during the latter half
of the nineteenth century, it was not history that provided the theoretical basis for the
practice of the portfolio. In France, the difcult relation between history and design
was most dramatically manifested in what David Van Zanten and Barry Bergdoll
have argued was the historicist challenge of Labrouste, Vaudouyer, Duban, and
The Portfolio and the Academic Discipline 57

Duc to academic idealism. History was no longer perceived as a cyclical return to an

ideal but a phenomenon of progress and change, of distinct cultures, each necessary
and characteristic of its time and place.22 The Beaux-Arts had thus entered the era
of critical history, and its courses in architectural history no longer sought or vali-
dated absolute norms.
History therefore did not provide the theoretical basis for the practice of the
portfolio, and the portfolio was not used to understand history. It in fact could be
berated for having little consequence in the practice of design. Cret, for example, dis-
missed history as a science extremely interesting, but powerless to stimulate the
mind toward the creation of new works of Art.23 In America, the most publicized
incident in the conict between history and design can be found in William Wares
resignation as director of Columbias architecture program. As John Chewning,
Richard Plunz, and Mary N. Woods have demonstrated in their studies on McKim,
Ware, and Hamlin, the conict was certainly one of different roles, backgrounds, and
goals.24 In terms of the themes of this book, the conict can also be characterized as
one between theory and practice, between history and design. Ware never fully
accepted the formalist assumptions of the Beaux-Arts method and could never agree
to the idea of regarding a at architectural drawing as a delectable thing in itself,
rather than as a help toward a work of art in the solid.25 And when McKim atly
stated that its not so much whats in the books, its what you see in them, we can
see that it was also a conict between word and image.26 If not through history, how
does one legitimate a practice that relied so heavily on conventions, on the authority
and correctness of past monuments?
To understand the theoretical underpinnings of Beaux-Arts practice, we must
turn to the idea of composition, another key term in nineteenth-century architectural
discourse. In the French academic tradition, composition had a long and complex his-
tory of shifting connotations. During the latter half of the nineteenth century, it sub-
sumed the concepts of distribution and disposition and thus, according to David Van
Zanten, became an extremely inclusive term signifying the essential act of architec-
tural design. Composition denoted a process as well as the nal design in which aes-
thetic, historical, and practical issues were drawn together.27 Though the discourse on
composition begins in earnest with Durand, the literary culmination of nineteenth-
century composition is widely considered to be Julien Guadets lments et thorie de
The Portfolio and Academic Discourse: Formation and Crisis 58

larchitecture, the four-volume compilation of his lectures published between 1901 and
1904. Guadets lments can be understood, on the one hand, as a study of the basic
elements of architecturewalls, porticoes, orders and columns, vaults, vestibules,
stairwaysand on the other, as a discussion of the practical and historical aspects of
building types. Thus, Guadet had identied the two basic components of academic
disciplinethe architectural element and the building type. Though Guadet stressed
the importance of composition, he did not engage in an extensive exposition of the
term. Terse statements of principles were scattered in what was essentially a study of
specic and practical problems in the construction and organization of buildings. In
fact, just three short chapters of book 2, volume 1 were devoted to a general discus-
sion of composition and principles. As Van Zanten accurately pointed out, lments
was more a book on building types than a theory of composition. The purpose of
architectural composition was not to generate new types but to provide a process of
checking and rening existing ones; to borrow Van Zantens expression, it was a way
of phrasing them architecturally with clarity and elegance. Hence for the French,
knowledge of type was far more important than knowledge of method and tech-
nique.28 For Guadet, composition was less a theory than the practice of design: in
his words, it was something that cannot be taught; one learns it through multiple
trials, by example, through advice, and by ones own experience building on that of
Composition in the French tradition, at least until Umbdenstock, Gromort, and
Ferran, was then not something to be theoretically explained. Though one nds the
same kind of synthetic sense in its Anglo-American usage, the situation is somewhat
different in that composition emerged around the turn of the century as a method of
design and the key term of theoretical discussion.30 In 1898, John Beverly Robinson
contributed a series of articles on composition to Architectural Record, published the
following year as Principles of Architectural Composition. The book was used in his lec-
tures at Columbia University and in 1908 was revised and republished. In 1902, based
on his lectures at Cornell, John Van Pelt published A Discussion of Composition. In
effect, Robinson and Van Pelt, who had both attended the cole in Paris, initiated a
line of discourse on composition that would extend into the 1930s in America and
England.31 Like Guadets lments, the American texts on composition possessed the
dual function of theoretical treatise and pedagogical text. As suggested by the subtitle
The Portfolio and the Academic Discipline 59

to Robinsons bookAn Attempt to Order and Phrase Ideas which hitherto have
been only Felt by the Instinctive Taste of DesignersVan Pelt and Robinson
sought to make explicit the basic ideas of architectural design, particularly the notion
of composition.
The American discussion of composition, rather than being a pure reection of
Beaux-Arts concepts, indicated an assemblage of inuences. A vague but nonetheless
powerful Ruskinian ethic pervaded both texts, in particular A Discussion of
Composition. In this work, Van Pelt distinguished two levels of laws that governed
the arts, one artistic and the other technical. Relying heavily on The Seven Lamps
of Architecture, Van Pelt presented sincerity and truth, character, frankness and deci-
siveness, simplicity, carefulness, and thoughtfulness as the rst laws that made com-
position an artistic endeavor. According to Van Pelt, the technical principles of
compositionbalance, contrast, character, style, color, and scalewere merely the
means through which the loftier purposes of art were to be achieved.32 In Robinsons
study, we discover the attempt to assimilate certain picturesque elements of Victorian
architecture into a more formal idea of composition. He was engaged specically in
a debate between the notion of architecture as a representative art, akin to painting
and literature, and as a pure art, aligned with music. Robinson was decidedly on the
side of the latter:

As music is the art of sound, so architecture is the art of form. Not repre-
sentative form, not garlands and metopes and inhabited niches, but walls
and roofs and columns. . . . We must therefore think of true architecture, not
as the development of economic planning, not as the expression of con-
struction, not as adherence to historic or contemporary precedent, but as the
fundamental art of inventing and constructing objects that please by their
intrinsic form and color, addressing itself to buildings in the largest sense of
the word, whether inhabited or built only to be looked at, as triumphal
arches, mausoleums, domes, towers and spires.33

As this quotation clearly indicates, his interest in composition has led Robinson
toward the question of perception and psychology. And in a similar effort to provide
an optical and psychological, as opposed to a judgmental basis of architectural
The Portfolio and Academic Discourse: Formation and Crisis 60

2.10 Examples of optical effects adopted from

Helmholtz and their applications, from John Van Pelt,
A Discussion of Composition, 1903.

composition, Van Pelt employed the contemporary theories of Titchener and

Helmholtz. Providing examples of illusionistic effects illustrated in Helmholtzs Die
physiologischen Optik, he argued for basic patterns of arrangements and adjustments in
the indication of architectural elements.
Though such applications of perceptual theories were at best tenuous, the direc-
tion in which Van Pelt wished to take the discussion on composition was clear: we
are thus asserting the great truth, namely, what is needful in art is that which will sat-
isfy human perceptions, not mathematically determined conglomerations of lines or
forms.34 For Van Pelt, the important thing was less the true measurements and pro-
portions of the object but its perception. To grasp the basic composition of a design,
he suggested the trick of putting ones eyes out of focus when viewing an architec-
tural object; the blurred shapes would then be the fundamental elements that had
The Portfolio and the Academic Discipline 61

2.11 Analysis of massing from John Robinson, Architectural Composition, 1908.

The Portfolio and Academic Discourse: Formation and Crisis 62

to be composed.35 For Van Pelt, composition as an artistic achievement had to be

based on composition as a visual experience, through which all the faculties of the
observer were brought into play.36 During the early twentieth century, this formalist
conception of composition became so pervasive that the most mundane of academic
texts could claim that composition had nothing to do with the origin, history, or
symbolism of any form, and that it dealt solely with the outline of mass and the
general effect, exclusive of detail, ornament, and nish.37
To reiterate, architectural design in the Beaux-Arts system was a visual practice.
Hence such a formalist concept of composition would, at rst glance, seem a consis-
tent theoretical foundation for design practice. However, we must remember that the
essence of Beaux-Arts vision was in the ability to see and draw through the density
of overlapping traces, to envision the possibilities within the lines and surfaces.
Subsequently, the reductive theories of Robinson and Van Pelt, unilaterally dimin-
ishing architectural form to bare geometrical gures, could not support the practice
of the portfolio.
The theory of composition must then be distinguished from its practice, of
which we must again underscore the creative act of the esquisse. In contrast to the
formalist orientation of composition, the idea of the esquisse was based on the
notion of artistic intuition. Though the ability to produce the esquisse was based
on long and arduous training, the moment of creation was to be short, intuitive,
and almost magical. As the sketch by Dsir Despradelle in figure 2.12 so power-
fully shows, the process of Beaux-Arts design was anything but the cautious, ratio-
nalized, and gradual combination of elements, a notion often attributed to
Durands definition of composition. As Werner Oechslin pointed out, the quick
sketch of an idea signified the opposite of holding and finishing an idea, and in
order to capture the quickness of a brilliant thought . . . the fire of the artist was
required. Quoting from Lacombe, Oechslin correctly noted that the sketch func-
tioned as the premire ide . . . the guide and model for further development.38
Lacombes sentiments were repeated by Guadet, for whom the creation of the parti
consisted not of a deliberate piling-up of logically derived elements but of a bold
and fleeting idea: [this idea] will be a synthesis, springing suddenly complete in
your mind. This mode of creation, contradicting the methods and theories of
The Portfolio and the Academic Discipline 63

2.12 Quick sketch by Dsir Despradelle, date unknown.

The Portfolio and Academic Discourse: Formation and Crisis 64

traditional logic, denying Bacon and Descartes, is intuitionthe very genesis of

artistic ideas.39 In this passage, we see that Guadet no longer maintained the clas-
sical notion of architecture as the imitation of nature, arguing instead that archi-
tectural creation lay in the conscience of the individual architect. It is thus not
surprising that the commitment to the esquisse was considered the key mental dis-
cipline of the design process.40 The quick esquisse was therefore the quintessential
romantic act of invention and creation.
As Panofsky, Wittkower, and Foucault have shown in their different but per-
suasive ways, classical mimesis was based on the resemblance of words and things
a world in which architecture resembled the human body, music, and nature. With
the Beaux-Arts system, we have long since departed from this cosmological world.
Yet the analytique and esquisse were both based on the old mimetic tradition of clas-
sical architecture, and it is in this sense that Alan Colquhouns characterization of
the Beaux-Arts as a codied survival of a traditional relation between man and the
world is so perceptive.41 We thus see that within the Beaux-Arts system, there
remained an internal conict between its mimetic practice and the romantic notion
of intuitionthat art and architecture are the creation of the mind and that they
begin from and represent ideals. Furthermore, academic discourse never attempted
to dene this intuition, the founding idea of design, in any theoretical fashion.
Beauty and origins have always something to do with it, but it would seem that the
creative idea was considered so synthetic that it could not be explained reasonably.
It is always vague, and we are never sure of its content. Hence the theory of the
Beaux-Arts was ultimately a fragile and inherently paradoxical construction, easily
criticized by the modernists of the early twentieth century as merely an arbitrary

Planning and the Theory of the Plan

If the theoretical construction of the Beaux-Arts system was full of ambiguity and
uncertainties, there was little doubt that the core of its design practice lay in the archi-
The Portfolio and the Academic Discipline 65

tectural plan. Even the harshest critics of the Beaux-Arts, such as Ralph Adams
Cram, admitted to the strength of this aspect of the discipline, which consisted not
in its theory of style, but in its logical planning and its insistence on unity and
integrity in every architectural scheme.42 In a similar vein, A. D. F. Hamlin stated
that the fundamentals of design were independent of the historic styles, concluding
that the foundation of all design consisted in planning.43 As we see in their asser-
tions, the key word for both Cram and Hamlin was planning. As an Anglo-
American term that gained wide usage during the late nineteenth century, it was
employed by these critics to mean the manipulation of the architectural plan.44 The
use of the term approximated the French distribuer, meaning to apportion between
several, and disposer, to arrange, to put things in a certain order. Underlying this
act of dividing and arranging was the assumption of a basic plan shape, or parti type
and plan type, as it was often called by American architects. Thus a short chapter
at the end of Van Pelts A Discussion of Composition claiming to deal with planning
could actually be a discussion on building types. According to Van Pelt, this chapter
was based on the teachings of Guadet and accordingly followed the sequence of vol-
umes 2 and 3 of lments.
However, by the early years of the twentieth century, Guadets discussion of
building types was considered by many to be irrelevant to American conditions. In
the same article in which Hamlin emphasized the importance of planning, he also
argued that, though Guadets discourses were stimulating and suggestive for
American students, what he has to say of the planning of theatres and libraries,
hospitals and schools and churches, is either so far removed from American ideas
and practice or so far behind them as to be a detriment rather than an advantage
to the American.45 These sentiments reflect the widely held belief that the com-
plexities and scale of American building required a different type of discourse on
planning, one capable of dealing with its vast array of technical and organizational
In tune with this demand, planning acquired another range of meaning that
was primarily associated with the practical matters of the program. In this usage,
planning was conceived as a practice based less on general principles and more on
the varying requirements of each building type. Though it is difficult to find a
The Portfolio and Academic Discourse: Formation and Crisis 66

French equivalent for this notion of planning as the acquisition of information con-
cerning the program, tude, with its passive connotations, seems to be the closest.
The books that responded to the technical and practical problems of the increas-
ingly large and complex building programs of American cities may then be called
planning manuals.46 Such manuals, generally organized according to institutional
building types such as schools, offices, and hospitals, began to proliferate in
America around the same time the discussion on composition emerged. Targeted
toward architects as well as institutional practitioners, planning manuals were gen-
erally concerned with technical problems and matters of institutional organization,
and excluded discussions on the historical development of the building type so cen-
tral to Guadets lments.
In these manuals, planning was allied to a process in which the practical
requirements of design were resolved. The process itself, however, was never made
explicit. In this context, planning involved a specialized form of knowledge: the
acoustics of a theater, the provision of sunlight and sanitation in a hospital, the ven-
tilation of schools, the mechanical and structural engineering of tall buildings.
Architects could be involved in its production, but its principal author was gener-
ally an engineer, an experienced practitioner within the institution, or the emergent
management expert. In addition to the manuals, information concerning plan-
ning and building types could be culled from the publications of institutional soci-
eties such as the American Association of Museums and the American Hospital
Association. In the case of the hospital, for example, the secondary role of the
architect was particularly evident because of advances in pathology and theories of
disease transmission.47 Planning was therefore less a process and more a passive
accumulation of knowledge derived from disciplines external to architecture. The
important matter for the architect was not its epistemological structure, organized
outside of the architectural community, but the bits and pieces of information that
it provided. As far as architects were concerned, these manuals were just books for
To grasp the subtle yet important differences in the notion of planning, we must
understand the status of the program in academic discourse. Peter Collins has noted
that it was with the French Prix de Rome competitions of the mid-eighteenth cen-
The Portfolio and the Academic Discipline 67

tury that the idea of the program as a list of design requirements rst evolved.48
Regardless of the historical accuracy of this observation, it is clear that the academic
system had institutionalized a particular form of discourse into the design process. As
a pedagogical medium, the typical Beaux-Arts program was extremely vague in its
indication of size and required facilities. Though programs employed in American
schools tended to be less grandiose, the discursive form was basically identical to that
of the French cole. For example, in the rst Paris Prize program drawn up by the
Beaux-Arts Institute of Design in 1904, the only quantied requirements listed were
the dimensions of an imaginary site and the seating capacity of a large lecture
room.49 The appropriate size of rooms were described with the adjectives large,
small, and ample, leaving their interpretation to the judgment of the student and
the jury. The student certainly had to satisfy the quantitative requirements of the pro-
gram, but emphasis was placed on suggestive phrases about the buildings character
(for example, monuments to be named Civilization bringing peace to uncivilized
countries) and its physical organization. When the program stated that the building
should consist of three distinct groups of buildings, not necessarily disconnected, it
was already a depiction of form. The Beaux-Arts program was then not the social ori-
gin of architectural form, but a verbal bridge between precedent and the new project
to be designed.
This glimpse of the Beaux-Arts program indicates that the academic discipline
demanded that the project be more than just the fulllment of its quantitative and
technical requirements, which were in any case secondary aspects of the program.
This did not mean that the architect controlled the program or that it was within his
jurisdiction. Guadet, for instance, wrote that the architect should be a consultant to
the client but also stressed that he was the servant of a programme which does
not emanate from him.50 Though modern programs were complex and certainly
required careful study, the foundation of design in the Beaux-Arts system did not lie
in the programthat is, architectural form did not emanate from the program.
Rather, the Beaux-Arts architect had to seek the different ways in which the program
could be staged. There were good and bad designs and, as in mathematics, one solu-
tion could be more elegant than another. But there was no notion that one best solu-
tion necessarily followed from the requirements of the program. The discipline was
The Portfolio and Academic Discourse: Formation and Crisis 68

2.13 Ernest Flagg, plan and parti diagram of St. Lukes Hospital, from Brickbuilder, June 1903.
The Portfolio and the Academic Discipline 69

2.14 Ernest Flagg, comparison of parti diagrams of hospitals, from Brickbuilder, June 1903.

centered not on the solution to the problem but on the method and manner in which
it was solved.
Here we return once again to the importance of the parti. In academic discourse,
the parti took precedence over the specic requirements of a building type. In other
words, the basic conguration of the plan did not gradually evolve from the require-
ments of the program but was the result of a synthetic decision at the early stages of
design. This kind of procedure is evident, for example, in an article on hospital plan-
ning by Ernest Flagg, in which he discusses his plan for St. Lukes Hospital.51 For
Flagg, the decision on the parti was in fact the decision on how the program would
be resolved. Each parti had an inherent set of programmatic qualities, and in this arti-
cle we see that Flagg has analyzed different types of parti diagrams for their economy
The Portfolio and Academic Discourse: Formation and Crisis 70

and advantages in ventilation. Only after the parti had been specied as a diagram-
matic plan did he engage its technical and organizational issues. For Flagg, it was in
the parti plan that the aesthetic and visual concerns of composition, on the one hand,
and the practical problems of the program, on the other, were synthesized. The parti
could not be subsumed by composition or planning; it was the embodiment of the
synthetic idea that was to be the foundation of architectural design. According to
Flagg, the parti was the logical solution of the problem, and as every true architect
must have two natures, the practical and the artistic, the parti must be the logical
solution of the problem from his dual standpoint as constructor and artist.52 In this
instance, planning involved knowledge of the sanitary requirements of the hospi-
tal and, at the same time, signied the actual process of lling in and dividing the
initial parti. It is here used in the sense of small scale sketching from any good
To reiterate, planning possessed a wide range of connotations within academic
discourse. It could be used to denote the act of design, as encountered in the state-
ments of Hamlin and Cram, the acquisition of technical knowledge associated with
reference texts, or, as with Flaggs comments above, the subdivision of a basic parti.
It was therefore not only possible but appropriate to say that one composed a plan
or planned a composition. In other words, in the Beaux-Arts system, planning was
less a procedure that preceded the plan than an inseparable part of the visual process
of manipulating the plan. In a recollection of his brief experience at the cole, Louis
Sullivan, the great mythological victim of American academism, offered the follow-
ing assessment of its discipline of the plan:

He familiarized himself thoroughly with the theory of the School, which, in

his mind, settled down to a theory of plan, yielding results of extraordinary
brilliancy, but which, after all, was not the reality he sought, but an abstrac-
tion, a method, a state of mind, that was local and specic; not universal.
Intellectual and aesthetic, it beautifully set forth a sense of order, of function,
of highly skilled manipulation.54

Here, in Sullivans characterization of the theory of plan, we nd a most succinct

description of the ethic, method, and philosophy of the Beaux-Arts system. Sullivan
The Portfolio and the Academic Discipline 71

acknowledged the plans privileged status as a special visual, aesthetic, and intellec-
tual experience, and understood that this theory was less about planning and more
about the formal manipulation of the plan. We may also observe that his discontent
with the cole was articulated in the most philosophical of terms. The Beaux-Arts
system, particularly in the United States, had demonstrated its capacity for using
innovative technology and solving the most complex of modern programs. Sullivan,
who maintained a basic respect for the rigors of its discipline, did not criticize the
Beaux-Arts because it produced a cadre of incompetent architects; rather, his discon-
tent lay with the conventionality and arbitrariness of the system.
Even an advocate of the Beaux-Arts system would not, in principle, object to
Sullivans statement. As we have already underscored, the system was admittedly a
formalismone, however, that continued to rely on the authority of a gurative tra-
dition. A. D. F. Hamlin characterized this conventional marriage of form and gure
in the following way:

Design in architecture, is a form of expression. It is a language, of which the

words and letters are the structural and decorative features and details; the
thoughts to be expressed are the ideas and conceptions in the designers
mind. . . . But in order to express these he must have suitable means of
expression. He cannot invent a new language out of hand any more than he
can invent a new language or a new alphabet. Even if he could, the new lan-
guage or alphabet could never serve his purpose as the old ones can, not only
because no one but he could understand it, but also because it takes long
periods to perfect a language as a means of expression. . . . The historic styles
are the perfected languages of architectural expression, the forms and details
of these styles its words and letters.55

As Hamlins analogy with language illustrates, the Beaux-Arts discipline shared with
structural linguistics the basic premise that signs are arbitrary and that meaning is
derived from a system of relations. If words are conventional yet necessary signs, for
Hamlin, style was a necessary convention. And as language is a necessary means of
communication, the Beaux-Arts system was not local and specic but a method of
The Portfolio and Academic Discourse: Formation and Crisis 72

attacking and studying any problem in architectural design.56 Therefore, the goal of
architectural training, as emphasized by Paul Philippe Cret, was not to arrive at the
best solution of any particular problem, but to learn how to study any problem.57
Based on this conviction of its universality, the system could be regarded as the sci-
ence of design. For its proponents, it was exactly the articiality rejected by Sullivan
that formed the kernel of the system.
The nature of the academic profession was then something quite different from
the science-based professions that emerged in America during the same years. The
historian Burton J. Bledstein has argued that Victorian professionalism had been
based on two principles: rst on a special power over worldly experience, and sec-
ond on a command over the profundities of a discipline. In the case of the sciences,
medicine, and engineering, the professions could claim a natural world, constant and
exterior, that only the discipline could excavate . . . for its principles and theoretical
rules.58 As Michel Foucault has noted, disciplines in the modern world must main-
tain the possibility of formulatingand of doing so ad innitumfresh proposi-
tions. Contrary to this modern rule of discipline, the academic discipline was rather
a system based on the older principle of commentarythe idea that there is some
meaning which must be rediscovered . . . an identity to be reiterated.59 The world
with which the academic profession strove to cultivate its discipline was not natural
and external, but an artice constructed through an internal history of its own past
that is, a history of and in architecture.
As a closed analogical system, the discipline had to be accepted with an element
of faith. Whatever the vagaries of modern society, the discipline assumed a set of con-
victions that were deemed necessary and consistent. Architecture was justied neither
by the program, constructed by the needs of society, nor by a natural law, as in that
other great tradition of modern American architecture culminating in the work of
Frank Lloyd Wright. The sense of superiority over the Beaux-Arts shared by Sullivan
and his most famous disciple was based on the idea that their architecture was in tune
with nature and therefore universal.60 The Beaux-Arts discipline, on the other hand,
was constructed within its own historical and epistemological structure, a system in
which it was perfectly logical for architecture to emulate architecture. However, as we
have just seen, the theoretical basis of this analogical system that sustained the mar-
The Portfolio and the Academic Discipline 73

riage of idea and mimesis, gure and form, was tenuous. It therefore comes as no sur-
prise that its harshest critic was one who had gone through the system and rejected
it as absurdly arbitrary. When the authority of convention is denied and conviction
collapses, however efcacious the method may have been, the discipline loses its per-
suasion. When the strings of the analogical circle are cut, the thick, entwined braid
that was the Beaux-Arts plan begins to unravel into spindly threads that we can only
call diagrams. And when these diagrams do not refer to themselves, the question of
their origins must inevitably be renewed.

We know what he was before the war: an idealist, an

individual whose mission was to make over the world
in what he considered the most beautiful guise, a man
entrusted with large opportunities coming in often
faster than he could master them and striving his best
to keep up with the tremendous increase in the require-
ments and the possibilities of modern construction, a
dreamer and strictly a professional man. It was a
splendid ideal and all honor to those who strove so
nobly to uphold this exalted plane, but that the archi-
tect of after the war is a different man is evident on
every hand. The point of view is changed not only
because of the war but because it was in process of
changing before.
C. H. Blackall, What Is an Architect?,
American Architect, 1919
The Crisis of the Academic Profession 75

The Architectural Profession in the 1910s: Crisis and Response

In the decades that preceded World War I, American society was willing to accept
and indeed eager to promote the notion of the architect as an elevated artist. Even as
the most prominent ofces of academic architecture, such as McKim, Mead and
White and Daniel Burnham, grew into large business enterprises, the discourse of
beauty, vision, and scale continued to shape the ideology of their practice. Ironically,
during the same period in which the architectural profession reached the height of its
prestige, the building industry was undergoing a transition that would undermine the
status of the architect.1 In the last decade of the nineteenth century, there was a rad-
ical change in the way housing and commercial building was organized, produced,
and distributed. Speculative builders, general contractors, construction companies,
and emerging real estate developers started to design, engineer, nance, and sell
whole urban environments. Landowners, developers, and real estate brokers were
beginning to organize into interest groups such as the National Association of
Building Owners and Managers and the National Association of Real Estate Boards.
By the 1910s, large-scale construction-contractor rms were established such as
Thompson Starrett, George A. Fuller, and Todd, Robertson and Todd, where the
in-house architect was often a minute part of a complex organization. Supported by
large capital, utilizing new construction technology, and imbued with the ethos of
efciency, these companies dominated the building industry and pushed forth the
notion of architecture as business. Within the complex structure of this modernizing
industry, the architect could barely claim an autonomous position or remain imper-
vious to what had traditionally been considered exigencies of his discipline.
The nature of mass architecture was also changing. The stock plan business of
selling and distributing documents continued to ourish and develop more efcient
and protable systems. Around the turn of the century, companies were established
to supply not only architectural documents but also made-to-order building compo-
nents. Furthermore, with the establishment of the Aladdin Company of Michigan in
1904, and the entry of Sears, Roebuck and Company into the business a few years
later, the scale and nature of the mail-order house market had changed.2 Sears, along
with Montgomery Ward, was one of the rst companies to sell nationwide through
catalogues. Adding to their already successful mail-order business, Sears began the
The Portfolio and Academic Discourse: Formation and Crisis 76

3.1 Advertisement of Modern Homes Department, Sears, Roebuck and Company, 1914.

Modern Homes Department, which provided standard plans and specications and
eventually became directly involved in construction and nancing. Through its book
department, Sears also published its own builders manual, Radfords Practical
Carpentry. Utilizing precut systems of factory-made components, Sears was able to
engage in large-scale projects such as the construction of company towns in Illinois,
Pennsylvania, and Ohio. With Sears, Roebuck and Company, the design and build-
ing processfrom the provision of plans, drawings, manuals, and documents to con-
struction and financewas subsumed within the commercial mail-order catalogue.
In effect, a whole architectural institution in tune with a system of mass production
and distribution had been formed. With good reason, Sears, the vendor of stock
plans based upon catalogs, was regarded as a serious threat to the architectural
The Crisis of the Academic Profession 77

Along with the growing complexity of the building industry, changes in city
planning and the social milieu of the war years further undermined the idea of auton-
omy. During the 1910s, in contrast to their exalted role in the City Beautiful move-
ment, architects began to be criticized as unrealistic dreamers. By 1916, with the
instigation of the rst comprehensive zoning law in New York and the emergence of
the concept of the city functional, issues of controlling the city through municipal
power became the central agenda of urban planning. Subsequently, the ability of the
architect to project a visual image of an ordered city became incommensurable with
the idea of city planning as an exact science. The key concepts of the City Beautiful
the vague yet essential ideas of style, beauty, and civic artno longer served as valid
criteria in the projection of urban order. As George B. Ford pointed out, the word
beauty had become taboo in planning circles, and moreover, zoning based on aes-
thetic considerations was now rejected as an unconstitutional and an improper exer-
cise of police power.4 In 1931, Henry Wright, looking back at the changing relation
between architecture and city planning, summarized the situation of the mid-teens:

The period from 1912 to 1917 was one in which new problems arose in the
city so quickly that men concerned with the municipal machinery had a dif-
cult time to keep abreast of the immediate developments. It was not sur-
prising that the fundamental meaning of city planning was temporarily
clouded or that these men turned to those who offered the most immediate
practical results. . . . The architect who insisted upon better form as well as
movement was either ignored or considered an idealist. To add the weight
of public pressure to the heavy program of corrective measures, it became
popular to disparage previous planning activity by referring to it as the City
Beautiful Period of city planning. . . . Thus city planning, as practiced
today, has acquired a denite technique in which architectural expression is
of incidental importance.5

On top of this hostile milieu against the traditional architect, the inationary
economy and World War I dealt a critical blow to the profession. In May 1918,
President Wilson announced a moratorium on all building construction unrelated to
the war effort, basically eliminating any opportunity for conventional architectural
The Portfolio and Academic Discourse: Formation and Crisis 78

practice. In a nation that had ceaselessly expanded its need for the services of the
architect, the total number of architects suddenly declined. Serious doubts were raised
about the professions survival, leading to a real sense of crisis. For Albert Kahn, the
war was like an electrical storm that cleared the atmosphere surrounding architec-
tural practice, laying bare the architects true position in American society. In his
assessment, that it is not altogether what it should be is very evident, and that reme-
dies to correct the situation must be found is equally apparent.6 The war had revealed
the discrepancy between the values of American society and the institutional logic of
the academic profession. Architects had difculty obtaining employment and sup-
posedly had to present themselves as construction experts or structural engineers in
order to gain work in war-related industrial building.7 It quickly became apparent to
many architects that the traditional strategy of autonomy had become ineffectual
amidst a social agenda maximizing efciency and production.
With the exception of federally funded war housing, the one area in the war
effort that architects were directly involved in, very few architects were awarded con-
tracts. However, even the designs of the war housing villages were deemed a failure.
Though studies on war housing have pointed out that it was the rst attempt on any
signicant scale to apply the emerging doctrine of scientic planning to workers
housing,8 contemporary observers considered the designs to be fancy and of
unnecessary excellence. On December 1919, the Senate Committee on Public
Buildings and Grounds submitted a widely publicized report on the work of the
United States Housing Corporation. The report blamed architects for a number of
failures including delays, high construction costs, and the method of remuneration.
The central indictment, however, was that rather than following the government pol-
icy of providing minimum and temporary shelter that could be erected quickly and
inexpensively, architects were concerned with perpetuating their own values of beauty
and the model home. When the report stated that the houses were excellent in
specications and beautiful beyond words, it was intended as criticism rather than
praise.9 The war housing merely reinforced the notion that architects were impracti-
cal and rehashed stereotypical comparisons between the efcient engineer and the
aesthetic-minded architect.
During the war years, divergent individuals and groups within the architectural
community began to call for changes in the profession and discipline. Invariably, they
The Crisis of the Academic Profession 79

believed that this institutional crisis was caused by the irrevocable changes in the
social and economic conditions of America. In 1920, Richard Tudor, following
Thorstein Veblens analysis of the pervasive encroachment of capitalism, sounded the
alarm that the larger and more aggressive business organizations are taking over not
only the operation of nancing and constructing but also are performing the archi-
tectural services involved. A sacred area previously marked off by the architectural
profession was now being seized by the forces of industrial capitalism.10 These senti-
ments were not limited to Tudors Veblenian worldview and reected the concerns of
many architects during this time. The crisis had been foreseen for several decades by
Arts and Crafts ideologues such as Arthur J. Penty and the Gothic revivalist Ralph
Adams Cram. Anxieties over the future of the architectural profession were now
shared by the architectural community as a whole.
The most emblematic changes in the profession during these crisis years are to
be found in the reforms pursued by the American Institute of Architects (AIA).11
Centered on the leadership of Thomas Kimball, the ofcial organ of the profession
set out to redene the position and role of the architect in Americas new system of
production and consumption. In 1918, as its key initiative, the AIA established the
Post-War Committee on Architectural Practice, the most important movement ever
started by architects in this country,12 After two years of research on a wide range of
issues, the Post-War Committee concluded that for the academic profession to tackle
the problems of modern society, the reorganization of not only the AIA but the
whole professional and educational system was urgently required. Its subcommittee
on education, led by Frederick Ackerman, made it clear that the Beaux-Arts system
had to respond to the reality of a rapidly changing society:

The almost universal practice of teaching design without any contact what-
ever with the world of reality, and of imposing purely academic judgements
upon the work accompanied by the student, develops a set of utterly false
values with respect to architecture and the function of the profession in the
community. The majority of problems do not even represent genuine situa-
tions, they are not related to actual experiences; and the student thus
engaged is never afforded the opportunity of actually testing his ideas by
application, in order to determine for himself their validity. . . . In general,
The Portfolio and Academic Discourse: Formation and Crisis 80

what is known as subject matter used in the problems represents situations

which are remote from any immediate social interest of the student. Thus
architecture is made to appeal to the student as an arrangement of forms
rather than an expression, in form, of a dynamic society having social aims
and purposes. Is it not reasonable to assume that this condition in education
shows largely why, in practice, the architectural profession seems somewhat

As a way of overcoming this isolation, the committee proposed that the AIA set
up machinery for the establishment of denite afliations between all national orga-
nizations in the building industry.14 This position stood in stark contrast to the
nineteenth-century idea that painters, carvers, carpenters and others whose pursuits
[were] connected with the art of architecture, should not be given any kind of mem-
bership to the AIA on the grounds that it would amount to a confession that the
Institute members were in need of the information supposed to be imparted by the
technicians and craftsmen.15 William Haber, in a study of the building industry pub-
lished just a decade after these changes, could thus state that the AIA had begun to
realize that it was just one part of a larger industry. Its structure was made more ex-
ible and its program broadened, establishing a policy of cooperation with the larger
building industry.16 One specic example of this cooperation was the establishment
of a new organization within the AIA called the Structural Service Department.
With the goal of maintaining close contact with engineers, technicians, and manu-
facturers, a section of this department was reorganized in 1923 as the Producers
Council, an organization of manufacturers and associations of manufacturers of
materials and appliances used in building construction.17 By the end of the twenties,
close to seventy private companies and trade associations became afliated with the
council, an organization that continued to work closely with the AIA.
One of the most interesting reversals in AIA policies was the groups endorsement
of a stock plan service called the Architects Small House Service Bureau (ASHSB).
The ASHSB is notable as the most extensive attempt by the architectural profession
to assimilate the discursive practice of the stock plan. Unlike most stock plan ser-
vices that operated with a large manufacturer of building materials, the ASHSB
was organized independently by licensed architects. It was set up as a response to the
The Crisis of the Academic Profession 81

3.2 Example of house design offered by the Mountain Division of the Architects Small House
Service Bureau, 1923.

commercial mail-order businessor in the words of one of its sponsors, established

by the profession in self defense.18 First begun in 1919, the ASHSB was expanded
into a national organization and ofcially endorsed at the annual convention of
the AIA the following year.19 The AIAs endorsement of the ASHSB was emblem-
atic of the professions departure from earlier attitudes toward the problem of the
small house. The advocates of the ASHSB reversed the older antagonistic stance
toward the stock plan, claiming that Sears, Roebuck and Companys long involve-
ment in the small house was an invasion of what had always been the architects
It was, however, extremely difcult for the bureau to distinguish its service
from the merchandising proposition of commercial mail-order rms. Proponents of
The Portfolio and Academic Discourse: Formation and Crisis 82

the ASHSB argued that, unlike the commercial builder that combined the functions
of the architect and the builder, the bureau provided only design documents.
According to the ASHSB, design and construction were two functions that should
be properly separated to ensure an economical and ethical practice: the interests of
an owner and an architect must be identical, whereas the relation of an owner and a
contractor are those of buyer and seller.21 This logic, however, could never assuage
the discontent over the stock plan. As pointed out, the commodication of architec-
tural documents and the stock plan logic of choice, assemblage, and the pregured
program were clearly antithetical to the academic profession. This fact was not lost
on the many architects who opposed the bureau and the AIAs sponsorship.
Responding to a challenge to AIAs endorsement, Robert T. Jones, technical direc-
tor of the ASHSB, argued: The Bureau does not cater to popular taste in the design
of its houses. If it had been willing to design houses to meet popular taste, it should
have sold many, many more plans. Its main endeavor is to educate the public to a
desire for better designed houses.22 Invoking the traditional notion of the architects
detachment from construction, the ASHSB fell back on the ethical argument of the
architects superiority over builders. Rather than acknowledging itself as a constituent
part of mass culture, the bureau continued to retain the idea of autonomy. In 1932, a
nationwide referendum held by American Architect showed that an overwhelming
majority of registered architects polled disapproved of ofcial AIA sponsorship.23
Two years later the AIA withdrew its endorsement, and the ASHSB was eventually
dissolved in 1942.
We thus see that this ofcial opening of the profession to a mass industrial
society was not without its vicissitudes. In fact, when the building industry recovered
and surged during the 1920s, the general sense of crisis quickly dissipated. As a rule,
crisis theories tend to be most persuasive in times of economic hardship and then to
disappear when prosperity returns. Not surprisingly, the Post-War Committee noted
that while it had had much support during the difcult years, it was all but forgotten
immediately after the building industry began to recover. Nevertheless, the commit-
tee had clearly placed its nger on a momentous shift in the architectural profession.
As Paul Bentel, who has produced the most detailed study of its history, so aptly
observed, professional ethics had been twisted, conventional practices abandoned or
fundamental principles of work transformed.24 Triggered by the new social, eco-
The Crisis of the Academic Profession 83

nomic, and cultural conditions of industrial production and mass consumption, the
crisis was not just one of temporary unemployment but a signal of an irrevocable dis-
ruption of the profession and discipline. The dichotomy between mass architecture
and the academic profession began to be blurred, compromised, and in certain cases
fundamentally rejected. The terms of architectural discourse had begun to change.

Business, Efciency, and Functional Planning

The depression has made many architects think with a new seriousness
about their professional position and its relation to the whole sociological
and economic present. During boom years, architects, particularly in the
larger ofces, became imbued with the psychology of their clients. All the
Hooverian dogmas of individualism, salesmanship, prot-making, were
swallowed unquestioningly. Architectural magazines were full of articles on
the money making side of the profession; the architect was often a promoter
and a businessman rather than a designer. As he became immersed in nan-
cial schemes and details, his professional position was weakened; the archi-
tect was merely a cog in the machine of corporate and individual prot

Thus did Talbot Hamlin reect on the notion of architecture as business, as it had
become such a prevalent part of the architectural discourse of the 1920s. As we have
just seen, the war years had forced the architectural profession to face new kinds of
problems. For a time, the factory and workers housing were the only projects avail-
able to architects, and as a result issues of economy and engineering rose to the fore-
front of architectural discourse. Even in the ensuing period of recovery, commercial
building dominated the market, thus continuing to drive architectural discourse
toward the goals of business, efciency, and engineering. In stark contrast to
Hamlins conservative position, William Starrett could bluntly state that architects
were serving business and not ethics.26 In fact, the profession largely viewed the pur-
suit of efciency as a way of strengthening its position in the building process. As
The Portfolio and Academic Discourse: Formation and Crisis 84

Paul Bentel noted, it was none other than the AIAs Post-War Committee that had
presented the technical expert and industrial manager seeking greater efciencies in
industrial production as the role models for architects to emulate.27 The 1920s was a
period driven by Hooverian ideology, further spurred on by scientic management
and its many variants. The cult of efciency had become a national phenomenon,
spreading into all aspects of American life and bringing architecture too under its
Among the professional journals, Architectural Forum was the rst to embrace the
notion of business and efciency. In 1917, Forum changed its title and format.
Whereas its predecessor, The Brickbuilder, had been a portfolio-oriented journal,
printed on a 103/4-by-133/4-inch page, Architectural Forum introduced a letterpress sec-
tion in equal standing with the portfolio.28 In a similar vein, with its October 17, 1917,
number, American Architect launched a separate Department of Architectural
Engineering. Echoing the concerns of the Post-War Committee and the prevailing
sense of crisis of the war years, both journals began to emphasize issues of business
and engineering. Forum was the more aggressive, pushing the notion that architec-
ture could no longer be a viable profession unless its scope of services was broadened
to incorporate a wider range of commercial and industrial building.29 To function in
these modern operations, architects had to broaden their knowledge to include mat-
ters outside their traditional domain. And in specifying this new eld of architectural
concerns, Forum relayed the recommendations of the Post-War Committee: [the
architect] must provide a service greater than designing buildings; he must be aware
of the sociological questions inuencing our civilization; he must recognize the eco-
nomic conditions of the present and devote his energy to securing the most efcient
use of labor and material.30
Responding to the call to expand the scope of architectural discourse, Forum ini-
tiated a series of changes within its letterpress section. In its June 1919 number, it
began a separate section called the Department of Architectural and Building
Economics, followed the next month by the inauguration of a Department of
Engineering and Construction.31 In 1921, the journal formed the Forum Consultation
Committee of engineers, building managers, and nancial controllers who would
write on subjects ranging from building management to safety engineering.32 The
main contributor to these new installments was an engineer, C. Stanley Taylor, who
The Crisis of the Academic Profession 85

was in charge of both the real estate section of the Consultation Committee and the
Department of Building Economics. According to Taylor, the new department was
instituted to meet the growing demand for information on the increasingly dominant
business factors of architectural practice. It would present articles dealing with the
various phases of building and nance: promotion of building operations, mainte-
nance, insurance engineering, efciency of design from the business point of view,
and similar subjects of constructive value in assisting the architect to meet the
demands of modern business conditions and the competition of encroaching inter-
ests.33 From Taylors business point of view, buildings were tools of a nancial pro-
gram that promoted the maximum efciencies of production.
Forum thus made it abundantly clear that efciency was inextricably linked with
business. As indicated by the following passage from an advertising brochure of a
prominent design and engineering rm, these efciencies for prot were to be gained
through the implementation of a rational and instrumental concept of planning:

Service buildingsindustrial and institutionalare different from specula-

tive and investment types in that such building space is created for specic
usenot for sale. Because of this fact the problem of the service building is
greatly complicated. Not only must economies of original investment cost
and maintenance be considered, but the building must be planned as a
machine which will function with the highest degree of efciency for a spe-
cic purpose.34

The metaphor of the building as machine, a discursive trope that will be examined in
the following chapters, is here used to promote the application of scientic principles
to the design and planning of the physical environment. This notion of planning as
a rational intervention into the workplace has its roots in the management and engi-
neering discourses dating to the rst years of the twentieth century.35 During this
period, scientic management emerged as just one of many organized attempts
such as human engineering, the industrial betterment movement, and the sys-
temizersto place industry under the control of scientically based principles.36
Though the specics of each program differed, their ideology was often aligned with
Progressivism, sharing the view that social reform was essentially a problem of con-
trol and regulation.
The Portfolio and Academic Discourse: Formation and Crisis 86

In the development of the discourse of modern management, planning emerged

as the key concept, one that Frederick Winslow Taylor used to specify the work of
the management expert. Based on the authority of scientic knowledge, Taylor
assumed that a radical separation of thinking and doing, planning and labor could be
realized in the management of the factory. The power of institutional control would
be awarded to a new center of the workplace, referred to as the planning department.
The department was to be a repository of the science of production, whereby the
authority of control would be shifted away from the self-interested owner, employer,
and worker to the industrial engineer.37 With the purpose of procuring maximum ef-
ciencies of production, planning was thus inscribed into managerial discourse as the
act of providing and executing the social and physical program of the factory. The
rational program in scientic management was a body of documents that controlled
the function of the organization: a plan for doing work, the plan which the planning
department lays out and hands over for the performers, or the workers, to do.38 In
Taylorism, the idea of social control was crystallized into a concept of planning; sub-
sequently, the physical design of the workplace came under its jurisdiction.39
For example, in the organization of the factory, control of plans for new con-
struction as relating to ventilation, plumbing, heating, lighting, lavatories and dress-
ing rooms, lunch rooms, rest and recreation rooms, and hospital facilities, medical
care of employees during work hours could all be placed under a department of
human engineering.40 College courses in industrial engineering included subjects
such as the construction of industrial buildings, the layout of buildings, installation
and arrangements of facilities and equipment, etc.41 The rational design of the fac-
tory was one of the most important tasks of the industrial engineer, and as the fol-
lowing passage from a manual on factory management demonstrates, it was not a task
properly handled by the architect.

The employment of an architect usually provides for the preparation of plans

and specications, the letting of contracts, and the supervision of construc-
tion. In this way much of the responsibility is delegated to qualied men.
Strictly speaking, however, the design of factories has little relation to archi-
tecture. To handle the task requires a thorough knowledge of the production
processes to be cared for, and an understanding of factory management and
The Crisis of the Academic Profession 87

production control, including an appreciation of the reaction of the workers

to the equipment and facilities provided. The human factor is the biggest
single factor in production and must be considered accordingly. These sub-
jects are foreign to the training of the typical architect. It is scarcely possible
that he will look upon the task as that of tting a housing scheme to a pro-
duction machinewhich he has also designed or at least analysed and
checked carefullyso that it will function as a part of the machine itself.
This is a decidedly prosaic, utilitarian, dollars-and-cents balancing job, call-
ing for a wide range of engineering and production talent, and an under-
standing of the psychology and needs of labor. Architectural design will
prove to be a minor feature.42

Architects were disqualied not because of their lack of expertise in structure and
constructionthe traditional area of conict between engineers and architectsbut
because of their ignorance of the commercial aspects, institutional processes, and
human factor of the project.
Before the war, this rationalist notion of planning had been disseminated by
manuals related to factory management and home economics (so-called domestic
engineering), and by periodicals concerned specically with industrial production,
such as the Bulletin of the Taylor Society, System, Management Engineering, Factory, and
Industrial Management. These management texts introduced new subject matter and
new modes of discourse not found in the traditional planning manuals mentioned
in chapter 2.43 Take, for example, a manual called Hotel Planning and Outtting,
coedited by Vincent R. Bliss and C. Stanley Taylor. Taylor, in addition to his duties
at Forum, was a member of the editorial board of Hotel Management and was consid-
ered an expert on hotel planning. He provided a detailed elaboration of the proce-
dures of planning for efciency and prot, centered on the notion of the functional
plan.44 The rst step in the planning process consisted of the scientic study of
community needs and possibilities, a survey to be conducted by the American Hotel
Association, hotel accounting rms, and nancial organizations. Based on this study,
the site was selected and a protable nancial plan established.45 In the next step, a
schedule of space functions was formulated. The commercial hotel would have six
general divisions: public, concession, subrental, food service, guest room, and general
The Portfolio and Academic Discourse: Formation and Crisis 88

The rst step in planning should be the listing under each of these divisions
of the actual functions or purposes for which each space unit will be required
in the specic project. The next step should be to assign approximate sizes,
numbers of spaces required, and general plan data on each. In this manner
the architect is really provided with a mixed group of space units, which if
put together intelligently under the established requirements, should provide
a satisfactory and successful plan. Of course, as the plan develops under this
system, there will be adjustments, new suggestions, and changes in the func-
tional plan to meet the limitations of the physical plan, but at the same time
the rst draft of oor plans developed in this manner will quite clearly inter-
pret the business requirements of the project.46

Thus Taylors functional plan was a systematic formulation of the architectural pro-
gram. In the specicity of the divisions of space and their dimensions, and in the
exclusion of all qualitative statements of the project, there was a break not only with
the Beaux-Arts program but also with the conventional building programs of the
In effect, the functional plan assumed a fundamentally different conception of
the design process from that of the academic system. First of all, the unit of manip-
ulation was no longer dened as a combination of architectural elements but as divi-
sions of space functions, each charged with a specic square or cubic footage of area.
This method of allotting space from a functional viewpoint produced a series of
space units or plan units, which the architect had to place in proper inter-relation-
ship.48 Second, in contrast to the academic assumption that there may be different
solutions to one program, the notion of a one-to-one correspondence between the
program and architectural plan was established. This idea was reiterated in the fol-
lowing passage by Sydney Wagner on The Statler Idea in Hotel Planning:

Too much stress cannot be laid upon the vital importance of planning and
equipment, and upon the fact that the architectural treatment of the facade
and interior is of secondary importance in a problem which is essentially one
of service. Any able architect can evolve at least half a dozen radically differ-
ent yet entirely satisfactory schemes of facade; yet there may be, and usually
is, but one adequate scheme of plan.49
The Crisis of the Academic Profession 89

Ideally, the architectural plan was now a logical product of a linear process beginning
with the program. In this procedure, which C. Stanley Taylor called scientic pre-
determination, the functional plan was to gradually unravel itself into the physical
plan. For Taylor, establishing a systematic program as the basis of design was clearly
superior to traditional methods that started with hazy ideas as to a general plan and
then had to work backward in a maze of alterations.50 In this framework, the archi-
tectural procedure was dened as a sequence of discrete stages:

Research must precede planning as planning must precede design before

design drawings can be prosecuted efciently. Systematic and well-directed
research prosecuted by those equipped for the task will result in substantial
ofce economies, as against methodstoo often in evidencewhere
attempt is made to carry on research, planning and design coincidentally.51

This formulation of a linear and rational architectural process would thus seem
antithetical to the academic discipline. Yet during the 1910s and 1920s, it was not the
purpose of this functionalist discourse to contradict or attack traditional academic
practice, as is evident in the way Architectural Forum formulated its new editorial pol-
icy. According to C. Stanley Taylor, the expansion of the services of the architect did
not mean that art had to be sacriced to commerce: The aesthetic interests of the
community are to be maintained on a scale never before known. There will be no
deviation from the sound principles and traditions of an honored profession; but a
broadening of service consistent with modern progress.52 Such sentiments toward
traditional values of design hence coexisted with the functional plan and can also be
found in the Statler Idea. In the article on Statler hotels, Wagner immediately qual-
ied his statement on the importance of planning by adding that as a matter of
course . . . any scheme of plan, to be really adequate, must, in addition to meeting
service requirements, conform to the established principles of good design.53
Further evidence pointing to the persistence of academic concepts is the fact that
the plan type was not considered incommensurable with a linear and deterministic
design process. For example, a 1923 Forum article on bank planning could argue for
beginning with a systematic program while simultaneously presenting an array of
typical plans. In this program, the working organization of the building could be
The Portfolio and Academic Discourse: Formation and Crisis 90

claried by diagrams that dened the interrelations of departments. The author

argued that even if the requirements thus stated did not t the specic conditions of
the project, this procedure would still be better than planning the building rst and
packing the organization into it afterward, simply because the diagrams show the
best solutions that can be evolved, and every move is toward that rather than being
an attempt to install as nearly as possible a development of the existing arrange-
ment.54 However, the organizational diagrams that the author promoted never did
appear, and the article continued to follow the format of the traditional planning
The coexistence of functional planning and the plan type was particularly evident
in the museum, an emblematic building type for academic design that was immedi-
ately affected by the rationalist approach to planning. According to Laurence
Colemans 1950 study of American museums, buildings realistically planned for the
whole organism known as the present-day museum began to appear around the late
teens, specically with the studies for the Cleveland Museum of Art.55 This realis-
tic approach is evident in articles by Benjamin Ives Gilman, the secretary of the
Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Published during the teens, Gilmans essays
appeared in a variety of magazines such as Scientic Monthly, Architectural Record, and
institutional journals within the museum eld. These articles were gathered together
in 1918 (with a second edition in 1923) and published as Museum Ideals of Purpose and
Method. In what would become, for a time, the most important manual for museum
design, scientic approaches to minimizing museum fatigue, circulation, and
lighting, all coexisted with a set of codied plan types.56
Functional planning, then, did not immediately usurp academic discourse.
However, it sustained a logic that would eventually bring about the demise of aca-
demic discourse. It assumed that the foundation of architectural design lay in the
functional plana rational and systematic architectural programthat remained
outside the province of the architects discipline. In the early twenties, the consulting
services for what is now called programming were offered not by architects but by
organizations involved in building management. For example, in 1923, the National
Association of Building Owners and Managers created the Building Planning Service
Committee, whose role was to aid owners and architects in planning ofce buildings
to obtain maximum efciency and economy. Through the associations journal,
The Crisis of the Academic Profession 91

Skyscraper Management, and similar journals such as Hotel Management and Building
and Building Management, the concept of functional planning gained wide use.
Though the concerns of the architect had to extend to the predesign stages of
research and planning, the practice of institutional planning was itself under the juris-
diction of the industrial engineer and the management expert.

Planning the kitchen with accessories, the laundry, as well as power units for
a metropolitan hotel, in the main are industrial rather than architectural
problems. Institutional planning, the modern hospital, the sanitarium, refor-
matory and welfare groups, call for study and analysis by the industrial engi-
neer who sees in the institution a plant for processing material. He evolves
determinations for planning fundamental to architectural design.57

In the Pencil Points article from which this passage is quoted, planning was consid-
ered part of the architects discipline only in those aspects where the requirements
developed by the management expert had to be translated into some form of
schematic design and then handed down to the draftsman. The article dened plan-
ning as the preparation of tentative scale designs, from grouping to details, concise
in substance and compact in form, with necessary explanatory notes and schedules
which shall direct the draftsman in no uncertain manner. This statement has reverted
to the traditional Beaux-Arts denition of planning, and in its view of the form-
making duties of the architect nothing seems to have changed. But the article now
presents form as the product of the programand this notion has the effect of
reducing the architect to one merely occupied with pencil and scale.58 In its initial
formulation during the early twenties, functional planning was not a programmatic
attempt to supersede academic discourse. However, the idea that architectural design
begins from the program, as distinct from the sense of responsibility that architecture
must meet its requirements, irrevocably triggered the rst step toward the demise of
the academic discipline.
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Part Two

The architecture of today must be tested by its adher-

ence to the true principles of designrather than by its
likeness to the details of historical precedent. It is the
spirit rather than the precise form which is of supreme
AIA Report of the Board of Directors, 1929
The Fragmentation of the Academic Discipline 95

The Changing Ideas of Composition and the Demise of the Analytique

If one were to survey the architectural publications of the 1920s, not only in America
but also in England, the reviewer would be struck by the great expansion of literature
on academic design. As I just pointed out, the emergence of the discourse of business
and efciency did not lead to the immediate downfall of academic discourse. In fact,
far from revealing a collapse, this survey would point to a virtual resurgence of Beaux-
Arts inuence. Following a tendency already evident in David Varons Indication in
Design, texts that codied the classical elements into a catalogue of simple ready-
made forms were immediately established as popular manuals among students and
practitioners.1 Between 1921 and 1924, Pencil Points featured an extensive serial by
John Harbeson on the methods of the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design. In 1926, the
articles were published in book form as The Study of Architectural Design, which was
revised in a new edition the following year.2 Even more than Varons Indication,
Harbesons serial provided a step-by-step exposition of the academic system of
design. Other noteworthy publications in this tradition of pedagogical texts include
Nathaniel Curtiss Architectural Composition (1923), Howard Robertsons The
Principles of Architectural Composition, and Robert Atkinson and Hope Bagenals
Theory and Elements of Architecture (1926).3 Inaugurated in 1920, the journal Pencil
Points was itself part and parcel of the revival of the Beaux-Arts. Serving as a key
medium for academic discoursefor example, Harbesons exposition on academic
design, summary translations of Guadets lments and Viollet-le-Ducs Dictionnaire,
and Raymond Hoods series on A Vocabulary of Atelier Frenchit quickly came
to command a circulation that was second only to Architectural Record.4 The rst com-
prehensive histories of American architecture were also published during the twen-
ties: Lewis Mumfords Sticks and Stones (1924), Talbot Hamlins The American Spirit
in Architecture (1926), Thomas Tallmadges The Story of Architecture in America (1927),
George Edgells The American Architecture of Today (1928), and Fiske Kimballs
American Architecture (1928). With the exception of Sticks and Stones, these texts all
valued the Beaux-Arts not only for its past inuence but also as a continuing tradi-
tion relevant to contemporary American architecture.5
Coming on the heels of the postwar crisis, the resurgence of academic discourse
may seem a sudden reversal of fortune. However, it is actually not too difcult to
The Search for a New Discipline 96

4.1 Plans Dealing with Groups Having Fore and Interior Courts from John Haneman, A
Manual of Architectural Composition, 1923.
4.2 Colonnades from John Haneman, A Manual of Architectural Composition, 1923.
The Fragmentation of the Academic Discipline 97

understand the reasons for this turnabout. First, the economic boom of the twenties
created an unprecedented growth in construction and, subsequently, an enormous
demand for the services of the architectural community.6 Second, formal architectural
education continued to expand. After the founding of the rst architectural schools
in the late nineteenth century, nineteen new schools were established in the decade
after 1912. By 1930, despite the uctuations of the economy and the crisis of the war
period, the number of students enrolled in architecture schools had tripled that of
1912.7 The third reason was the resurgence of eclecticism, in particular the popularity
of the colonial revival. From the period houses to the Beaux-Arts apartments, the
building boom of the twenties provided the impetus for a second coming of the port-
folio and pattern book. Ironically, the renewal of Beaux-Arts inuence would mark
the beginning of the internal rupture of this grand tradition. Whereas the ideas of
business, efciency, and functional planning had begun to disrupt the discipline from
its outer fringes, we shall see in the changing ideas of academic discourse the forma-
tion of subtle yet irreparable fault lines within its internal construction.
Let us rst examine the transformations in the idea of composition. Though the
new theoretical texts of the 1920s continued to present composition in the formalist
rubric of Van Pelt and Robinson, it was now a concept that programmatically rejected
the value and efcacy of style. In other words, composition became a theory anti-
thetical to the notion of architecture as a combination of elements. Without actually
mentioning the term composition, the key Anglo-American text that initiated this new
attitude with a full-blown theory of architectural formalism was Geoffrey Scotts The
Architecture of Humanism (1914). John Harbeson could in fact recommend the book as
a very sane exposition of the underlying principles of architectural composition.8
The Architecture of Humanism was a survey and critique of the fallacies of various
architectural theories, beginning with the Renaissance and ending with academic
theory. Though Scott placed high value on the academic tradition that owed
from the Renaissance, he believed academic theory to be at all times barren.
According to Scott, the latter consisted of a conventionalism, the view that because
certain forms were used in the past they must therefore be used without alteration in
the future. He insisted that the true elements of architecture did not lie in a canon
of form, meaning the meticulous observation of pure styles, but in mass, space,
and line.9 Adopting Theodor Lippss theory of empathy, Scott claimed that through
The Search for a New Discipline 98

their perception of basic formsas appearances related to fundamental human func-

tionshumans were able to identify themselves with the built artifact: hence, his
notion of humanistic architecture. He believed that the tendency to project the
image of functions into concrete forms provided the basis of creative design, of an
architecture which by Mass, Space and Line responds to human physical delight, and
by Coherence answers to our thought.10 Though his formalism had the effect of
debunking the status of historical style as a constituent element of architectural the-
ory, Scott had little intention of justifying innovations in architectural design. His
goal was to reorient the validity of the classical tradition, in particular Greek and
Renaissance architecture, away from the framework of stylistic continuity, thereby
providing it with ahistorical principles rooted in human psychology. Widely read on
both sides of the Atlantic, Scott provided an exemplary logic that could be employed
to reconcile the academic discipline with the emerging debates concerning composi-
tion, eclecticism, and modernism.
The second edition of The Architecture of Humanism came out in 1924, the same
year that Howard Robertsons The Principles of Architectural Composition was rst
published.11 Like Van Pelt and Robinson, Robertson believed that composition was
something that could be analyzed. One could invoke a set of principles of composi-
tion, or what Colin Rowe referred to as a formal common denominator of past,
present, and future monuments.12 Robertsons book was actually just one of several
Anglo-American texts of the 1920s that set out to elaborate these architectural prin-
ciples. Though the specic terms of these principles differed from author to author,
they typically included contrast, proportion, scale, balance, rhythm, massing, and sur-
faceconcepts similar to those already offered by Van Pelt and Robinson. As Robert
Atkinsons foreword to The Principles of Architectural Composition illustrates, they were
invariably considered to be universal and permanent:

Composition is the keystone of architectural design. Whilst primarily the

plan of a building dominates its external expression, yet devoid of a sense of
Composition the external effect may be dull and uninteresting despite a
good plan; and with a proper appreciation of contrasts and values of mass the
same work may be masterly. Detail is secondary, and may be bad or entirely
omitted, on a building the mass of which is effective and even spectacular.13
The Fragmentation of the Academic Discipline 99

4.3 The Use of the Dominant to Provide Unity in Composition of Plural Elements from
Howard Robertson, Principles of Architectural Composition, 1924.

With the exception of the comment that detailed ornament could be completely
excluded, The Principles of Architectural Composition would seem to continue the argu-
ments of the turn of the century. As with Van Pelt and Robinson, contrast and mass
were considered principles independent of the plan and style of the building.
Furthermore, for Robertson, the plan remained within the realm of architectural
form and thus subject to the control of formal principles: it was an image on paper
which shows the scheme as a pattern of walls, rooms, corridors, etc., all laid out at
as are the gures on a painting, and therefore, regarded as the elements of a piece of
design, affecting each other according to the laws of abstract composition.14
Robertson, however, was careful to distinguish his treatise from Guadets l-
ments as well as the American texts by Robinson, Van Pelt, and Nathaniel Curtis. He
The Search for a New Discipline 100

claimed that while these texts dealt with composition from a functional point of
view, his study considered it from the abstract standpoint.15 This binary opposition
between the functional and the abstract provided Robertson with the central distinc-
tion on which he based his exposition on composition:

that which regards the question of design in the abstract and considers the
aesthetic effect of a building without special regard to its function and struc-
ture; and that which deals with the practical requirements of purpose, the
elements which go to form the complete building, the methods of construc-
tion utilized, all matters which are related to what we may call, for the sake
of brevity, functional design.16

Robertson went on to argue that only through a comprehension of the laws of com-
position, through knowledge of the grammar of design could functional design be
satisfactorily translated into an architectural creation.17 The phrase grammar of
design was adopted from The Things Which Are Seen, a general treatise on aesthetics
by Trystan Edwards, another widely read British architect and critic. As the basis of
beauty in both natural and articial objects, Edwards had proposed the canons of
number, punctuation, and inectionformal principles he would later apply to
architecture in Architectural Style (1926). In the same vein as Robertson, who had
stated that good architecture was entirely independent of so-called styles, Edwards
insisted that style was expressional and secondary to the compositional rules of
architecture.18 As Alan Colquhoun stated in his perceptive analysis of The Principles
of Architectural Composition, the search for permanence in formal principles became
synonymous with the collapse of stylistic conviction.19
Another aspect common to Edwards and Robertson was their complete separa-
tion of planning and composition:

The practical requirements of buildings, systems of planning designed to

satisfy the conditions of particular architectural programmes, even the
expressional function of architecture, so far as this is manifested in the char-
acter and status of a building, or in the disposition of parts in accordance
with utilitarian needs, has nothing to do with the present theme, which is
the language of architecture.20
The Fragmentation of the Academic Discipline 101

4.4 Examples of the principles of conjugation (drawings 1 to 6) and punctua-

tion (drawings A to D) from Trystan Edwards, Architectural Style, 1926.
The Search for a New Discipline 102

The corollary to the exclusion of practical matters from the composition book was the
planning manuals proposition that form and style were not part of its subject matter.
As Edward F. Stevens stated in his manual on hospitals,

While many exterior designs are here shown, no attempt has been made to
discuss architectural style, forms of construction or building material, since
these may not differ from those of other classes of buildings. While the pres-
ence of beauty, either in architectural forms of decoration or sculpture, has
its psychological effect upon the patient, the arrangement of the plan is really
of prime importance in meeting the hospital problem.21

We encountered this kind of dualistic logic in our discussion on functional planning.

Paralleling the rise of functional planning as a rational process of linking program and
plan, composition became disengaged from the Beaux-Arts theory of the plan. The
earlier more implicit distinction between planning and composition had now become
an explicit separation of form and function.
With the fragmentation of the theory of the plan, the supplementary relation
between the analytique and the esquisse, so central to the discipline of the Beaux-
Arts, could no longer be retained. According to Robertson, the problem of archi-
tectural elements was an issue of functional design. He rmly believed that the
proper understanding of architecture was achieved through the analysis of princi-
ples rather than of the elements of building.22 Robertson thus separated abstract
composition from the study of the elements, relegating the latter to a secondary
position in the design process. Consequently, the idea of composition was categor-
ically detached from the productive process of design and was dened either as a
visual effect or as a set of analytic concepts. Composition was now completely sep-
arated from the discipline of the analytique, the study and design of architectural
elements, and in turn the analytique relinquished its essential status as the link
between part and whole.
The collapse of the analytique brought about an internal rupture in academic
discourse that was manifest in the academic texts of the 1930s. We may read it in a
portfolio, such as Charles Scribners 1930 publication of Masterpieces of Architecture
in the United States, and a pedagogical text, Ernest Pickerings Architectural Design of
The Fragmentation of the Academic Discipline 103

1933. In the same spirit of Letarouillys careful rendering of the great monuments of
Rome moderne, Masterpieces was meant to be a culmination of the development of
American architecture. Paul Philippe Cret, the most prominent of the eleven-
member selection jury, proudly distinguished the portfolio from the many publica-
tions of the 1920s that had based the selection of their material solely upon its
exemplication of the canons of the new art.23 Yet even in the pages of this ambi-
tious publication, it was evident that the analytique was coming under severe criti-
cismso much so that in its preface, Cret was obliged to defend the principles of
mimesis: to provide an Apology for Imitation, showing, by example drawn from
every period in the history of art, how forms have been evolved by the countless
small efforts of the individual, adopting and modifying to his particular uses and
tastes the discoveries of his predecessors.24 Cret, however, was ghting a losing bat-
tle, and though he had hoped that the reception of Masterpieces would encourage a
second volume, by the mid-thirties the chances for such a publication had all but
Despite Crets noble defense of mimesis, even within the academic discipline the
analytique was now considered a detriment to the proper training of the architect.
This was evident in Pickerings Architectural Design, one of the last specimens in the
genealogy of composition textbooks. According to Pickering, his book had the goal
of bringing the study of architectural design into harmony with the twentieth cen-
tury. And for this purpose, he believed that the design process had to dispense with
the study of architectural elements, a position summarized by Rexford Newcombs
foreword to his book:

For years, books on architectural design and composition have presented the
elements of architectureorders, windows, walls, columns, stairs, pedi-
ments, and the likeas though they were the fundamentals out of which
designs are composed in much the way that we put words together to form
sentences in our lingual expression. This approach was perhaps all very well
in a world of xed categories where it appeared that most of the words and
grammar of architecture had been perfected by our predecessors and that
about the best we could do was to recompose these elements to meet the
demands of the day.25
The Search for a New Discipline 104

We may contrast this statement with Lloyd Warrens foreword to Harbesons The
Study of Architectural Design, written just a decade before Architectural Design.
Warren, the first American to receive a diploma at the cole, wrote that the ana-
lytique was essential to ensuring that a student, before he enters the veritable
study of architecture, has at his command a certain knowledge of things necessary
to express acceptably a proposed edifice.26 For those who held on to the older
notion of composition, the traditional relation between the part and the whole
would still be maintained throughout the twenties. Van Pelt, for example, contin-
ued to believe that the production of good detail was the necessary basis of the
whole field of architectural composition. However, his conviction that the qual-
ities of a building are those of its parts was quickly becoming an old-fashioned
In 1930, under the aegis of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture,
a critical survey of architectural schools was conducted by Frank H. Bosworth and
Roy C. Jones, published two years later as A Study of Architectural Schools. This pre-
cocious study revealed many facets of the changing architectural pedagogy of the late
twenties and early thirties, but what is most striking is its overt criticism against
beginning design education with the analytique:

[The analytique] as a device to inculcate a realization by the student of three-

dimensional architectural forms, this type of work and the usual instruction
that goes with it would in the great majority of cases seem very questionable.
Perhaps that is not its objective. What its real purpose is, beyond the facil-
ity in pictorial representation, no school was prepared to say with any great
conviction or denition.28

The study pointed to a growing number of schools that had begun to forgo the study
of elements, approaching the rst stages of architectural education with problems
that involve the totality of architecture in simplied form rather than articially
amputated parts of a complex whole.

The essential difference between the two methods involves a difference in

point of view as to the fundamental nature of architecture. The common
The Fragmentation of the Academic Discipline 105

method has stressed the external and decorative phases of architecture by

centering the students attention on them in his formative stages. The new
one stresses the primary concern of architecture with the grouping and pro-
portioning of enclosed spaces for human need. The movement has a signicance
far greater than is implied in its bare mention as an educational experiment.
It is a direct reection of a new tendency in architecture which has been
strongly evidenced in recent years,so strongly evidenced, indeed, that
many people hail it as not merely a tendency, but a revolution, whereby sen-
timental subservience to stylistic formulae bequeathed by the past is to give
place to an enthusiastic acceptance of the realities of present-day materials
and needs.29

In other words, despite the collapse of the analytique, the idea of the schematic rst
sketch, originally predicated on the study of the elements, was retained within the
schools. This lingering of an emaciated esquisse, even after the demise of the analy-
tique, can also be detected in Pickerings Architectural Design, which maintained the
Beaux-Arts method of beginning a project with the sketch problem. Despite retain-
ing a section on the analytique (see gure 2.5), Pickering now claimed that he was
dealing with mass and space rather than the conventional elements of the classi-
cal tradition. In Bosworth and Joness study, they were called the enclosed spaces for
human need, a concept clearly compatible with the predetermined space functions
that comprised C. Stanley Taylors scheme of the functional plan. Detail was now an
application to be taught in the latter stages of the curriculum and conducted in the
nal stage of the design process. Consequently, style became associated solely with
ornament, a shift that was understandably regarded as a revolutionary moment in
architectures evolution toward a new reality.
By the early 1930s, what had once been a tightly knit system based on the the-
ory of the plan was fragmented into separate discursive units. Composition and
planning, esquisse and analytique, form and function were now regarded as episte-
mologically exclusive categories that constituted discrete stages in the design process.
In these dualisms, there was an absence of a dialectic because each concept claimed a
different set of objects and conceptualized its unity in different ways. While planning
was regarded strictly as a function of the program, composition sustained its own
The Search for a New Discipline 106

set of internalized rules. Though the notion of unity was universally claimed as
a principle of composition, it was a concept internal to the formal categories of the
system: if a structure has unity, it must have contrast, rhythm, and scale.30
Composition, as a set of analytical categories and perceptual effects, could thus avoid
being entangled with the rationalized procedure of planning.

Form versus Function: The Debates of the 1920s

During the 1920s and early 1930s, the schism that had formed between composition
and planning, form and function, began to surface in the many architectural debates
of the period. The most notable was the debate on modernism between the mod-
ernists and the traditionalists, two camps that actually shared similar Beaux-Arts
backgrounds. The modernists, particularly during the late twenties, were identied
with the architects of the New York skyscrapers, namely Raymond Hood, Ely
Jacques Kahn, Ralph Walker, and Harvey Wiley Corbett. Simultaneously maintain-
ing the aura of academism and the mantle of architecture as business, they repre-
sented that peculiar 1920s gure of the Beaux-Arts commercial architect.31 Corbett,
the most vocal of the group, persistently strove to bring business, art, and modernism
together. The following comments from his article on Raymond Hoods Radiator
Building present a typical Corbettian proposition:

There is no reason why the term commercialism should ever be considered

as opposed to art. Perhaps a new type of commercial architecture will be
developed. Perhaps architecture will make a great forward step in interpret-
ing commercialism in its new and higher relation to human welfare. . . .
Commercialism in its present signicance spells gradual freedom and liberty
for the average man.32

The traditionalists, on the other hand, comprised architects such as William Adams
Delano and John Russell Pope. Though less dened as a group, they were steadfast
in their loyalty to the classical tradition.
The Fragmentation of the Academic Discipline 107

The discursive strategies of the modernism debate revolved around two basic
conceptual formations of the composition books. The rst, as many contemporary
observers recognized, was the common assumption that there were many styles of
architecture. Louise La Beaume, an active but somewhat cynical participant in the
debate, remarked that the difference between this debate and previous stylistic battles
was that the traditionalists were defending a variety of historical styles.33 The tradi-
tionalists argued that the crux of the issue was not the replication of historic styles per
se, but that the historical must be the authoritative point of departure.34 The parallel
to this claim was the modernist tenet that consisted not of a positive projection of a
particular style but of an opposition to the use of historical motifs. In this pluralist
framework, the modern was treated as one alternative among numerous available
styles: to quote Henry-Russell Hitchcock, contemporary design, whether as style,
or styles, is admitted on a par with the style of the past.35
The second conceptual formation shaping the debate involved Howard Rob-
ertsons distinction between what he deemed the two basic approaches to archi-
tectural theorythe abstract and the functional. In the debates of the 1930s,
either could be employed to defend the modernist or traditionalist position. First of
all, according to the abstract, formalist position, buildings were to be judged not by
style but by the formal qualities of mass, color, and line. On the one hand, for an
eclectic like Trystan Edwards, this was a formalism that could provide the rationale
for any and all styles. Whether classic, Gothic, or Oriental, the important matter was
that the style conform to the Grammar of Design.36 Robertson, on the other hand,
following his predilection toward simple shapes and geometrical gures already
evident in The Principles of Architectural Composition, eventually became an enthusias-
tic advocate of modernism.37 Both Edwards and Robertson were in fact quite con-
scious of the formal inventions of modernism that came to the attention of the
academic profession after the 1925 Paris Exposition Internationale des Arts Dcoratifs
et Industriels Modernes. By presenting nonstylistic principles as the fundamentals of
design, architects could straddle the two sides of the debate on the appropriate style
for the modern age. Indeed, Trystan Edwards proclaimed that his grammar of design
provided a resolution of the conict between tradition and modernity.38
Second, according to the functional argument, architectures essential role in
modern society was to incorporate the most up-to-date methods of construction and
The Search for a New Discipline 108

4.5 A Composition of Geometrical Shapes and Simple Forms from Howard Robertson,
Principles of Architectural Composition, 1924.

to solve the complex programs of modern institutions. It was in these terms that
architects such as Raymond Hood and Ely Jacques Kahn proclaimed themselves as

The modern movement does not concern itself with looks at all. It does not
care whether we abandon or follow precedent, nor is it interested as to
whether the new rules of art are derived from the machine, nor even whether
there are to be any rules at all. . . . The artist or critic who tells you that
tempo, rhythm, dynamic symmetry, color discordance, motion, pattern, or
the inspiration of the machine are the basic qualities of the new art, is pass-
ing out the same old hypocrisies that the new art is trying to overcome.
The Fragmentation of the Academic Discipline 109

These qualities may occur in modern art, but they are incidental and not
essential to it. Modern involves a sincere attempt to be honest.39

For the Beaux-Arts modernists in the functionalist camp, honesty meant the
explicit acknowledgment of architectures immersion in the commercial structures of
modern society. For Hood, unlike Corbett, there was no need to elevate commer-
cialism into a discourse of form and representation.
By the same token, traditionalists could also appropriate the functionalist posi-
tion. They argued that by incorporating modern methods of construction and deal-
ing successfully with complex building programs, they more than met the needs of
modern society and hence were as up-to-date as those who would willy-nilly apply
untested forms of decoration.40

Architects can, by working with a vocabulary based on our classical heritage,

surpass the architecture of earlier years, if they rst solve the function of the
building. This is in part the argument of the functionalist or modernist,
but it is equally true of modern architecture based on the cultural traditions
of the past. In other words, one should not copy an old existing building
and adapt life to that building, but, with a vocabulary that study gives,
should envisage the contemporary problem and clothe it in traditional

The negative logic of the traditionalists converges with Karl Poppers characterization
of conventional traditionalism . . . as the belief that, in the absence of an objective
and discernible truth we are faced with the choice between accepting the authority of
tradition, and chaos.42 This logic denied any rational system in which the use of his-
torical style could be justied, thus making style, for the traditionalist, a province of
convention, and to the modernist, a matter of arbitrary taste.
Another interesting debate of the 1920s, based on this dichotomy between form
and function, involved the theme of the new skyscraper. Since its entrance into the
theoretical discourse of architecture, one of the key issues with the skyscraper was the
expression of structure.43 By the mid-twenties, however, many came to regard this
issue as irrelevant. This attitude is evident in Fiske Kimballs American Architecture,
The Search for a New Discipline 110

where in a chapter titled What is Modern Architecture? the two poles of mod-
ernism were rmly dened: on the one hand, the functional, scientic, and objective;
and on the other, the formal, aesthetic, and abstract.44 Kimball viewed the former
as essentially a nineteenth-century phenomenon of Pugin, Viollet-le-Duc, and
Sempera tradition that culminated in the American work of Louis Sullivan. The
latter was a reaction to this functionalism, best exemplied by McKim, Mead and
White, who provided an interpretation of architecture, as they tacitly conceived it,
in terms of mass and space, instead of structure.45 For Kimball, it was in the under-
lying formalism of this overtly classical architecture that true modernism would be
found. Accordingly, he believed that the struggle to express the steel frame, so burn-
ing in the nineties, had become a dead issue. The vital and really modern move-
ment in American architecture, he concluded, was the effort to organize form
irrespective of structure.46 Though Kimballs own sympathies were with a simplied
form of classicism, he could write that we are all together on what Harvey Corbett
said to me the other day: I have only one God, beauty of form.47
For Kimball and the formalists, the emergence of the setback skyscraper after
New Yorks comprehensive zoning ordinance of 1916 was the prime example of a
modern architecture based on the principles of form. More precisely, mass was
appropriated as the central concept in the aesthetics of the new skyscraper. Talbot
Hamlin for instance, regarded Ralph Walkers Barclay-Vesey building, built between
1923 and 1926, as an exemplar of this formal principle: Here at last traditional design
has been forgotten; masses, carefully studied, and emphasized vertical lines have been
left to tell their own story and create their own beauty. . . . The whole building is des-
tined to be a monument of American progress in architecture.48 Ernest Pickering,
noting that the zoning laws of New York had established a new design trend, went
further, designating mass as the primary aesthetic principle of modern architecture:

More and more does modern architecture depend upon mass, rather than
detail, for its effect. However, the mass of a structure must follow the rules
of compositionjust to have a conspicuous mass or volume is not sufcient.
Mass can be vigorous or weak; it can have vitality and strength, or it may be
indecisive and faltering. If it is correctly composed in an arresting manner,
mass alone will arouse a denite emotional reaction. It will stimulate the
The Fragmentation of the Academic Discipline 111

observer with the sense of its completeness. Many of the tall buildings of our
cities, with their properly related masses, are examples of the use of sheer
weight and bulk with little detail.49

In a similar vein, Howard Robertson redrew Hugh Ferrisss sketches of the develop-
mental stages of setback design as an example of how simple geometrical shapes
form the basis of the nished architectural conception.50 Ferriss and Harvey Wiley
Corbett were the chief ideologues who appropriated the restrictions of zoning into
spectacular images of a new architecture of the future.51 For them, the setback sky-
scraper represented the coming of a distinct American style. As Corbett proudly
stated, What we are getting now is something utterly new and distinctive. And its
effect will be felt on the architecture of the whole world. The setback style will go
down in history along with the Gothic, the Classic and the Renaissance.52 Here was
an instance where conditions external to the architectural discipline virtually deter-
mined the basic design of the building. The combination of the new zoning regula-
tions, the imperative of securing maximum oor space, plus the rigid geometry of the
New York grid had in effect xed the mass of the skyscraper. Rather than viewing
this phenomenon as a loss of architectural autonomy, Corbett and other Beaux-Arts
architects engaged in high-rise building regarded the zoning regulations as an inspi-
ration to pursue a modern American style based on new formal principles. By the late
1920s, the moulding of the conception of architectural design to meet the exigencies
of zoning laws, building codes and the like could be considered a form of modern
architecture.53 The setback skyscraper was thus transgured into a formalist and aes-
thetic discourse of mass.
Perhaps the most publicized modernist project in America entrenched in the
dualism of the aesthetic and the functional was the 1932 Modern Architecture:
International Exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art and the companion book by
Henry-Russell Hitchcock and Philip Johnson.54 In particular, the formulation of the
International Style can be understood within the framework of the modernism
debate of the 1920s and 1930s. On the one hand, Hitchcock and Johnson followed the
traditionalists argument that if one rejected the discipline of stylistic restraints, a vac-
uum was opened in which anything would be possible, resulting in the loss of a
communal discipline of architecture. On the other hand, they could not accept the
The Search for a New Discipline 112

4.6 The basic geometrical shapes that build toward the architectural principle of mass, from
Ernest Pickering, Architectural Design, 1933.
4.7 Illustrations of modern buildings that exemplify the principle of mass, from Ernest Pickering,
Architectural Design, 1933.
The Fragmentation of the Academic Discipline 113

4.8 Sketches of the evolution of the setback skyscraper from Howard Robertson, Principles of
Architectural Composition, 1924. These were redrawings of Hugh Ferrisss The Fourth Stage, rst
exhibited in the Architectural League of New Yorks annual exhibition in 1922, and The Final
Stage, published in Pencil Points, April 1923.

eclecticism of both the traditionalists and the modernists. Hitchcock had in fact
begun to pursue the notion of a singular modern style several years before the exhi-
bition. In 1930, he stated that Modern architecture cannot be served by syncretist
acceptance. Either it is a new way of light which demands conversion, or it is merely
an impediment in the growth of taste in revivalism.55 For Hitchcock, functionalism
did not provide a theory on which a new discipline could be based; it could not ll
the void because form could not be generated:56

Technical perfection . . . is not in a complicated problemand every build-

ing is a complicated problem and increasingly soexact in the sense that
The Search for a New Discipline 114

four is the exact as well as perfect solution of two times two. Thus the sum
of free choices among equally satisfactory solutions of details within the
technical perfection of the complex whole is another and separate complex
whole. These choices may be left to chanceor economics, which is histor-
ically the same thingin which case the separate complex whole is unintel-
ligent and disordered, or it may be entirely controlled by the consciousness
of the designer, in which case it is intelligent and ordered. In the rst case
there is no architecture, in the second there is.57

For Hitchcock, between building and architecture there was a point where con-
sciously or unconsciously the architect must make free choices before his design is
completed.58 And in The International Style, the proper choices were provided. Its
three principlesvolume, regularity, and the avoidance of applied decorationwere
basically reactions to and specications of the formal principles of composition that
had been established during the twenties: volume was formulated as an antithetical
principle to mass, regularity as a specic form of rhythm, and avoidance of decora-
tion as a principle of surface. By insisting that one adhere to a specic set of formal
qualities, Hitchcock and Johnson hoped to negate the arbitrariness of style that
accompanied the commitment to formalism. By recuperating the stylistic imperative
lost in the fragmentation of academic discourse, they hoped to reassert the cultural
authority of an aesthetic discipline.
By the end of the 1920s, it had become clear that the autonomy and disciplinary
unity of academic professionalism could no longer be maintained. The emergence of
functional planning had already laid the foundations for the separation of form and
function, a schism that was internalized by academic discourse. The International Style
and the debates on modernism and setback aesthetics, as well as the Architects Small
House Service Bureau discussed earlier, were all accomplices to the dissolution of
the unity between the profession and the discipline. They were also symptoms of
the fragmentation of what was once an integrated disciplinea breakdown into the
separate domains of style, composition, and function. In formulating the aesthetics
of the skyscraper, the profession revised its ideology while maintaining traditional
representational strategies. According to the logic of the Architects Small House
Service Bureau, the profession retained the idea of autonomy while simultaneously
The Fragmentation of the Academic Discipline 115

appropriating the discourse of mass culture. In The International Style, Hitchcock and
Johnson realized that the attempt to encompass all styles with the concept of com-
position was much too vague, latching onto the nineteenth-century nostalgia for a
singular style. Its advantage over the other debates on modernism was its insistent
recuperation of stylistic conviction. These strategies consisted not of detachment but
rather of what Manfredo Tafuri has called the bourgeois tactic of warding off
anguish by understanding and absorbing the causes. And to those, to continue with
Tafuris critique, it matters little if the conicts, contradictions, and lacerations that
generate this anguish are temporarily reconciled by means of a complex mecha-
nism.59 However, there were also those dissatised with such temporary recon-
ciliations, and we shall next turn to a cultural critic, Lewis Mumford, and a
technocrat-architect, Frederick Ackerman, as we begin to delve into the social cri-
tique of architectural representation, undoubtedly one of the keys to understanding
this anguish of modern architecture.

It so happens that Mr. Ackerman lives and does his

work from another point of view. This point of view
requires that things be measured.
The Continental Committee on Technocracy,
foreword to Frederick L. Ackerman, The Facts
behind Technocracy, 1933

The true symbol of the modern age in architecture is the

absence of visible symbols.
Lewis Mumford, The Culture of Cities, 1938
Ackerman, Mumford, and the Predicament of Form 117

Frederick Ackerman and the Logic of Regressive Rationality

For those who found the academic discipline and its traditional forms to be inade-
quate, the inevitable problem was to envision and produce a new architecture. If the
International Style was comfortably formulated on the ruins of academic formalism,
it was neither the only nor necessarily the exemplary approach to the difcult tasks of
modern architecture. In the 1932 MoMA exhibition, a separate section on housing
was set up in part by the involvement of Lewis Mumford, Catherine Bauer, Clarence
Stein, and Henry Wright. Often portrayed as the social conscience of Americas
architecture of the period, Mumford, Bauer, and the architects associated with the
Regional Planning Association of America (RPAA) might plausibly be contrasted
with the shallow aesthetics of the International Style and the de facto commercialism
of Beaux-Arts practice. An examination of the concerns of the social architect,
then, would certainly broaden the horizon of our examination of architectural dis-
course in the 1920s and 1930s.1
However, to view this group as somehow exempt from or transcending the con-
ditions and difculties of the period would be to lose our grasp of the present task of
understanding the basic conditions of architectural discourse. Furthermore, it would
be erroneous to think of Mumford as the spokesperson of the architectural concerns
of the RPAA.2 Mumford is of course the monumental critic of American architec-
ture and culture, the most recognized and vocal gure of the RPAA. At the same
time, however, the architects of the RPAA, particularly Wright, Stein, and Freder-
ick Ackerman, must also be recognized as no less the intellect than their younger
colleague. Frederick Ackerman, though a relatively unknown gure compared to
Mumford, produced a substantial body of writing on architecture, housing, city plan-
ning, and economics that was profoundly inuenced by Thorstein Veblen. It is
Veblen who provides the specic intellectual link between Ackerman and Mumford:
like Veblen, who pioneered an institutional framework of economic analysis, both
Mumford and Ackerman contributed to an institutional critique of architecture. Due
in part to the conventional nature of his architectural designs and his often difcult
Veblenian language, Ackerman has never been studied in depth. Nonetheless, he is
important as one of the few theorists of rationalist architectural discourse in Amer-
ica. Without extending to the great range of issues that Ackerman and Mumford
The Search for a New Discipline 118

addressed, I present their divergent thinking and attitudes in terms of their search for
a new architectural discipline.
By the mid-1910s, and well before his involvement with the RPAA, Ackerman
had established himself as a highly respected architect in New York. He had studied
at Cornell and at the cole des Beaux-Arts, had taught at Columbia, and had built
up a decade of architectural practice in partnership with Alexander Trowbridge.3
During this period, he began to be increasingly concerned with city planning, hous-
ing, and social issues related to architecture. An admirer of John Dewey and Walter
Weyl and imbued with the Progressive ideals of civic responsibility and democracy,
Ackerman hoped to bring architecture, planning, and housing into harmony with
the larger goals of social reform. His involvement with city planning laws, wartime
housing, and the reforms of the AIAin particular his work with the Post-War
Committeecan all be understood within this progressivist framework.
The architects of the RPAAKohn, Ackerman, Stein, Wright, and Charles
Whitakerwere all a generation older than Mumford, and had in fact shared simi-
lar experiences in housing and city planning during the 1910s and 1920s.4 Their efforts
often coalesced into organizational activities, the RPAA being one of the more infor-
mal of several institutional settings. For example, their interest in housing and city
planning found a common forum in the AIAs Committee on Community Planning
(CCP), formed in 1919. Roy Lubove has correctly pointed out that the CCP and
RPAA were linked by ideology and personnel, the latter carrying out the programs
outlined in the CCP through limited-dividend housing projects.5 The CCP reports
during the twenties, to quote Lubove, outlined a new institutional framework for
city building, enlarging the role of the architect, planner, and welfare expert in deter-
mining urban physical structure and social organization.6 The architect was pro-
jected as part of a body of community planners that would place the whole
environment into the province of social design and control.7 Ackerman and the
architectural wing of the RPAA thus became aligned with the political and economic
thought of the social intellectualsa label that the historian Donald Stabile gave to
the new postwar intelligentsia who believed that the appropriate policy for the
nation as a whole was to consider carefully the benets gained by continuing
the wartime organization of the economy into peacetime society. Accordingly,
Ackerman took the position that a centrally planned economy was the only way in
which the problems of city planning and housing could be solved.8
Ackerman, Mumford, and the Predicament of Form 119

It thus comes as no surprise that even before the crisis of the war years,
Ackerman had already taken a critical view of the Beaux-Arts system. Inspired by
John Deweys notion that art involved an idea, a thought, a spiritual rendering of
things, Ackerman pursued the issues of education and practice in terms of the
expression of ideals, of architecture as a spiritual structure.9 In this respect, he main-
tained the academic ideal of architectures role of transcendent representation. For
Ackerman, however, it was not aesthetic values that had to be expressed, but rather
the entire culture of a community. He rejected the notion that societys ideals were
embodied in architecture by distancing the discipline from its external realities. As we
have already encountered in a passage from his report to the Post-War Committee
(see pp. 7980), he centered his often harsh criticism of the academic system on its
isolation from the economic, physical, and political conditions of society. According
to Ackerman, the aspiring architect just out of school nds out that in ofce practice,
the entire set of values by which he was taught does not apply:

In the new problems, the conditions are to him restrictions; there is even
a sort of arrogance about him when he attacks a real problem. In it he sees
not the possibilities, but the hampering conditions. His inspiration is to be
found in the past, and there he goes for his material; and his endeavor is to
warp the conditions of the problem into standard forms and arrangements.
. . . I assert without hesitation that [students of architecture] do not look to the con-
ditions of the present for their inspiration; they do not recognize these as the actu-
ating forces in architecture.10

The problem of architectures isolation from society lay in the nature of the program
and its relation to the design process. Instead of presenting programs that were
rigidly set and unrelated to life and existing conditions, Ackerman proposed that
students be required to participate in the programs creation: Focus his attention upon
the social ideal of the program, rather than upon a physical compromise established by tra-
dition.11 Specically, this meant widening the concerns of the program to include
problems of transportation, sanitation, housing, and the natural landscape. Within
the educational curriculum, it meant that architecture and art should be taught as
elements of town planning. It should be stressed, however, that Ackermans criti-
cism of academic education at this time was not a rejection of the system as a whole.
The Search for a New Discipline 120

In fact, he did not hesitate to praise it as a splendid system of logical thought in

regard to the subject of plan.12 His criticism was thus focused on those aspects of the
system that provided the link to social goals and values.
By the end of the 1910s, Ackerman had begun to move away from the ideas he
himself had been instrumental in forming. As an era of reform came to a close, he
could no longer retain the hope that the institutions of centralized control established
during the years of the First World War would be extended to society as a whole.
After the war, he studied with Veblen at the New School of Social Research in New
York and quickly became not only one of his most loyal followers but a leading the-
orist of the technocratic movement. Veblen was convinced that capitalism, or what
was called the price systemas it was based on an articial monetary system
would ultimately be abolished. Like Marx, Veblen believed that the internal contra-
dictions of modern society would eventually bring about its downfall. However, if a
revolution were ever to come about in America, he believed it would occur through
the agency of a Soviet of Technicians.13 Accordingly, Ackermans vision of the
architect approximated Veblens notion of the technician who has learned to think
in the terms in which technological processes act.14 Furthermore, the role of this
architect-technician within the problematic conditions of the price system became
the central theme of his organizational activities. Again with Kohn and Whitaker,
Ackerman became involved with the Technical Alliance, an organization formed in
1919 at the New School of Social Research just as Veblen was being appointed to
its faculty.15 Coinciding with the formation of the Technical Alliance was that of
the Inter-Professional Conference, whose goal was To Discover How to Liberate
the Professions from the Domination of Selsh Interests. Both Within and Without
the Professions, to Devise Ways and Means of Better Utilizing the Professional
Heritage of Knowledge and Skills for the Benet of Society, and to Create Relations
between the Professions Leading to this End.16 Chaired by Kohn, who served as
treasurer of the latter organization, a conference was held in late November 1919 in
which the AIA participated as part of the activities of its Post-War Committee. If
the central theme of the Veblen circle was The Social Function of the Engineer (the
title of another set of meetings directed by Guido Marx in 1920), Ackerman was
concerned with the social function of the architect-technician. Veblen thus provided
a body of theory on which Ackerman could reorient and reconstruct his previously
liberal view of society.
Ackerman, Mumford, and the Predicament of Form 121

Ackermans Veblenian analysis of architecture hinged on two key concepts. The

rst was Veblens notion of the instinct of workmanship: an inborn human propen-
sity for constructive and efcient work.17 To understand Veblens concept of instinct
is to grasp the basic premise of his overall project. As Wesley C. Mitchell pointed out,
unlike most orthodox economic philosophies based on the premise of the rational
man, Veblen assumed that man was a creature of instinct and habit. It was then quite
logical for the economist to be concerned with the evolution of mind, which is
controlled primarily by what men do.18
The second concept Ackerman drew upon was Veblens denition of the

In its bearing on modern life and modern business, the machine process
means something more comprehensive and less external than a mere aggre-
gate of mechanical appliances for the mediation of human labor. It means
that, but it means something more than that. . . . Wherever manual dexter-
ity, the rule of thumb, and the fortuitous conjunctures of the seasons have
been supplanted by a reasoned procedure on the basis of a systematic knowl-
edge of the forces employed, there the mechanical industry is to be found,
even in the absence of intricate mechanical contrivances. It is a question of
the character of the process rather than a question of the complexity of the
contrivances employed.19

Like the concept of the instinct of workmanship, Veblen conceived the machine in
terms of a history of the mind. He believed that though human nature was not suited
to the machine process, the latter compelled, to quote David Riesman, an orienta-
tion to the external environment, impersonal as nature itself, capable of creating in
men a second nature entirely methodical and workmanlike.20 The kernel of the
Veblenian denition of the machine consisted of a matter-of-fact outlook, instru-
mental habits and methods of work, and the formation of impersonal social rela-
tions. Hence, the machine came into conict with the institutional and mental
processes rooted in the instinct of workmanship, and subsequently became a
destructive force of feudal society. According to Veblen, the machine accommo-
dated one central aspect of the instinct of workmanshipthe human predilection
for productive work.
The Search for a New Discipline 122

Coinciding with the advent of the machine, another historical break in the insti-
tutional character of economic distribution had occurred: the introduction of credit
economy and the rise of absentee ownership. Veblen warned that despite their simul-
taneous appearance, one should not think that there was a necessary connection
between the two. In the Veblenian scheme, it was a matter of pure coincidence that
the machine became enmeshed in the capitalist system. As Ackerman wrote,

It was by historical accident that the machine came into the case during that
short interval of time when the workman was losing control of his tools
through the operation of the new institutional factors referred to. The
upshot of this conjuncture of events was the utilization of the machine from
the very outset under the guidance of business principles rather than under
the guidance of the instinct of workmanship.21

The advent of capitalism then disrupted what would have been a logical transition
toward a civilization based on the machine. At this point in history, a disjunction
between cultural and material evolution occurred. What seemed on the surface to be
progress were in fact symptoms of a retrograde civilization alienated from the deeper
currents of a stalled human evolution. This was in fact the central point of The Theory
of the Leisure Class. In one of the most perceptive analyses of Veblens philosophy,
Theodor Adorno described his notion of a retarded and incoherent historical process:

According to Veblen the very features which seem to prove that modernity
has escaped the principle of unvarnished necessity and become humane are
relics of historical epochs long past. For him, emancipation from the realm
of utility is nothing but the index of a purposelessness arising from the fact
that cultural institutions and anthropological characteristics do not change
simultaneously and in harmony with the means of production but rather lag
behind them and at times come into open contradiction with them.22

Or to use a more simple characterization by John Patrick Diggins, Veblens theory of

instincts postulated an antagonism between natural man and the culture which he
himself has erected.23 In Veblens theory and historiography, modernity was dened
Ackerman, Mumford, and the Predicament of Form 123

as a condition of conict between the inborn human instinct of workmanship, a sys-

tem of production and a rational worldview spawned by the machine, and the pecu-
niary institutions of capitalism.
It was in this inherent discordance of modern civilization that Ackerman sought
to dene the institutional role of architecture. Following Veblens view that the rise
of the machine provided the single great schism in the history of civilization,
Ackerman designated the Georgian period as the nal paragraph of a long chapter
of history that ran back into a dim and remote past during which the processes of
handicraft had served to shape the approach to every problem of design, to condition
and establish the entire range of criteria by which performance was judged and to give
direction and character to secular events.24 Prior to the advent of the machine, all
architectural production was characterized by the technique of handicraft, the appre-
hension of phenomena in terms of workmanship, and deliberate action.25 Because of
his place in this long tradition, the architect, as compared with the engineer, was
entangled in a more complex and difcult situation. The engineer was a direct prod-
uct of the modern point of view and of scientic method, and thus had no voca-
tional forebears. To the engineer trained in the scientic method, thinking always
in terms of the machine process and machine production, the forms and techniques
of handicraft, that is to say, the architectural forms of the past are almost as mean-
ingless as the hieroglyphics of the Egyptian tombs. The architect, on the other hand,
was a direct lineal descendant of the master builder and the craftsmen, and conse-
quently carried the heavy baggage of the past, of knowledge and practices based on
handicraft, relying on them, despite the fact that craft-based production was no
longer tenable:26 The material embodiment of his concept and his effort is expressed
in terms which, by inheritance, are associated with the art of handicraftsmen and
artists; but the intellectual processes involved derive their character from business
rather than workmanship and their quality from the outlook of engineering and sci-
ence rather than the ideology of the artist.27 What Ackerman is saying, in his idio-
syncratic language, is that the machine and the price system destroyed the unity
between material reality and ideology, a synthesis long sustained in the handicraft
mode of production. His thesis of the schism formed between character and qual-
ity was in fact another way of characterizing the Veblenian disjunction between
institution and mind. While character denotes the institutional framework in which
The Search for a New Discipline 124

the mental processes nd their effect, quality is the substratum of biological charac-
teristics, the fundamental level of instincts. At this substantive level, appraisal of
things architectural waits upon the conclusion of scientic analysis and the calcu-
lations of engineering. At the institutional level, however, the social effects of ar-
chitectural production were controlled by business and pecuniary criteria. For
Ackerman, an event of architectural creation was thus viewed as a synthesis of a
wide range of conicting aims and purposes, that is, an uneasy conuence of the
instinct of workmanship, the machine, and the price system.28
Within this Veblenian scheme, Ackerman continued his criticism of the Beaux-
Arts system, but now he came to reject academic theory in toto. Ackerman now
viewed the development of academic methods as a corollary to the collapse of a
handicraft-based system of training. While competence was derived from experi-
ence in the handicraft system, academic methods were drawn upon to lay the
foundation and provide what [was] no longer to be gained through employment
under a master. Once again, the architectural program was the target of his

Under the academic view of architecture the point of departure ordinarily

assumed in Design is a formulated Program. The expression of the Program
in appropriate color and form constitutes what is referred to as the
Problem. The academic program consists ordinarily of a simplied state-
ment of aims with respect to use or function accompanied by sufcient
detailed information to enable the designer to proceed without further
inquiry into the subject. In other words, the Program, it is assumed, contains
all that the designer needs by way of information and stimulation. The
Subject of Design, under the academic point of view, may or may not have
reference to reality. The essential point is that the purpose or aim expressed
in the Program shall be consistent with the stated requirements as to mat-
ters of detail. . . . The Program, no matter how derived, constitutes the point
of departure in design and it is not ordinarily deemed the function of the
architect to look behind the stated terms of his programs or to question their
relevancy, adequacy or validity as factors which should control the design of
the elements which in total constitute our architectural environment. And it
Ackerman, Mumford, and the Predicament of Form 125

is ordinarily assumed that the ends of architectural design are served when a
logical expression of the Program is achieved. A brilliant performance in
design is often, in nal analysis, nothing more than a clever expression or
dramatization of a socially undesirable event.29

During the 1910s, Ackerman had criticized academic design because its programs had
no connection to social reality. A decade later, now immersed in his Veblenian world-
view, he reversed his position by claiming that the academic program was a direct
expression of a capitalist society. What had changed was less Ackermans conception
of the program than his understanding of social reality. The factual reality that he
pursued was now hidden under the institutional mechanisms of the price system. The
program was therefore determined not by competent rules of economic planning
but rather by nancial exigencies:

Architecture that is derived from the acceptance of any and all conditions
that surround a problem as constituting an adequate program holds but a
meager claim to be so rated: it is merely an expressionits creators, tools.
For the architectural environment, derived from such a point of view guid-
ing practitioners, would expose merely the meager, tentative, shifting
grounds of compromises established from time to time as between the con-
icting interests within the community.30

Ackerman found the work of Beaux-Arts commercialism to be the prime symp-

tom of the subservient nature of the academic system.31 In fact, the clearest expositions
of his Veblenian thesis on architecture were published in the context of a debate on
modernism in the Journal of the AIA. For Ackerman, the claim that modernism
involved the discovery of new forms and new arrangements of color that would expose
the industrial processes and express the functions involved in modern building was
symptomatic of architectures immersion in the pecuniary values of capitalism.32 He
believed, rst, that modernisms purported formal inventions were part and parcel
of the prot-inducing logic of fashion, and second, that their alleged functional-
ism and commitment to modern technology were merely the architectural adjunct to
the speculative logic of obsolescence. According to Ackerman, this new theory of
The Search for a New Discipline 126

architecture which postulates the need for stimulating the rate of obsolescence and
replacement is merely a rationalization of the necessity, as viewed by nancial business,
of providing an outlet for an excess industrial capacity which had been created under
the guidance of the same speculative urge that gave rise to an excess of commercial
structures, hotels, multifamily habitations, land subdivisions, and others.33 The cele-
brated functionalist buildings of the timethe pavilions of the Century of Progress
expositions and Rockefeller Centerexpress[ed] more accurately than [had] hereto-
fore been expressed the aggressive character of modern competitive selling.34 They
were merely examples of the makings of a perfectly servile art.35
For Ackerman, then, the basic issue was how to practice architecture within a
dominant capitalist system that was to be rejected and somehow transformed. He
once again sought the answer in the program. First, in terms of criticism and
research, the program had to become the primary concern of the architect. The con-
ditions of a program, he argued, should be the legitimate domain of architectural
criticism. As an example, he cited Mumfords treatment of the Barclay-Vesey
Building in his Sticks and Stones. Like Mumford, the architectural critic should pro-
vide insight into the external conditions of building: to the conguration and loca-
tion of the plot, the surrounding street system, building codes that determined
setback planes and density, and the larger nancial exigencies of the project. It would
be distinctly within the scope of architectural criticism, Ackerman insisted, to ques-
tion the intrinsic value and relevancy of facts that constitute a given program and to
treat them as causal factors in the architectural outcome, and hence due to be brought
under the same critical handling as the effort of the architect.36
Second, in terms of research, the architect was responsible for developing sci-
entic data as steppingstones toward the construction of a rational program. Accord-
ingly, Ackerman and his ofce actively engaged in the development of data on
planning and design. He provided assistance for numerous journal articles,37 and it was
through the work of his ofce that Architectural Graphic Standards, which will be
examined in detail later, was put together and published in 1932. In 1934, when the
New York Housing Authority was established, he was appointed its technical direc-
tor and produced some of the most signicant research in housing during the 1930s.
Ackerman, however, perceived this work neither as scientic progress nor as a search
for a new discipline, but as an excavation of those isolated facts that remained uncon-
taminated by pecuniary goals. For Ackerman, the formulation of scientic data did
Ackerman, Mumford, and the Predicament of Form 127

5.1 Analysis of Site Plan Relatives from Frederick Ackerman, A Note on Site and Unit
Planning, New York Housing Authority, 1934.

not build up to a holistic body of architectural theory. A fully rational program could
not be formulated because, under the price system, there was only a small area in the
program that the Technician under the procedures of science could actually control.
For instance, in the design and planning of housing, this area was limited to the
determination of what types of three dimensional site patterns yield, in respect to
light value in rooms, sunlight exposures, acknowledgement in disposition of rooms of
the direction prevailing breezes, vistas, etc. . . . purely technical problems subject to
metrical analysis.38 In contrast to his colleagues of the RPAA, Ackerman regarded
planning as a utopian delusion, an impossibility in the price system:

Under our economy, actual planning under the guidance of the methods of
the science is conned to the unimportant factors of design. Sovereignty
The Search for a New Discipline 128

over geographical location, quantity, quality, and relation of units to families

is exercised under the rights of ownership in the interest of shortage, price
and prot. This is not appreciated by sponsors of Planning and hence they
assume responsibility for results in a domain in which they have neither
authority nor the remotest chance of gaining it. . . . Still Planners continue
to live in the hope that their plans may be turned directly to account of
greater utility, rather than to the extension of control through the rights of
absentee ownership.39

No proper theory of architecture or planning, which he used in the sense of a scien-

tic theory constituted by facts, data and criteria, could be developed until the price
system was overturned. For Ackerman, technique could be developed but not applied.
In the absence of any theory of architecture, Ackerman thought that there was
no basis for judging issues of form and aesthetics. According to his historiography,
this had not always been the case; there had been valid criteria of taste in which
the beauty of formsthe various expressions of past architectural periods, from
Egyptian to the Renaissancecould be recognized. These criteria had been sustain-
able because the biological foundation of all the various cultural formsthe factor of
handicraft and workmanshipcomprised a coherent relation with artistic ideology.40
As noted, Ackerman was convinced that the power of these forces was broken by the
advent of the machine and the price system, creating a fundamental confusion in aes-
thetic sensibilities. He was, therefore, extremely hesitant to ascribe formal and aes-
thetic relevance to the machine:

We are now and again made conscious of the satisfaction, the sense of exhil-
aration, the thrill which accompanies the attainment of a hoped-for goal that
seemingly lies entirely within the realm of this new technology and scientic
point of view. And while we may not acknowledge that such activities and
accomplishments bear any relation to aesthetics, it does not follow that they
are of an altogether alien order. For it may be that what we now treat as the
gratication of aesthetic interest is, at bottom, no more than the gratica-
tion of our ever-shifting pecuniary canons of taste. It may also be that out of
a prolonged period of cultural borrowing we have lost the ability to compre-
Ackerman, Mumford, and the Predicament of Form 129

hend and appreciate a truly creative experience. And our ability to discrimi-
nate between an aesthetic and technological achievement has become so
confused and contaminated, by aims and purposes that are alien, that we
cannot clearly differentiate between accomplishments of intrinsic aesthetic
value, and those which yield a purely technological satisfaction.41

Ackerman questioned whether a machine aesthetic could ever exist; and even if such
a thing could be formulated, he believed that, within the existing price system, it
would have little hope of escaping the pervasive logic of business.42 Within his
Veblenian scheme, the relevance of representation was itself questioned, resulting in
the evasion of the whole question of form and aesthetics. For his own architectural
work, he returned to Veblens instinctual absolute, to the ideal of workmanship:
Durability and permanence call for an architectural expression more deeply rooted
in reason than the extremes of fashion which pass in a day.43

Lewis Mumford and the Search for Authentic Form

Lewis Mumfords architectural criticism belongs to the tradition of Ruskin and Morris,
an approach that he called sociological. From his earliest essays to his prolic produc-
tion of the 1960s, Mumfords statement in 1921 that style is fundamentally the outcome
of a way of living, that it ramies through all the activities of a community, and that it is
the reasoned expression, in some particular work, of the complex of social and techno-
logical experience that grows out of a communitys life remained constant.44 Following
the Ruskinian search for the synthesis of art and life, he believed that beginning with the
mid-eighteenth century and continuing throughout the nineteenth century, architecture
experienced a modern transition that resulted in a breakup of form. For Mumford,
form in building is in essence the form of a particular society, and hence in a divided
society, a divided mindand in consequence a disrupted sense of form.45 Uttered in the
early twentieth century, this is not a particularly original statement, and with Mumford
we must understand that this is also Veblen speaking. Mumford became acquainted with
Veblen through his books and lectures at the New School of Social Research and
The Search for a New Discipline 130

through personal contacts when they were both at the Dial. Though he never truly
acknowledged Veblen as a major inuence, Veblen emerged as a central force in
Mumfords work toward the late twenties and early thirties.46
In Veblens The Theory of the Leisure Class, Mumford read a conrmation of his
thesis concerning architecture in the Western world after the eighteenth century:
that, with the new conditions of modern society and the subsequent displacement of
old habits and modes of thought, a unied social expression in architecture had col-
lapsed. Veblens analysis, according to Mumford, provided the key to the difculties
in the industrial and decorative arts.47 It exposed the bourgeois obsession with con-
spicuous appearances, verifying his distinction between truly expressive form and
inauthentic and spurious architecture. In terms of how architecture and society may
be reintegrated, Veblen is an even more central inuence. During the 1930s, the key
to Mumfords demand for the integration of architecture and society lay in the idea
of the machine. There are of course a variety of sources, from Ralph Waldo Emerson
and Patrick Geddes to Louis Sullivan, but Mumfords machine followed most specif-
ically its Veblenian denition as an autonomous force of human civilization. This is
evident in Technics and Civilization (1934), where Mumford dened the machine
not just as a mechanical device but also as the entire technological complex: This
will embrace the knowledge and skills and arts derived from industry or implicated in
the new technics, and will include various forms of tool, instrument, apparatus and
utility as well as machines proper.48
This conception of the machine as catalyst in the reintegration of modern com-
munity can also be found in the writings of Catherine Bauer, Mumfords companion
and protg during the early 1930s. In her Modern Housing, also published in 1934, she
echoed Mumfords view of The Theory of the Leisure Class, writing that Veblen had
stated the philosophy of modern architecture, in its relation to the architecture of the
nineteenth century.49 Bauer began the chapter titled Architecture with a long pas-
sage from Veblens most famous work:

The canon of beauty requires expression of the generic. The novelty due
to the demands of conspicuous waste traverses this canon of beauty, in that
it results in making the physiognomy of our objects of taste a congeries of
idiosyncracies. . . .
Ackerman, Mumford, and the Predicament of Form 131

This process of selective adaptation of designs to the end of conspic-

uous waste, and the substitution of pecuniary beauty for aesthetic beauty,
has been especially effective in the development of architecture. It would be
extremely difcult to nd a modern civilized residence or public building
which can claim anything better than relative inoffensiveness in the eyes of
anyone who will dissociate the elements of beauty from those of honoric
waste. The endless variety of fronts presented by the better class of ten-
ements and apartment-houses in our cities is an endless variety of archi-
tectural distress and of suggestions of expensive discomfort. Considered as
objects of beauty, the dead walls of the sides and back of these structures, left
untouched by the hands of the artist, are commonly the best feature of the
building. . . .
The underlying norms of taste are of very ancient growth, probably far
antedating the advent of the pecuniary institutions that are here under dis-
cussion. Consequently, by force of the past selective adaptation of mens
habits of thought, it happens that the requirements of beauty, simply, are for
the most part best satised by inexpensive contrivances and structures which
in a straightforward manner suggest both the ofce which they are to per-
form and the method of serving their end.50

Bauer understood Veblens term the generic as a set of shared conventions, and
went on to claim that architecture was the social art, the expression of those forces
which keep people together and not of those which separate and individualize.51
Interestingly enough, exactly the same sentence appeared in her article in Creative Art
on the International Style exhibition. In the article, published two years earlier, the
sentence appeared in the context of how the common style, so convincingly exhib-
ited, implied the common acceptance, conscious or unconscious, of a basic norm of
design.52 Whereas in 1932 the forces that keep people together had not yet been
dened, Bauer was able in Modern Housing to specify the machine as the most im-
portant communal force. She shared this position with Mumford, who reiterated
throughout the late twenties and early thirties, in rather dramatic fashion, this social-
izing function of the machine:
The Search for a New Discipline 132

The machine levels, spreads, vulgarizes: that is its great boon to humanity.
As our machine economies become more effective, the goods of the world
will tend to be distributed more and more like sunshine and rain, falling on
the just and unjust, the snobs and the democrats. It threatens to ruin the
spurious values of our predatory leisure class culture. Whatever the politics
of a country may be, the machine is a communist.53

Indeed, in Mumfords Geddesian historiography, it was a historical imperative of the

impending neotechnic synthesis that the universal form of the machine aesthetic be
established. In the paleotechnic phase, the technical importance of shape had
gone unappreciated. With the introduction of the organic world into science and
technology, a new logic was introduced in which machines were now forced to rec-
ognize the superior economy of nature.54 Machines thus provided an inherent prin-
ciple of a new collective economy as well as a new aesthetic: modern technics, by its
own essential nature, imposes a great purication of esthetics. . . . We cannot intel-
ligently accept the practical benets of the machine without accepting its moral
imperatives and its esthetic forms.55
Here one begins to see the parting of ways between Mumford and Veblenian
regression. The difference becomes clear when Mumfords statement that the
machine levels, spreads, vulgarizes is contrasted with its probable source in The Theory
of Business Enterprise, where Veblen wrote, The machine is a leveler, a vulgarizer,
whose end seems to be the extirpation of all that was respectable, noble, and dignied
in human intercourse and ideals.56 This was Veblens typically sardonic manner of
describing the destructive effect of the machine. As David W. Noble pointed out, this
statement was a radical demand for the destruction of history and of culture as it stood
at the present.57 It is telling that the idea appeared in the context of Veblens descrip-
tion of the disruptive effects of the machine on modern communities, particularly on
the working-class family. In contrast to Mumford, he did not limit the object of the
machines destructive force to the culture of the leisure class. Whereas Mumford
viewed the machine as the key to the reintegration of form and society, Veblen, as well
as Ackerman, refused to envision society cleansed by the machine. Veblens future was
an ultimate regression to a ground zero civilization in which there was no paradox
between a complex industrial environment and the instincts of an ideal prehistoric
Ackerman, Mumford, and the Predicament of Form 133

man. Veblen saw in the present the machine compromised by pecuniary culture; he
could not imagine, however, the form of a future machine culture.
A specic manifestation of the schism between Mumfords ideas and the
Veblenian project was their divergent perceptions of the role of industrial design.
Mumford set up a contrast between the principle of conspicuous waste dominant in
bourgeois culture and the principle of conspicuous economy inherent in machine pro-
duction. Though Mumford was critical of the consumerist logic of existing industrial
design, he believed in the potential of the designer to fulll the great principle of
machine production, that of conspicuous economy:

If the decision against conspicuous waste cuts the designer off from the sin-
gle wealthy patron, let him be consoled by this: the community as a whole is
a much wealthier patron, and once it begins to be well-housed and fur-
nishedeven a prosperous country like the United States is far from such
a general goalonce it begins to demand modern and well-designed houses,
as it now demands its 1930 model car, there will be more work for the artist
in the factory than he has dared to dream of for many a century, as he waited
in the ante-rooms of the well-to-do.58

In a letter responding to these optimistic sentiments, Ackerman sketched out his view
of the institutional development of industrial design.59 For Ackerman, industrial
design emerged as a form of mediation in the conict between the machine and pecu-
niary culture. This denition followed Veblens warning that when the question is
cast up as to what will come of this conict of institutional forcescalled the Social
Problemit is commonly made a question of remedies: What can be done to save
civilized mankind from the vulgarization and disintegration wrought by the machine
industry? According to Veblens analysis, the answers would be sought within the
framework of business trafc, presented in some appeal to philanthropic, esthetic,
or religious sentiment, some endeavor to conjure with the name of one or another of
the epiphenomena of modern culture.60 For Ackerman, industrial design was merely
a palliative, a subterfuge amid the fundamental contradictions of modern civilization.
In turn, Mumford would later write that Ackermans revolutionary premises had the
effect of making him, in practice, a thorough conservative: since he expected nothing
good of the existing system, he took it as it was.61
The Search for a New Discipline 134

In contrast to Ackermans evasion of form, we are more familiar with Mumfords

aggressive and sincere pursuitin his role as historian-criticof a new architecture.
Though his historical narrative was primarily concerned with American architecture,
it was constructed in the operative mode typical of the histories of modern architec-
ture produced during the 1930s. For Mumford, the golden age of architecture was the
colonial village: Would it be an exaggeration to say that there has never been a more
complete and intelligent partnership between the earth and man than existed, for a
while, in the old New England village?62 In Mumfords narrative, the history of the
disintegration of this harmony is in part the story of architectures transformation into
a sign. The unied culture and environment of the colonial village was disrupted by
swift, corrosive inuences brought in from foreign lands, that is, brought in by the
book. According to Mumford, the real misdemeanor of the printing-press . . . was not
that it took literary values away from architecture, but that it caused architecture to
derive its value from literature.63 In an echo (reversed in form but similar in content)
of Frank Lloyd Wrights statement, in his seminal Art and Craft of the Machine,
that architecture, as it was, is dead, irretrievably slain by the printed book,64 Mumford
concluded, hereafter, architecture lives by the book.65 In other words, architecture
had lost its vital coherence with life because its outer forms were arbitrarily copied from
literary sources foreign to any possible integrated culture. His indictment of a literary
architecture naturally extended to the academic practice of the portfolio, which he
summarily dismissed as servile copying. The fact that architecture had become a sym-
bol of something foreign to itself, that it had become a sign, was for Mumford a symp-
tom of the disintegration not only of architecture but of society as a whole.
The Brown Decades, the book that follows the historical ruminations of Sticks and
Stones, was intended as the history of the reintegration of American architecture. And
indeed, with its great insight, the book served a critical role in reestablishing a great
architectural tradition that linked H. H. Richardson, Louis Sullivan, Montgomery
Schuyler, and Frank Lloyd Wright. This weaving together of the several lines of ini-
tiative which were rst started during the Brown Decades was ultimately to lead
toward a new architecture.66 As we might expect, the machine paved the way, peel-
ing away the guises of representation and returning architecture to a holistic essence:
architecture as austere as a steamship, as nicely adapted to its purpose as the eleva-
tors that had begun to glide up and down . . . a nal clarication of structure . . . from
within.67 Schuylers interpretation of the Monadnock Building as the realization of
Ackerman, Mumford, and the Predicament of Form 135

the thing itself was understood as a kind of neue Sachlichkeit, which for Mumford
was equivalent to a search for formless essences.68 During the early 1930s, Mumford
extended this search to the problem of the dwelling house. He believed that the fun-
damental problem with the traditional house lay in the perception that it must be an
abstract symbol of safety, patriotism, citizenship, family stability. In what would be
Mumfords most essentialist moment in his preWorld War II writings on architec-
ture, he stated that the modern house must be a biological institution. It must be
dened not by form but by its essential biological requirements.69
However, the problem of representation did not go away. When the ideal of the
new architecture was a state in which form had become irrelevant, how did one know
it had arrived? More specically for Mumford the critic, how did one illustrate its
achievement? This dilemma was manifested in his changing attitude toward the role
of illustrations, in his own work as well as in others. In Sticks and Stones, as a way of
asserting his search for authenticity, he stated that he deliberately left out illustra-
tions: for the building is not merely a sight; it is an experience: and one who knows
architecture only by photographs does not know it at all.70 A few years later, how-
ever, under pressure to demonstrate the imminent presence of the new architecture,
his sense of the photographic image changed. In a review of Frank Yerburys Modern
European Buildings and Erich Mendelsohns Russland, Amerika, Europa, he wrote,
We do not need verbal outlining so much as we need pictures. The facts are there:
the pictures exist too: but it takes a touch of genius to select them and make them
live.71 In his Renewal of Life series of the 1930s and early 1940s, particularly in
Technics and Civilization, he tried his hand at this selection of facts. For example,
under the title Nature and the Machine and Esthetic Assimilation, he juxtaposed
photographs of a hydroturbine, an X-ray of a shell, a stadium by Nervi, a grain ele-
vator, and artworks by Duchamp-Villon, Brancusi, and Lger. This technique was
reminiscent of Le Corbusiers juxtaposition of the Parthenon and a Delage sports car
but, without Le Corbusiers insistence on the powers of metaphorical vision,
Mumford conceived his layouts in the ambivalent terms of minimalist aesthetics and
formless essences. Mumford seemed to be convinced that these images carried a
potential truth because the photographer cannot rearrange his material on his own
terms. He must take the world as he nds it.72 For Mumford, at least during the early
thirties, photography, like other machine processes, provided the possibility of an
unmediated taking of the world.
The Search for a New Discipline 136

5.2 Nature and the Machine, illustration page from Lewis Mumford, Technics and
Civilization, 1934.
Ackerman, Mumford, and the Predicament of Form 137

5.3 Esthetic Assimilation, illustration page from Lewis Mumford, Technics and
Civilization, 1934.
The Search for a New Discipline 138

Though a uid narrator, Mumford was never the master of linking words with
images and objects. As Stanislaus von Moos noted, the sequential litany of images
that look alike, despite the fact that they show objects differing in nature and func-
tion implies a rhetoric mode that is narrative, not dialectic.73 The metaphorical leaps
in thinking, seeing, and drawing that we see with Le Corbusier, or even with Sigfried
Giedion, were never accessible to Mumford.74 He was able neither to embrace an
ethics of seeing, nor to denounce, like Ackerman, the possibility of genuine repre-
sentation. By the end of the thirties, he arrived at a curious mixture of minimal visi-
bility and the functionality of the thing in itself:

The true symbol of the modern age in architecture is the absence of visible
symbols: we no longer seek on the surface that which we can obtain effec-
tively only through penetration and participation in the function of a struc-
ture. As our sense of the invisible forces at work in the actual environment
increasesnot merely our sense of physical processes below the threshold of
common observation, but psychological and social processes tooas this
sense increases we will tend to ask architecture itself to assume a lower
degree of visibility.75

Mumford had to struggle within his paradoxical stance toward representation. On

the one hand, in a discordant world, the forms and images of architecture could not
but be its mere symptoms. On the other hand, he could not abandon the search for
the images of a yet-to-come modern synthesis. We may thus understand why he
was an ambivalent participant in the International Style, fully capable of mobiliz-
ing MoMAs photographs in Machine Art to endorse a modern aesthetic. Using
Veblens concepts but without his extremism, he believed throughout the 1930s in the
possibility of a new machine civilization:

By the completion of our machine organization, we can recover for work the
inherent values which it was robbed of by the pecuniary aims and class ani-
mosities of capitalist production. The worker, properly extruded from
mechanical production as slave, comes back as director: if his instincts of
workmanship are still unsatised by these managerial tasks, he has by reason
of the power and leisure he now potentially commands a new status within
Ackerman, Mumford, and the Predicament of Form 139

5.4 Modern Machine Art, illustration page from Lewis Mumford, Technics and Civilization,
1934. As noted in the photo credits, all the images were reproduced from the Machine Art
exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, 1934.
The Search for a New Discipline 140

production as an amateur. The gain in freedom here is a direct compensa-

tion for the pressure and duress, for the impersonality, the anonymity, the
collective unity of machine production.76

However, even here, when speaking of social changes, he arrived at a simplistic com-
promise between exploitation and freedom, organic communitarianism and imper-
sonal collectivity.
Eventually, in Mumfords postWorld War II writings, when his optimistic out-
look on cultural synthesis was no longer sustainable, images of true form could no
longer be illustrated. This reversal of position was evident in The Conduct of Life, the
last in his so-called Renewal of Life series, where he dropped his typical format of
glossy pages of illustrations inserted between pages of text. In a preface to a later edi-
tion, Mumford commented on the difculties in writing the nal volume of a series
that had originally been based on his cultural and philosophical optimism: for the
hopeful note that pervaded the earlier volumes, conceived as they were in 1930, no
longer rang true; and the concrete richness of illustration, drawn from actual life in
the earlier books, was too often missing.77 Mumford, who had always viewed
Ackermans technocratic radicalism as ineffectual, now joined him in his belief in a
holistic architecture deferred and denied until the utopian moment of integration:
The architectural embodiment of the modern city is in fact impossible until biolog-
ical, social, and personal needs have been canvassed, until the cultural and educational
purposes of the city have been integrated into a balanced whole.78 Theodor Adornos
critique of Veblen thus penetrates to Mumford: He does not understand the dis-
tinctly modern character of regression. The deceptive images of uniqueness in an era
of mass production are only vestiges for him, not responses to highly industrialized
mechanization which betray something of its essence.79
Ackerman and Mumford represent variations of an important mode of response
to what has often been called the crisis of form in the modern world. Ackerman not
only accepted the postWorld War I theme of crisis but approached it as a funda-
mental paradox of architecture, rejecting in toto the possibility of a holistic discipline.
This position leads, as we shall see, specically to the diagram, to the distinction
between fact and appearance. Mumfords position, on the other hand, was ambigu-
ous, always shifting, and full of a rush to misjudgments he would later disavow. He
Ackerman, Mumford, and the Predicament of Form 141

suffered from a basic contradiction of the modern culture of discontent: if architec-

ture was the reection of society, how did one represent an architecture whose social
basis had yet to be realized? For both Ackerman and Mumford, the representation of
present reality became an embarrassment. Ackerman consciously and strategically
evaded all appearances; for Mumford, as for Pevsner and the operative histories of
modern architecture, true form had to be distinguished from mere appearance.80
Ackerman and Mumford were then situated on opposite sides of the Veblenian coin.
Once again, Adornos analysis of Veblen extends, in quite different ways, to both
Ackerman and Mumford:

Veblen would like to make a clean slate, to wipe away the rubble of culture
and get to the bottom of things. But the search for residues regularly falls
prey to blindness. As the reection of truth, appearances are dialectical; to
reject all appearances is to fall completely under its sway, since truth is aban-
doned with the rubble without which it cannot appear.81

Modernism, in so far as it is vital, is an attitude of

Michael A. Mikkelson, Two Problems of
Architecture, Architectural Record, 1929
The Cognitive Project of the Architectural Journals 143

The Consumerist Project of American Architect

During the late twenties, the beginning of a fundamental shift in architectural dis-
course was signaled by a series of editorial announcements in three major architec-
tural journals. Within a period of twenty months, and before the crash of October
1929, three of the ve largest architectural periodicals in AmericaAmerican Architect,
Architectural Forum, and Architectural Recordchanged their editorial policies and
formats.1 The rst announcement came in the January 1928 number of Forum. Its edi-
tor, Parker Morse Hooper, stated that the journal would be organized along the
three major divisions in the architectural profession: Design as its base, joined on
the one side by Engineering, and on the other by Business. In part, this triangular
organization reafrmed its policies of the twenties, initiated when The Brickbuilder
was renamed The Architectural Forum in 1917. This time, however, there was a
natural physical division into two separate sectionsArchitectural Design and
Engineering and Business2 with plates and essays grouped in the former and
more technical articles in the latter. In effect, the conceptual dichotomy between the
practical and the aesthetic took the form of a physical division within the journal.
After Kenneth K. Stowell replaced Hooper as chief editor in the fall of 1930, and fol-
lowing the purchase of Forum by Time Incorporated in 1932, another set of changes
was brought into the journal.3 In 1933, the journal once again adopted a new format
in which the binary organization was forgone, entailing yet another set of changes
that we shall examine in the following chapters.
The most abrupt transformation occurred in American Architect. In the summer
of 1929, the journal was purchased by William Randolph Hearsts International
Publications.4 A professional architectural journal had thus become part of the Hearst
corporation, a conglomerate of mass circulation magazines that included Good
Housekeeping, House Beautiful, Cosmopolitan, and Harpers Bazaar. Though the inten-
tions behind the purchase remain unclear, it seems that American Architect was pro-
jected as the professional component in a network of magazines concerned with
homemaking, interior decoration, architecture, and other domestic topics. Its new
editorial policy was announced in the September 1929 number, followed by a radical
change in format the following month. Under the slogan of architecture as business,
the journal announced a policy that would concentrate on the practical and business
The Search for a New Discipline 144

aspects of the profession.5 The new publishers claimed that their thorough investiga-
tions had conrmed that architectural publications concentrated on only one phase of
the architectural workthe completed building. This type of architectural publica-
tion was deemed insufcient for the business minded architect who must be more
than merely the designer of a building. As a response to this reality, the journal con-
cluded that it would widen its scope and include subjects other than design . . . eco-
nomics, real estate values, rental problems, remodeling problems and methods, the
character of materials and their possibilities, the contacting of clients, the handling of
Though this new policy repeated many of the themes already introduced by
Forum in the late teens, American Architect s new policy now entailed its complete
reorganization. The most important departure was the assumption that professional
service was directly associated with the programmatic rejection of representational
practice. The journal advocated its new policy in antithesis to the presentation of the
building in pictures:

True someone does take a picture, and the picture is of interest to other
architects, but what interests them more is how the architect solved all the
problems from the day he contacted the client until the building was ready
to be photographed, because, if these problems were poorly worked out the
design is relatively unimportant. These problems are the eld in which THE

In effect, American Architect had come to identify the discipline not with its material
productsbuildings, drawings, and documentsbut with an institutional process.
In contrast to draftsmanships essential status in the academic discipline, an explic-
itly negative attitude toward drawing began to emerge in the architectural journals
during the 1930s. For instance, in a Record article called Draftsmanship Is Not
Architecture, the author, W. R. B. Wilcox, claimed that the architects real work is
not primarily the business of making drawings, but the conceiving, illustrating, and
directing the execution, of buildingsthe mental image of which he alone rst
beheld. This attack on draftsmanship was a direct criticism of the artistic pretenses
of the profession, which for the author ultimately weakened its status in modern
The Cognitive Project of the Architectural Journals 145

building operations. The architect as pencil had thus become a metaphor for the
architects denigrated position in the building process.8 It was in this attempt to shift
the discipline away from the processes of architectural representation that the most
radical change in American Architect can be understood, namely the complete elimi-
nation of the portfolio. The specic analysis of this new discursive formation will fol-
low in later chapters; for the moment, I will continue to focus on the basic claims of
these new policies.
Until the mid-thirties, American Architect aggressively claimed that it was the
one magazine in the architectural eld whose editorial thought [was] premised on the
fact that Architecture [had] become a Business as well as an art.9 The journal was in
fact a key participant in an intensied discourse of consumerism and business that
pervaded the architectural profession during the late 1920s and early 1930s. Many
of the issues raised in the late 1910s reemerged in its pages in a decidedly more
aggressive manner. According to American Architects diagnosis, the difculties of the
building industry were caused by an imbalance between supply and demand and its
inability to control building costs. During the early years of the depression, many in
the industry, including the architectural profession, optimistically anticipated a gen-
eral recovery of business. It was thought that the maladjustments of previous years
would quickly be corrected and building would emerge as an efcient and industrial-
ized part of a healthy economy. As a rational basis of controlling production, the pre-
vailing notion of building economics established during the 1920s was thus endorsed
with continued fervor. Not surprisingly, the deterministic role of economics in archi-
tectural design persisted as an important journalistic theme during the years of the
One of the more explicit examples of this trend can be found in an article in
American Architect titled EconomicsThe New Basis of Architectural Practice. It
argued that in the rationalized building industry forecast to emerge in the post-
depression era, the status of the architect would depend on how well he grasps the
underlying factors and how well disposed he is to relinquish past conceptions of the

Architecture as a ne art has limped along without being anchored to any

base. Regardless of the type of building to be designed the prime objective
The Search for a New Discipline 146

in the architects mind was beauty. And yet, when we survey the cumulative
results of these efforts to make beautiful buildings, an honest analysis shows
but a small proportion of creditable productions, a larger proportion of life-
less reproductions or adaptations that were not worth the money and effort
expended on them and a predominance of hybrid buildingsmost of them
speculative projectsthat have had little or no serious study. . . . Archi-
tectural standards for the United States cannot be set by the corporation
that throws excess prots into monumental building nor by the wealthy man
who builds a vast country estate. These are exceptions in the money and prot
economy. Opportunities to maintain architecture as a ne art aloneso far
as wealth is concernedare steadily becoming fewer.10

In contrast to Forums position during the late 1910s, which had accepted the aesthetic
prerogatives of the profession, this article and many like it directly challenged the tra-
ditional ideological framework. The standards of architecture were now determined
by a larger market, and if the architect wished to solve the problems that have hith-
erto fallen in the main to the speculative builder, a radical revision of the profession
and discipline was deemed necessary.11
True to its policies, American Architect pushed for the expansion of the architec-
tural market, and with it a more aggressive program of professional advertising. By
unabashedly adopting the motto of selling architecture to the man on the street, it
consciously ran against the policies of the AIA, which traditionally had looked down
on advertising.12 American Architect was targeting a specic market, the suburban mid-
dle class and in particular the housewife, who had become the principal decision-
maker in domestic consumption, including the purchase of homes. House Beautiful
and Good Housekeeping, its sister magazines in the Hearst lineup, provided further
space for the institutional advertising that American Architect aggressively pursued.
The journal, however, was opposed to supplying architecture through the mer-
chandising of stock plans. As one editorial, The Stock Plan House Can Never Have
a Soul, clearly stated, it was not material documents but architectural service that was
on sale:

Architects perform a public service to the individual and the community that
is impossible for the sellers of mass production plans to give. It is fact and
The Cognitive Project of the Architectural Journals 147

not theory that environment has an important bearing on individuals and

their personalities. The house is the foundation of American home life,
American independence, happiness and liberty. Environment conducive to
this, must be kept intact for the individual and the community at large. The
architectural profession can and is contributing to this public service. . . . It
is only through personal contact and study of the individual family that a
house suited to its needs can be built to serve it. It can never be sold as a part
of a stock plan.13

Therefore, the task of the profession was to convince the public of the value of [the
architects] service . . . and to make it possible for the average American family to
obtain the benet of architectural talent.14
The denition of the disciplinary core of architecture as a service was of course
not something new but a concept that had emerged in the late teens, particularly
through the work of the Post-War Committee.15 This emphasis on professional ser-
vice continued throughout the next two decades and was also evident even in a con-
servative journal such as Pencil Points. With the sudden collapse of architectural work
after the depression, Pencil Points perceived the situation as an opportunity to clarify
the role and value of the architectural profession. In its rst issue of 1930, it
announced an active policy of educating business men, and others planning to build
as soon as conditions are right, concerning the nature and value of expert architec-
tural service.16 A few months later it ran a special article called The Value of the
Architects Service, which provided the following denition of the architect:

The architect is, like the lawyer or the physician, a professional man. That
means that he has nothing to sell you other than disinterested personal ser-
vice. His knowledge of the art of designing buildings and of supervising their
constructionknowledge acquired by years of study and apprenticeship
makes him an expert in his eld and makes his assistance of value to you,
who may know little or nothing of such matters. His ability to make knowl-
edge effective in your service is his sole stock in trade. He is not, as some
people erroneously suppose, a dealer in blueprints or in plans and specica-
tions, any more than a physician is a dealer in prescriptions. These things are
simply instruments of service.17
The Search for a New Discipline 148

Centered on the concept of service, this denition of the architects function was once
again formulated in antithesis to both the stock plan and architectural drawing. It was
not the plan as a material document but the customized process of planning that
solved the particular problem of the client. Architectural documents were instru-
ments and products, albeit important ones, of a general process in which knowledge
was the productive and transformative agent. Hence, the locus of the discipline was
shifted away from the material document, acknowledged as a commodied entity,
toward a process made explicit to the client and to society at large. It was now the
architects specialized knowledge and his ability to make it effective that dened his
discipline.18 For architecture to enter into the consumer market, it had not only to
relinquish its traditional sense of autonomy, but also to identify an institutional
domaina service, expertise, and methodthat was distinctly under the architects

The Cognitive Project of Architectural Record

From its inception in 1891 to the early decades of the twentieth century, Architectural
Record distinguished itself as the singular literary journal of American architecture.
In the words of its inaugural editorial, its goal was to build up a pile of better
thoughts concerning architecture.19 Record s focus was traditionally on history, crit-
icism, and education, and, unlike most periodicals of the time, it was published in a
smaller 7- by-93/4-inch format. During the twenties, with the expansion and intensi-
cation of the activities of other publications within the F. W. Dodge Corporation,
articles concerned with housing and the building industry did appear more fre-
quently. However, Record maintained its traditional identity until A. Lawrence
Kocher became its managing editor in 1928. Kocher, who had served as a contribut-
ing editor since August 1926, was hired the following year as a full-time member of
its editorial staff.20 At the time, Michael A. Mikkelson, who had succeeded Herbert
Croly in 1914, was still the editor-in-chief. In 1927, Mikkelson had already made a
bold move in offering an unprecedented sum of $10,000 for Frank Lloyd Wrights
series In the Cause of Architecture.21 In spite of Mikkelsons progressive tenden-
cies, the specic circumstances of Kochers employment at Record and the journals
The Cognitive Project of the Architectural Journals 149

concomitant dedication to modern architecture are difcult to assess. Kochers own

recollections of the situation at Record are unclear.22 But it is clear that during his
tenure as the Record s managing editor (which ended in 1938 when he returned to
teaching), Kocher became the driving force of the journal, a key gure in the devel-
opment of modern architecture in the United States. By 1929 and certainly through-
out the 1930s, Architectural Record became widely recognized as the pioneering
advocate of modernism.23
The transformation of Record was introduced by a series of editorials that
appeared successively in January 1928, January 1929, and November 1929. The rst
editorial of January 1928 coincided with a change in Record s page size to the standard
81/2-by-11-inch format. Whereas Architectural Forum had reduced its page size to meet
the requirements of standardization, Record enlarged its own, and furthermore
employed the eminent Frederic W. Goudy to redesign its layout and typography. In
elaborating the rationale for the new format, one of Record s central themes of the
thirties was rst intimatedthe problems of standardization and mass production:

The page-size is plainly a concession to the universal demand for standard-

ization. Having determined to accept the unit measure commonly employed
in the professions and industries (paper making, the manufacture of ling
cabinets and many others) which react upon the publishing business, we ask
no one to admire the dimensions of the page. Our problem was in a mod-
est way similar to that of the architect who undertakes to design specic
character and distinction in a building which is really an assemblage of
standardized materials and xtures. It may well behas indeed been
arguedthat the proper aim of the movement toward modern expression in
architecture is to invest buildings assembled from trade catalogues with a
feeling of coherence, individually and collectively.24

Though not the central message of the editorial, this statement was a clear reversal of
the traditional attitude toward catalogues and industrialized building. The editorial,
signed by Mikkelson, also noted that the founding of Record had paralleled a rich
and copious architectural convention established by such luminaries as Louis
Sullivan and McKim, Mead and White. However, according to this editorial, this
period had come to a close with World War I. Albeit in an unsure tone, Mikkelson
The Search for a New Discipline 150

afrmed that Record, together with American architecture, was about to venture into
a new chapter.25 Beginning with Record s rst issue of 1928, emphasis was indeed
placed on modern architecture. Henry-Russell Hitchcock began his book reviews on
modern European architecture and contributed several articles that would later be
integrated into his book Modern Architecture: Romanticism and Reintegration. Frank
Lloyd Wright continued his In the Cause of Architecture series with another set of
nine articles under the same title, but more elaborately illustrated in the larger-size
format. In spite of these ensuing contributions, however, the January 1928 editorial
made no claim to a break in content, stating that the new format implied develop-
ment rather than change of editorial aim.26
It was in the following yearin the January editorial, Two Problems of
Architecture, and in the follow-up statement in November, Expansion of the
Architectural Record for 1930that an explicit modernist stance was put forth. Like
the statement in 1928, these texts were signed by Mikkelson. However, with the
journal more clearly under the leadership of Kocher, what was only intimated a year
earlier was presented now in the tone of modernist manifestos.27 With these two
editorials, undoubtedly seminal texts of American modern architecture, and the
inauguration of the Technical News and Research department in January 1929, Record
embarked on a process that would fundamentally alter its status in architectural
As the title indicates, Two Problems of Architecture was Record s statement pa-
per on what it believed to be the two fundamental issues of contemporary architecture:

(1) how to adjust design to the conditions created by mass production and
(2) how to adjust the general practice of architecture to the conditions cre-
ated by modern technics in the useful arts, including commerce and indus-
try, which tend to segregate architects into groups of specialistshospital
architects, school architects, bank architects and so on.28

Mass production and institutional planning, traditionally considered only marginal

aspects of the discipline, were now placed at the forefront of architectural discourse.
They were now identied as an unavoidable set of conditions that would not only dis-
rupt the unity of existing architectural practice but also provide the potential for a
The Cognitive Project of the Architectural Journals 151

new discipline. Underlying these new conditions of architectural practice was a posi-
tive force that extended to all institutions of society: Both problems derive from the
same cause, which is the distinguishing and governing fact of modern life, namely the
extension of the research method of scienceobservation, hypothesis, deduction,
experimental vericationto the useful arts from education and medicine to com-
merce and industry.29 In other words, Record believed that mass production and
specialization were not only material forces but also a fundamental cognitive and epis-
temological condition of modernity or, in one of its most interesting propositions, an
attitude of mind. As a procedure for the discovery of principle, this rational
method of looking and thinking would provide the basis for adjusting architecture to
the conditions of mass production and specialization.
After this initial declaration of the problems, the editorial moved on to discuss
each one separately. The issue of mass production came rst and was introduced
under the subtitle Modern Design. While modern architecture was to be pursued
through the principles of scientic procedure, illogical design was considered a
result of capricious hypothesis. The editorial insisted that abstract beauty was
merely a mythological element in art and that design should move away from the
immaterial world of archetypes; design should now be based exclusively upon
observed factsupon phenomena evident to the senses.30 Record s discussion of the
second problem concerning the specialization of practice continued this empirical
project. Because of the complexity of functional planning involved in modern build-
ings, the profession was now being segmented according to the specialized knowl-
edge required in dealing with various types of buildingonce again a social as well
as epistemological problem.31 In contrast to Ackermans Veblenian view that there
was a disjunction between the material forces of modernity and human cognition,
Record approached them as an integrated condition for the emergence of architectural
modernism. For Record, the solutions to the Two Problems were to be found in the
nature of the problems themselves, i.e., they were at once the cause of modernity and
the solution to its effects.
It was in response to these new conditions, acting upon the supposition . . . that
progress in architecture depends upon a more extensive and accurate knowledge of mod-
ern planning and construction, that the Technical News and Research department
was launched.32 Robert L. Davison was hired as technical director of the new
The Search for a New Discipline 152

department, and in the following months Theodore Larson, Knud Lnberg-Holm,

Douglas Haskell, and Howard T. Fisher were added as research staff. Devoted
entirely to issues of planning and construction, the new department initiated a fun-
damental break from traditional architectural discourse, the kernel of an entirely new
editorial policy for an architectural magazine.33 Record claimed that it would not just
publish data culled from developments outside of the profession but would also be
involved in original research. Its research method would strive for concrete solu-
tions to the Two Problems of Architecture and ultimately provide a rm basis for
modern design. In effect, Technical News was Record s answer to the challenge of
adjusting design to machine technics, which in its opinion was not a problem of
disembodied, abstract art, but a problem inseparable from and conditioned by mod-
ern planning and construction.34 Thus, a department dealing with reference material
had become the centerpiece of Record s modernist policy.
The early articles in Technical News and Research were placed under the edito-
rial supervision of Davison, who also contributed numerous articles until his depar-
ture in June 1931 to become director of the John B. Pierce Foundation. True to its
claim that the new department would systematize the latest accredited technical, eco-
nomic and functional building-type information, and in contrast to the continuous
essaylike narrative of the planning discourse of the twenties, its articles pursued a
methodical organization.35 A typical study would be comprised of the following:

(1) a combined checking and specication list, (2) a compilation of functional

data originating in varied eldse.g., medicine, athletics, education, (3) a
study of current practice in structural and other branches of engineering,
(4) an analysis of material and equipment, (5) an analysis of costs and (6) a
selected bibliography.36

Particularly notable was the way in which the second category of functional data
was presented. Unlike earlier manuals that rarely listed their sources, Technical News
was very deliberate in specifying its references (usually recompiled in a bibliography)
and contributors (usually engineers, management experts, and specialists associated
with the building type under study). Furthermore, data was specied as part of a gen-
eral system, often taking the form of charts and equations. For example, in an install-
The Cognitive Project of the Architectural Journals 153

ment on garages, a formula for calculating the optimum relation between prot, land
cost, and number of oors was presented together with a chart for conducting a
garage survey. It is important to note that this survey was regarded as an architec-
tural problem. That is, it was the architects duty to assess the economic factors that
determined the type of building, number of stories, and character of design.37
According to this article, the essentials of garage planning were less the empirical data
specic to each kind of project than the general rules and methods that applied to dif-
ferent situations. Previously it had been enough for manuals to specify design require-
ments in the form of imperative sentences and quantied dimensions, such as The
stairs in a hospital must be at least 3 ft. 8 in. wide in the clear and have large landings
to afford better passage for a hand stretcher;38 now, however, it was necessary to dis-
cuss systematic rules, laws, and formulas.39
By transforming a merely quantitative and formally biased discourse into a nar-
rative of general institutional and technical knowledge, the program could come
under the jurisdiction of the architect. Yet this did not mean that Technical News
thought the program should be authored by the architect. Davison stated quite
clearly, to use the instance of prison design, that the architect could scarcely be
expected to be a penal expert. According to Davison, if the penologist was respon-
sible for stating the ends to be achieved . . . with the human material at hand, it was
the architects duty to translate these purposes into buildings.40 At rst glance, this
position may seem no different from the academic conception of the architectural
program: it was Julien Guadet who had stated that the architect was the servant of
a programme which does not emanate from him; for it is the legislature, preceded by
the moralist, who says what a prison must be. However, as Peter Collins noted,
Guadets program was based more on the common sense of the client rather than on
any notion of scientic research.41 The key term in Davisons discourse is the
research methodthe kernel of the process of working out rationally an architec-
tural problem, once the performance requirements have been clearly stated.42 In his
opinion, unlike for commercial and industrial projects that provided the architect
with a complete program, there was a lack of consensus among penologists on the
fundamental purpose of prisons. In this situation, the architect, rather than merely
visiting a great number of prison buildings, should be thoroughly acquainted with
modern thought in penology and, furthermore, should insist on starting from a
The Search for a New Discipline 154

scientically based program unbiased by existing types of architectural solutions.

Davison characterized this as the functional or rational approach to architectural
design.43 Architectural precedent, which had been a generator of new solutions in the
academic discipline, was now seen as hampering invention and creativity. The foun-
dation of architectural design was to depart from precedent, not only in the sense of
the style and appearance, but more importantly as a source of architectural knowl-
edge. This form of rationality, to use Bill Hillier and Adrian Leamans expression,
was virtually equated with purging the mind of preconceptions, to make way for a
problem solving method which linked procedure to a eld of information.44
Nevertheless, it would be inaccurate to read the new Record policy, in the way
Robert Benson has, as something close to the neue Sachlichkeit of European mod-
ernism, the new objectivity of functionalism which emerged as a by-product of the
reaction against romanticism and eclectic style.45 The cognitive project of the
Architectural Record resulted in an extremely inclusive proposition that could incorpo-
rate the formalist concepts of composition. Observe, for example, the description of
how the supposedly scientic procedure would work in architecture:

A hypothesis in this connection is any supposition made in order to deduce

from it principles of design that will accord with the facts of standardized fab-
ricated materials and manufactured equipment and with the trade operations
of assembling and putting them together in the construction of buildings.
Experimental verication of the principles deduced consists in applying them
to designs for buildings. If the buildings receive general approbation from
informed critics, say, architects, the principles have been practically veried,
and you have modern design or modern architecture. . . . The purpose of mass
production is economy; hence design, in order not to defeat this purpose,
should achieve beauty through mass, grouping, proportion, and other funda-
mentals of composition. Or, fabricated materials have beauty of color and
texture; therefore, adapt design to the decorative qualities of materials.46

These propositions illustrate Record s attempt to reintegrate formal principles with

the functional considerations of economy, construction, and building material. The
ambivalence of the editorial is in fact not surprising when one considers the diverse
The Cognitive Project of the Architectural Journals 155

personnel of Record s editorial staff. Kochers position would have been different
from Mikkelsons, as would Theodore Larson and Lnberg-Holms from Kochers
and furthermore from Davisons.
This ambivalence was also evident in the language used in the different articles
of Technical News. In the initial installments on swimming pools, garages, and pris-
ons, the articles were explicit in their advocacy of a new approach to architectural
design. In certain instances, as in the feature on garages, a modernist stance concern-
ing style and form was made explicit: There should be no applied ornament and the
surface treatment where concrete is used should be no other than that suggested by
the nature of the material. . . . Modern architecture of our time seeks to devise form
and motives from purpose, construction and materials.47 Davison, however, treated
form and style as matters of secondary importance. With institutional programs such
as the prison, architect and client must both avoid any preconception of form.
However, in individual projects such as the design of an individual house, style was
considered a matter of the clients taste:

When building a commercial structure the client really desires a building

which will give the greatest economic return on the money invested either
directly or through the advertising value of the design; he thinks he knows
how this may be accomplished, but it is up to the architect to develop an ef-
cient plan and its best architectural expression. With the country house gen-
erally quite the reverse is truethe client should be encouraged to express

When designing the individual house, the architect invited the client to study maga-
zine illustrations, to discover his own taste and wants prior to the ultimate time for
such decisions.49 In this kind of project, the architects task was to analyze the cor-
relation between the factors involved in project cost and the size of the housea
technique called the cubic foot price method, which Davison credited Frederick
Ackerman for helping him develop.50 In an article titled Effect of Style on Cost,
an award-winning house was used to analyze the estimated cost of the same house
plan executed in ve different stylesfrom the English Cottage Type ($30,000) to
the Colonial Type ($24,000).51 Based on this study of the cost limitations and plan
The Search for a New Discipline 156

6.1 Robert L. Davison,

Sketches Illustrating
Effect of Style on Cost,
Architectural Record, April

requirements outlined by the client, the architect was able to give the nal decision on
the size [of the house] . . . possible within the price limit as well as the style.52 In effect,
Davison brought the demise of stylistic conviction to one of its logical conclusions.
Style was treated as a matter clients would decide according to their tastes, desires, and
nances, an attitude that would prevail throughout the 1930s and beyond. According
to Clifford Edward Clarks study of the American home, between 1936 and 1950 there
were more than forty-one surveys on buyers preferences, conducted primarily by
womens magazines such as Ladies Home Journal, McCalls, Good Housekeeping, and
Better Homes and Gardens.53 In this discourse where style had become a commodity,
architects all but relinquished their traditional role as cultural authority.
The Cognitive Project of the Architectural Journals 157

6.2 1937 Small House

Preview from Architectural
Forum, November 1936. Survey
conducted by Niagara Hudson
in collaboration with American
Home, Womens Home Com-
panion, and Better Homes and

Davisons brand of functionalism did not presume that architectural form would
be determined by the program, nor did it advocate any particular style. While isolat-
ing rationality from its instrumental relation with commerce and dening it as a self-
sustaining force of modernity, he could still maintain a complementary relation with
the demands of the consumer market. For Davison, form was less the result than the
residue of functional planning. Architecture could now participate in the market and
yet maintain an explicit and independent disciplinary formation. This programmatic
attempt to base the architectural discipline on a rationality that was detached from
and yet complicit with the interests of business linked Record with the consumerist
The Search for a New Discipline 158

projects of American Architect and Architectural Forum. Davisons rationalist project

shared with the proponents of architecture as business the burden of dening a dis-
tinct body of architectural knowledge and expertise within the logic of capitalism. In
many ways, their description of the problematic reiterated the crisis theories of the
late 1910s. The diagnosis and prescription, however, differed from the immediate
responses of the 1920s. Record, in particular, departed from previous attitudes toward
industrialization and planning in that the latter were no longer considered problems
external to the discipline but factors that permeated the process of architectural
design. According to Record, they involved a transition in design that was not
merely the customary rejection by a new generation of the authority of the old. It
was a radical departure occasioned by profound industrial and social adjustments.54
Indeed, the discussion on mass production marked one of the rst programmatic
statements in American architecture that conceived the discipline in direct relation to
industrial standardization. It emphatically rejected the formulation of the architec-
tural discipline as a system independent from the economic and technical conditions
of modern society. In contrast with the 1906 edition of Sweets, which had char-
acterized the catalogue problem as one of simply reorganizing textual material,
standardization was now considered a central architectural issue. Despite its ac-
commodating gestures, in its move away from the issue of form toward one of epis-
temology Record distinguished itself from the conventionalism of the 1920s. By
reformulating the discipline according to what it deemed the cognitive foundation of
modernity, Record could simultaneously negate the conventionalism of the tradition-
alists and the arbitrary fashions of the modernists. Though form was still an arbitrary
matter, it was no longer the central foundation of the discipline.
At this juncture, we may point to the difference between the functionalism of
Technical News and the functional planning of the twenties. In the latter, architec-
tural design was dened as a linear process that began with the program. Planning
was part of the architectural discipline only insofar as the requirements set up by the
client and management experts had to be fullled in the later stages of design. While
architectural form retained its own set of principles, planning had yet to acquire its
own corpus of techniques and objects. It was then the goal of Technical News to
develop these very techniques, thereby providing planning with methods independent
of the individual program. In Technical News, planning became more than the
The Cognitive Project of the Architectural Journals 159

process of satisfying its requirements; it became a systematic intervention into the

programthe program not in the sense of individual requirements of a specic proj-
ect, but as the locus of a general, if not universal, level of architectural knowledge.
Maintaining the individuality of each project while opening the discipline to a new
cognitive process, Technical News claimed that it was not just providing bits and
pieces of information but Standards for Design and Construction.
Because the research method assumed that the underlying economic and
social factors in architecture and building were themselves rationally constructed, its
adoption could be considered the route toward reintegrating architecture with mod-
ern society.55 Architecture could participate directly in capitalist society because it was
now perceivedin contrast to the idealism of the academic profession, the techno-
cratic regression of Frederick Ackerman, and the holistic aspirations of Lewis
Mumfordto have an underlying rational structure. As noted, in Record s cognitive
project, cause, symptom, and solution were deemed to have the same epistemologi-
cal structure. What Record did share with Ackerman and Mumford was the goal of
shifting architecture away from its internal and historicist world, formulating a uni-
ed discipline unmediated by architectural representation. This notion that the dis-
cipline was more a matter of knowing than seeing was in fact common to both
American Architect and Architectural Forum. To quote again from Two Problems of
Architecture: Modernism, in so far as it is vital, is an attitude of mindthe scien-
tic attitude, which declines to accept as facts statements that cannot be veried by
the senses and which uses a certain method of investigationobservation, hypothe-
sis, deduction, experimental verication.56 Modern architecture was to become a
social, economic, and technical discipline. The central task of the architect in becom-
ing modern was dened not as an issue of form but as a cognitive and methodologi-
cal problem. It was with these demands and promises that the discourse of the
diagram emerged in architectural discourse.
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Part Three

Functionalism is determinism and therefore stillborn.

Functionalism is the standardization of routine activ-
ity. For example: a foot that walks (but does not
dance); an eye that sees (but does not envision); a hand
that grasps (but does not create).
Frederick Kiesler, Pseudo-Functionalism in
Modern Architecture, 1949
Scientic Management and the Discourse of the Diagram 163

Scientic Management and the Birth of the Functional Diagram

In the preceding chapters, we examined the new promises and demands that emerged
in the midst of a fundamental transition in the architectural discipline, a transforma-
tion in which a once dominant system was disintegrating into its own fragmented
shadows. As we shall see, these different appeals to style, rationality, and social rele-
vance were part of a complex history that witnessed the formation of the discourse of
the diagram. As much as this discourse spread and grew along the cracks of the dis-
cipline, it was also part of a larger social, economic, and technological history. In
search of an immediate history of the discourse of diagram, this chapter returns to sci-
entic management, the dominant rationalist discourse of early twentieth-century
America. Previously, we examined Taylorism in relation to the evolution of func-
tional planning as a concept antithetical to architectural composition, but we did not
deal with what would become its central mode of representationthe diagram. In
this chapter, we shall look at the logic, techniques, and modes of representation of the
diagram: rst, as it emerges within scientic management, and second, as it shifts
into the realm of architectural discourse. Though the diagram was certainly not the
invention of scientic management, in its attempt to shift the object of the diagram
from nature to society, from machine to the human body, we begin to discover the
central issues of the architectural diagram. In fact, we may begin to understand why
it must be approached not just as an isolated sign but as part of a larger discursive
Scientic management, perhaps the emblematic social technology of the past
century, operated on two basic modern precepts that logically attracted it to the dia-
gram. First of all, scientic management was one of the clearest manifestations of the
separation of subject and object, and the subsequent pursuit of their reunication.
Based on the authority of scientic knowledge, scientic management assumed that
knowledge could be severed from practice and thus could function as the means of
controlling practice. In this gap between conception and execution, the diagram
emerged as a necessary mechanism for the subject to control its object of knowledge.
The diagram is an essentially modern mode of representation because it presumes
that discourse represents not the object itself but the distance between the object
and the mind perceiving and then conceiving it.2 Its genius lies in the invention of a
The Discourse of the Diagram 164

discursive code that organizes reality in order that it may be both visible and usable.
Instrumentality, rather than resemblance, is thus the essential criterion in dening a
diagram. It is the emblem of the modern crisis of representation, a historical condi-
tion in which the scientic knowledge of objects is nought but the result of sign
manipulation, and that their truth is merely their utility for the betterment of mens
The second conceptual formation that links scientic management to the birth
of the diagram is that of metaphor. For all its professed instrumentality, modernity
has continued to be a search for truth. As Nietzsche had recognized, the idea of truth
necessitates a mobile army of metaphors, metonyms, and anthropomorphisms.4
Though it was exactly the positivist project to do away with all gures of speech, to
speak of things as they are,5 for scientic management to apply the tools of engi-
neering toward the control of society it became necessary to construct a set of analo-
gies with natural and mechanical systems. According to one specialist on routing,
the science of controlling the circulation of goods and labor, the ultimate goal of
planning of a high order was to establish a rhythm in manufacturing. Like the
movement of the heavenly bodies that obey mathematical laws, material owing in a
mass production shop must also be governed by universal laws.6 In scientic man-
agement, the production process of a factory, the daily routine of a household, a sec-
retarys ofce schedule, and the curriculum of a school could each be described as a
set of natural patterns. At the level of class ideology, the metaphor contributed to the
formulation of what Daniel Bell called Taylorisms attempt to enact a social physics.
As Bell noted, Taylor felt that once work was scientically plotted, problems of labor
and wage could be settled; disputes over such issues would be as reasonable as
insist[ing] on bargaining about the time and place of the rising and setting sun. Bell
thus concluded that for a managerial class which at the turn of the century had wit-
nessed the erosion of the justicatory mystique of natural rights, the science of
administration per se provided a new foundation for its moral authority.7
The most basic metaphor for scientic management was that of man as machine.
As David Noble pointed out, the development of modern management could itself
be construed as a shift on the part of engineers from the engineering of things to the
engineering of people. Noble described this move in terms of two overlapping, com-
plementary phases:
Scientic Management and the Discourse of the Diagram 165

The rst, social engineering, was the conscious attempt to exercise manage-
rial prerogatives through the medium of the workplace, through organiza-
tion of the work activity of labor. The second, human engineering, was the
movement to control the human element of production at the individual and
group level through the study and manipulation of human behavior.8

Noble further argued that the introduction of the human element into the discipline
of engineering was in fact a logical extension of the pursuit of rationalized produc-
tion. In a system of production based on minute divisions of labor, each division
requiring simple and exact motions, the engineering principles of materials and
equipment were easily applied to human movement and social organization. As the
terms human engineering, human motor, and human machine, so pervasive in the liter-
ature of management, implied, the body of the worker was visualized and conceptu-
alized as a machine. This metaphor was shared with industrial psychology and the
behaviorism of John B. Watson, popularized during the teens and twenties. Not sur-
prisingly, both scientic management and behaviorism shared the goal of the pre-
diction and control of human beings.9 In order to actualize these cognitive and
discursive constructions, a specic set of techniques had to be developed. During the
1910s, the most meticulous techniques of measuring and regulating the body were
produced by the husband-wife team of Frank and Lillian Gilbreth.10 To enact the
metaphor of the human machine, Lillian Gilbreth devised two interrelated principles
of conceptualizing the body. The rst was called functionalization, which further
facilitated the second principle of standardization:

Under Scientic Management divisions are made on the basis of underlying

ideas. Functions are not classied as they are embodied in particular men,
but men are classied as they embody particular functions. This allows of
standardization, through which alone progress and evolution come quickest.
It is comparatively easy to standardize a function.11

For Lillian Gilbreth, function as it pertained to the manual worker was a simple set
of movements. Accordingly, within a system of minute divisions of labor, the body
could be categorized and represented as a single functional unit. The principles of
The Discourse of the Diagram 166

7.1 Movement gure from Jules Amar, Le moteur

humain, 1914, translated into English as The Human
Motor, 1920.

functionalization and standardization were inseparable from Taylors institutional

principle of functional foremanship: the assumption that factory management
should be based on a radical separation of planning and performance. Using
Taylors functional divisions, the Gilbreths transcribed his system into the diagram in
gure 7.2. In this diagram the worker was placed at the center of the converging lines
of functional management, or functional control.
The Gilbreth diagram in gure 7.2 was of course an abstract model. In charting
the functional relations of the various production units of a factory, this basic diagram
had to be expanded and dispersed into a more multiple organization such as that in
gure 7.3. Following the basic principle of the Gilbreth diagram, each box in gure
7.3 symbolized a functional unit rather than a spatial boundary. Furthermore, these
diagrams were static models; they did not address the movement of bodies, material,
Scientic Management and the Discourse of the Diagram 167

and equipment in the factory. Subsequently implementing the Gilbreth diagram

into a concrete spatial, temporal, and dynamic organization required a set of institu-
tional mechanisms that maintained its lines of control. Because the planning depart-
ment was separated from the workers, institutional regulations, timetables, and
incentives were devised to overcome the spatial and temporal distance between man-
agement and labor: The worker would have little actual contact with those in the
planning room, control being exercised through the medium of work tickets, instruc-
tion cards, piece rate cards, etc., which were issued to him with each job.12 In addi-
tion, according to the science of routing, the factory had to be regulated as a
predictable and repetitive set of patterns. These mechanisms may be understood in
terms of what Michel Foucault has called the rule of functional sites, the technique

7.2 Chart of Functional Foremanship under Scientic Management from Frank and Lillian
Gilbreth, Applied Motion Study, 1917.
The Discourse of the Diagram 168

7.3 Organization Chart and Functions of Production Departments from Arthur G. Anderson,
Industrial Engineering and Factory Management, 1928.

of creating places dened to correspond not only to the need to supervise, to break
dangerous communications, but also to create a useful space.13
This was, however, an inherently paradoxical rule. In realizing the diagram,
space, time, and movement were not only the obstacles to surveillance but also the
means of maintaining functional control. It was a problem not unlike what Jeremy
Benthams Panopticon of the late eighteenth century was devised to solve.14 The
Panopticon, as it was drawn out in gure 7.4, was also a diagram. But unlike gure
7.2, it was a diagram of space. Its essential purpose was to eliminate all the dangers of
unobserved and thus uncontrolled activity. To borrow Foucaults description, the
Panopticon must not be understood as a dream building: it is the diagram of a mech-
anism of power reduced to its ideal form; its functioning, abstracted from any obsta-
Scientic Management and the Discourse of the Diagram 169

cle, resistance or friction, must be represented as a pure architectural and optical sys-
tem.15 In other words, the Panopticon diagram is function represented as form, a
proposition that may be understood in the following two ways. First, we may take this
to mean that the Panopticon was an emblem of the ideal functional relations of soci-
ety as a whole: to again use Foucaults denition, a generalizable model of functioning
. . . a gure of political technology that may and must be detached from any specic
use.16 Second, as a diagram that was meant to be built, we may construe the
Panopticon as a completely functionalized space, one without dark corners of unob-
served movements. The illustration of this rst sense of the Panopticon would result
in none other than gure 7.2. The second would have to be drawn out as an actual
plan realized from the Panopticon diagram, which Bentham himself provided (gure
7.5). However, for this building to be a spatial transcription of the Gilbreths func-
tional diagram, for function and space to coalesce, all the mechanisms of light and

7.4 Diagrammatic plan of Jeremy

Benthams Panopticon, devised 1787,
from John Bowring, ed., The Works of
Jeremy Bentham, vol. 4, 1843.
The Discourse of the Diagram 170

7.5 Example of Panopticon building proposed by Bentham, from John Bowring, ed., The Works of
Jeremy Bentham, vol. 4, 1843.

darkness, of regulating time and movement, must be perfectly implemented. Only in

this panoptic utopia, only when the functionalization and standardization of the body
are absolute, can there be such a thing as a spatial function. In other words, gures
7.2 and 7.4 each represent the ideal functional and spatial relation pursued by scien-
tic management. In the implementation of the Gilbreth diagram toward the
Panopticon diagram, and ultimately into an actual plan, each must pursue the other.
Though the Panopticon diagram is a spatial marking, it is a utopia, a nonplace,
because the moment it is projected as an actual structure, the realities of space, light,
and time begin to erode the concept. Indeed, we may question whether Benthams
simple idea in architecture can ever be drawn out as an equivalent architectural
Scientic Management and the Discourse of the Diagram 171

It is in the pursuit of this utopia, this idea in architecture, that the discourse of
the diagram was born. From the layout of the plant to the control of the individual
worker, its operational principle was to functionalize space and spatialize function.
More specically, the diagram was used as a tool to correlate the unit of production
the functionalized body of the workerwith a spatial area. For instance, the plan lay-
out in gure 7.6 was devised by rst assigning workers to a specic task, then
representing each task as a production unit, and nally transposing each unit into a
spatial area. Ideally, these layouts would be produced by unraveling the basic func-
tional and departmental charts in gures 7.2 and 7.3. Furthermore, at the scale of each
production unit, the body of the individual worker had to be integrated with its
immediate material and spatial environment; thus, systematic research into the
ergonomic design of tools, equipment, and furniture was begun. The Gilbreths

7.6 Plant layout of mill from Carle M. Bigelow, The Organization of Knitting Mills,
Management Engineering, November 1921.
The Discourse of the Diagram 172

7.7 Adjustable stenographers desk

from Lee Galloway, Ofce Management,

themselves designed furniture for particular work routines and special user groups
such as the physically disabled. Though their work was extremely crude, more sophis-
ticated designs tailored to the contours and motions of the worker can be found in
the ofce manuals of the 1920s. Under these prerogatives, tness in design meant
the elimination of unnecessary space and material surrounding the body.
In order to design the body as part of a mechanical unit of production, it must
be possible to measure and classify. First of all, as a logical extension of the stan-
dardization of function, one must be able to posit a standard man. According to
Lillian Gilbreth, The standard man is the ideal man to observe and with whom to
obtain the best Motion Study and Time Study data. He is the fastest worker, work-
ing under the direction of the man best informed in the particular trade as to the
motions of best present practice, and being timed by a Time Study Expert.18 As this
Scientic Management and the Discourse of the Diagram 173

passage illustrates, the basic elements of the standard in a mechanical objectthe

setting of a performance requirement (the standardized function of the fastest
worker) and unit of measure (motion and time)were now applied to the human
Secondly, new methods of representation had to be developed to record the rel-
atively small movements of the human body. In what became widely known as their
time-motion studies, the Gilbreths took long-exposure single-frame photographs of
the movement of a single light point attached to the body. The result was a cycle-
graph, one continuous curvilinear line that transcribed the bodys movement into a
simple diagram. In their micromotion studies, the Gilbreths made extensive use of
the movie camera to record the minute sequential divisions of a motion or work rou-
tine. Based on these photographic records, they evaluated the motion and posture
of the worker in relation to the time and energy spent on a particular job.19 The

7.8 Typists chair designed to promote

proper posture, from William Lefngwell,
Ofce Management, 1927.
The Discourse of the Diagram 174

7.9 Lamp attached to the hand and the cyclegraph

record of its movement path, devised by Frank and
Lillian Gilbreth, from Applied Motion Study, 1917.

principle of cyclegraphic representation could also be extended to the routing dia-

gram. According to Lillian Gilbreth, there were two basic ways of routing: planning
the movement of material and equipment (which may involve more than one person),
or following the workers performance of a minimal task (usually involving a single
tool or material). In both cases, the inscription of the movements of the body-
instrument produced a set of diagrams to be analyzed by the management engineer,
whereupon the most efcient movement pattern would be prescribed. Employing
these diagrams as a disciplinary tool, the efciency expert became an industrial
coach, training the worker through constant surveillance and repetition to perform
in what the Gilbreths called the one best way.20
Their achievement, to borrow Daniel Bells characterization, was the disjoining
of movement from the human body, transcribing it into an abstract visualization.21
Scientic Management and the Discourse of the Diagram 175

Throughout the development of scientic management, graphic and linear presenta-

tion was considered the privileged form of knowledge. According to Taylor, it was
the role of the manager to classify, tabulate, and reduce the empirical and scattered
knowledge of workers into rules, laws and formulae.22 In addition, scientic man-
agement went one step further to become graphic management. To represent a set
of verbal propositions and numbers into a graph, chart, or diagram was to have
abstracted from empirical data a set of basic paths of control: Let lines replace g-
ures was the axiomatic principle of scientic management.23 Though control of the
human body was the ultimate purpose of these diagrams, such control required the
regulation of the wayward nature of space, time, and movement. Only under the full
implementation of the rules of functionalization, graphic management, and institu-
tional control could the idea of mono-functionalismthe notion of a foot that

7.10 Micromotion studies on lm from

Frank and Lillian Gilbreth, Applied Motion
Study, 1917.
The Discourse of the Diagram 176

7.11 Routing diagram of

proper work ow in an ofce,
from William Lefngwell, Ofce
Management, 1925.

walks but does not dance24be formulated. As this body of ideas, techniques, and
markings moved on to architectural discourse, we shall see whether the functional,
visual, and institutional rules of scientic management could be maintained, or, if
not, how they were transformed.

From Scientic Management to Architecture: The Discursive Formation of the

Architectural Diagram

It should be clear by now that it is not my purpose to search for the origin of the
architectural diagram. The pertinence of such a project would depend on how the
diagram is dened, for one could say that the diagram is as old as any human utter-
Scientic Management and the Discourse of the Diagram 177

ance, and likewise that the architectural diagram has a history as long as that of archi-
tecture itself. Though I shall mention certain aspects of its historical lineage, my
interest here is less in constructing an extended chronology and more in the peculiar
characteristics of the diagram as it emerges as a specic mechanism in architectural
discourse after the 1930s. For the purpose of our present argument, it will sufce to
note that well before the inuence of scientic management, functional diagrams
were a common part of nineteenth-century advice books and manuals on hygiene and
domestic matters. The circulation diagram in gure 7.12, for example, appeared in an
advice book titled Notes on the Art of House Planning, published in 1888.25 However, as
I have underscored, this kind of advice book was marginal to the formation of the
architectural discipline. Even Christine Fredericks The New Housekeeping, which was
immensely popular throughout American society, had little immediate impact on
architecture. Though her ideas were not particularly original (as the 1911 Hoosier
Cabinet advertisement in gure 7.13 shows, the idea of routing was not new to the

7.12 The Thoroughfare from Charles F. Osborne,

Notes on the Art of House Planning, 1888.
The Discourse of the Diagram 178

7.13 Hoosier Kitchen Cabinets advertisement with cir-

culation diagram, from House Beautiful, November 1911.

domestic literature of the time), Fredericks illustrations became the most widely rec-
ognized examples of the routing diagram.
The signicance of Fredericks circulation diagram for architecture was more
quickly grasped in Europe, particularly by German architects such as Bruno Taut and
Alexander Klein. In the politically charged climate of the Weimar Republic,
Fredericks book was translated and enthusiastically endorsed by both the womens
movement and the modernists in Berlin and Frankfurt.26 During the late twenties,
Klein had developed an extensive system of architectural diagrams in his studies for
the Reichsforschungsgesellschaft; these studies rst introduced the routing diagram
to the American journals. As part of the March 1929 number of Architectural Record,
which featured Henry Wrights studies of apartment types, Kleins diagrams were
displayed in a single-page layout within the newly launched Technical News and
Scientic Management and the Discourse of the Diagram 179

Research department. With the subtitle Illustrations of German Efciency Studies,

the diagrams were presented as part of an article on Efciency in Apartment House
Planning. Kleins diagrams were given further exposure through Henry Wrights
Rehousing America, Kleins own article in the August 1931 number of Architectural
Forum, and numerous other journal articles.27
It was, then, in the 1930s that the new functionalist diagram emerged as a sys-
tematic part of architectural discourse. Though there were earlier articles that claimed
to have used such diagrams, the diagrams did not actually appear in the text.28 While
some diagrams can be traced directly to their roots in scientic management, for most
others, particularly after the mid-thirties when the diagram became a general part of
architectural discourse, it is difcult to designate a specic genealogy. Nonetheless, in
order to grasp the nature of the architectural diagram, it is important to discern it

7.14 Routing diagrams comparing efcient and

inefcient movement of the houseworker, from
Christine Frederick, Household Engineering, 1915.
The Discourse of the Diagram 180

7.15 Circulation diagrams from Bruno Taut, Die neue Wohnung, 1924.

from the functional diagrams of scientic management. The key is to understand

that when Taylorism expands beyond the factory, its functional, visual, and institu-
tional rules can no longer be sustained. There are two quite simple explanations for
this. First of all, the movements involved in most institutional routines, no matter
how simplied, cannot be functionalized in the manner of the factory. Second, with
the exception of the most regimented societies such as the prison, asylum, or the mil-
itary, the institutional mechanisms of surveillance and regulation are difcult, if not
impossible, to implement. Consequently, in the attempt to develop similar tech-
niques of regulating the ordinary environment of patients, children, and home-
makers, important changes and adjustments in the discourse of the diagram had to
be made.
Scientic Management and the Discourse of the Diagram 181

7.16 Alexander Kleins diagrams in Illustrations of German Efciency Studies, Architectural

Record, March 1929. The diagrams were taken from the November 1927 issue of Die Baugilde.
The Discourse of the Diagram 182

This transformation is immediately noticeable in the breakdown of the repre-

sentational basis of scientic managements diagram. For instance, in Christine
Fredericks application of routing to the kitchen, we immediately realize that there is
a wide gap between the micromotion studies of the factory worker and the circula-
tion diagrams applied to the homemaker. Frederick distinguished just two kinds of
patterns in the kitchen: the preparation route and the clearing away route, each
signied by one continuous line. If Frederick had actually adhered to Gilbreths more
minute divisions, her diagrams would have been hopelessly muddled. Not surpris-
ingly, in Lillian Gilbreths own contribution to kitchen planning, there were no rout-
ing diagrams.29 Instead, as we see in gure 7.17, she presented a comparison of two
process charts of making a coffee cake in two different kitchen layouts. If one were
to devise routing diagrams based consistently on cyclegraphic representation, even the
simple task of making a cake would result in several dozen separate diagrams; or if
one reduced the number of diagrams, there would be so many lines in one frame that
the image would be illegible.
Throughout the 1930s, the diagrams that appeared regularly in the architectural
journals met with the same kind of difculties. For instance, a July 1933 American
Architect article on kitchen planning displayed a series of plans that claimed to min-
imize waste motion and unnecessary steps. Compared with Fredericks diagrams,
these have moved even further away from the principle of the cyclegraph. The lines
and arrows in gure 7.18 indicate less the movement of the homemaker and more the
basic arrangement and shape of the kitchen. Another example can be found in
the illustration of two George Howe designs of the mid-thirties, the William Stix
Wasserman house and the Maurice J. Speiser house. When the Wasserman house
rst appeared in the March 1935 number of Architectural Forum, the plans were illus-
trated without diagrams. However, when republished ve years later in The Modern
House in America, they were presented with the kind of diagrams overlapping the
Speiser house plans in gure 7.19.30 Next to them Howe wrote: The lines of human
circulation in the plans are curvilinear axes of actual movement which replace the old
rectangular axes of theoretical movement.31 Robert A. M. Stern has argued that this
statement should be understood in the context of Howes growing interest in space,
or what became his central concern during the late thirties, owing space.
Scientic Management and the Discourse of the Diagram 183

7.17 Lillian Gilbreth, Application of Motion Study to Kitchen Planning: Making a Cake, from
Architectural Record, March 1930.
The Discourse of the Diagram 184

7.18 Charles G. Ramsey

and Harold R. Sleeper, study
of typical kitchen layouts,
from American Architect, July

Irrespective of whether the Wasserman house actually evinces a sense of owing

space, or whether the diagram was a generative tool or an afterthought, it is clear that
Howes diagrams have little to do with the body as a functional unit.32 Like most cir-
culation diagrams in architectural discourse, they are tentative indications of distance,
spatial boundaries, and access. In fact, contrary to Howes assertions, his diagrams are
closer to the theoretical movement of the Beaux-Arts parti, as in gure 7.20, than
the actual movement of scientic managements routing diagram.
We may then ask how diagrams are constructed in architectural discourse. In
order to understand the logic of the architectural diagram, we must rst look care-
fully into the changing discourse of scientic management, as its object moves from
the factory to the less regimented environment of the home. One of the most inter-
esting applications of scientic management outside of the factory can be examined
in Mary Pattisons Principles of Domestic Engineering (1915). Unable to designate
Scientic Management and the Discourse of the Diagram 185

minute functions to the body, yet still seeking to maintain the rule of the functional
site, Pattison divided the body into its separate requirements. In a chapter titled
The Meaning of Rooms, Pattison began by classifying the life of a family into
four essential sides: the physical, the intellectual, the social and the spiritual. She
then assigned a space or room to provide for each functional requirement of the body;
as Pattison asked, are not the very partitions in a house, in order that the needs of
the body be supplied in each part, excluding the other sides for the time?33 A room
was thus dened by its designated activities:

The logical way to furnish a home is to see rst to the nature of the family,
and then separate the parts into the principal sides, and these sides into their
unit of composition. In other words, assemble in characteristic form the

7.19 George Howe, diagrams and plans of Maurice J. Speiser house, from Architectural Forum,
February 1936.
The Discourse of the Diagram 186

7.20 Parti sketches from David Varon,

Indication in Architectural Design, 1916.
The left side of the plate contains simple
diagrams that are inscriptions of circula-
tion, type, and form.

furnishings and material for each other. The drawing room for instance, is a
room for congregation, spaced in such a way as to give opportunity for inti-
mate, or friendly conversation, proper audience to music . . . and altogether
a place to withdraw for social purposes.34

For Pattison, the task of planning the house was a matter of separating and reinte-
grating the units rooted in the basic needs of its occupants. The plan of the home
could therefore be construed as a physiological map of the human body, and routing
as the pursuit of a symbiotic relation between human movement and its environment:
The routing that realizes the most perfect daily results is more than the kind of
material used, and more than the separate tasks. It is practically the effect of ones
closest environment, as it were, in its activity.35 Though diagrams did not appear in
her text, we begin to see the metaphors of Pattisons discourse, the kind of tropical
Scientic Management and the Discourse of the Diagram 187

construction so typical of scientic management. She has, however, violated

Gilbreths rule of functionalizationthe principle that functions are not classied
as they are embodied in particular men, but men are classied as they embody
particular functions (see above, p. 163). Pattison did what Gilbreth argued must not
be donedivide the body according to its functional requirements and then assign
a space to each requirementthereby anticipating the logic of the architectural
Moving on to the architectural diagramas for example in gure 7.21, a func-
tional chart of a country housewe discover Pattisons idea of the logical subdivi-
sion by function. As Pattison had done, this house was divided into basic functional
groups(1) Social, recreational, cultural, (2) Individual, resting, bathing, dressing,
exercising, etc., (3) Dining, food preparation, and various service functionsafter
which a set of rooms, spaces, and elements was assigned to each group.36 The boxes
in gure 7.21 are not the functional units of scientic managements organizational
charts, such as we saw in gures 7.2 or 7.3. Rather than units of production and move-
ment, they are spatial and physical indications of proximity, accessibility, and relative
size. And as the functional chart became a codied part of architectural discourse, it
began to provide more information on form and space. Architectures functional
chart was thus more a drawing about space and distance than about function and
movement, the kind of notation we have come to call the bubble diagram.
Underlying this shift in the architectural diagram is the different role of the
human body. While Gilbreths standard man was dened by its function (the fastest
worker, working under the direction of the man best informed in the particular trade
as to the motions of best present practice), architectures standard man was a spatial
entity. This is manifest in the way the body was adopted into architectural discourse
during the thirties. The rst articles on anthropometrical data appeared in 1932 as
an Architectural Record series titled Dimensions by Lawrence Kocher and Albert
Frey. Their rst installment was devoted to kitchen equipment and began by illus-
trating a method for plotting heights of work surfaces and kitchen arrangement
developed by Lillian Gilbreth and the Brooklyn Borough Gas Company.37 Kocher
and Freys article relied heavily on the data of home economists, particularly the
reports that had been presented by the Committee on Kitchens and Other Work
Centers at the Presidents Conference on Home Building and Home Ownership. In
The Discourse of the Diagram 188

7.21 The Country House Chart, Room by Room, from Architectural Forum, March 1933.
Scientic Management and the Discourse of the Diagram 189

7.22 Space Relation Diagram from

William W. Caudill, Space for Teaching, 1941.

simple graphic presentations, they provided standard measurements for kitchen

equipment as well as a kind of Existenzminimum kitchen plan.38 In 1934, the standard
anthropometrical gure of the average man, one that would be incorporated in arti-
cles and manuals for many years to come, rst appeared in American Architect. Under
the title The Geometry of the Human Figure, the standard gures were presented
by Ernest Irving Freese, a Los Angeles architect and a well-known expert on archi-
tectural graphics.39 The following year, these gures provided the foundation of an
American Architect series on minimum spatial requirements, eventually becoming the
standard anthropometric gure for Architectural Graphic Standards and Time Saver
In architecture, this spatial body had to be integrated with the idea of functional
planning. The method employed in integrating body and function can best be
The Discourse of the Diagram 190

7.23 Method for Plotting Heights of Work Surfaces and Kitchen Arrangement from
Architectural Record, January 1932.
7.24 Lawrence Kocher and Albert Frey, page from Dimensions illustrating minimal kitchen,
Architectural Record, January 1932.
Scientic Management and the Discourse of the Diagram 191

examined in the Family Living as the Basis for Dwelling Design studies conducted
in the early 1940s by the John B. Pierce Foundation. John Hancock Callender, who
had worked for the foundation since the early 1930s, introduced the series under the
rubric of a functionalist theory of design. For Callender, this meant that the house
should be planned to t around the activities of the family in the same way that a
tailor ts a suit around the human body.40 Once again, Mary Pattisons logic of
functional divisions provided the point of departure; family living was divided into
its distinct functions, each designated as a spatial unit. Furthermore, to avoid all
preconceptions, terms such as space for sleeping and space for dressing were
used instead of more conventional names such as bedroom and closet. These
requirements had to be fully determined and stated in specic and quantitative
terms, whereby they would become the specications for scientically designed

7.25 Ernest Irving Freese, plate

from Geometry of the Human
Figure, American Architect, July 1934.
Interestingly enough, Freese called
these gures diagrams and working
drawings of the human body.
The Discourse of the Diagram 192

7.26 Photographic measurement of Headroom above the Sleeping Surface from Jane Callaghan
and Catherine Palmer, Measuring Space and Motion, 1943.

The results of these studies were published in a booklet called Measuring Space
and Motion coauthored by Catherine Palmer and Jane Callaghan, the latter having
assisted Lillian Gilbreth in the model kitchen studies at the Brooklyn Borough Gas
Company. As their version of the cyclegraph in gure 7.26 shows, the study involved
photographic techniques of measurement similar to those of the Gilbreths. The
difference here was that the space and motion study produced a set of space shapes,
the minimum space required for different functions, such as dressing or tying
shoelaces. The study, which also included an investigation into the space occupied by
the body as it moved through a room, thus came closer to the representational basis
of scientic managements routing diagrams. The spatial body then had a dual role in
architecture. It provided, rst, a medium for conceptualizing a general set of func-
Scientic Management and the Discourse of the Diagram 193

tional requirements and, second, a natural unit of spatial dimensions. The marking
of architectural space could thus dispense with the material elements of building and
instead employ the outlines of the extended body. In other words, the architectural
diagram provided the architect with the means to represent space without drawing
walls, columns, and vaults.
At this point, I must again underscore the difference between the diagrams of
architecture and those of scientic management. Even though they were directly
inuenced by Lillian Gilbreth, Callaghan and Palmer made it very clear that their
work was different from that of scientic management, stating that the goal of their
Space-and-Motion Studies was to measure total used space:

Time and motion studies, a well-known technic used in speeding up fac-

tory production, record and measure the motions themselves with the idea

7.27 Space shapes of man dressing

from Jane Callaghan and Catherine
Palmer, Measuring Space and Motion,
The Discourse of the Diagram 194

7.28 Photographic technique of recording a puppet walking diagonally across miniaturized room,
from Jane Callaghan and Catherine Palmer, Measuring Space and Motion, 1943.

of changing them for efficiency in performance. This technic will be use-

ful in studying the work functions, such as housecleaning, food prepara-
tion, etc. But here the aim was to measure space needed, as a first step in
designing a dwelling that would free the family of all space limitations to
healthful and comfortable living. It is recognized that changes in family
living itself will inevitably follow design based family living, and, in fact,
that the quality of these changes will be the measure of the success of the
design. Our primary purpose, however, is to measure space requirements
of family functions in order to redesign the dwelling and not to redesign
family living.42
Scientic Management and the Discourse of the Diagram 195

Callaghan and Palmers approach is quite different from even the domesticated
Taylorism of Frederick and Pattison. Despite the breakdown in the representational
and logical coherence of the principle of functionalization, Frederick and Pattisons
discourse continued to focus on the body. In the absence of more direct methods of
surveillance, their diagrams, charts, and spatial divisions were used as mechanisms
of self-regulation; devices meant to reduce, eliminate, and control the ponderous
and unpredictable nature of space. Whereas scientic managements diagram began
and maintained its focus on its cognitive objectthe docile, functionalized body
the architectural diagram begins with the spatial body but then moves away from it,
eventually becoming a spatial unita bubble designated as a function.
Architecture, for all its willingness to oblige the imperative of social control, did not
design function.43
At the same time, we must also note that by beginning with the body, the vis-
ual markings of architectural discourse had moved away from its traditional function
as the projection of a physical object. In principle, the diagram should represent
concepts and objects external to the building: the movement and activity of its occu-
pants, the ow of air, the angle of sunlight, i.e., the function of the building. These
diagrams then play a metaphorical role: the ventilation diagram views the building
as a machine for breathing; the sunlight diagram views it as a machine for
controlling light and shadow; and, as noted, the Panopticon diagram sees itself as
a machine for a specic mode of vision.44 Thus, metaphor, so central to the dis-
cursive formation of scientic management, also became a pervasive trope of archi-
tectures discourse of the diagram. For instance, when Robert L. Davison argued for
innovations in prison design, he insisted that the design process begin with
verbal statements of requirements presented not in terms of denite plans and
materials, but in terms of performance.45 Or when John Hancock Callender discussed
the planning of schools, he would claim that they should function as a working part
of the process of education.46 Are not these platitudes of performance and func-
tion, after all, metaphorical constructions? If scientic managements metaphor
paired the body with the machine, in architecture the building took the place of the
At one level, the metaphor functioned as pure ideology, one in which the archi-
tectural profession identied its role in the intervention into social institutions. It
The Discourse of the Diagram 196

enabled American architecture to respond to the demands of efciency and business

after World War I, the kinds of demands expressed in the following passage from a
manual on factory management:

It has been well said that plant design has passed through three stages. The
rst stage was when factories were housed in just buildings; the second
when architecture was employed to improve the appearance of such struc-
tures; and the third, the present stage, when industrial buildings are designed
to t the processes carried on within them, and form an integral part of the
production scheme. Many such recently constructed plants may be looked
upon as in themselves big machines containing and coordinating all the
little machines.47

Initially applied to the factory, the metaphor of the architectural machine expanded
to other building types, such as ofces, hospitals, schools, and homes.48 It facilitated
the depiction of a building as a biological or mechanical system with its own compo-
nents and rhythms: The ofce cannot be adequately conceived, either as merely a
place or as a system. . . . An ofce is more than the room which houses the opera-
tives, or the framework or system which ties the parts together. When we speak of an
ofce we should think of a living, active organization.49 Like this statement by Lee
Galloway, a professor of commerce and an important exponent of Taylorism, these
narratives read like expositions of organic architecture.
At the center of this discourse lay the object with which I began this discussion
the human body. As the eminent Taylorist Harrington Emerson wrote in the fore-
word to Principles of Domestic Engineering, the body was the object through which
every great principle of social organization was plainly revealed: as the apple-
blossom is still in all its delicacy and beauty, visible in the thin cross section of the
ripe apple, so also all sound human organization is but the fruiting of the bud that we
nd in the organization of the human body.50 Emersons use of the term cross sec-
tion was perspicuous in that the plans illustrated in the manuals of scientic man-
agement were concerned less with architectural form than with the representation of
an idealized social pattern. Though it may seem obvious, I must underscore that these
diagrams, or more accurately these diagrammatic plans, were far removed from the
Scientic Management and the Discourse of the Diagram 197

dense plans of the Beaux-Arts. Emersons section, unlike the Beaux-Arts plan,
which functioned as the central analogue of the physical object, was meant to be a
social diagram of the regularized movements of materials and workers. With this
metaphorical construction, the physical environment could be transcribed as a social
and institutional function. In order to close the gap between body and space, to merge
Gilbreths ideal diagram of the functionalized body and Benthams utopia of a func-
tionalized space, the metaphor of architecture as a mechanical apparatus or a natural
system was constructed. It was through this metaphor that one could visualize and
talk about the function of a building.

To translate the facts most quickly for those accustomed

to making and using drawings, we chose the graphic
form of presentation, purposely devoid of all design
in the decorative sense. Those trained to grasp a draw-
ing at a glance can nd their desired information
Charles G. Ramsey and Harold R. Sleeper, pref-
ace to the rst edition of Architectural Graphic
Standards, 1932
New Genres and New Formations 199

Architectural Graphic Standards and the Modern Reference Manual

The discourse of the diagram is then not just the diagram, but a whole array of con-
cepts, tropes, and modes of representation. It is a discourse that must also be under-
stood in terms of the formation of new genres and the reorganization of existing ones.
It was inscribed into architectural discourse rst and foremost through the architec-
tural journal, emerging not as an isolated element but, as we shall now see, in concert
with fundamental changes in the discursive formation of the medium. However, if
one had to point to a single event that marked the rise of the discourse of the dia-
gram, it would be the birth of the modern reference manual. As a distinctly modern
product, this new genre transformed a discursive eld traditionally occupied by the
construction manual, catalogue, and planning manual. Making its debut in the 1930s,
the modern reference manual is best represented by Architectural Graphic Standards
and Time Saver Standards, most likely the two greatest architectural best-sellers of the
past century. Besides these two manuals, there were many lesser-known publications
of the period,1 and despite the banality that we associate with them, they are essen-
tial to understanding the changing discipline of modern architecture.
Though the reference manual now takes the form of bound books, CDs, and
computer data bases, most of the data originally appeared in journal articles during its
initial period of development. In fact, the rst, 1932 edition of Architectural Graphic
Standards was an exception in that almost all of its plates were rst published in book
form.2 Time Saver Standards had two different series. The rst began as part of a
Reference Data section in American Architect s July 1935 issue. Two years later, the
data sheets initially published in the journal as the Time Saver Standards and the
Time Saver Standards of Advertised Products came out in a binder. When
Architectural Record purchased American Architect in early 1938, it began the second
Time Saver series in a different format. The direct antecedent of the present Time
Saver can be traced to its rst 1946 Record edition, and consisted of sheets that had
previously appeared in articles in American Architect and Record s Building Types, a
new reference section begun in 1937. Besides Architectural Graphic Standards and Time
Saver Standards, there were many other series of graphic data, but Architectural
Graphic Standards was the most consistent and lucid of them all in organizing its
objects, strategies, and format. According to Harold Sleeper, its coauthor with
The Discourse of the Diagram 200

8.1 Dimensions of furniture used in muse-

ums and libraries from Architectural Forum
Data and Details, Number 3, Architectural
Forum, June 1932. Launched in June 1932, the
Architectural Forum Data and Detail Sheets
were concerned primarily with dimensions of

Charles G. Ramsey, it was Graphic Standards that launched a major change in for-
mat, content, and manner of presentation in the design manual.3 I thus focus on the
historical reconstruction of Graphic Standards because, more than any other reference
text, it provides insight into the specic concepts and techniques in the formation of
the discourse of the diagram.
At the time of its production, Ramsey and Sleeper were both working in
Frederick Ackermans ofce. Though Ramsey, almost ten years Sleepers senior,
appeared as rst author, Graphic Standards seems primarily Sleepers work.4 Like his
employer, Sleeper had studied architecture at Cornell and, in 1919, began work in
what was then the ofce of Trowbridge and Ackerman. In the mid-twenties, when
Ackerman started his own ofce, Sleeper became his chief specication writer and
eventually an associate in 1928.5 During the twenties and thirties, Ackerman con-
New Genres and New Formations 201

sciously employed his ofce as a clearinghouse for technical data. Sleeper himself
made numerous contributions to such research and until the late 1950s continued to
be one of the most active producers of architectural data.6 Frederick Ackerman was
thus the intellectual driving force of the new manual, particularly in the early stages
of its formation.
Ackermans foreword to the rst edition, an explanation of the basic goals of the
Graphic Standards, is a revealing document of what were by then long-standing con-
cerns of the architectural profession. According to Ackerman, because of the revolu-
tionary changes in building, the modern store of factual knowledge had become so
complex and extensive, so deeply buried in the body of literature, that it had become
almost impossible for the architect to control and use this ood of information. In
response to these conditions, Ackerman claimed that the new manual was a serious
attempt to conne within a book of reasonable dimensions the essential factual
references by the architect, draughtsman, and builder in the course of the days
work.7 It was, however, certainly not the rst attempt to tackle this reference
problem. We may recall that two decades before the publication of Graphic Standards,
Sweets was launched in response to this very same problem. As a hybrid of the con-
struction manual and the catalogue, Graphic Standards was not really dealing with
new material. However, in Ackermans assessment, the new manual was a radically
different kind of discourse from the verbose and often irrelevant copy writing of
handbooks, catalogues, and advertisements. Its essential contribution lay in the
invention of a new mode of representation: Graphic presentation is the language
of the draughting room. This accounts for the absence of text. The plates, in many
cases, constitute translation into this simple language of facts that are often ob-
scured by words.8 True to Ackermans claims, from its inception Ramsey and Sleeper
envisioned a manual that would make a fundamental break with existing formats
and functions. In a memo to John Wiley and Sons drafted as a prospectus to its
publication, Ramsey and Sleeper presented their project as an alternative to conven-
tional detail sheets and handbooks that showed all phases of architecture; design,
standards and construction. In their opinion, contemporary architects had little
need to refer to handbooks for their design (speaking of it in the ornamental sense)
and that the inclusion of design only served to complicate the drawings.9 In light of
The Discourse of the Diagram 202

these claims, and in order to fully grasp the innovations of Graphic Standards, let us
rst examine the policy and format of those texts that we may consider its
We saw that the initial strategy of Sweets consisted of unifying the format of the
manufacturers catalogues and organizing them into a single volume. However, by the
mid-teens, a single volume of Sweets already approached two thousand pages, thus
defeating its original intention of providing a concise and systematic solution to the
reference problem. In 1914, the AIA Committee on the Standardization of Sizes of
Advertising Matter criticized such compilations as sundry schemes . . . by outside
parties whose incentive is that of obtaining a fee from the advertiser. All are familiar
with the huge and unwieldy permanently bound volumes of extracts from the cata-
logues of advertisers, whose matter may or may not appear in the next issue.10 In
1926, Sweets grew from a single volume to a three-volume set, and by 1938 had fur-
ther expanded to ve volumes. In the late twenties, it began to insert unformatted
manufacturers catalogues into a ling system based on the classication of trade
organizations. By the end of the thirties, most of its material took the form of cover
catalogues, a system where individual catalogues were separately paginated and led
under the appropriate trade classication. A single cover catalogue would sometimes
reach several dozen pages of assorted advertisements, data, and advice, creating the
exact problem that the original Sweets had hoped to overcome. To borrow Sweets
own characterization, its system had moved from a form of standardized, encyclo-
pedic listings to one in which the manufacturers catalogue was treated as a com-
plete, preled and classied unit.11 This transformation was reected in its changing
title: the original Sweets Indexed Catalogue of Building Construction was changed to
Sweets Architectural Catalogue, and in 1933 to Sweets Catalogue File. In effect, Sweets
had abandoned its original goal of providing a scientic standard catalogue and sub-
sequently took the shape that continues to this day.
In terms of format, manuals dealing with construction details were the closest
antecedents to Architectural Graphic Standards. For example, in Francis W. Chan-
dlers Construction Details (1892) and Clarence A. Martins Details of Building Con-
struction (1899), we already discover the use of sheets of standard construction
details, which are often mistakenly believed to be an invention of Graphic Standards. 12
New Genres and New Formations 203

8.2 Plate from Clarence A. Martin, Details of Building Construction, 1899. According to Martin,
the plates were initially based on rough sketches, later developed into blueprint drawings and used in
his classes at Cornell.

Manufacturers also provided plates of construction sections, and during the 1920s
there were at least four new publications on architectural details. Among them,
Architectural Details, a 1924 Wiley publication that Ramsey coauthored with Louis
Rouillion, was directly connected with Graphic Standards in authorship and content.
Many of its plates were adopted from the house designs that Trowbridge and
Ackerman developed for the Curtis Companys standard lumber products. Ackerman
explained that the designs were developed from the standpoint of averages, from a
study of those forms which had been most frequently used by architects of recog-
nized standing and ability.13 Though this manual consisted primarily of section
The Discourse of the Diagram 204

details, it was organized to deal with a wide range of problems on drafting, perspec-
tive, and architectural presentation.
In graphic format, the direct antecedent to Graphic Standards was Philip G.
Knoblochs Good Practice in Construction (two volumes, 1923 and 1925) published by
Pencil Points.14 This manual was quite popular during the twenties and was consid-
ered by John Wiley and Sons as a possible competitor to Graphic Standards. In the
preface to the rst volume of Good Practice, Thomas Hastings explained the way it
was produced:

Mr. Knobloch began by selecting detail sheets from the les of some eight
or ten ofces. Being supplied with blue prints of these sheets he chose a
detail here and there, combining and assembling them in an effort to arrive
at the best construction. His original sources were in every instance the detail
drawings of portions of buildings that had been actually built during the past
few years. He then availed himself of criticisms and suggestions from a large
number of men, each of whom was in a position to know especially well the
characteristics and methods of employment of some particular building

According to Hastings, Knoblochs section plates were derived by selecting and

reworking blueprint drawings of built work from a number of architectural ofces.
Like the traditional portfolio, each plate presented an exemplary and specic
solution to a general problem and therefore functioned as a model to be emulated.
As we see in gure 8.3, a detail plate for an Entrance Doorway and Palladian Win-
dow, the manual continued to treat style as an integral part of the constructional
Another interesting manual of the 1920s was a Wiley publication titled
Architectural Construction (1925).16 Comprising two volumes, three books, and well
over two thousand pages, it was smaller than the multivolume construction manuals
but still unwieldy. While its second volumetwo books on wood and steel con-
structionfollowed the traditional format of construction textbooks, the rst vol-
ume, subtitled An Analysis of the Design and Construction of American Buildings
New Genres and New Formations 205

8.3 Entrance Doorway and Palladian Window, I from Philip G. Knobloch, Good Practice in
Construction, 1923.
The Discourse of the Diagram 206

8.4 Photograph of cottage house exterior from Walter C. Voss and Ralph C. Henry, Architectural
Construction, 1925, vol. 1, plate 1. This photograph and the drawings in gures 8.5 and 8.6 are just
three selections from a total of forty plates that illustrated the rst case study on a Georgian-style
cottage house.
8.5 First-oor plan from Walter C. Voss and Ralph C. Henry, Architectural Construction, 1925, vol.
1, plate 12.
New Genres and New Formations 207

8.6 Details of interior nish from Walter

C. Voss and Ralph C. Henry, Architectural
Construction, 1925, vol. 1, plate 35.

Based upon the Actual Working Documents of Recent Examples, was organized
according to different building types, each comprised of individual case studies.
Though not entirely graphic, it departed from the traditional construction textbook
by devising a format based on a thoroughgoing documentation of each case study.
Moving from photographs of the exterior and interior to plans, elevations, and sec-
tions, and concluding with construction details, each case was presented in several
dozen plates. According to Voss and Henry, the examples were chosen to include
a recent interpretation of each of the more important historic styles in architec-
tural design. They claimed that this method of organization was superior to the
presentation of theoretical material because it exemplif [ied] each structural step
of design and construction. The originality of the book lay in the fact that the
complete, working documents of executed buildings, the photographic record of
the results accomplished and the conformity of its order of expansion in discussing
The Discourse of the Diagram 208

the methods employed were all fully illustrated. For a manual to speak with
authority, Voss and Henry believed that it should provide the accurate reproduc-
tion of the actual, original drawings, details and specifications employed in each
Architectural Construction was different from the typical detail manual in that
while the latter was literally based on a section of architectural discourse, the for-
mer attained its generality through the total scope of architectural documents. Yet
like the sections of Good Practice in Construction, Architectural Construction contin-
ued to be based on the organizing principles of selection and exemplication.
Though both Good Practice and Architectural Construction gave ample exposure to
new developments in material and equipment, such as steel casement windows and
steel framing, most of their details were based on ornamented wood and masonry
construction. Like the portfolio and nineteenth-century handbooks, they continued
to employ the principles of selection, exemplication, and mimesison what
Clarence Martin, in his detail manual of 1899, called the authority of good
Architectural Graphic Standards was thus one of many attempts to devise a single
text that would integrate the data spread out in manuals, catalogues, and advertising
with the everyday practice of architectural design. But as Ackerman and its authors
underscored, the new manual clearly distinguished itself from its predecessors in
terms of its organizing concepts and mode of representation. According to Ramsey
and Sleeper, their new book would incorporate the following subject matter:

(1) Data, standards and dimensions xed by the human scale.

(2) Government and trade associations accepted trade standards.
(3) Information and standards which have become xed through usage and

As is evident from this list and the manuals eventual title, the standardnot style,
material, or building typewas the key concept of the Graphic Standards, the orga-
nizing principle that distinguished it from earlier manuals. For Ramsey and Sleeper,
standards were established within the dual constraints of an ever-changing technol-
New Genres and New Formations 209

8.7 Floor ConstructionLight

Rolled Steel Joists from Charles G.
Ramsey and Harold R. Sleeper,
Architectural Graphic Standards, 1st edi-
tion, 1932.

ogy of industrial production and the unchanging requirements of the human body.20
With the development of technology, standards go through an inevitable process of
evolution. However, with the standard spatial body as its anchor, once a standard was
established, that standard would provide the scientic a priori of mass production
the underlying fact of the technical object.
The concept of the standard provided the basis for the central distinction in the
discursive formation of Graphic Standardsthe distinction between fact and appear-
ance. Graphic Standards was meant to deal solely with factual data, and more speci-
cally with the fact of dimension. Whether the object was a steel beam or a wash basin,
its standard dimensions, extruded from production models, were illustrated. The per-
formance standard of the product (its structural and material properties), on the other
hand, was assumed and left out of the text.21 Though Sleeper and Ramsey made
The Discourse of the Diagram 210

8.8 Dimensions of the Human Figure from Charles G. Ramsey and Harold R. Sleeper,
Architectural Graphic Standards, 3rd edition, 1941. Though the original 1932 edition of Architectural
Graphic Standards did not carry a plate of the standard body, Freeses human gure in gure 7.25 was
incorporated into the 1937 Time Saver Standards as well as the 1946 Record edition of the Time Saver
Standards, eventually making its way into the third edition of Architectural Graphic Standards.
New Genres and New Formations 211

8.9 Average Dimensions of Bath Room Fixtures from Charles G. Ramsey and Harold R.
Sleeper, Architectural Graphic Standards, 1st edition, 1932.
The Discourse of the Diagram 212

8.10 Architectural Terra Cotta from

Charles G. Ramsey and Harold R.
Sleeper, Architectural Graphic Standards,
1st edition, 1932.

reference to earlier detail manuals, the sources of their plates were primarily docu-
ments dealing with industrial products: manufacturers catalogues, advertisements,
Sweets Architectural Catalogues, trade journals, technical bulletins and reports of trade
associations, the United States Bureau of Standards, the American Standards
Association, the Board of Underwriters. In contrast to the sections of the earlier
detail manuals, the plates of Graphic Standards were not selected from existing con-
struction drawings, but abstracted from the standardized industrial product. In the
detail manuals, the specication was treated as a document that merely complied with
the construction drawing; whether the product to be specied was custom-made or
mass-produced was of secondary importance. Graphic Standards, on the other hand,
assumed a design process fully immersed in industrial production, one in which stan-
dardized components were utilized and indicated in the specication.
New Genres and New Formations 213

During the mid-1910s, Ackerman had apparently issued a manifesto to his

ofce that vague verbal descriptions would no longer be used in specications. Along
with this order, he presented a general theory as to how a specication should be
organized and developed, and what should be its relationship to the drawings which
its function was to explain.22 Accordingly, the underlying principle of Graphic
Standards was based on the distinction between two stages of architectural design:
between the representation of factual dimensions and the specication of the preg-
ured manufacturers modelparalleling, once again, the distinction between fact and
appearance. The one was to be conveyed in the architects diagrammatic drawings,
the representational level of Graphic Standards, and the other anticipated in the ver-
bal discourse of the specication. This diagrammatic abstraction of the dimensions of
mass-produced elements thus provided the answer to the catalogue problem. If the
catalogue and Sweets remained within a framework of choice and selection, a logic
external to the disciplinary formation of architectural design, Graphic Standards
secured a form of representation internal to the disciplinediagrams that denoted
the facts of architectural knowledge.
To reiterate, rooted in the conditions of mass industrial production, Architectural
Graphic Standards formulated a level of representation based on standardized types,
i.e., diagrams distanced from the exigencies of style, ornamentation, and the manu-
factured model. It was, as one reviewer stated, an encyclopaedia of dimensions.23 In
contrast to the portfolio and older handbooks, in which the plan, section, elevation,
and in certain cases perspective were composed together in a single plate, most of the
construction details in Graphic Standards were presented only in section. Assuming
that further development, design, or improvement would be applied, these section
plates were purposely devoid of all design in the decorative sense.24 Rather than
architectural models, Graphic Standards provided dimensional typeswhat Sleeper
would call core or skeleton data.
As with previous reference texts, the information in Graphic Standards was con-
sidered to be contingent on technical and social development. Plates had to be
replaced because of revisions in laws and regulations and changing technologies. For
example, in its third edition, new sections for the expanding use of aluminum were
added, and the repeal of Prohibition necessitated the inclusion of data on distilleries
The Discourse of the Diagram 214

and bars. The obsolescence of data was in fact a basic assumption of the manuals;
both American Architect s Time Saver Standards and Pencil Pointss Draftsmans Data
Sheets were published in a format to be used in a binder, so that when a sheet became
outdated it could be individually discarded and replaced. These manuals then shared
with Sweets the assumption of the rapid turnover of information. Yet Graphic
Standards did not have to overhaul its contents every year as was the case with
Sweets.25 While the manufacturers model may change every so often, the industrial
standard evolved at a slower pace:

Acceleration in technological advance implies an even more rapid turnover

in technical data. In theory it might appear that revised editions of Ramsey-
Sleeper would thus be required even more frequently, but actually, this is not
likely. The individual architect cannot be expected to absorb an increasingly
more complex and more extensive store of factual matter, even when pre-
sented in simple standardized form.26

According to this review of the second edition of Graphic Standards, the essential
contribution of the manual was that it freed the architect from the burden of having
to absorb the details of technical knowledge. Manufacturers were taking over the
function of design in terms of structural parts and equipment and thus the architect
had less and less need to bother with details when more and more whole wall assem-
blies, even whole room units, [were] made available for his specication in terms of
functional performance. The anonymous reviewer concluded that with this division
of labor, the architect can focus his efforts on the study of living requirements and the
integration of structural services; he is free to design on a much broader scale than
ever before.27
It was within this division of labor that Time Saver Standards and its relation to
Architectural Graphic Standards may be understood. Though the graphic format of the
rst Time Saver series differed from that of Graphic Standards, its subject matter was
essentially the same.28 The second series published by Architectural Record, however,
resulted in a different kind of reference manual. While it included the kind of graphic
data provided in Graphic Standardsconstruction sections, equipment dimensions,
New Genres and New Formations 215

8.11 Double-page spread on service areas of the general hospital, from Architectural Record,
December 1939.

and standard plansits format and content shifted toward the axiomatic discourse of
functional planning. For instance, in Record s December 1939 reference number on
hospitals, the article started with a general statement of planning principles and a
bubble diagram representing the broad, general pattern of organization of space and
circulation within the average voluntary general hospital.29 The next part then
focused on the individual sectors of the hospital, such as the administrative and ser-
vice areas. Once again it started with verbal principles, interposed by a bubble dia-
gram of each area and accompanied by plans of actual projects. Each section would
conclude with a chart of spatial requirements and equipment and the rest of the
verbal text. As we see in gure 8.11, the bubble diagram became the key to the
The Discourse of the Diagram 216

8.12 Anthropometric data in the 1946 edi-

tion of Time Saver Standards adopted from
American Architect, September 1935.

organization of the Time Saver. When the Record articles from the Building Types
section were edited into book form, much of the text and many photographs of the
journal series were excluded, transforming the articles into a graphic format closer to
that of Graphic Standards. The 1946 Time Saver also included anthropometric data
published in American Architect during the mid-thirties as well as in its 1937 binder
edition. The organization of Time Saver was thus centered on the notion of func-
tional planning, a format into which the subject matter of Graphic Standards was
inserted. While the latter was organized along the sequence of constructionstart-
ing from the foundation, working up to the roof, and into the interiorTime Saver
was divided according to building type.30
Thus, Architectural Graphic Standards, a manual on standards of construction
and equipment, and Time Saver Standards, a manual on planning standards,
New Genres and New Formations 217

formed a complementary relation within the discourse of reference, bringing

about the purported division of labor within the design process. It was there-
fore quite logical that Harold Sleeper would eventually produce two other man-
uals to complete a trilogy of handbooks: Architectural Specifications in 1940,
dealing with the integration of structural services; and Building Planning and
Design Standards in 1955, Sleepers own version of Time Saver. As a building type
manual concerned with the study of living requirements, Building Planning and
Design Standards was described by Sleeper as a natural outgrowth and supple-
ment to Graphic Standards. Like the sequence of the Time Saver, each section on
a building type began with diagrams showing spatial relationships and area
requirements and moved on to typical plans and dimensional types, subject
matter already covered in Graphic Standards but now organized to supply infor-
mation for making comprehensive programs and also for making schematic and
preliminary drawings.31
As these statements succinctly show, the development of the modern reference
manual marked an important shift in the status of technical data within the discur-
sive eld of the discipline. While the invention of new construction systems, research
into institutional planning, and standardization of equipment remained practices and
processes outside of architectures jurisdiction, these new manuals strove to reorga-
nize their products into a form of knowledge internal to the architectural discipline.
This goal was achieved by visualizing knowledge in diagrams integrated with the
design process. Architectural Graphic Standards, however, did not simply replace the
plates of the portfolio. Within this new manual, knowledge that had previously
been located in different genresthe portfolio, catalogue, drawing manual, con-
struction handbook, architectural treatise, and planning manualwas reorganized
as an encyclopedic accumulation of diagrams. These technical forms, rather than
acquiring the authority of architectural models, attened the once hierarchical
structure of architectural discourse. The result was and continues to be a nihilistic
discourse that equalizes architectural discourse into a set of instruments, a means
devoid of artistic convictions or historical value. In this sense, it was the perfect
emblem of Ackermans sense that constructing a holistic discipline of architecture had
now become impossible.
The Discourse of the Diagram 218

The Reconguration of the Architectural Journal

Photographs always have dominated the pages; there was a long period, in
all architectural magazines, when photographs were plates, and each took
a full page; frequently the page opposite was left blank, doubtless to heighten
the pictorial effect. In those days, the text, if any, was isolated from the
The concept of pictorial journalism that we know today came later (if in
fact it has fully come to this date). I mean the consideration of photographs,
plans, sections, captions, text as a unied communication effort, in which
one element complements, not repeats, the others. . . . I doubt if early edi-
tors of the RECORD ever considered what we think today as double read-
ing. We consciously arrange many of our presentations for two types of
reading: scanning and study. A story is designed to give a quick message to
the hurried reader, and also to reward the more studious readerwho actu-
ally may be the same person at a different time.32

These are the observations of Emerson Goble, who in 1966 was writing on the occa-
sion of the seventy-fth anniversary of Architectural Record. As its editor, Goble was
marking the key changes in Americas premier architectural journal since its incep-
tion in the late nineteenth century. He had placed his nger on the importance of the
journals move away from a discourse centered on plates to one of photographs,
plans, sections, captions, text, further claiming that until the mid-1940s there was
no evidence of this kind of planning effort in any of the magazines.33 To a certain
extent, Goble seems to have understood the signicance of the transformation, char-
acterizing it as a shift from a discourse of complementarity to one of repetition.
However, his assessment of the scope and timing of these changes was quite inaccu-
rate. The beginnings of this transformation, not only in Architectural Record but also
in American Architect and Architectural Forum, can be traced back specically to the
announcement of their new editorial policies of the late 1920s. As we shall see, they
were changes that resulted in the dissolution of the traditional segregated format of
the journals and the turn toward the discourse of the diagram.
New Genres and New Formations 219

8.13 Double-page layout from Benjamin Betts, . . . And Still We Call It a Profession!,
American Architect, January 1931.

There were two leading factors in the restructuring of the journals. The rst was
the development of a format centered on planning and reference. As previously
noted, the new policies of American Architect, Record, and Forum placed great empha-
sis on planning, business, and engineering. The initial strategy of Record and Forum
was to create a separate department on these practical matters: the Technical News
and Research department in Record and the Business and Engineering section in
Forum. In this binary structure, the portfolio was still maintained as an independent
section of the journal. In fact, with the move to a larger page size in 1928, Record s
Portfolio of Recent Architecture, begun in 1924, became a more prominent part of
the journal. American Architect, now a Hearst publication, underwent changes that
The Discourse of the Diagram 220

8.14 Table of contents for American Architect, February 1930. We may compare this organization
with the segregated format in gure 1.17 and the building type format in gure 8.15.
New Genres and New Formations 221

were initially more radical. In October 1929, as part of its editorial policy of archi-
tecture as business, the portfolio section was completely eliminated. Claiming that
material dealing with contemporary problems was for reading not for ling, it took
on the topical nature of mass circulation magazines.34 During the rst two years of
this format, American Architect avoided organizing its articles according to any ar-
chitectural thematic and persistently emulated the graphics and layout of popular
magazines. It would seem, however, that this was much too radical a policy for an
architectural journal, even for one owned by Hearst, and American Architect soon
returned to a more ordered structure. In its June 1932 number, a Plate Section was
reinstated, and the following August a regular series on planning called American
Architect Reference Data was initiated.
After several years of publishing in a binary format, Forum and Record gradually
departed from this policy of separating the practical from the aesthetic. In Forum this
process began in January 1933, an issue that also featured a new cover design and
typography. Though the division between the Engineering and Business section and
the Design section was abandoned, the portfolio still remained separate from the let-
terpress. With the following September number, a reference issue on government-
sponsored projects, the partition between articles and illustrations began to loosen.
After articles on the general topic of public projects, the rest of the issue was devoted
to various types of public buildings ranging from city halls to post ofces. Each
section on a building type then repeated a sequence in which Chart and Text
preceded the illustrations of buildings, at times including data on construction,
furniture, and equipment. A standard format for the reference issues of Forum was
thereby established.
Record underwent a similar change with its reorganization in 1937. In the rst
issue of the year, Technical News was discontinued and a new section was launched,
called Building Types: Reference Studies on Design and Planning. In the follow-
ing June number, the journal was divided into three sections: Building News, Design
Trends, and Building Types. The rationale was that these divisions followed a
chronological test: current events were reported in summary fashion in the Building
News section; when there was a recurring number of events of similar character
enough to suggest a trend, these were treated analytically in Design Trends; and if
The Discourse of the Diagram 222

8.15 Table of contents for Architectural Forum, September 1933, organized according to building
8.16 Functional Chart for Fire Stations from Architectural Forum, September 1933.
New Genres and New Formations 223

8.17 Sample illustration of re station from Architectural Forum, September 1933.

8.18 Construction details for re station from Architectural Forum, September 1933.
The Discourse of the Diagram 224

8.19 Example of tailing from American

Architect, April 1930. Compare with earlier
classied advertisements in gure 1.16.

the trend developed into a standard, its relation to a specic type of building would
be published in Building Types.35 Much as it had in Forum, the dissolution of an
independent portfolio coincided with the restructuring of the journal according to
studies of building type. In this tripartite format, the Portfolio of Recent Architecture
was renamed Pictorial Record and became a subsection of Design Trends. The
Pictorial Record itself lasted only a few months, as it was dropped in October 1937.
Subsequently, unless part of a special feature, most illustrations of buildings were pre-
sented either in the Building News section as New Buildings or in the Building
Types section as Case Studies. In contrast to the segregated format, the illustrations
were now dispersed into various parts of the journal: grouped under a certain build-
ing type, depicted as part of a topical event (such as an exposition or exhibition), or
simply presented as news for the architectural community.
New Genres and New Formations 225

The second factor in the reorganization of the architectural journal was the
changing discourse of advertising. Advertising was transformed in two aspects: the
way it was inserted into the journal and the representation of the advertising copy
itself. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the amount of
advertising and the way it was inserted and indexed differed somewhat from jour-
nal to journal. However, as noted earlier, it was common practice to place advertis-
ing at the beginning and end of the journal and to paginate it separately from the
main text.36 Once again it was the new editorial policy of American Architect that
signaled an abrupt and radical change in advertising format. In its October 1929
number, the journal adopted the so-called tailing method, the technique of push-
ing the end of articles back with an assortment of advertisements. This well-known

8.20 Double-page layout between advertising and Design Trends section from Architectural
Record, January 1937.
The Discourse of the Diagram 226

practice of mass circulation magazines ensured that the magazines readers would
be exposed to its advertisements. Pencil Points had employed a form of tailing since
its inception in 1920, but with the significant difference that the end of the articles
was not mixed with advertising. In contrast to the commercial objectives of
American Architect, Pencil Points used the technique to maintain the unified appear-
ance of each page as well as the division between text and plates. One of the imme-
diate consequences of tailing was that advertising was no longer paginated
separately from the main text, thereby opening the way for advertisements to enter
the main text. By the early thirties, the technique was adopted by both Forum and
Record, and when Record initiated its tripartite format in 1937, each division began
and ended with advertising, thereby bringing advertising into the center of the
Architectural advertising was also transformed by the emergence of new modes
of representation. During the 1920s and 1930s, even before the inltration of adver-
tising into the main text, a new type of advertising copy had begun to appear in ar-
chitectural journals. Advertisements that employed photomontage and innovative
lettering could be found alongside the more traditional classied and single-plate for-
mats. Furthermore, before color reproduction was introduced in the main text, color
advertisements, mostly placed by manufacturers of bathroom xtures, appeared reg-
ularly in the latter half of the twenties. Instead of providing information about the
product, which in any case could be obtained later in the catalogues, the most im-
portant function of the advertisement was to catch the readers attention. The de-
velopment of this new strategy can be understood in the context of the larger
transformations of the advertising industry in the 1920s. During this period, manu-
facturers and advertisers focused on maintaining the great market expansion of the
rst decades of the century, either by stimulating multiple purchases of the same
product or by inducing its rapid turnover by making the product technologically and
socially obsolete.37 This advertising strategy had to achieve two things: rst, the value
of the product had to be shifted away from utility and necessity toward convenience,
social status, and aesthetic leisure; and second, to borrow Stuart Ewens characteriza-
tion, the consumer had to be endowed with a critical self-consciousness in tune with
the solutions of the marketplace.38 The advertising copy thus had to turn the
New Genres and New Formations 227

8.21 Advertisement for Chase Brass and

Copper Company from Architectural Forum,
May 1935.

readers attention away from the product toward the condition of its users. As in g-
ure 8.21, it was more important to stress the social, economic, and cultural conse-
quences of the product than to faithfully reproduce the product itself.
This strategy introduced a mode of representation that departed from the object-
centered advertisements prevalent in catalogues and the traditional format of the
architectural journals. The catalogue had always relied on illusionistic modes of
representationthat is, its illustration had to resemble the actual object and hence
function as its substitute. The veracity of the image was therefore crucial for the
catalogues. For instance, a 1911 catalogue for the Standard company proudly claimed
that its illustrations were direct photographic reproductions of the articles, set up
complete as for service, in the manner and position in which they are shown: This
method of illustrating is superior to any other, since it gives the buyer the satisfaction
The Discourse of the Diagram 228

of knowing that the illustrations are reproduced from actual photographs, and are not
the drawings of our artist unfamiliar with the goods, and whose work, therefore,
would have been more or less imperfect in detail.39 The departure from this object-
centered mode of representation opened the way to a fragmented imagery that would
prevail not only in advertisements but also in the main text of the architectural
With the emergence of planning discourse as the organizing principle of the
journals, as well as the insertion of advertisements into the main body of the text, the
journals were now dominated by a mode of discourse best described as the composite
photographic text. In contrast to the full-page plate illustration of the portfolio or the
letterpress dominated by verbal text, the composite photographic text was character-

8.22 Double-page advertisement for Owens-Illinois Insulux Glass Blocks from Architectural
Forum, October 1936.
New Genres and New Formations 229

ized by the combination of photographs, text, plans, drawings, and diagrams within
a single layout. Though the term composite photographic text is derived from the
composite photographic image (the photomontage), I use it more generally to
encompass not only the modern techniques of montage and assemblage but also a
broader combination of diverse imagery and text. Though photomontage is in itself
a fascinating and important topic, in terms of our concern with the discursive forma-
tion of the architectural discipline it is better approached as one specic technique
within the composite photographic text. By the 1930s, this multimedia text had
become not only an exemplary technique of the avant-garde but a popular form of
layout in mass circulation magazines such as Ladies Home Journal and Good
Housekeeping.40 Architecture was now urged to adopt the new display techniques of
photomontage and assemblage, not only in advertisements but in presentation and
displays. The immediate effect on architectural illustrations was that they were now
smaller, often presented without white borders, and combined on the same page with
text, plans, and diagrams.
It was within the composite photographic text that the diagram entered the jour-
nal as a systematic element of its discursive formation. The following is again quoted
from Forums September 1933 issue on public buildings:

In these analytical studies space and functional charts will be found to clar-
ify the problems and simplify both discussions with the authorities and the
actual planning which will follow. In connection with each type of building
shown in the following plates, functional charts are shown, such as can be
developed for the particular problem in hand. The charts are typical and
include the usual requirements for the designated buildings. Several of the
buildings shown in photograph and plan on the following pages are exam-
ples of the grouping of departmental functions either in one building or as a
civic center.41

Along with Forums reference numbers, the most systematic formation of the dia-
grams status in the composite photographic text was established in the Building
Types section of Record, particularly after 1939. The typical sequence of this section
The Discourse of the Diagram 230

8.23 Double-page layout from Herbert Matter, Display Presentations for Architects and Other
Designers, Architectural Record, January 1938, urging architects to use photomontage as a new dis-
play technique.

would begin with a verbal statement of general planning principles; then Time Saver
Standards, which Record took over from American Architect in 1938; followed by build-
ing illustrations under the title Case Studies; and nally a reference bibliography.
As I just mentioned, the organization of Time Saver followed a chain of divergent
modes of representation: beginning with a verbal narrative of basic ideas, moving to
diagrams, and then closing with plans and photographic illustrations. This dispersed
formation could be spread out along a sequence of pages, as in gures 8.16, 8.17, and
8.18, or it could also be employed within a double-page or single-page layout, as in
gures 8.11 and 8.24.
New Genres and New Formations 231

8.24 Page layout from Douglas Haskell, The

Modern Nursery School, Architectural Record,
March 1938.

As we see in these gures, the reader cannot concentrate on a single image but
must shift between different modes of representation. In this dispersed mode of read-
ing, the architectural illustrations no longer sustained the independent status of the
portfolio. As Forum stated, the photographs and plans in its reference issues func-
tioned as examples of the grouping of departmental functions.42 Record also assigned
a similar role to the illustrations in its Building Type section: The illustrations for
the series as a whole, by picturing architectural features of new signicance associated
with many building types, will give a fair idea of modern trends in design and of prac-
tical considerations motivating the trends.43 In other words, in contrast to the port-
folio, the illustrations do not stand by themselves but have become subordinate to a
dispersed system of words, plans, and diagrams. These images were not meant to be
read individually but as a set of gures that must be horizontally connected with each
The Discourse of the Diagram 232

This kind of reading stands in contrast not only to the portfolio but also to the
discursive mode of earlier planning manuals. We may compare Record s 1939 hospi-
tal number with Hornsby and Schmidts popular hospital manual of 1913, particularly
in the way they describe the architectural plan. The earlier manual guides the reader
through the accompanying plan (gure 8.25) with the following passage:

Let us follow the patient who comes afoot, applying for admission to the
hospital. He passes through the large double-door entrance, turns to the
right into the common waiting rooms, which contain seats on three sides.
When his turn comes to be examined, he passes into the next, or examining
room, where there is a large window and all the paraphernalia for making
preliminary observations. If he is accepted, he is taken in charge by an atten-
dant, male or female, as the case may be, and passes along the inner corridor
into the bath-room, where his clothes are removed, tied into a bundle,
labeled, and thrown into the chute. After the bath, he is given hospital cloth-
ing from the closet at the end of the corridor, and passed across the main
corridor to the elevator, which takes him to his destination upstairs.44

In this discursive formation, the plan provides a focal point for the verbal text to con-
verge on. Function is not designated as a diagrammatic unit but depicted in narrative
sequence as the specic actions that occur in the rooms. The verbal text thus describes
the dimensions, equipment, and workings of the plan in a narrative sequence.
According to the authors, the plans in the manual were outlines and ideal arrange-
ments that could be elaborated almost indenitely or contracted to meet the needs
of a small institution.45 In other words, they functioned as a parti type, the kind of
drawing that Paul Philippe Cret called the diagram of the whole composition (see
above, p. 56). In a composite photographic text, such as in gure 8.11 or 8.24, its plans
and diagrams, rather than centrifugal elements of the page, move toward dispersing
the eld of vision and knowledge. The verbal text, diagram, plan, chart, and photo-
graph render different kinds of knowledge, requiring the reader to move back and
forth among these various modes of representation.
In the traditional format of the nineteenth-century journal, the hierarchical for-
mation of academic discourse was embodied in the distinct modes of representation
New Genres and New Formations 233

8.25 Plan of hospital admission area from John A. Hornsby and Richard E. Schmidt, The Modern
Hospital, 1913.
8.26 Hospital plan types from John A. Hornsby and Richard E. Schmidt, The Modern Hospital,
The Discourse of the Diagram 234

of the portfolio, letterpress, and advertising. This segregated format was now replaced
by the composite photographic text, a dispersed and repetitive organization in which
there was little differentiation between planning articles, advertising, illustration, and
essays. Furthermore, with the inltration of advertisements into the main text, their
aggressive graphic techniques became a dominant visual presence. As I shall argue in
further detail in the following chapter, this new discursive formation must be under-
stood together with the way we see and use these plans, diagrams, and photographs.
And because this new format was not a frivolous change in appearance, it became a
matter of great consternation to the architectural community.46 One disgruntled sub-
scriber to American Architect protested that the new format looked like a cross
between Vogue and a comic paper and not a plate or article [could] be cut up and led
for use (as we have done for years). He further lamented that most of the plates and
articles were mixed up with advertising, concluding that this sort of popular scream
is of no use whatever to an architects ofce.47 Another architect wrote to the Record,
after its reorganization into the tripartite format, that he was thoroughly annoyed at
the arrangement of the journal, and that it was not necessary to stuff advertising
down the throat of its readers.48 These were by no means overreactions. Indeed,
if one could not cut up, le, trace, and transcribe the pages of these journals, of
what use were they for the architect? Underlying these protests was the realization
that the very nature of the architectural discipline was at stake in these discursive
In 1942, Pencil Points, persistently the most conservative of the major periodicals,
adopted a topical format. Hence, by the early 1940s, Architectural Record (which pur-
chased American Architect in 1938), Architectural Forum, and Pencil Points, the three
major journals published on the East Coast, had all forgone a separate portfolio. As
Kenneth Kingsley Stowells editorial for Forums reference series in 1933 illustrates,
Forum had departed from McKims demand that the architectural journal function as
a means of sustaining the special world of the profession:

Realizing that this issue of The Architectural Forum will be used by the archi-
tect in his conferences with clients and prospective clients, as well as in his
own ofce work, we have designed this issue with such a purpose in view.
The format has been developed in a style which is expressive of the best
New Genres and New Formations 235

typography with which clients are familiar; a style which at once dramatizes
the presentation of photograph and fact, and offers a stimulating variety in
page appearance.49

This discursive variety indeed heralded the beginning of what Emerson Goble had
called pictorial journalism. The journal could not just circulate within the connes
of the drafting room; it had to respond to the concerns of the client, the advertisers,
and the building industry, all the while maintaining the identity of the profession and
discipline of architecture. The architectural journal must now function not only as a
mirror to an interior of architectural knowledge but also as a window to the outside

The editors who publish such scale details are not really
doing a service to architecture. . . . The photographs are
H. Van Buren Magonigle, The Upper Ground,
Pencil Points, 1934

The ground plan reveals nothing.

Sigfried Giedion, Space, Time and Architecture,
The Dislocation of the Architectural Discipline 237

The Diagram as Plan, the Plan as Diagram

During the 1930s, one of the most revealing expositions in the discourse of the dia-
gram was provided by the French-trained American architect Paul Nelson. In his 1937
Architectural Record article A Method of Procedure in Architectural Design, Nelson
brought together the various concepts and tropes of the new discursive formation,
producing a kind of prcis of the promises and burdens of the diagram. According to
Nelson, design was a process divided into three stages: The Nonarchitectural
Analysisabstraction in terms of life; The Architectural Analysisabstraction in
terms of space; The Architectural Synthesisconcretion in terms of architecture.
As we have come to expect, the diagram must derive from ideas untainted by formal
preconceptions. Hence, in Nelsons rst stage, Effectually neither the architect, his
collaborators, nor the client must think or speak architecture, otherwise its natural
growth will be deformed. Any preconceived ideas of form, style, etc., will only tend
to limit the life to them, whereas architecture should be born from life and takes the
organic form imposed by it.1 As this passage implies, the diagrammatic process must
sustain a universal logic, a rational and creative process that produces new and unique
results. Nelsons second stage was then devoted to the translation of the nonarchi-
tectural analysis into an architectural program, a process where the diagram per-
formed its essential role as the translator of idea into form. For Nelson, diagrams
were schematic and ow process drawings emanating from governing ideas and
principlesthe idealogie. Representing ideal space arrangements and ideal
schemes of interrelationship, these diagrams were then crystallized in the third and
nal stage, into an unforeseen architecture . . . unforeseen because it is the program
of life with its imponderables which inspired these architectural forms, these har-
monies, these multiple complexities, no architect could have anticipated.2
The diagram thus carried a double onus. First of all, it must emanate from the
program, representing not what is seen but what is known. It was supposed to be not
a visual representation of the building but, as a prominent equipment engineer stated,
a mental picture of its functions.3 Secondly, the diagram must generate architectural
form as a necessary outcome of the requirements of the programa burden placed
by such demands that the functional plan gradually unravel into an architectural
plan (C. Stanley Taylor; see above, p. 89), or that the building be translated from
The Discourse of the Diagram 238

its purpose (Robert L. Davison; see above, p. 153). In other words, the diagram was
both symptom and cure: it afrmed the gap between idea and form and at the same
time promised to bring them back together.
This promise, however, was impossible to keep. Though the diagram strives to
tie the plan down to the program, even in the simplest of projects there are just too
many possible diagrams for one program. On the one hand, if we look at George
Howes diagram in gure 7.19 or the functional chart in gure 8.11, it seems quite
implausible that a plan was somehow generated by the diagram. In most instances,
diagrams were offered as analytical tools and afterthoughts, lines jotted down after
the plan had already been devised. On the other hand, if we look at Paul Nelsons dia-
gram for his Museum of Science in gure 9.1, the diagrams resemblance to the

9.1 Paul Nelson, Museum of Science (or Palace of Discovery), from Architectural Record,
February 1939. Proposed for the 1937 Exposition Internationale, Paris.
The Dislocation of the Architectural Discipline 239

axonometric drawing on its right is such that it is impossible to believe that the dia-
gram is not already architectural form. In fact, by calling diagrams ideal spatial
arrangements, Nelson never denied their character as architectural gures. What he
did insist was that the diagram was devised before the axonometric design; a form
unprejudiced by existing typologies, borne from the spiritual and material functions
of the life in question.4 Irrespective of our assessment of Nelsons organicism, must
we not then conclude that his diagram is essentially a parti sketch? In either case,
whether we are dealing with a functional chart in Time Saver Standards or Nelsons
bubble diagram, the claim that the diagram is neither idea nor form, neither program
nor plan, and yet that it functions as a bridge between them retains little credibility.
Apparently, we must concede that the discourse of the diagram is merely and purely
ideology. However, rather than turn away with justied disbelief, we shall now look
more carefully at the nature of this diagrammatic process, at the function of the dia-
gram. As I stressed at the beginning of the book, to approach texts as discourse is to
look less at their truth value and more at their utility. We are searching here not for
a determined substance of the discourse of the diagram but for the boundaries and con-
ditions that it delineates for modern architecture.
In the 1930s, the operations of the overburdened diagram were most clearly on
display in housing. Notwithstanding the battle between private housing and direct
government intervention, housing was considered the testing ground of the viability
of the new profession and discipline.5 More than any type of architectural project, it
was a eld where design came under the most severe social, economic, and technical
restrictions. In dealing with housing, as distinct from the design, production, and dis-
tribution of individual houses, we should recall the professions difculties with this
relatively new program. As I pointed out in the discussion of plan books and the
Architects Small House Service Bureau, the logic of the stock plan was unacceptable
because it relinquished the authority of an autonomous discipline. Furthermore, since
there was no specic client-occupant, the traditional concept of architectural design
as a singular response to a particular set of requirements was no longer operative. It
was thus deemed possible to ask the fundamental question, as Lewis Mumford would
often do during the 1930s, What is the modern house? Mumfords answer was to
ask ourselves what any house is in terms of its essential function.6 In other words,
the answer must be formulated not in terms of existing conventions of form but in a
The Discourse of the Diagram 240

verbal or diagrammatic discourse of a more fundamental reality. For public housing,

the answers took the form of normative statements of minimum standards or a pro-
gram for what was often referred to as the average American family. To use John
Hancock Callenders expression, The problem was how to obtain the data on which
to base a design for housing not one, but several thousand, families.7 Housing thus
opened a discursive eld in which the requirements of the human body, industrial
standards, sunlight, ventilation, etc., could be appropriated as the locus of an archi-
tectural program. Through the agency of the discourse of the diagram, the economic,
technical, and social constraints of architecture took on the character of a generic
This kind of approach to the architectural program was most explicit in the
working methods of public housing authorities. In 1935, a set of Sample Plans
and standards was produced by the Housing Division of the Public Works
Administration (PWA) and published in separate government documents as well as

9.2 Method of design using unit plans and

block models, developed by the Housing
Division of the Public Works
Administration, from Architectural Record,
March 1935.
The Dislocation of the Architectural Discipline 241

9.3 T-plans developed by the Housing Division of the Public Works Administration, from
Architectural Record, March 1935.

in American Architect and Architectural Record.8 As a supplement to the studies under-

taken by the Housing Division, Record also provided a check list of Apartment
House Planning Requirements, in all likelihood the work of Lawrence Kocher.9
Under the heading of Building Design, a set of recommendations by the National
Association of Housing Ofcials and home economists was mobilized to support the
rationale of this system. The assumption was that families did not know what they
really wanted or that their demands were so varied and unreasonable that they formed
no sane basis for design. The goal was to study the distribution of family size,
through which the number and size of dwelling units could be determined. It could
thus be claimed that the PWA Sample Plans were based on the minimum efcient
The Discourse of the Diagram 242

9.4 Page from Apartment House

Planning Requirements, Including Basic
Dimensions, Architectural Record, March

room sizes and domestic equipment derived from the scientic research of home
The rudiments of this procedure were not complicated and may even be traced
in the student work of the period. For example, in a 1934 MIT thesis on Low Cost
City Housing Units, we discover a clear exposition of this process of moving from
generic program to diagram and nally to plan. Borrowing heavily on the contempo-
raneous work of Henry Wright, the thesis assumed the kind of programmatic data
gathered in Architectural Graphic Standards and Time Saver Standards and those listed
in the PWA standards. The design process itself began by designating a unit of space
by a verbal category, such as a living room, kitchen, or dining space. Initially, as in
gure 9.6, each unit was arranged within a bubble diagram and illustrated without
dimension. Hypothetically, the lines encircling each bubble unit could be stretched,
The Dislocation of the Architectural Discipline 243

reduced, altered, and overlapped with each other. According to a set of rationalized
requirements similar to those in gures 9.4 and 9.5, each unit was then xed into a
set of rectangular dimensions. These units, now consciously endowed with a sense of
architectural form, were deployed into an array of plan types, which were again com-
bined to form a larger unit plan. Like the PWA apartments, the choice of plans
ranged from simple linear arrangements to L, T, and cross type plans; as we see in
gure 9.8, the units were subsequently assembled into a cross plan. Only in the nal
stages of the design process was the plan provided with a structural system and an
exterior facade.11
This kind of simple procedure was also evident in the design of market housing.
During the 1930s and 1940s, architectural journals were strewn with articles promot-
ing opportunities within the private housing market, many with the purpose of elab-
orating specic methods of planning and design. One notable example may be found

9.5 Minimum Sizes for Compact

Bathrooms and Toilets, American
Architect, 1934; later included in
Architectural Graphic Standards.
The Discourse of the Diagram 244

9.6 Bubble diagram from Oleg Devorn, Low

Cost City Housing Units, MIT thesis, 1934.

in a special 1936 Architectural Forum feature, Small Houses for Civilized Americans
by Fordyce and Hamby, an architectural rm active in the design of speculative real
estate developments. The purpose of the article was to provide a method of
approach that could be used for any development, no matter what size the houses
or what class the market. The nature of this method was encapsulated in its open-
ing statement:

Architecture is space enclosed for a reason. And the reason is all-important.

Recognizing the absence of any coordinated, scientic data on the reasons
behind small house architecture, this study examines the house room by
room, denes its space in terms of use. It makes no attempt to re-create the
social order to t the house, but, rather, re-creates the house to t existing
needs. Thus from the reasons are established criteria of minimum stan-
The Dislocation of the Architectural Discipline 245

dards. No patent medicine formula. No magic. Fordyce and Hamby have

treated the house as a commodityas merchandise.12

Though this logic reverses the authoritarian attitude of public housing, its design
principles were much the same. According to Fordyce and Hamby, the rst tier of
principles consisted of four general criteria in the design of better living facilities:
Utility, Flexibility, Circulation, Orientation. Each criterion comprised a set of sim-
ple axiomatic statements, transposed into diagrams that ultimately produced a set of
simple block masses. For Fordyce and Hamby, the most important problem was util-
ity, one that required the process of tting the space to the functions.13
Fitting the space to the functions. This was then the apparent procedure of the
discourse of the diagram, one that we have encountered many times in different parts
of the book. We saw it in Bosworth and Joness study of architectural schools, which

9.7 Basic functional units pro-

vided with dimensions from Oleg
Devorn, Low Cost City Housing
Units, MIT thesis, 1934.
The Discourse of the Diagram 246

9.8 Thesis drawing of plan and axonometric from Oleg Devorn, Low Cost City Housing Units,
MIT thesis, 1934.
9.9 Thesis drawing of elevation from Oleg Devorn, Low Cost City Housing Units, MIT thesis,
The Dislocation of the Architectural Discipline 247

9.10 Thesis drawing of construction sys-

tem from Oleg Devorn, Low Cost City
Housing Units, MIT thesis, 1934. Since the
late 1920s, MIT had required construction
drawings for thesis projects.

stated that design was most importantly the grouping and proportioning of enclosed
spaces for human need (see above, p. 105). We also saw it in Mary Pattisons logic of
domestic engineering, and in C. Stanley Taylors method of allotting space from a
functional viewpoint (above, p. 88). What we now understand is that this diagram-
matic process involves the maintenance of a one-to-one correspondence between a
volumetric unit (each bubble unit) and a verbal designation of function (living room,
kitchen, etc.). In their mass, Fordyce and Hambys designs are more varied than the
PWA apartments, but the procedure of manipulating the lines of the diagram, if not
directly into wall, then into the geometry of the plan, was identical. In both instances,
despite the dilution of the analogical density linking the diagram and the plan, the
topology of each bubble as a unit of manipulation was maintained in relation to its
verbal designation as a function. In other words, contrary to the notion that the dia-
gram and the plan were distinct phases of the design process, there was a constant
The Discourse of the Diagram 248

9.11 Summary chart for Allman Fordyce and William I. Hamby, Small Houses for Civilized
Americans, Architectural Forum, January 1936.

analogical continuity between the lines of the diagram and those of the plan. We may
then ask, at what point does the diagram become a plan? Or to phrase the question
differently, are the block models in gure 9.2 or the dimensional units in gure 9.7
representations of a building, or are they diagrams? With these seemingly naive ques-
tions, we come to realize, as we did with Paul Nelsons project in gure 9.1, that it is
not the diagram that is somehow transformed into an architectural plan. Rather, we
may conclude that if there is a diagram that can generate form, such a diagram is
already form.
If diagram is form, then we must also take notice of its corollary, that form is a
diagram. And with this proposition of the diagrammatic nature of architectural form,
we are inevitably led to the idea of type. For despite the claim that the diagram is
The Dislocation of the Architectural Discipline 249

untainted by formal preconceptions, that the plan emanates from the program, it is
clear that typology remains a key issue in the diagrammatic process. Indeed, as with
the Beaux-Arts system, the key diagram of these housing projects remains that of the
plan type (not surprisingly, the MIT thesis referred to the U, T, and cross plans as
types of parti). For example, in gure 9.12, we see Henry Wrights portrayal of a
design procedure in which a rectangular courtyard-type plan is gradually transformed
into an actual plan of an apartment building. In these ve steps, and the ones that will
follow, it is not only meaningless but also quite impossible to discern the diagram
from the plan. One could argue that this is because Wright is not really beginning
with the functional diagram and that he remains at the level of the Beaux-Arts parti,
of the kind that we saw in gures 2.14 and 8.26.

9.12 Scientic Stages in Solution of an Architectural Problem from Henry Wright, The
Modern Apartment House, Architectural Record, March 1929.
The Discourse of the Diagram 250

The question then becomes how one distinguishes the Beaux-Arts parti diagram
from the functionalist bubble diagram. As we have carefully examined, the distinc-
tion is not simply between form and nonform. Though the bubble diagram insists
that it does not represent the physical building, it is in fact a loose conguration of
the building, implying relations between volumetric units designated by verbal state-
ments on movements and activities. In the case of the parti diagram, we may refer to
Quatremre de Quincys famous denition of type, that it presents less the image of
a thing to copy or imitate completely than the idea of an element which ought itself
to serve as a rule for the model.14 Quatremres proposition of the idea of an ele-
ment is an understanding that the architectural element cannot be conceived in and
of itself but must be dened in relation to a larger whole: a column in relation to the
entablature and base, a colonnade within a courtyard, a house within an urban fabric,
and so on. In other words, the Beaux-Arts parti must also be understood as a system
of relations, but one in which the transformations occur within the lines of its dia-
gram. In the Beaux-Arts system, the diagram was embedded within the plan. That
was why analysis and projection, abstraction and guration could occur within the
lines and surfaces of the portfolio. The initial sketch of the parti diagram, the
esquisse, indicates the overall character of the design, the distribution of rooms,
the details of its form, and the specics of entrance, circulation, light, ventilation, and
views. The Beaux-Arts plan was able to function as an analogue because, in Nelson
Goodmans terms, it was part of a syntactically dense and articulate system.15 In the
discourse of the diagram, the analogical circle is untied, and the diagram is dislodged
from this dense hermetic system. As noted, this was as much the consequence of the
diagrams move toward the program as it was the result of the demise of the analy-
tique, the discipline that facilitated the transformation of the esquisse into the nal
design. Carrying little indication of their elevations, sections, and details, the bubble
diagram no longer sustains the density of the esquisse. The key question in the dis-
course of the diagram is thus: when the dense relation between part and whole can-
not be assumed within the lines, when they possess so little power as an analogue,
what is the function of these diagrams?
In searching for the answer to this query, we could begin by supposing that the
new discursive conditions require a different kind of gaze and a different mode of
utility. However, as Frederick Ackerman warned, the discourse itself does not guar-
The Dislocation of the Architectural Discipline 251

antee a new disciplinary attitude. In all the gures we have seen in this chapter, the
architects gaze has continued to focus on the diagram, as if he were looking at the
lines of the portfolio. In moving from the bubble diagram to the plan, the insistent
gaze at the sparse lines, even as they have lost almost all of their density, results in
what Klaus Herdeg has keenly described as the decorated diagram.16 In the context
of this study, we have encountered several such diagrams, none more clearly illus-
trated than in the architectural compositions in gures 4.6 and 4.7. We may recall
that these gures from Pickerings Architectural Design were presented as demonstra-
tions of the formalist principles of mass, the products of a fragmented academic sys-
tem. Ironically, though not surprisingly, within the dualistic constrictions of form
versus function, the decorated diagram was also a product typical of a functionalist
procedure in which the rationally derived plan was detached from the process of
endowing the project with a nal external appearance. As Herdeg points out, the
primary symptom of the decorated diagram lies in the unmitigated dichotomy
between plan and appearance.17
In different ways, this symptom is evident in both Fordyce and Hambys houses
and Paul Nelsons project for the Museum of Science. In the former, the separation
of appearance from plan was consciously presented as an essential part of their pro-
gram. Fordyce and Hamby unabashedly claimed that type of appearance, along
with selling gags and color, was something added on to the functional plan.
Employing the same combination of rationalism and consumerism encountered in
Robert L. Davison (see above, pp. 155156), Fordyce and Hamby argued that these
factors dened the sensory appeal that aroused consumption, and hence were matters
best decided by surveys of consumer preference.18 To continue with Herdegs terms
of analysis, Nelsons diagram for the Museum of Science was used not as a neutral
organizer of program functions but as a way of freeing the architect for the creation
of visual interest.19 Despite his rationalist-organic pronouncements, Nelsons dia-
gram has much the same function as the bare lines that delineate Pickerings archi-
tectural volumes. Nelson would never have conceded to the disjunctive logic of
Fordyce and Hamby, or the stripped-down classicism of the 1920s. Yet in his search
for some level of formal expression, we can sense his xation on the lines of his proj-
ect as he struggles to attain some level of conspicuous expression, to make the dia-
gram its own decoration.20 As an emaciated esquisse that lives on after the death of
The Discourse of the Diagram 252

the analytique, Nelsons diagram-plan stands unwittingly on the ruins of the aca-
demic discipline.
Once again, if architects cannot center their gaze on the lines, how must they
approach the diagram? One way of answering this central question of modern archi-
tecture would be to explore the disciplines of the best architects of the past century,
to see how their work emerges in a condition where the plan has become a diagram;
but that is an inquiry that goes beyond the boundaries of this book. Nonetheless,
within the limits of what has been examined, we may nd another way of answering
this question by returning to a simple set of diagramsthe plates of the modern ref-
erence manual. As noted in the previous chapter, the diagrams in Architectural
Graphic Standards were not denotations of the actual product. They were neither pho-
tographic copies for selection (as in the catalogue) nor models to be emulated (as in
the portfolio), but delineations of a set of standard dimensions. In its distinction
between fact and appearance, Graphic Standards provided diagrams that allowed the
architect to visualize and conceive of relations without committing to a specic form.
As drawings purposely devoid of all design in the decorative sense, they were not
supposed to be used as a crib. Even if architects were to trace the lines of a wash basin
or a window section (or click them out of an AutoCAD menu), these were marks of
the spatial boundary of the object, indications that were to be specied later through
the catalogue or redesigned for custom manufacture. As Frederick Ackerman clearly
stated, the diagrams in Graphic Standards were delineations of pure fact and implied
no formal value. When using these manuals, much in the way that we use bubble dia-
grams, architects must be able to grasp a drawing at a glance.21 The gaze must not
dwell on the diagrams but move in and out of them, roaming in between these sim-
ple indications of space.
In modern architecture, the diagram has become form, and form has become a
diagram. Though these two propositions may seem one and the same, they imply
quite different ways of approaching architectural design. In the former, the architects
gaze remains centered on the line. And as we saw in the housing designs of this chap-
ter, this concentration leads to what Le Corbusier has characterized as the chimeric
xation on a type-plan. Le Corbusier knew that this xation would result in the most
barren of solutions, and thus he insisted that technology and standardization estab-
lish type elements, not the type plan.22 Stripped of its dense conventions, the type
The Dislocation of the Architectural Discipline 253

is no longer the central visual object of a tightly woven analogical system but a loose
diagrammatic conguration; to use Giulio Carlo Argans expression, the type is a
schema of spatial articulation, devoid of value judgement.23 To approach form as
a diagram is to understand that when the analogical relation between diagram and
plan is severed, when the discipline is dislocated from the lines, the gaze must move
away from them. That is the simple yet difcult lesson of the dimensional typea
lesson that such seemingly disparate documents as the plans of Le Corbusiers houses
and the plates of Architectural Graphic Standards teach us. What they are telling us, in
their very different ways, is that the discipline is no longer located within their lines.
These diagrammatic marks do not carry any intrinsic value: they are no longer the
vehicle of architectural norms but an instrument of separation, differentiation, and

The Displacements of Photographic Discourse

But there is one thing I dont like about Favorite Features, a new-comer in
the magazine [Architecture]the publication of scale details of these
favorites of their architects. It is merely putting temptation in the way of the
Copy-Peter who is too ignorant or too lazy to design for himself. . . . The
editors who publish such scale details are not really doing a service to archi-
tecture, whether the work be old or new; and I wish such features and
departments were all abolished. The photographs are enough.24

These are the sentiments not of a modernist but of Harold Van Buren Magonigle, an
academically trained architect of the most conservative persuasion. His statement
again demonstrates that by the early 1930s, even for those within the Beaux-Arts
ranks, mimetic practice was no longer acceptable to the architect who was to design
for himself. This point was underscored earlier when we discussed the fragmenta-
tion of the academic discipline and the demise of the portfolio. We shall now address
the inevitable question that emerges from this historical condition: if the discipline of
seeing and drawing bound with the traditional portfolio is no longer valid, how was
The Discourse of the Diagram 254

the architect to approach the ever-growing mass of architectural images? Throughout

the 1920s and 1930s, even as mimetic practice came under increasing criticism, pub-
lishers such as the Architectural Book Publishing Company, William Helburn, and
Scribners actively turned out portfolios and pictorials dealing with both modern
architecture and period styles. The portfolio was of course an important part of
journals until their reorganization in the 1930s, and, even in their new formation,
architectural illustrationssmaller, dispersed, and now almost all photographic
continued to be necessary pieces of its page. As Magonigle so emphatically stated, if
the presentation of scale drawings is a prelude to plagiarism, and if photographs are
enough, in terms of the discipline, what then is the function of these photographs?
Let us begin the discussion by pointing to two basic conditions of photography
that distinguish it from architectural drawing. First of all, following the Piercean dis-
tinction of signs, we must note that a photograph has the characteristic of being not
only an icon but also an index.25 In other words, the cause of the photographic image
is seemingly always there within the image. That is why Roland Barthes, despite the
mediums distinctive codes of representation, dened the photograph as the perfect
analogon of reality, a message without a code.26 The photograph has long been
regarded as a picture whose knot with reality has not been loosened, a picture that
possessed a powerful and unprecedented effect of truth. Second, we must note that
the photograph is always a partial image, a fragment of reality. With photography,
one must acknowledge the simple but signicant fact that the camera is always pres-
ent in the space of the photograph, and that the photographer, by positioning the
nder and cropping board, chooses a slice of this reality. With the identication of
the viewing subject with the position of the camera, the presence and absence of the
subject and object, though an issue not exclusive to photography, emerge as its cen-
tral thematic.27
As I mentioned, in the early decades of architectural photography the medium
conceded its potential autonomy to the requirements of drawing and the codes of ele-
vation and perspective. That is, in the discourse of the portfolio, the basic conditions
of photography were employed in a way that subdued the photographic fragment.
The portfolio emphasized photographys iconic function, utilizing its indexical nature
as the conrmation of an unbroken architectural tradition. By contrast, it is a widely
accepted tenet that modern architecture presupposed a new mode of vision, and that
The Dislocation of the Architectural Discipline 255

this new vision was necessarilyor at least most efcaciouslyprovided by the pecu-
liar properties of photography. For example, the development of techniques deemed
unique to the mediumspecial camera angles (aerial and worms-eye views), exag-
gerated lens effects (wide angle and telephoto distortions), and extreme camera dis-
tance (close-ups)have typically been associated with the challenge of picturing
modern architecture. With the growing interest in media, we have recently become
even more attuned to the symbiotic relation between photography and architecture.28
Though the general trends of the new architectural photography of the 1920s and
1930s have been documented to a certain extent, there is clearly much more to learn
from the historical convergence of the new photography and modern architecture.29
At the same time, it must be underscored that modern architecture can be and has
been pictured in many different ways. In fact, for our purpose of exploring how pho-
tography was used in modern architecture, the more conventional photographic por-
trayals of modern architecture must also be examined.
The most conspicuous examples of this approach in the 1920s and 1930s can
be found in the work of Frank Yerbury. Most often produced in collaboration with
Howard Robertson, his colleague at Londons Architectural Association, Yerburys
photographs were part of numerous pictorials compiled in books and journals.30
These photographs have been credited for introducing continental modernism to
both England and America. However, glancing through such Yerbury titles as
Examples of Modern French Architecture, Modern Dutch Buildings, and Architectural
Design in Concrete, one quickly realizes that his photographs were brought together
not under a guiding modernist principle but as an eclectic pictorial of recent work.
Unlike the traditional portfolio, these books rarely carried plans. But like the port-
folio, they had very little text, which would seem to imply that his photographs were
meant to stand on their own. Yerburys photographs, however, rarely had that power.
Though extremely popular at the time of their publication, these pictorials undeni-
ably lack vigor. For example, one contemporary reviewer called Examples of Modern
French Architecture a book of photographic impressions,31 and Cervin Robinson has
recently commented that none of Yerburys work seem[s] to have been taken with a
particular purpose in mind.32 Indeed, characterizing themselves as compilers rather
than authors, Yerbury and Robertson had little inclination to produce tendentious
The Discourse of the Diagram 256

Why are Yerburys photographs so lacking in visual power? Certainly the poor
quality and relatively small size of the reproductions have much to do with it. The
primary reason, however, lies in his basic approach to the object. That is, whether
dealing with historicist work or a building by Le Corbusier, Yerburys photography
was persistently object-centered. For example, in his photographs of the La Roche-
Jeanneret house in gures 9.13 and 9.14, Yerbury presents the curved exterior wall of
La Roches gallery and the protruding stair landing of its entrance foyer as if they
were distinct architectural elements. Yerbury does not understand that Le Corbusiers
architecture assumed a mode of vision quite different from the focused gaze required
in the discourse of the portfolio.34 Lacking the discipline of seeing and drawing bound
with the traditional portfolios, the object-centered images of Yerburys picture books
merely form a catalogue of images. Even if they were eagerly anticipated and actually

9.13 View of curved gallery, La Roche-Jeanneret house, from Howard Robertson and Frank
Yerbury, Examples of Modern French Architecture, 1928. Photograph by Frank Yerbury.
The Dislocation of the Architectural Discipline 257

9.14 Interiors of La Roche-Jeanneret house, from Howard Robertson and Frank Yerbury,
Examples of Modern French Architecture, 1928. Photographs by Frank Yerbury.

used as cribs,35 the illustrations no longer had power as the centerpieces of an inte-
grated discipline. They were not meant to be inserted into the constellation of a con-
tinuous tradition of architectural monuments. There is an absence, and though one
may ip back and forth through the pages of his books, it is not quite possible to nd
the missing pieces of this void.
Having lost the support of a discipline integrated with its images, what then was
the function of these photographs? Have they now become just instruments of pub-
licity, conveying information of who has recently designed what? And even if they
had been photographed in more unconventional ways, would they thereby acquire a
new disciplinary system of seeing, reading, and transformation? Or would they end
up as merely visual devices to capture the attention of the market? In the quotation
The Discourse of the Diagram 258

with which we began this discussion, Magonigle provided a hint to one possible
answer to these questions. He believed that magazines should avoid scaled details so
that would-be plagiarists may be dissuaded; more importantly, by showing only pho-
tographs, magazines would allow their readers to catch the spirit of the thing.36 In
other words, the function of architectural illustrations was to serve as a means for
stimulating an idea, a vehicle for conveying the concept of the building portrayed.
Though they were not composed of the kind of architecture Magonigle would
have had in mind, this relation between idea and image found its most explicit
manifestation in the operative histories of modern architecturetexts with the
pronounced intention of proving the existence and principles of architectures new
tendencies. Witness, for example, Sheldon Cheneys recommendation on how his
readers should approach The New World Architecture:

Because the new architecture is so different, because in practice so little of it

can be seen in any one place, as compared with the manifestations of the old,
I suggest that the reader glance rapidly through all the illustrations in the
book, before continuing with the text. I hope that he will come back to read-
ing with the sense of certain qualities consistently achieved.37

The collective function of the books illustrations was to convey a common idea of the
new architecture. For Cheney the illustrations were the most signicant evidences . . .
of the beginnings of the new art of building.38 Not by coincidence, while his images
of modern architecture were presented in photographs, the illustrations of histor-
ical architecturethe Parthenon, the Roman Colosseum, Gothic cathedrals, and
nineteenth-century cottageswere presented in line drawings.
In America, The New World Architecture forms part of a very loose genealogy of
composite texts that include Hitchcocks Modern Architecture, the MoMA projects of
The International Style and Machine Art, Mumfords The Brown Decades and Technics
and Civilization, and Giedions Space, Time and Architecture. As noted above,
Mumford could never throw himself into the images of modernity because they ulti-
mately did not live up to the rules and expectations of his verbal narrative. In contrast
with Mumfords tentative gestures, the photographic images of Hitchcock and
Johnsons The International Style were awarded their full role as symbols of reality.
However, this does not mean that they attained an autonomous status. Even as we
The Dislocation of the Architectural Discipline 259

acknowledge Beatriz Colominas comment that The International Style was a public-
ity weapon to disseminate modern architecture in America and therefore subordi-
nated the text to the carefully chosen image, in terms of the discipline, it must rather
be stated that the visual was subjugated to the verbal.39 Johnsons intent toward this
effect is disclosed in a letter he wrote during his European travels of 1930, when he
began plotting out the new book he would produce with Hitchcock. According to
Johnson, the book was meant to be a fully illustrated version of Hitchcocks Modern
Architecture, its rewrite in a popular way in which text will be rst and then the pic-
tures in a bunch.40 In other words, the bunch of photographs, by repeating the com-
mon verbal characterizations of the new style, would provide the proof of the
originating idea of the text. If Mumford wanted his images to function as words,
Hitchcock and Johnson used the images for them. And though the photographs of The
International Style did not differ signicantly from Yerburys object-centered images,
the former was now provided with a verbal yardstick (volume, regularity, and opposi-
tion to applied ornament), a textual supplement for the absence of the photographs.
In the previous chapters, we examined another kind of supplementary connec-
tion between text and image in the new organization of the architectural journals after
the 1930s. As noted, in the composite photographic text, the architectural photograph
was presented as one of several dispersed and differentiated elements in the cognitive
experience of the reader. In this new format, the relevance of the architectural pho-
tograph was maintained not within its lines and surfaces but by its relation to the
plan, the verbal text, and the diagram. Where we previously focused on the discursive
formation of reference and planning, we may now touch on its convergence with the
textual strategies of operative histories. And for this purpose, the May 1934 issue of
Architectural Record organized by Sigfried Giedion presents a tting point of depar-
ture. Beginning with the lead article titled What Should Be Done to Improve
Architectural Education, through an extensive Portfolio on The Status of Con-
temporary Architecture, the text, images, and layout of this special number were
dominated by Giedions editorial hand. In a double-page spread that anticipates a key
visual technique of Space, Time and Architecture, Giedion juxtaposed photographs of
an Indian pueblo, a California bungalow, and a house by Irving Gill. Giedion was of
course no stranger to the composite photographic text, for already in Bauen in
Frankreich, Bauen in Eisen, Bauen in Eisenbeton he opened with the remark that
the book was written and designed . . . for the hurried reader to understand the
The Discourse of the Diagram 260

9.15 Juxtaposition by Sigfried Giedion of New Mexico pueblo, California bungalow, and house
designed by Irving Gill, from Architectural Record, May 1934.

developmental path from the captioned illustrations.41 In the following portfolio,

Giedion selected nineteen built projects from fourteen countries to demonstrate the
existence of a movement which seeks a true expression of the new methods in con-
struction and planning with the aim of accomplishing a new harmony of our life and
activities.42 In contrast with The International Style, or for that matter with Cheney
and Mumfords expositions, Giedion brought a wide array of visual resources to his
presentation: not only photographs and plans of buildings but their details, sections,
axonometrics, and site plans. The captions to these illustrations accentuated techni-
cal innovations, as Giedion seemed intent on showing that the new architecture was
not only a departure in artistic tradition but a response to diverse technological, eco-
nomic, and social developments.
The Dislocation of the Architectural Discipline 261

Giedions exposition can thus be read as a critical response to MoMAs stylistic

interpretation of The International Style and Machine Art. Admittedly there is much
in common between Giedions approach to architectural illustration and the MoMA
strategy of the early thirties. As much as the authors of The International Style,
Giedion was intent on using his images as a means of persuasion. However, with
Giedion we begin to approach the complex issues raised by the historical convergence
of the new photography and modern architecture. Fully tuned to the program of the
New Vision, Giedion believed that in accordance with the new spatial principles of
modern architecture, a new mode of vision and representation was required. From
Bauen in Frankreich to Space, Time and Architecture, he worked on the thesis that
simultaneity and interpenetration could be captured neither in a single image nor
through simple repetition, but through the construction of a continuously moving

9.16 Double-page layout of Neubuehl housing from Sigfried Giedion, The Status of
Contemporary Architecture, Architectural Record, May 1934.
The Discourse of the Diagram 262

9.17 Double-page spread with photomontage of Rockefeller Center and high-speed photograph
by Harold Edgerton, from Sigfried Giedion, Space, Time and Architecture, 3rd edition, 1954. The page
layout and photographs remained identical from the rst edition of 1941 to the fth of 1967.
The Dislocation of the Architectural Discipline 263

semiautonomous observer. Because of the indeterminate position of the subject, it

was the interplay of images rather than their ultimate closure in a set of verbal con-
cepts that was paramount for him. A building such as Rockefeller Center, much like
Gropiuss Bauhaus, cannot be summed up at one view and presupposes not the
single point of view of the Renaissance but the many-sided approach of our own age.
One cannot turn to the plan because it reveals nothing. Human vision must there-
fore assimilate the new techniques of photomontage and high-speed photography,
whereby it can pick up each individual view singly and relate it to all others, com-
bining them into a time sequence.43 The human eye must thus function like a con-
stantly moving camera.44 Though the image in the single frame follows the xed
viewer position of the traditional perspective, it also implies the necessity of an in-
nite number of other possible views. According to Giedion, modern architecture was
a unity to be reconstructed from a multiple of photographic fragments, and with this
thesis we come face to face with an issue that involves what Sokratis Georgiadis has
called the creation of a perceptive apparatusan issue that I would characterize as
the intersection of the camera-viewer and its object, of frame and presence.45
To delve more fully into the implications of this photographic condition of mod-
ern architecture, let us return momentarily to the Beaux-Arts system to see how the
themes of framing and presence play out in the discourse of the portfolio. For com-
parison, I have selected the drawing in gure 9.18, executed in 1899 by Dsir
Despradelle, the distinguished professor at MIT during the late nineteenth and early
twentieth centuries.46 As a rendering for his entry to the Phoebe Hearst Competition
for the University of California, Berkeley, it is a beautiful drawing characterized by
Despradelles soft yet assertive touch. The most striking feature of its overall compo-
sition is its multidimensional visuality. At the center of the drawing is the main ele-
vation of the great auditorium, anked on its right by its own section. The elevation
and section are meshed together as a panorama, staged as if viewed in perspective
from a hypothetical terraced platform. While the human gures on the terrace are
dressed in frock coats and top hats, the platform area is construed as an ideal antique
setting. The Grecian temple, sculptures, and trees on the terrace, as well as the large
space separating them from Despradelles project, are drawn in one-point perspective.
The plan of the auditorium, illustrated in full detail in gure 2.8, is set upon an ele-
vation of a Doric capital and placed on the right-hand side of the platform area. The
The Discourse of the Diagram 264

drawing is thus a collage of divergent modes of representation: of the pictorial and

the orthogonal, of the ideally hypothetical and the immediately projective.47
This assemblage, however, certainly does not produce the discordance of the
modernist montage. It is a world where what is seen through the window, what is
reected in the mirror, and what is drawn on the map conate without friction. The
view from afar and the close inspection of detail are integrated, allowing the disci-
plined architect to maneuver between them with ease and skill. The faithful repre-
sentation of existing architecture is converted without hindrance to the projection of
a new building. While the choice of lens, lm, view nder, printing paper, and crop-
ping board are all crucial to the photographic mirror, the boundary in Despradelles
drawing is but an arbitrary limit to its size. Hypothetically one could insert any num-
ber of elements and views of a project into this boundary without disrupting the
integrity of the representation. The problem will remain a matter of proper arrange-
ment. It is a kind of view typically found (though not always in such sumptuous style)
in the traditional portfolio. As I mentioned, this is so because in the Beaux-Arts sys-
tem we are dealing not with fragments but with elements of and as a whole. An archi-
tectural element, even a small piece of the building, can be placed within the frame
as a complete entity of an analogical system. The hypothetical view of antiquity that
supports Despradelles project tells us that we are in an innite space where the
objects of consequence remain within and separate from the edge. All of the world of
architecture is contained within the frame, densely sedimented within the lines and
beneath the surfaces.
In this expansive yet limited world, where does the architect stand? As we see in
gure 9.20, the answer is provided in Despradelles theatrical site plan for the
Berkeley project. Here Despradelle has positioned himself as a supreme creator over-
looking his design for the new campus. It is, to use a more technical analogy, the
position of a mapmaker. In order to read, draw, and understand a map, the cartogra-
pher must be above the terrain, at a hypothetical point of innity. Furthermore, we
must note that this detachment from the object can be maintained because he is
trained not only to understand but also to use and transform the codes of the map.
Likewise, it was possible for the Beaux-Arts architect to view himself as an
autonomous agent of creation because he was so fully immersed in the codied sys-
tem of classical architecture.48
The Dislocation of the Architectural Discipline 265

9.18 Dsir Despradelle and Stephan Codman, composite view of grand auditorium building, part
of entry for Phoebe Hearst Competition, University of California, Berkeley, ca. 1899.
The Discourse of the Diagram 266

9.19 Elevation and details of Boston Public Library from Masterpieces of Architecture in the United
States, 1930. A similar kind of composite layout can be found in gure 1.11.
The Dislocation of the Architectural Discipline 267

In contrast with the discourse of the portfolio, the modern photography of archi-
tecture is dominated by the viewers position within its space, that is, the position of
the camera. We glimpsed it in Giedion and may surely discover it in the work of F. S.
Lincoln, one of modern architectures most prominent photographers of the 1930s
and beyond. In Lincolns photography, whether the subject was the modernist Rex
Stout house or Colonial Williamsburg, the spatial relation between viewer and object
is the dominant concern. In order to accentuate spatial depth, Lincoln would typi-
cally place the camera in a position that would dramatize the effects of foreshorten-
ing and the multiple planes within the space. Particularly with his photographs of the
Rex Stout house, we can see that the building is not just the object of the photograph
but also part of its frame. The building, or more accurately fragments of the building,

9.20 Behold!!! Dsir Despradelle and Stephan Codman, birds-eye view of overall layout,
Phoebe Hearst Competition, University of California, Berkeley, ca. 1899.
The Discourse of the Diagram 268

9.21 Double-page spread of interiors in the Capitol from The Restoration of Colonial
Williamsburg in Virginia, Architectural Record, December 1935. Photographs by F. S. Lincoln.

intervene at the borders of the picture and become part of the viewing mechanism.
We are looking as much at the building as through it and with it.49
In the discourse of the portfolio, as in Despradelles drawing, the plan works as
the hinge between projection and representation, between the elements and the
whole. In Record s presentation of the Rex Stout house, there is a plan, but there is
very little to read in it. As I have just noted, the plan has become a diagram that pro-
vides the reader with just the bare information on entrance, openings, and spatial
boundaries. Flipping through the pages of the journal, readers rst notice the pho-
tographs and subsequently locate the position from which they were taken. Rather
than any intrinsic quality of the plan, it is now the photograph that guides the read-
ing of the project. It is the photograph that brings a sense of light and view, a glimpse
The Dislocation of the Architectural Discipline 269

9.22 Double-page spread of exterior views of the College of William and Mary from The
Restoration of Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia, Architectural Record, December 1935. Photographs
by F. S. Lincoln.

of the buildings tectonic, a feeling for our would-be experience of the building. Using
the plan as a set of coordinates, readers are required to identify with the camera, to
place themselves in the space. And as they roam around the building, the composite
photographic text guides them through a series of interrogations. For instance, a
reader may be struck by the corner windows, undoubtedly a key feature in the pre-
sentation of the Rex Stout house. On the one hand, if the reader is an aspiring novice,
we may easily fancy him cribbing the photograph, as if judiciously conducting an ana-
lytique. We could say, following Susan Sontag, that for this novice the photograph
has become the norm for the way things appear to us.50 On the other hand, we
could also imagine a more disciplined student of modern architecture, one who seeks
The Discourse of the Diagram 270

9.23 Lawrence Kocher and Gerhard Zieglers Rex Stout house, double-page spread from House
of Rex Stout, Faireld County, Connecticut, Architectural Record, July 1933. Photographs by F. S.
The Dislocation of the Architectural Discipline 271

9.24 Double-page composite layout with plans and photographs of interior from House of Rex
Stout, Faireld County, Connecticut, Architectural Record, July 1933. Photographs by F. S. Lincoln.
The Discourse of the Diagram 272

to understand the details of its section, its relation to the program, and the way it con-
trols the space. With such intentions, this reader would have to roam back and forth
through the pages, as Giedion would have appreciated, coordinating the various
images, drawings, and words. The composite layout, however, can never provide this
critical reader with a complete sense of the project. The text incites more questions
than it is able to answer, and hence its reading becomes an interrogation that is hypo-
thetically without end. As much as we can agree with Sontag that it is the reality
which is scrutinized, and evaluated, for its delity to photographs, the matter of how
this scrutiny is conducted will be as important as the nature of this delity.51
In contrast to the composite layout of the Rex Stout house, Despradelles project
can bring all its questions and answers into a single frame. To use Walter Benjamins
characterization in The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, while
Despradelles project is the product of the painter, a total one, the layout of the Rex
Stout house is that of the cameraman, multiple fragments which are assembled
under a new law.52 Clearly, the new photographic discourse demands a different kind
of approach from its authors and readers. And in delving into this issue, one
inevitably turns to Benjamins seminal essay, whose very project was to analyze the
specic kind of approach required by the photographic assemblage of fragments.
Benjamin explains the formation of this approach as a dual process of withdrawal and
immersion. It is rst and foremost a process of withdrawal from the cult value of art
objects, one that results in his famous thesis on the decay of aura. If portrait photog-
raphy retains the last moments of cult value, Benjamin believes that it is Atgets
uncanny images of Paris, in essence a kind of architectural photography, that alert us
to the rst moment of total withdrawal: when exhibition value nally shows its supe-
riority over ritual value. In their sense of absence and indeterminacy, Atgets pho-
tographs disturb the viewer.53 With seemingly no real object of the photograph, the
viewer is left to seek other clues to its meaning. Following Benjamin, Victor Burgin
writes that this wandering is caused by the subjects recognition of the absent other.
Photography thus enacts a dispersal of vision.

The image now no longer receives our look, reassuring us of our founding
centrality, it rather as it were, avoids our gaze. . . . It is therefore not an arbi-
trary fact that photographs are deployed so that we need not look at them
The Dislocation of the Architectural Discipline 273

for long, and so that, almost invariably, another photograph is always already
in position to receive the displaced look.54

As with the composite photographic text, Burgin notes that readers are provided with
signposts that tell them where to move next. Through the ever present caption,
and other forms of linguistic expression which traverse, surround and support the
image,55 the displaced vision, as in the case of The International Style, is given direc-
tion. In The International Style, the questions raised by each image were provided with
nal answers by the authority of its words, perhaps the easiest way to bring closure to
this endless process of displacement.
Thus with withdrawal there is always a coinciding immersion into discourse.
This process was also present in Giedion, whose sense of immersion was vividly sum-
marized in the futurist motto Lo spettatore nel centro del quadro: the observer
must be placed in the middle of the painting, not at some isolated observation point
outside. This was the guiding principle not only of his own historical work but of
modernity itself: the fact that observation and what is observed form one complex
situationto observe something is to act upon and alter it.56 However, this com-
plex situation proved to be one that Giedion could not fully portray. Even for some-
one who believed that architecture must transform an assembly of parts into a unity,
Giedion conceded that all he had done was trace incompletely, in fragments, an
image of our period.57 But unlike Mumford who could not begin to approach the
fragment, who thought that montage photography was in reality not photography at
all but a kind of painting, in which the photograph is usedas patches of textiles are
used in a crazy quilt to form a mosaic, Giedion never abandoned his exploration of
photographic composites.58 Giedions tentativeness nonetheless belies the fundamen-
tal difculty of architectural representation within the indeterminacies of the modern
For those who did not subscribe to the positivities of an impending architectural
unity, this indeterminacy nurtured a different kind of discursive strategy. During the
1930s, Frederick Kiesler, particularly with his articles for Architectural Record, initi-
ated the most radical innovations in subject matter, page layout, and photographic
technique. Not by coincidence, F. S. Lincolns most dramatic work involved a special
pictorial on Kieslers Space House, featured in the January 1934 issue of Record. With
The Discourse of the Diagram 274

the exception of an exterior head-on view spread out in its opening pages, the picto-
rial was dominated by two kinds of images. The rst, as in gure 9.25, stresses the rel-
ative position of the camera and the architectural interior. The second, as in gure
9.26, is made up of extreme close-ups of material components used in the house.
Approached individually, the rst kind of image seems to approximate the spatial
interpretations that we saw in Lincolns work at the Rex Stout house and Colonial
Williamsburg. The latter close-ups could also be viewed as a photo layout of archi-
tectural details, typical of journal presentations of individual projects. However, what
is so striking about the whole feature is the gap between the pictorial views and the
close-ups. There were no plans or diagrams to guide the reading of the photographs,
intentionally frustrating any attempt to reconstruct the house or locate oneself within
it. The close-ups were unlike the usual detail illustration in that they provided no
clues to the form of the whole. In radical opposition to the notion of an architecture
of part and whole, Kiesler conceived the Space House as a continuous construction,
a structure without joints and elements. It is noteworthy that in this double-page
spread, the blank page margin invariably used in the traditional portfolio was com-
pletely discarded. The absence of the white border implied that the image could be
extended indenitely without any break in the composition of its object.60 Kiesler was
interested in photographic fragments, but unlike Giedion he was adamant that the
pieces not be reconstructed. These fragments functioned as reminders of an original
technical symbol, of an absent tectonics required for the reintegration of idea and
form, form and material.61 It was a Piranesian move to disorient the viewer, achieved
less within the single picture than by a composite set of photographic illustrations.
As a radical departure from the iconic function of photography, Lincolns images
of Kieslers Space House delved into the mediums indexical nature, the sense of the
photograph as evidence of a deeper hidden cause of what was seen on the surface. The
photographs were experiments in the surrealist project of automatism; to borrow
Rosalind Krausss expression, a kind of representation that was a manifestation of
the innermost self, and thus not representation at all.62 And in its utopian denition,
was not the diagram meant to have the same function as the conceptual image, as a
map of the mind? Or conversely, as much as the photograph was deemed an index
to a hard reality, was not the diagram also treated as an objective picture untainted
by prejudiced subjectivity? If so, we may then extend to the diagram John Taggs
The Dislocation of the Architectural Discipline 275

9.25 Double-page spread of interiors in Frederick Kieslers Space House, from Architectural
Record, January 1934. Photographs by F. S. Lincoln.
The Discourse of the Diagram 276

9.26 Double-page spread of straw matting used in Frederick Kieslers Space House, from
Architectural Record, January 1934. Photographs by F. S. Lincoln.
The Dislocation of the Architectural Discipline 277

characterization of photography as a technology that has no inherent value, outside

its mobilization in specic discourses, practices, institutions and relations of power.63
The diagram and the photograph of course have different roles. If the diagram is a
form of knowledge untainted by visual memory, the photograph is inevitably a
recording of what has already been. In this ideal conguration, diagrams project but
do not represent; photographs represent but do not project. Hence they intersect and
form a reciprocal relation within the discourse of the diagram. With the demise of
the Beaux-Arts system of mimesis, the ongoing rift between representation and pro-
jection, knowledge and belief reaches a critical juncture where the diagram and pho-
tograph emerge as the symptom as well as remedy of this paradox. With the
dislocation of the diagram and the photograph from the objects of the architectural
discipline, their lines and surfaces can no longer claim the abiding attention of the
architects gaze. The diagram and photograph have thus turned out to be wayward
instruments of an alarming and fascinating range of possibilities.

No patent medicine formula. No magic. Fordyce and

Hamby have treated the house as a commodityas
Small Houses for Civilized Americans,
Architectural Forum, 1936

Slum Surgery in St. Louis

On the Pruitt-Igoe apartments, Architectural
Forum, 1951

With ease and certain extravagance she follows her

own style, determining the reality of modern urban
lifestyles, and translating this into her plans. This ease
and extravagance, absent from the existing connes of
society, seems to enable her to pierce social reality with
Toyo Ito on Kazuyo Sejima, Diagram
Architecture, El Croquis, 1996
The Instrument of Modern Architecture 279

One of the most compelling passages in Benjamins The Work of Art in the Age of
Mechanical Reproduction involves his comparison of the painter and the camera-
man. For Benjamin, the painter works like a magician: someone who maintains the
natural distance between the patient and himself; though he reduces it very slightly
by the laying on of hands, he greatly increases it by virtue of his authority.1 The
magicians hands and tools thus always remain outside of the body. The cameraman,
on the other hand, is a surgeon. In contrast to the ritual healer, his power lies in the
procedures that occur within the patient. The surgeons knife sinks into the very
organs and tissues that make up the ailing body. In the previous chapter, Benjamins
comparison of the painter and surgeon was invoked to think through the fundamen-
tal difference between the total view of the Beaux-Arts portfolio and the fragments
of the new photographic discourse. By extending his imaginative analysis toward
their mode of practice, Benjamin again provides us with a persuasive metaphor of the
different images cultivated by the academic profession and the emerging modern
architect. If the Beaux-Arts architect fashioned himself as a magician, the modern
architect presented himself as a surgeon. While the former kept his distance from a
wider reality, cultivating a hermetic set of techniques, concepts, and modes of dis-
course, the latter works by cutting into the social body, thereby penetrat[ing] deeply
into the web of reality.2 While the academic profession was irrevocably linked with
the last remnants of a fading aura, the authority of the object retained by its mon-
uments, modern architecture spurns the positivity of representation.
By the early 1940s, one particular version of the architect-surgeon had become
rmly inscribed into architectural discourse. A succinct example of this inscription
can be found in the March 1941 issue of Architectural Record. It was Record s ftieth
anniversary, and the years rst three issues were devoted to looking back onas well
as forward tothe achievements of American architecture. In showing the architect
as he isnot as he was,3 the articles overowed with optimism concerning the
future of architectures role after the Second World War, a contrast to the sense of
inadequacy that had dominated the profession during the previous world conict. In
a section called The Architect in the Institutional World, the following ve-point
policy of Lyndon, Smith and Winn, an architectural rm touted for its collaborative
work with clients, was presented:
Epilogue 280

1. Determination of the requirements by detail discussions: This neces-

sitates a wholesome respect for the laymans thought at this point, regardless
of its architectural consequences. Many times the client has denite ideas
which he has no way of expressing except in terms of things he has already
experienced or in terms of things which seem impossible architecturally. A
careful search of the elements that prompted these suggestions, along with
intelligent analysis, sometimes brings forth amazing possibilities which the
architect might easily miss because of preconceived prejudices.
2. Complete organization of the separate elements determined as part of
the problem. This usually is done by means of diagrammatic charts showing
circulation between and access to separate elements and their inter-relations
in terms of their functions. At this point such a diagram should be without
regard for architectural composition.
3. A building design developed from the organization diagram.
4. Refusal to submit even preliminary sketches until each element has
been analysed in detail and the designer is convinced it belongs there. The
scheme must be workable at all times.
5. Presentation of the scheme in such a manner as to give the client an
opportunity to understand the reasoning back of the organization of the plan
and composition of the elements. Sound design analysis can almost always
be interpreted in everyday language which the client is capable of under-
standing completely. Once the client does comprehend the thoroughness
and sincerity with which the analysis has been made, the design becomes
part of his experience. He is then not living with a building which he has
only been told is correct.4

As this procedure illustrates, the architect-surgeon has entered the social body
through the program. In other words, the program has become a legitimate object of
inquiry, an essential part of the architects eld of knowledge. This momentous shift
in the denition of the institution was facilitated by the discourse of the diagram,
which moved the discipline toward a world external to architectureto the natural
sphere of the human body and an idealized world of institutional patterns. Archi-
The Instrument of Modern Architecture 281

tecture was now able to proclaim an open institution, one that shared its values and
methods with the client and with society at large.
Lyndon, Smith and Winn were certainly not the exemplary architects of the
period, but it is also clear that, for many American architects, architecture was now
condently a social intervention. We are perhaps more familiar with other proclama-
tions of architectures social mission, such as Gropiuss programs at Harvard, the
Pruitt-Igoe apartments, or Christopher Alexanders diagrams, but only because they
have become the most conspicuous targets of criticism. By the end of World War II,
the notion that the program was the route through which architecture gained social
relevance had become widespread. It was not only appropriated by practical-minded
architects but embraced by a historian of no less stature than John Summerson. In his
1957 lecture titled The Case for a Theory of Modern Architecture, Summerson
declared that the source of unity for modern architecture lay in the social sphere
of the architectural program.5 Though the lecture did not mention the diagram, it
was a commentary on, as well as an emblematic manifestation of, the discourse of
the diagram. His point of departure was the question of whether there was a consis-
tent basis of principle applicable to modern architecture. The problem, however,
was that modern architecture was so diverse that any attempt to identify a common
grammar of form or a consistent thread of ideas was completely untenable. In
Summersons opinion, Le Corbusiers Vers une architecture and Moholy-Nagys Von
Material zu Architektur, though exemplary as modernist texts, did not provide the
ultimate authority in the way that Albertis and Laugiers writings had done for ear-
lier eras. Nonetheless, by invoking Le Corbusiers rationalism and Moholy-Nagys
biological emphasis, Summerson led his audience to what he believed to be the essen-
tial statement on the theory of modern architecture: Bruno Zevis notion that the
organic conception of architecture was not a gurative idea but a social one: in other
words, that the unifying principle of modern architecture lay in the social construc-
tion of the program.6
Fully tuned to the discourse of the diagram, Summerson conceived the program
as a local fragment of social pattern, involving some rhythmically repetitive pat-
ternwhether it is a manufacturing process, the curriculum of a school, the domes-
tic routine of a house, or simply the sense of repeated movement in a circulation
Epilogue 282

system.7 However, while accepting its basic premise, Summerson was one of the rst
to consciously address the dilemmas of this discursive formation. To his credit, he
was well aware of the consequences of its assumptions:

The conceptions which arise from a preoccupation with the programme

have got, at some point, to crystallize into a nal form and by the time the
architect reaches that point he has to bring to his conception a weight of
judgement, a sense of authority and conviction which clinches the whole
design, causes the impending relationships to close into a visually compre-
hensible whole. He may have extracted from the programme a set of inter-
dependent relationships adding up to a unity of the biological kind, but he
still has to face up to the ordering of a vast number of variables, and how he
does this is a question. There is no common theoretical agreement as to what
happens or should happen at this point. There is a hiatus.8

As this passage demonstrates, Summerson understood that the dilemma was caused
by the binary oppositions of program and form, of convention and creativity. But
because he did not question this basic assumption, there was no alternative but to
choose either side:

If you accept the principle that the programme is the source of unity, the
crucible of the architects creative endeavor, you cannot postulate another
principle, another crucible, at the other end of the designing process to sat-
isfy the architects craving for conspicuous self-expression. You cannot have
it both ways. You certainly cannot have two sources of unity. Either the pro-
gramme is or it is not the source.9

For Summerson, if the architect did not accept the program as the source of unity, he
was left with two different alternatives: either he would have to search for a common
language of architectural form, or he would have to rely on his own subjective
impulses of creative expression. In the rst case, Summerson was apparently thinking
of something akin to the Classical language of architecture, a grammar of form that
The Instrument of Modern Architecture 283

could provide the basis of an architectural discipline. However, he believed that

the formation of such a language would be most implausible, resigning himself to
the fact that in all probability the missing language will remain missing.10 The sec-
ond prospect, though more realistic, was thoroughly unappealing to Summerson.
In fact, from the very beginning of his lecture, he had made it clear that the archi-
tects willful imposition of style could not provide the principles of modern architec-
ture. He was perturbed because, in the absence of a common language, he had to
admit that this subjective will was necessary for the program to crystallize into a nal
Yet despite this self-imposed dilemma, by virtue of their straightforward clarity
and sense of history, Summersons observations turned out to have a prescient qual-
ity. Not coincidentally, during the 1960s and 1970s, when the discourse of the dia-
gram came under severe criticism, it was most prominently opposed in the very terms
of his lecture. To those promoting the notion of the failure of modern architecture,
the discourse of the diagram, as the emblem of modernist ideology, provided an easy
target to attack. The polemics of this postmodernist strategy was in part justied,
as architects were in fact active participants in the ideology of slum surgery.11 As
Frederick Ackerman foresaw in the 1930s, architects suffered from having assumed
responsibility for results in a domain in which they [had] neither authority nor the
remotest chance of gaining it.12 Though there were more fruitful ways of confronting
the social claims of the architect-surgeon, two opposing directions were most con-
spicuously on display in America. The rst was a return to the practice of the portfo-
lio, with the American Vignola making an emphatic return to some of Americas most
prominent rms and universities. This counterreaction to the program had in fact
been predicted by Summerson.

If you do not accept this case [that the program is the source of unity], I
think you must consider whether, after all, architectural theory does not
stand very much where it stood in 1920, or 1800, or even 1750, and whether
the position of an architect who is concerned about expression or style is not
that of a man feeling his way back to classicism or neo-classicism, or, to put
the nest possible point on it, crypto-Neoclassicism.13
Epilogue 284

Summerson foresaw that the rejection of the program and the search for a common
architectural form would lead to a return to an existing language, one that would be
at best a revival of a revival of a revival.
The second counterreaction to the social claims of modern architecture is exem-
plied by the work of Peter Eisenman, which interestingly enough has led to an
explicit reengagement with the diagram. Eisenman, from the numbered houses of the
late 1960s and 1970s to more recent work incorporating computer-based programs,
has been consistent in his opposition to social, functional, and conventional determi-
nations of architectural form. He has carefully devised his work, or more specically
publications of his work, as an explicit exposition on the process of generating archi-
tectural form. Eisenman typically works by shifting the markings of an original lin-
ear composition, thus producing a trail of lines that intersect but almost never
overlap. In the nalized project, some of the traces are erased, while others are con-
verted into the linear and planar elements of the buildingwalls, slabs, rails, stair-
ways. Until his recent deployment of programs such as form-Z,14 his method relied
on traditional methods of planimetric delineation, a system in which the plan was the
primary generator of architectural form. His plans, that is, functioned as formal dia-
gramsa logic that reminds us of the discipline at the heart of the Beaux-Arts sys-
tem. In the sense that Eisenman cultivates a system of representation that refocuses
our attention on diagrammatic lines, he returns by way of reversal to the lessons of
the Beaux-Arts. This is not a far-fetched invocation, as Eisenman has himself dened
this process as a decomposition . . . the reverse process of composition, in the sense
that through analysis of structures, of what we see, we uncover more and more pos-
sibilities for development rather than rening the initial image.15 His argument is
that unlike the Beaux-Arts system, which involves transformations that work within
and on the lines, he is employing a system of differentiation. The moment a line is
drawn, he abandons it with another move that leaves the previous line in its track. For
Eisenman, this is a way of visualizing and expressing his escape from positivity. This
process must of course stop at some point, and ultimately the work assumes a creative
subject as well as an audience attentive to its lines and surfaces. What would seem to
be a gesture of dispersal is in fact a technique of concentrating our gaze back toward
the lines of the worklines, as Eisenman himself stresses, that have long since lost
the depth of analogical meaning. To use his own expression, the diagram acts as an
The Instrument of Modern Architecture 285

agency which focuses the relationship between an authorial subject, an architectural

object, and a receiving subject.16 It is a procedure through which he stakes claim to
have solved Summersons dilemmato have found a formal language that erases the
subject, or what Summerson called its craving for conspicuous self-expression.
Eisenmans claim to have overcome the dilemma of modern architecture, partic-
ularly through the agency of a new diagram, can also be found in the work of a
younger generation immersed in the potentials of the computer. Architects such as
Ben van Berkel and Greg Lynn revel in the new possibilities of representation pro-
vided by digital technology. Diagrams are crucial to their work, and like Eisenman
they place their work in opposition to the perceived functionalism and typological
constrictions of twentieth-century modernism. Greg Lynn, for example, argues that
in the new diagrammatic work, the relationship between conceptual diagrams and
concrete constructions is non-linear and non-deterministic.17 Ben van Berkel and
Caroline Bos, key advocates of recent diagrammatic practice, renounce modernist
functionalism, claiming that the diagrams of the 1930s have nothing to do with our
This is of course not true. More than forty years after Summersons lecture, one
discovers that the basic problematic of the profession and discipline of architecture is
often stated in much the same way as he had. Witness Toyo Itos comments on the
architectural process as he discusses the work of Kazuyo Sejima under the rubric of a
Diagram Architecture:

Most architects nd this a complicated process: the conversion of a diagram,

one which describes how a multitude of functional conditions must be read
in spatial terms, into an actual structure. A spatial scheme is transformed
into architectural symbols by the customary planning method, and from this
a three-dimensional change is brought into effect, one which depends on the
individuals self-expression. In this process, a great deal depends on the psy-
chological weight of preconceived ideas attached to the social institution
known as architecture. The conventions of architecture, better known as
archetypes, play an inuential role in planning. In addition to these, before
what is to all purposes an objective diagram is translated into spatial terms,
the personal vision which results from a persons highly arbitrary desire to
Epilogue 286

communicate also brings about noticeable distortions in the established dia-

gram. Therefore, to position architectures place in our society would be to
describe it on the one hand as an individualized artistic intent based on mere
commonplace habits that have become the established archetype. When you
stop to think about it, the fact that almost all architecture has emerged from
the connes of these two antagonistic, completely opposite poles is virtually

Like Summerson, Ito also assumes an individual desire for subjective expression in
conict with the social and objective requirements of the program. Ito, however, has
an advantage over Summerson and recent diagrammatists in that he understands that
conventions play a crucial role in the process. Furthermore, Ito has discovered an
architect, Sejima, who works with a clear grasp of these conditions:

She arranges the functional conditions which the building is expected to

hold, in a nal diagram of the space, then she immediately converts that
scheme into reality. Which is why the habitual process known as planning is
largely non-existent in her work. In her case, the architectural convention
that we ourselves call planning rests solely on the diagram of the space. Even
the details of the structure are little more than an arrangement utilized as
part of the diagram itself.20

Itos observation of diagram architecture is precise in that he is not talking about the
mediating function that diagrams have between program and form. He is rather
pointing out, as I have done in this book, that plans, sections, and elevations, those
traditional modes of architectural representation, are themselves diagrams. He fur-
ther argues that Sejimas plan-diagrams do not derive from the program but from
her own intuitive vision of society.21 According to Ito, Sejima understands the
dilemmas of modern architecture but handles them in an apparently offhand manner,
afrming without fanfare that it is the architect who interprets the program. I agree
with Ito but would add that this intuitive vision is as much an issue of ethics as it
is one of individual interpretation. Interpretation is as much a social and ethical prac-
tice as it is a subjective act of creation. Ito and Sejima thereby approach the discourse
The Instrument of Modern Architecture 287

of the diagram in a way that goes beyond the connes of its dualistic constructions.
With no regret, Sejima confronts the fact that her architectural drawings have
become diagrams.
Sejima and Ito are of course not the rst to grasp this basic condition of the dis-
course of the diagram. For were not the most basic modern innovations of the archi-
tectural discipline, from Le Corbusiers plan libre to Miess principles of Bauen, based
on the understanding that no innate and absolute value could be assumed in our
architectural markings? Indeed, what must be taken seriously in recent diagrammatic
practice, particularly in relation to the special capacities of the computer, are the new
tasks and challenges it poses within the changing discipline of the plan. More than
in any of its claims to obviating the questions of tectonics, typology, and convention,
diagrammatic practice is most interesting when it is understood as part of the history
of the discipline. It is a detriment to recent experiments that most are so uncritically
driven to the tired pursuit of the new. As van Berkel argues of his own work, dia-
grammatic practice delays the relentless intrusion of signs, thereby allowing architec-
ture to articulate an alternative to a representational design technique.22 Unlike
Sejima, van Berkel takes the route of redundancy, a trait that the younger diagram-
matists share with Eisenman. But what is the purpose of devoting so much energy to
explicating a process of transforming lines into a diagram when they are already so?
When we know that diagrams do not simply translate into architecture, when the
notion of the linearity of the design process has long been discredited, why would one
need to publicize these diagrams?23
With these recent arguments for diagrammatic practice, we are reminded of how
difcult it is to let go of the line, knowing of course that it can never be completely
abandoned. My criticism of this practice is maintained insofar as the lines of its work
function as an authoritative sign to that which they claim to overcome. Strategically
they strive to achieve what Summerson had deemed impossible: to maintain a system
of authority, be it the program or a mechanism of formal transformation, while
simultaneously satisfying the architects craving for conspicuous self-expression.
With the downfall of the Beaux-Arts system, we have observed in part a history in
which architecture seeks to construct another source of authority. And is this not
exactly the central problem with Summersons lecture, the very notion that an
absolute authority can and should be available for modern architecture? Fluctuating
Epilogue 288

between an assertion of the detached subject and a subject in tune with the times, the
diagram as instrument and the diagram as an aesthetic object of attention, these
dualisms maintain the exclusive prerogatives of both an autonomous subject and a re-
centered object of attention.
To reiterate, the more difcult challenge of the diagram is to move both in and
out; not only to look at, but also to look through. Following Walter Benjamins
demand for a specic kind of approach to photography, I had underscored that the
discourse of the diagram requires an immersion in as well as withdrawal from its sur-
faces. If the dualism of the authoritative program and autonomous form has proven
to be a route that constricts the architect-surgeon to unwarranted alternatives, let us
return once more to Benjamins metaphor of the cameraman-surgeon; for though this
is not the place to enter into a new dimension of Benjamins thesis, it is important
that we at least point to the possibility of a different mode of engagement with real-
ity, one that sustains the complexities of the modern condition. As noted, one of the
key suppositions of Benjamins analysis is the identication of the camera not only
with the seeing subject but also with the object portrayed. This simultaneity of visual
experience can be assumed because Benjamin approached the camera not as a single
mechanical device but as a complex technical environment enmeshed in changing
social, economic, and cultural formations. This formulation of the camera in fact
approaches Veblens denition of the Machine as the destroyer of tradition, or as
Benjamin put it, an apparatus that would brush aside a number of outmoded con-
cepts, such as creativity and genius, eternal value and mystery.24 However, despite his
persistent hope in its potential as a vehicle for a redened political art, Benjamin
also understood that the social, political, and economic conditions for its realization
were not in place.25 Like Veblen, he was fully aware that the new technological ap-
paratus would inevitably be violated by capitalism and its servants; pressed into the
production of ritual values, of which war was its most logical product. Benjamins
aspirations are thus allied to the Veblenian strains of Frederick Ackerman and Lewis
Mumford, all of whom believed that the natural utilization of the forces of produc-
tion were impeded by capitalism. Both Mumford and Ackerman would have fully
agreed with Benjamin that war was proof that society has not been mature enough
to incorporate technology as its organ, that technology has not been sufciently
developed to cope with the elemental forces of society.26 In their different ways,
The Instrument of Modern Architecture 289

Benjamins dialectics at a standstill, Mumfords holism, and Ackermans regressive

rationality faced the challenge of having to illustrate a future that could not be seen
in its whole. In different ways, they all struggled in a dualism in which the notion of
an authentic but as yet unenvisioned modern form was assumed and set against the
spurious, phantasmagoric appearance of commodities.
Benjamins thesis is thus an inevitably frustrating proposition. Yet it confronts us
with a question that neither Ackermans regression nor Mumfords holism was able
to pose. It is a question that concerns the extent to which the subject and object have
become intertwined in a world mediated by mechanized instruments. When the sub-
ject of the camera is situated within an environment that is itself a technological arti-
ce, is that articial environment the object of the camera or is it part of the camera,
a larger mechanical apparatus? We may of course search for clues to this query in
Benjamins literary fragments on the changing landscape of the modern city, but with
his denition of the camera we have already anticipated the answer: that is, Benjamin
was interested in architecture not only as an object of vision but as an instrument for
seeing. As Detlef Mertins pointed out, Benjamin was fascinated by Giedions pre-
sentation of iron structures as optical instruments for glimpsing a space interwoven
with unconsciousness, focusing not on the structures themselves but on the
unprecedented views of the city they afforded.27 Benjamin challenges us in a way
that Mumford could not because the latter approached architecture as an object
wholly separated from the autonomous subject. Mumford did not acknowledge the
subjects entanglement in the conditions of the object, and was thus incapable of
thinking or seeing in fragments. Immersed in the goal of remaking a holistic archi-
tecture in a holistic world, he was unable to grasp the possibilities of a modern disci-
pline. Ackerman, on the other hand, never assumed that such a discipline could exist.
Paralleling Mumfords utopia, we encountered a different kind of nonplace in
Benthams Panopticon, one that viewed architecture as pure media. In the
Panopticon, the complete identity between the camera and the building, and hence
between the subject and the object of knowledge, was assumedan identity so com-
plete that the materiality of the apparatus did not enter into the subjects view. As an
instrument that controls visibility, it must itself be totally unobtrusive. In Benthams
idea of architecture and the functionalist utopia of scientic management, the dia-
gram emerged as a necessary tool for representing this transparent nonplace. It is a
Epilogue 290

paradoxical construction, formed on the one hand by its demand for immediacy and
on the other by the indeterminacy of its metaphorical construction. Depending on
how the Panopticon diagram is deployed, it could result in a prison of ominous sight
lines or a theater of delicate light and shadow. The diagram could end up as a mech-
anism that degrades its own metaphoric powers; or it could be used as a device that
blurs the distinction between subject and object, bringing forth tensions of looking at
and looking through, of being in and being out.
To draw a plan is itself to draw a diagram, one already dened by its indetermi-
nacy. The diagram itself is not the instigator of the discourse of the diagram but its
clearest symptom. The diagram is its most primitive and ideal manifestation: a mod-
ern utopia that is fascinating for its virtue of clarity.28 When it is approached as arbi-
trary form, it becomes a eld for the subject to express itself as an autonomous agent.
Arbitrariness, however, is not a method, technique, or attitude but a condition, one
that does not necessarily have to be expressed and made explicit. To do so has less to
do with building a viable discipline and more to do with the idea of changing other
peoples minds. When the diagram is approached as the necessary product of an idea,
it perpetrates a betrayal. For the moment the diagram is materialized, it is unable to
keep the promises of its originating program. Subjects constantly see, do, and say
things unpronounced in the program, using the architectural instrument for purposes
contrary to its idea. We must be clear that it is not architecture that perpetrates this
betrayal. The impossibility of tying architecture down to the idea is not a dilemma
that points to some inherent problem with architecture, but speaks rather to the mod-
ern instability between them. When there is no inherent or unchanging idea to its
forms, when the architect is left to the devices of Architectural Graphic Standards and
the menu bar of AutoCAD, how does one construct a viable discipline? That is the
challenge of the discourse of the diagram: how to construct a discipline of value when
architecture has become an instrument.


1. My use of the term discursive formation is related to but differs from the concept elabo-
rated by Michel Foucault in his Archaeology of Knowledge and The Discourse on Language
(1969; translation, New York: Pantheon, 1972), in that while my work purposely focuses on
disciplinary boundaries, the latter goes beyond their formations. The larger Foucauldian
project attempts to discover regularities among a wide range of social institutions:
Whenever one can describe, between a number of statements, such a system of disper-
sion, whenever, between objects, types of statements, concepts, or thematic choices, one
can dene a regularity (an order, correlations, positions, and functionings, transforma-
tions) we will say, for the sake of convenience, that we are dealing with a discursive forma-
tion (p. 38). In the latter part of Archaeology of Knowledge, Foucault integrates this
denition with the notion of the episteme, described as being something like a world-
view, a slice of history common to all branches of knowledge, which imposes on each one
the same norms and postulates, a general stage of reason, a certain structure of thought
that the men of a particular period cannot escape (p. 191). Compared to these purposes,
my project is much smaller in scale. It is concerned with the way certain forms of dis-
course, within specic historical conditions, are grouped, stabilized, and encoded into
architectural practice, subsequently becoming a convention through which society and the
institution of architecture identify the disciplines function in society. Though this forma-
tion of architectural discourse may constitute a larger discursive formation that is dispersed
throughout various institutions, it is not my intention to search for these larger regulari-
ties. The focus throughout the study is on the way architecture is constituted.

2. My distinction between the discipline and the profession of architecture is indebted

to Stanford Anderson, On Criticism, Places 4, no. 1 (1987). My use of the word discipline
is particularly inuenced by Andersons concept of critical conventionalism and the quasi
autonomy of the physical environment. See also his Critical Conventionalism: The
History of Architecture, Midgrd 1, no. 1 (1987), and The Profession and Discipline of
Architecture: Practice and Education, in Andrzej Piotrowski and Julia W. Robinson,
eds., The Discipline of Architecture (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001).

3. Anderson, On Criticism, p. 7.
Notes to Pages 57 292

4. Alan Colquhoun, The Modern Movement in Architecture, British Journal of Aesthetics

(January 1962), reprinted in his Essays in Architectural Criticism (Cambridge, MA: MIT
Press, 1985), p. 25.

5. Michel Foucault, Discourse on Language, in Archaeology of Knowledge, p. 222.

6. Foucault uses the term devenir, which Alan Sheridan has translated as development,
to denote the kind of analysis that makes history a discourse of the continuous and
human consciousness the original subject of all historical development (Archaeology of
Knowledge, pp. 317).

7. For a similar view of Pevsners historiography, see Stanford Andersons review of

Pevsners The Sources of Modern Architecture and Design in Art Bulletin 53 (June 1971): In
this as in most of his other writings, Pevsner seeks to identify what he calls A Style for
the Age. For Pevsner, the Age is at times the hard reality which man must comprehend.
As it happens, the Age called modern is not only a quite intractable given, but a given
which is itself, according to Pevsner, a hard, mechanistic mass civilization resulting from
the full development of the Industrial Revolution. As incontrovertible as Pevsner feels that
hard civilizational structure to be, man can, nevertheless, ameliorate the rawness of that
situation. The job of the artist is to discover the style of the age. The will of even this
hard, uncompromising time must be given its form (p. 274). For a similar critique of
Pevsners discourse of the Zeitgeist, see Panayotis Tournikiotis, The Historiography of
Modern Architecture (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999).

8. Manfredo Tafuri, Architecture and Utopia: Design and Capitalist Development (1973;
translation, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1976), p. ix. Admittedly, in the context of the
present study, I am unable to do justice to Pevsners and Tafuris important texts, particu-
larly to the latter, whose complexities defy categorization. For many historians and critics
of modern architecture who write after the 1980s, Tafuris work is a boundless work of
stimulation and anxiety, and I am indebted to his original insights, particularly in his
Theories and History of Architecture (1976; translation, New York: Harper and Row, 1980).
However, in relation to my concern with the institution, there are two problematic aspects
of Tafuris Architecture and Utopia that should be pointed out. First of all, we must con-
sider Tafuris argument that his subject is the institution of architecture. With this claim,
Tafuri would seem to share Peter Brgers thesis in Theory of the Avant-Garde (1974; trans-
lation, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984) that modernism and the avant-
garde must be understood as institutional formations. Tafuri provides the reader with an
understanding of the institution by expanding from subjective interventions toward larger
institutional regularities. For Tafuri, it would seem that the practice of the avant-garde
Notes to Pages 79 293

penetrates and reveals the larger formations of architectural practice. Unfortunately, the
larger institutional framework within which these self-proclaimed agents of radical change
operate remains unexplicated. Secondly, as a foil to his thesis of architectures uselessness
in capitalist society, Tafuri seems to project a quintessence of Architecture with a capital
A. In the paragraph that follows my quotation from Architecture and Utopia, Tafuri goes
on to claim that paradoxically, the new tasks given to architecture are something besides
or beyond architecture. In recognizing this situation, which I mean to corroborate histori-
cally, I am expressing no regret, because when the role of a discipline ceases to exist, to try
to stop the course of things is only regressive utopia, and of the worst kind. No prophecy,
because the process is actually taking place daily before our eyes. And for those wishing
striking proof, it is enough to observe the percentage of architects really exercising that
profession (pp. ixx, my emphases). In the rst sentence of this passage, Tafuri employs
the word architecture in two divergent ways: rst, to denote the institution, and second,
as a kind of universal formation, an idealized precapitalist formation of architecture. The
nature of the latter, however, is never claried, causing the reader much confusion in
understanding Tafuris penetrating analysis of the ineffectiveness of ideology in architec-
tural production.

9. Fredric Jameson, Architecture and the Critique of Ideology, in Joan Ockman et al.,
eds., Architecture, Criticism, Ideology (Princeton: Princeton Architectural Press, 1985),
p. 59.

10. Inspired by Deleuzes reading of Foucaults analysis of the Panopticon, and his further
designation of the diagram as a specic regime of the sign, the instrumentality of the
diagram has recently emerged as an interesting architectural topic. In what has now
become a well-known denition, Deleuze calls the diagram an abstract machine: It
operates by matter, not by substance; by function, not by form (Gilles Deleuze and Flix
Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia [1980; translation, Minneapo-
lis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987], p. 141). Deleuzes observations are quite fas-
cinating, particularly considering his interest in architecture; but this rediscovery of the
diagram, latched onto as if it were a new revelation for architecture, has already been
overwhelmed with intellectual opportunism. I would rather approach Deleuzes formula-
tion of the functionality of the diagram as a philosophers realization of what many archi-
tects in the twentieth century have known and practiced for quite some time. His is an
idea that is fruitful for architecture when understood historically, and though my work
does not engage with Deleuze directly, it will, I believe, widen the possibility of a more
rigorous engagement with the philosophers pronouncements.

11. Foucault, Archaeology of Knowledge, p. 55.

Notes to Pages 1014 294

12. Michel Foucault, What Is Enlightenment?, in Paul Rabinow, ed., The Foucault
Reader (New York: Pantheon, 1984), p. 48.

13. Foucaults notion of the author as a function is best elaborated in What Is an

Author?, in Donald F. Bouchard, ed., Language, Counter-Memory, Practice (Ithaca:
Cornell University Press, 1977). A similar approach can be found in Karl Poppers notion
of world three objects: objective structures which are the products, not necessarily
intentional, of minds . . . but which once produced, exist independently of them. As
Popper points out, this is not a position that eliminates subjectivity: The rst [world of
material things] and third world cannot interact save through the intervention of the sec-
ond world, the world of subjective and personal experiences. Furthermore, it is possible
to accept the reality or (as it may be called) the autonomy of the third world, as at the
same time to admit that the third world originates as a product of human activity. (Karl
Popper, Objective Knowledge [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982], pp. 153190.) See Robert
DAmico, What Is Discourse?, Humanities in Society 5 (Summer/Fall 1982), and Histori-
cism and Knowledge (London: Routledge, Chapman and Hall, 1989), pp. 96118, for a
comparison of Foucaults concept of discourse and Poppers objective structures.

1 Discourse, Mass Architecture, and the Academic Profession

1. The most comprehensive historical account of the nineteenth-century profession in

America is provided in Mary N. Woods, From Craft to Profession: The Practice of
Architecture in Nineteenth-Century America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999).
For a study that focuses on the social construction of the Beaux-Arts system, see David
Brain, Discipline and Style: The Ecole des Beaux-Arts and the Social Production of an
American Architecture, Theory and Society 18 (1989).

2. C. H. Reilly, The Modern Renaissance in American Architecture, Journal of the Royal

Institute of British Architects, 3rd ser. (June 25, 1901), p. 630 (my emphasis).

3. There is an abundance of material on the subject. See David P. Handlin, The American
Home: Architecture and Society, 18151915 (New York: Little, Brown, 1979); Gwendolyn
Wright, Moralism and the Model Home: Domestic Architecture and Cultural Conict in
Chicago, 18731913 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980); Clifford E. Clark, The
American Family Home, 18001960 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press,
1986); and Marlyn F. Motz and Pat Brown, Making the American Home: Middle-Class
Women and Domestic Material Culture, 18401940 (Bowling Green: Bowling Green State
University Popular Press, 1988). I have also referred to the following articles: Martha C.
Notes to Pages 1415 295

McClaugherty, Household Art: Creating the Artistic Home, 18681893, Winterthur

Portfolio 18 (Spring 1983); and Simon J. Bronner, Manner Books and Suburban Houses:
The Structure of Tradition and Aesthetics, Winterthur Portfolio 19 (Spring 1984).

4. The best discussions on pattern books can be found in Dell Upton, Pattern Books and
Professionalism: Aspects of the Transformation of Domestic Architecture in America,
18001860, Winterthur Portfolio 19 (Summer/Autumn 1984); Vincent Scully, The Shingle
Style and the Stick Style (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1971); Robert P. Guter and
Janet Foster, Building by the Book: Pattern Book Architecture in New Jersey (New Brunswick:
Rutgers University Press, 1992); and Michael A. Tomlan, Popular and Professional
American Architectural Literature in the Late Nineteenth Century (Ph.D. dissertation,
Cornell University, 1983). See also William B. ONeal, Pattern Books in American
Architecture, 17301930, in Mario di Valmarana, Building by the Book, 3 vols. (Char-
lottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1986); Henry-Russell Hitchcock, American
Architectural Books: A List of Books, Portfolios, and Pamphlets on Architecture and Related
Subjects Published in America before 1895, 3rd ed. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota
Press, 1962); and Wright, Moralism and the Model Home.

5. There is very little secondary literature on the building catalogues of the nineteenth
century. See Herbert Gottfried, Building the Picture: Trading on the Imagery of Pro-
duction and Design, Winterthur Portfolio 27 (Winter 1992), which deals with the construc-
tion of images in catalogues and plan books. A helpful study of several manufacturing
rms and their catalogues is Diana S. Waite, Architectural Elements (Princeton: Pyne
Press, 1972).

6. See James L. Garvin, Mail Order House Plans and American Victorian Architecture,
Winterthur Portfolio 16 (Winter 1981); and chapter 6, George Palliser and the Develop-
ment of Mail-Order Architecture, in Tomlan, Popular and Professional American
Architectural Literature, for a history of Palliser and Shoppell. Though not a scholarly
article, Patricia Poore, Pattern Book Architecture, Old House Journal 12 (December
1980), is also helpful. For an analysis of their modes of representation, see Jan Jennings,
Drawing on the Vernacular Interior, Winterthur Portfolio 27 (Winter 1992). For an overall
review of the industry, including a perspective on contemporary practices, see the chapter
Stock Plan Services and Plan Shops in Robert Gutman, The Design of American Housing
(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985).

7. The most popular builders guides were those authored by Asher Benjamin and Minard
Lafever. For similar views, see Talbot Hamlin, Greek Revival in America and Some of
Its Critics, Art Bulletin 24 (1942), as well as Upton, Pattern Books and Professionalism;
Scully, The Shingle Style and the Stick Style; and Hitchcock, American Architectural Books.
Notes to Pages 1520 296

8. Scully, The Shingle Style and the Stick Style, pp. xxvlix; Hitchcock, American Architec-
tural Books, p. iii. Though writing within the same framework of stylistic evolution, Talbot
Hamlin, The Greek Revival Architecture in America (New York: Oxford University Press,
1944), presents an opposing view of the picturesque.

9. See Bob Reckman, Carpentry: The Trade and Craft, in Andrew Zimbalist, ed., Case
Studies on the Labor Process (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1979); and also Robert A.
Christie, Empire in Wood: A History of the Carpenters Union (Ithaca: Cornell University,

10. Daniel Boorstin, The Americans: The Democratic Experience (New York: Vintage, 1974),
p. 128.

11. Burton J. Bledstein, The Culture of Professionalism: The Middle Class and the
Development of Higher Education in America (New York: W. W. Norton, 1976), pp. 8788.

12. Though in somewhat different form, the notion of professional autonomy, particularly
the term ideology of autonomy, has been proposed in Sibel B. Dostoglu, Lincoln
Cathedral versus the Bicycle Shed, Journal of Architectural Education 36 (Summer 1983). In
dening what she argues were the tools of legitimation in the professionalization of
architecture, Dostoglu uses Alvin Gouldners term in conjunction with the notion of cul-
tural capital, or the sum of knowledge, theory, skills, languages . . . [that] constitute the
basis for the claims to the superiority of professional expertise (p. 11).

13. For example, George Palliser and Robert Shoppell both presented themselves as
architects. Shoppell would paradoxically admit that his business catered to a public reluc-
tant to pay architects fees. However, he also added that, to the extent that his business
cultivated taste, it would create more frequent employment for the architect. The contro-
versy over the identity of pattern book writers is discussed in Wright, Moralism and the
Model Home, pp. 4655. See also chapter 3 of Clark, The American Family Home, for fur-
ther discussions that expand on Wrights theme, as well as Mary N. Woods, The
American Architect and Building News, 18761907 (Ph.D. dissertation, Columbia
University, 1983), pp. 6668, and Woods, From Craft to Profession, pp. 8592.

14. The change in the standard contracts were brought to my attention by Richard
Michael Levy, The Professionalization of American Architects and Civil Engineers,
18651917 (Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Berkeley, 1980).

15. See David Emerson, The Growth of the Specication, Pencil Points 11 (February
1930), pp. 149151.
Notes to Pages 2122 297

16. Charles Baudelaire, The Painter of Modern Life (1863), translated in The Painter of
Modern Life and Other Essays (Oxford: Phaidon, 1964), p. 12.

17. Alan Trachtenberg, The Incorporation of America (New York: Hill and Wang, 1982),
p. 213. The idea of the Columbian Exposition as a physical realization of the dichotomy
between academic professionalism and mass architecture is based on Trachtenbergs study
and on Lawrence Levine, Highbrow/Lowbrow: The Emergence of Cultural Hierarchy in
America (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988). The novelist Clara Louisa
Burnham gave voice to this idea when one of her characters in the novel Sweet Clover
claims, The Midway is just a representation of matter, and this great White City is an
emblem of mind (quoted in Robert Rydell, Rediscovering the 1893 Chicago Worlds
Columbian Exposition, in Revisiting the White City [Hanover, NH: University Press of
New England, 1993], p. 55).

18. Henry Van Brunt, Architecture at the Worlds Columbian Exposition, Century
Magazine 44 (1892), reprinted in William A. Coles and Henry Hope Reed, Jr., eds.,
Architecture in America: A Battle of Styles (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1961),
p. 158.

19. Charles Moore, Daniel Burnham: Architect, Planner of Cities, vol. 2 (Boston: Houghton
Mifin, 1921), p. 90.

20. Quoted from Roots speech, The Simple Life, January 11, 1905, in Washington, on
the occasion of the thirty-ninth convention of the AIA, in Charles Moore, The Promise of
American Architecture (Washington, DC: AIA, 1905), p. 43; and also in Henry Saylor, The
AIAs First Hundred Years (Washington, DC: Octagon, 1956), p. 136. For a similar inter-
pretation of the eras historical and social situation, see Brain, Discipline and Style: The
exigencies of maintaining the social organization of professional practice under particular
historical conditions determined the particular t between the discursive characteristics
of Beaux-Arts design practices and American conditions. The reception of Beaux-Arts
design was determined by its ability to provide a coherent basis not only for the design of
buildings but for the reproduction of architecture as an authoritative practice that could
be sustained in a market context (p. 812).

21. The list was generated from the analysis of the following: The Best Twenty Books
for an Architects Library, American Architect 21 (February 12, 1887); Edward R. Smith, A
List of Standard Architectural Books for Ofce and Public Libraries, Brickbuilder 17
(JulySeptember 1909); The Current Index of Architectural Literature, Journal of the
American Institute of Architects 3 (January 1915); Lawrence Kocher, The Architects
Notes to Pages 2330 298

Library, Architectural Record 5657 (19241925); Charles B. Wood III, A Survey and
Bibliography of Writings on English and American Books Published before 1895,
Winterthur Portfolio 2 (1965); and by the same author, The Architectural Book in
Nineteenth-Century America, in di Valmarana, ed., Building by the Book; Michael J.
Crosbie, From Cookbooks to Menus: The Transformation of Architecture Books in
Nineteenth Century America, Material Culture 17 (Spring 1985); Hitchcock, American
Architectural Books; and Adolf K. Placzek, ed., Averys Choice: Five Centuries of Great
Architectural Books (New York: G. K. Hall, 1997).

22. Thomas Nolan, introduction to Sweets Indexed Catalogue of Building Construction

(New York: Architectural Record Company, 1906). For historical background on the
Sweets, see Susanne R. Lichtenstein, Editing Architecture: Architectural Record and the
Growth of Modern Architecture, 19281938 (Ph.D. dissertation, Cornell University,
1990), pp. 5159.

23. I am of course referring to Scullys groundbreaking study, The Shingle Style and the
Stick Style, which had the subtitle of Architectural Theory and Design from Downing to the
Origins of Wright, rst published in 1955.

24. Barr Ferree, An American Style of Architecture, Architectural Record 1

(JulySeptember 1891), p. 39.

25. Marvyn E. Macartney, The Practical Exemplar of Architecture, Being Measured

Drawings and Photographs of Examples of Architectural Details (London: Architectural
Review, 1907), p. 2.

26. This assessment is based on my analysis of MIT Museums Program Books, which
lists the programs and student projects for second- to sixth-year projects and concours at
MIT dating from 1905 to 1956.

27. Theodore Wells Pietsch, The Superiority of the French-Trained Architect,

Architectural Record 25 (February 1909), pp. 113114. For discussions on the importance of
orthographic drawings over the perspective, see Eileen Michels, A Developmental Study
of the Drawings Published in American Architect and in Inland Architect through 1895
(Ph.D. dissertation, University of Minnesota, 1971), pp. 145146; and James F. OGorman,
On the Boards: Drawings by Nineteenth-Century Boston Architects (Philadelphia: University
of Pennsylvania Press, 1989), p. 11.

28. Mary N. Woods, The Photograph as Tastemaker: The American Architect and H. H.
Richardson, History of Photography 14 (AprilJune 1990).
Notes to Pages 3039 299

29. See Lauren M. OConnell, Viollet-le-Duc on Drawing, Photography, and the Space
Outside the Frame, History of Photography 22 (Summer 1998); and Michael Harvey,
Ruskin and Photography, Oxford Art Journal 7, no. 2 (1985). For a similar interpretation
of the representational strategies of architectural photography during its early development
in America, see Cervin Robinson and Joel Herschman, Architecture Transformed: A History
of the Photography of Buildings from 1839 to the Present (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1987),
p. 58.

30. Woods, The American Architect and Building News, 18761907, pp. 8890.

31. Ibid., p. 169.

32. Its editorial stated that The Reprint gives its subscribers rare and expensive books at
nominal cost. The text, excepting where necessary to explain plates, will be eliminated.
When the work of The Architectural Reprint is complete it will constitute at a nominal cost
a full library of the worlds best architectural books (Announcement, Architectural
Reprint 2 [April 1902]).

33. Lichtenstein, Editing Architecture, pp. 5859.

34. Beatriz Colomina, Privacy and Publicity: Modern Architecture as Mass Media
(Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1994), p. 43.

35. Editorial, New-York Sketch Book of Architecture 1 (January 1874), reprinted in Leland
Roth, ed., America Builds (New York: Harper and Row, 1983), p. 232. The New-York Sketch
Book of Architecture (18741876) and the Boston-based Architectural Sketch Book (18731876)
functioned primarily as vehicles for illustrations of contemporary work. The plates for the
latter were selected and supplied by a group of Boston architects and draftsmen who
formed the Portfolio Club. For a review of these journals, see Eileen M. Michels, A
Developmental Study of the Drawings Published in American Architect and in Inland
Architect through 1895, and Woods, The American Architect and Building News, 18761907.

36. Percy C. Stuart, Architectural Schools in the United States: Columbia University,
Architectural Record 10 (July 1900), p. 6. The article also gives an interesting account of
how popular plates had to be separated from their original binding and reserved in the
library when a design project required reference to certain building types.

37. This is from Goerd Peschkens study of Karl Friedrich Schinkel, quoted in Dalibor
Vesely, Architecture and the Conict of Representation, AA Files 8 (January 1985), p. 30.
Notes to Pages 3945 300

38. In his Languages of Art (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1976), Nelson Goodman introduces the
distinction between autographic and allographic works of art. A work of art is autographic
if and only if the distinction between original and forgery of it is signicant; or better,
if and only if even the most exact duplication of it does not thereby count as genuine
(p. 113). Painting is autographic, while musical composition and architecture are consid-
ered allographic in that all performances that comply with the notation can be considered

39. Paul Philippe Cret, The Utility of Exhibitions, T-Square Club Catalogue
(19041905), pp. 912, quoted in George E. Thomas, Pecksniffs and Perspective, in
James F. OGorman, Drawing toward Building: Philadelphia Architectural Graphics,
17321986 (Philadelphia: Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, 1986), p. 123.

40. Immutable mobile is the key term in Bruno Latour, Drawing Things Together, in
Michael Lynch and Steve Woolgar, eds., Representation in Scientic Practice (Cambridge,
MA: MIT Press, 1990).

2 The Portfolio and the Academic Discipline

1. William Robert Ware, American Vignola, 2 vols. (Boston: American Architect and
Building News, 19021906). Before American Vignola, students had to rely on the French
edition of Vignola, Trait lmentaire pratique darchitecture, which was far less accessible
than Wares textbook. American Vignola provided a specic and simplied explication of
the rules of classical architecture and quickly became the standard school text through
which the orders were studied during the rst year.

2. For example, Mohamed Chaoul, in his The Rhetoric of Composition in Julien

Guadets Elments et thories (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Pennsylvania, 1987), argues
that Guadets lments and the nineteenth-century Beaux-Arts system were based on
Durands binomial notion of analytique-composition (pp. 5777). As Durands well-known
statements in his Prcis des leons darchitecture demonstrate, this is certainly a plausible way
of construing Beaux-Arts theory. However, in my estimation, it is a kind of reading that
takes Durands statements too much as a direct reection of Beaux-Arts practice and fur-
thermore, as pointed out by Werner Szambien and others, does not fully account for the
gaps and contradictions between Durand and Beaux-Arts practice.

3. The secondary sources on the Beaux-Arts are too numerous to mention. The most
thorough explication of its pedagogical system is provided in Richard Chafee, The
Teaching of Architecture at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, in Arthur Drexler, ed., The
Notes to Pages 4551 301

Architecture of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1977). Also notewor-
thy is a special November 1979 issue of Journal of Architectural Education (vol. 33, no. 2),
edited by Lawrence Anderson and Peter Collins, on architectural education and its roots
in the Beaux-Arts. The numerous contemporary writings in the various journals by
American architects, introducing the system and their personal experiences at the school,
also provide valuable resources.

4. The account is that of Albert Randolph Ross, quoted in Charles C. Baldwin, Stanford
White (1931; reprint, New York: Da Capo, 1976), pp. 262263. For a similar account of
working under White, see H. Van Buren Magonigle, Half Century of Architecture6,
Pencil Points 15 (September 1934).

5. Quoted in Steven Bedford et al., Between Traditions and Modernism (New York:
National Academy of Design, 1980), p. 18.

6. A. D. F. Hamlin, The Inuence of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts on Our Architectural

Education, Architectural Record 23 (April 1908), p. 243.

7. Marco Frascari, The Tell-the-Tale Detail, VIA 7 (1984), reprinted in Kate Nesbitt,
ed., Theorizing a New Agenda for Architecture (New York: Princeton Architectural Press,
1996), p. 501.

8. David Varon, Indication in Architectural Design (New York: William T. Comstock,

1916), p. 19.

9. Richard F. Bach, Three Books for Draftsmen, Architectural Record 42 (December

1917), p. 584.

10. Varon, Indication in Architectural Design, pp. 2728.

11. Ibid.

12. Frascari, The Tell-the-Tale Detail, p. 502.

13. John Galen Howard, The Paris Training, Architectural Review 5 (January 1898), p. 7.

14. Alberto Prez-Gmez, Architecture and the Crisis of Modern Science (Cambridge, MA:
MIT Press, 1983), pp. 279291, and his more recent Architectural Representation and the
Perspective Hinge (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1997), pp. 8485. Though Prez-Gmez
provides one of the most enlightening studies of French architectural theory, I do not
Notes to Pages 5156 302

agree with his observation that the Beaux-Arts system was a reduction of practice to a
rational theory (Architecture and the Crisis of Modern Science, p. 197). As I shall argue, one
of the most fascinating aspects of the Beaux-Arts system is the disjunction not only within
theory, but furthermore, between practice, vision, and theory.

15. J. Stewart Barney, The Ecole des Beaux Arts: Its Inuence on Our Architecture,
Architectural Record 22 (November 1907), p. 336. One of the most interesting debates con-
cerning the merits of the Beaux-Arts system can be found in a series of articles by J.
Stewart Barney, A. D. F. Hamlin, and Paul Philippe Cret in Architectural Record 22 (1907).

16. Mais il y a de beaux plans, et je trouve lexpression trs lgitimemais il y a de beaux

livres, beaux parce quon y lit, ou une belle partition est belle par ce quelle contient. The
quotation is from chapter 3 of volume 1 of lments et thorie de larchitecture (Paris:
Librairie de la Construction Moderne, 19011904). I have used the English translation
from Leland Roth, ed., America Builds (New York: Harper and Row, 1983), p. 332.

17. Barney, The Ecole des Beaux Arts, p. 337. For similar notions of the Beaux-Arts
plan, see Alan Colquhoun, The Beaux-Arts Plan, Architectural Design Proles 17 (1978),
reprinted in his Essays in Architectural Criticism (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1981); and
Richard A. Moore, The Beaux-Arts Tradition and American Architecture (Catalogue of
Exhibition by the National Institute for Architectural Education, New York, 1975).

18. Reginald Blomeld, Architectural Drawing and Draughtsmen (New York: Cassell,
1912), p. 8.

19. See Ernst Gombrich, Mirror and Map: Theories of Pictorial Representation, in The
Image and the Eye (London: Phaidon, 1982). For a perceptive analysis of the architects pla-
nar vision, see David Leatherbarrow, Showing What Otherwise Hides Itself, Harvard
Design Magazine (Fall 1998).

20. Paul Philippe Cret, Design, in Book of the School, Department of Architecture, University
of Pennsylvania, 18741934 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1934), p. 29.

21. Howard, The Paris Training, p. 6. Another interesting article is Joseph Eshericks
account of his experience as a student at the University of Pennsylvania in Architectural
Education in the Thirties and Seventies: A Personal View, in Spiro Kostof, ed., The
Architect (New York: Oxford University Press, 1977). Esherick writes that the intensive
study of the plan as essentially a diagram of spaces was important, and I still tend to read
a building from the plan and in my mind construct from it a conception of the spaces
(p. 263, my emphasis).
Notes to Page 57 303

22. David Van Zanten, Designing Paris (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1987), pp. 5960.
For a similar interpretation, see also Barry Bergdoll, Lon Vaudoyer: Historicism in the Age
of Industry (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1994).

23. Paul Philippe Cret, Styles-Archeology (1909), reprinted in Theophilus B. White,

ed., Paul Philippe Cret: Architect and Teacher (Philadelphia: Art Alliance Press, 1973),
p. 49. This passage was brought to my attention by Gwendolyn Wright, History for
Architects, in Gwendolyn Wright and Janet Parks, eds., The History of History in
American Schools of Architecture 18651975 (Princeton: Princeton Architectural Press,

24. John Chewning, William Robert Ware and the Beginnings of Architectural
Education in the United States, 1861-1881 (Ph.D. dissertation, MIT, 1986); Richard
Plunz, Reections on Ware, Hamlin, McKim, and the Politics of History on the Cusp
of Historicism, in Wright and Parks, eds., The History of History in American Schools of
Architecture; and Mary N. Woods, The American Architect and Building News, 18761907
(Ph.D. dissertation, Columbia University, 1983), pp. 274304.

25. William Ware, Drawing, Designing, and Thinking, Architectural Record 26

(September 1909), p. 161.

26. Quoted in Plunz, Reections on Ware, Hamlin, McKim, p. 53. Plunz takes the
quotation from William T. Partridges Reminiscences of Charles McKim, in William
R. Ware Collection, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.
A similar remark can be found in Nathaniel Curtis, Architectural Composition, 3rd ed.
(Cleveland: J. H. Jansen, 1935), where the author reports Reginald Blomelds remark that
the reading of books will not make an architect; his proper study must always be build-
ings (p. 269).

27. David Van Zanten, Architectural Composition at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts from
Charles Percier to Charles Garnier, in Drexler, ed., The Architecture of the Ecole des Beaux-
Arts, p. 112. Therefore in the terminology of the cole, what Americans called design
would be more closely translated as composition rather than dessin, which denoted a theory
of art and a body of representational method. Composition could also refer to a drawing
skill as in Composition and Rendering, an elective course at MIT. See Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, Department of Architecture Course of Instruction, Architectural
Record 21 (June 1907), p. 444, and The Course in Architecture, Technology Architectural
Record 1 (May 1907), pp. 35, for an annotated list of course offerings at MIT.
Notes to Pages 5859 304

28. David Van Zanten, Le Systeme des Beaux-Arts, Architectural Design 48 (November/
December 1978). Volumes 2 and 3 of Guadets lments were devoted entirely to the exam
ination of building types, beginning with habitations, through various public institutions,
and nally religious buildings, to which the whole of volume 3 was dedicated. French aca-
demic theory in the nineteenth century constitutes an extremely complex and dense eld
that cannot possibly be treated sufciently in this study. I have relied heavily on the work
of David Van Zanten, whose views of the history, theory, and practice of the cole des
Beaux-Arts are, in my estimation, both rigorous and incisive. In the article, Van Zanten
notes that, as the Beaux-Arts system was exported to America, emphasis was placed
less on type and more on composition as a method. Though I fully agree with this assess-
ment, I must add that the understanding and use of type cannot be separated from the
act of composition. In spite of the rapidly changing conditions of building in the latter half
of the nineteenth century, academic theory in France proved to be extremely resilient
much more so than in the United Statesdue in part to what many historians believe to
be the inclusive and pragmatic nature of the process of composition. As its complex history
demonstrates, French academic theory had the ability to absorb the criticism of its oppo-
nents and to reintegrate them into its system, all the while maintaining an ideology of
unity in architectural design.

29. Guadet, lments, translated in Roth, ed., America Builds, p. 327.

30. The proliferation of composition books written in English was rst brought to my
attention by Colin Rowe, Character and Composition; or Some Vicissitudes of
Architectural Vocabulary in the Nineteenth Century, Oppositions 2 (1974), reprinted in
The Mathematics of the Ideal Villa and Other Essays (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1976).
David Van Zanten and Richard A. Moore have also noted the numerous composition
books published in America and England during the rst three decades of this century but
do not discuss them in any depth. Among the numerous books related to the issue of
composition, the only one that attempted to adopt the format of Julien Guadets lments
is Robert Atkinson and Hope Bagenal, Theory and Elements of Architecture (New York:
McBride, 1926).

31. Both Robinsons and Van Pelts books were revised and published respectively under
the titles Architectural Composition (1908) and The Essentials of Composition as Applied to Art
(1913). Along with books on composition, various textbooks on drawing, construction, and
style were produced at the turn of the century.

32. John Van Pelt, A Discussion of Composition (New York: Macmillan, 1902), pp. 139.
Notes to Pages 5965 305

33. John B. Robinson, Architectural Composition (New York: D. Van Nostrand, 1908),
pp. 1214. On the opposite end of the spectrum of the debate were representational theo-
ries of architecture exemplied by the series on comparative aesthetics by George L.
Raymond, particularly the last volume, Painting, Sculpture and Architecture as Representative
Arts (New York: Knickerbocker Press, 1895; 2nd ed., 1909). In Raymonds opinion, archi-
tectural form represent[ed] both the material method of the construction and the mental
purpose of the design (p. 320).

34. Van Pelt, A Discussion of Composition, p. 120. See in particular the chapter Optical
Effects, pp. 120153.

35. Ibid., pp. 7172.

36. Ibid., p. 97.

37. The International Correspondence Schools, A Treatise on Architecture and Building

Construction (Scranton, PA: Colliery Engineer Co., 1899), p. 2. We may also refer to
Nathaniel Curtiss statement that the chief value of Durand to students of design is not
the study of architectural monuments from the viewpoint of historyalthough it is valu-
able for that toobut the study of the parti from the viewpoint of composition (Archi-
tectural Composition, 3rd ed., 1935, p. 279.)

38. Werner Oechslin, The Well-Tempered Sketch, Daidalos 5 (September 1982), p. 103.
I am further indebted to this article for guiding me to the drawings and sketches of Dsir

39. Le plus souvent elle sera synthtique, surgissant entire votre esprit; ce mode de
cration, qui droute les thories et les mthodes de la logique traditionnelle, qui dment
Bacon et Descartes, cest lintuition, la vraie gense de lide artistique (Guadet, lments,
vol. 1, pp. 100101).

40. The value of the esquisse from the point of view of mental discipline is very great. The
discipline of working on a problem on which one is tied down to the esquisse is as strong
and as persistent a corrective as there can be against vague and loose thinking. John
Harbeson, The Study of Architectural Design (New York: Pencil Points Press, 1927), p. 8.

41. Colquhoun, The Beaux-Arts Plan, p. 168.

42. Ralph Adams Cram, My Life in Architecture (Boston: Little, Brown, 1936), p. 37 (my
Notes to Pages 6566 306

43. A. D. F. Hamlin, American Schools of Architecture, 1: Columbia University,

Architectural Record 21 (May 1907), p. 329. Hamlin also echoed the sentiments of Van Pelt
and Robinson, noting that in terms of the exterior, the fundamentals were proportion,
massing, fenestration, distribution of light and shade, scale, expression. The literature on
academic design often referred to design as composition and planning. Furthermore,
architectural schools such as Columbia and Berkeley offered courses on composition and
planning. At Columbia, William Boring taught separate courses on the Principles of
Composition and Principles of Planning.

44. One of the few books that discussed planning in terms of its general principles was
Percy L. Marks, The Principles of Planning: An Analytical Treatise for the Use of Architects
and Others (London: B. T. Batsford, 1901). As a result of placing planning at the center of
discussion, design became a term used in the limited signicance of the art qualities dis-
played in the elevations (p. 92).

45. A. D. F. Hamlin, The Inuence of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts on Our Architectural
Education, Architectural Record 23 (April 1908), p. 245. There are numerous accounts that
indicate that Guadets discussion of building types was deemed incompatible with the
American situation. For example, Joan Draper writes of John Galen Howards lectures on
Guadets lments at Berkeley that Howard could never quite twist the French building
types to t American patterns, thus limiting the value of Guadets principles for American
students (Draper, The Ecole des Beaux-Arts and the Architectural Profession in the
United States: The Case of John Galen Howard, in Kostof, ed., The Architect, p. 233).

46. Two examples published at the turn of the century were William H. Birkmire, The
Planning and Construction of High Ofce Buildings (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1898),
and The Planning and Construction of American Theatres (New York: John Wiley and Sons,
1896). Examples of manuals on hospitals published before the end of World War I include
Albert Ochsner and Meyer Sturm, The Organization, Construction and Management of
Hospitals (Chicago: Cleveland Press, 1907); John Hornsby and Richard Schmidt, The
Modern Hospital: Its Inspiration; Its Architecture; Its Equipment; Its Operation (Philadelphia:
W. B. Saunders, 1913); and Edward F. Stevens, The American Hospital of the Twentieth
Century (New York: Architectural Record Publishing Company, 1918). The Modern
Hospital, an institutional journal published by the American Hospital Association, was
widely referred to as a source of information on hospital planning.

47. During the nineteenth century and until the early years of this century, plans for hos-
pitals were basically drawn up by physicians with some aid from experienced architects.
Until the rst years of the twentieth century, Hospital Plans, published in 1875 by Johns
Notes to Pages 67 72 307

Hopkins, and Henry Burdetts Hospitals and Asylums of the World were the main texts of
reference. By the 1920s, the periodicals and manuals on hospitals listed in note 46 could be
consulted. However, new concepts of spatial organization and the invention of new build-
ing types were attributed to the institutional profession rather than to architects. See John
D. Thompson and Grace Goldin, The Hospital: A Social and Architectural History (New
Haven: Yale University Press, 1975); Paul Starr, The Social Transformation of American
Medicine (New York: Basic Books, 1982); and Allan M. Brandt and David C. Sloane, Of
Beds and Benches: Building the Modern American Hospital, in Peter Galison and Emily
Thompson, eds., The Architecture of Science (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999).

48. Peter Collins, Changing Ideals in Modern Architecture (Kingston: McGill-Queens

University Press, 1967), pp. 219220. Collins argues that the emergence of new building
typeshospitals and administrative halls in the eighteenth century; banks, ofces, hotels,
and railway stations in the nineteenth centuryformed the background to the French

49. The program is for A Colonial Institute, written by E. L. Masquery and published
in Society of Beaux-Arts Architects, Winning Designs, Paris Prize in Architecture, 19041927
(New York: Pencil Points Press, 1928). This publication is one of the best sources for
examining the changing nature of the academic program in America. This particular pro-
gram was also reprinted in Joseph Esherick, Architectural Education in the Thirties and
Seventies: A Personal View, in Kostof, ed., The Architect, p. 252.

50. Quoted in Collins, Changing Ideals in Modern Architecture, p. 229. See the chapter Les
Devoirs de larchitecte in volume 4 of lments.

51. Ernest Flagg, The Planning of Hospitals, Brickbuilder 12 (June 1903), pp. 113116.

52. Ernest Flagg, The Ecole des Beaux-Arts: Third Paper, Architectural Record 4
(JulySeptember 1894), p. 39.

53. Varon, Indication in Architectural Design, pp. 3738.

54. Louis Sullivan, Autobiography of an Idea (1924; reprint, New York: Dover, 1956), p. 240
(my emphasis).

55. Hamlin, American Schools of Architecture, 1: Columbia University, pp. 328329.

56. Harbeson, The Study of Architectural Design, p. 1.

Notes to Pages 7275 308

57. Quoted in White, ed., Paul Philippe Cret: Architect and Teacher, p. 27.

58. Burton J. Bledstein, The Culture of Professionalism: The Middle Class and the
Development of Higher Education in America (New York: W. W. Norton, 1976), pp. 8890.

59. In a discipline, unlike in commentary, what is supposed at the point of departure is

not some meaning which must be rediscovered, nor an identity to be reiterated; it is that
which is required for the construction of new statements. For a discipline to exist, there
must be the possibility of formulatingand of doing so ad innitumfresh proposi-
tions. (Michel Foucault, The Discourse on Language [1971], translated in The
Archaeology of Knowledge and The Discourse on Language [New York: Pantheon, 1972],
p. 223.)

60. Sullivans opposition to the idea of composition has been well documented and may
be summarized in his famous statement that Man invented a process called composition:
Nature has always brought forth organizations. See Narciso Menocal, Architecture as
Nature: The Trancendentalist Idea of Louis Sullivan (Madison: University of Wisconsin
Press, 1981), for an extensive study of Sullivans naturalist philosophy.

3 The Crisis of the Academic Profession

1. For a more extensive and detailed study on the topics that I discuss in this section, par-
ticularly the reorganization of the building industry and the reforms of the AIA, see Paul
Bentel, Modernism and Professionalism in American Modern Architecture, 19191933
(Ph.D. dissertation, MIT, 1992). I am indebted to this work for its historical detail and
many insights on this crucial period in American architecture. Bentels dissertation is
complementary to my study in that, while I have focused on the changes in the discipline,
Bentel deals primarily with the history of the profession.

2. There is an abundance of material on the history of Sears, Roebuck and Company. See
Boris Emmet and John E. Jeuck, Catalogues and Counters: A History of Sears, Roebuck and
Company (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1950). Katherine Cole Stevenson and
H. Ward Jandl, Houses by Mail: A Guide to Houses from Sears, Roebuck and Company
(Washington, DC: Preservation Press, 1986), deals specically with the history of the
Modern Homes Department. A helpful but misguided history of Aladdin and Sears,
romanticizing these business ventures as a form of democratic vernacular for the common
man, can be found in Alan Gowans, The Comfortable House: North American Suburban
Architecture, 18901930 (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1986).
Notes to Pages 76 78 309

3. Albert L. Brockway, Results Justify Afliation of Bureau with AIA, American

Architect 141 (February 1932), p. 17. By 1925 the yearly sales of the Modern Homes
Department reached 30,000 houses, and by 1930 nearly 50,000.

4. George B. Ford, Beauty Snubbed by City Planners, Journal of the American Institute of
Architects 4 (July 1916), p. 296.

5. Henry Wright, The Architect, the Plan, and the City, Architectural Forum 54
(February 1931), p. 219.

6. Albert Kahn, Organization for Service in Industrial Building, Journal of the

Proceedings of the 51st Annual Convention of the AIA (1918), p. 96.

7. C. Stanley Taylor, The Architect of the Future, Part 1, Architectural Forum 30

(January 1919), p. 2. The ofces that did secure substantial contracts, most notably those of
Albert Kahn and William Starrett, were considered progressive because they had already
reorganized and presented their practices as efcient business operations. The AIA issued
reports and prepared an open letter to President Wilson in order to obtain work. With the
goal of devising a plan to make the services of the AIA available to the War Department,
William A. Starrett, who served as a colonel in the Army Corps of Engineers, chaired the
Committee on Emergency Construction Section of the War Industries Board. Though
similar programs involving engineering societies had been welcomed by the War Department,
the AIA proposal was rejected. See Bentel, Modernism and Professionalism, p. 98.
See also Richard Michael Levy, The Professionalization of American Architects and
Civil Engineers, 18651917 (Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Berkeley,
1980), for a general discussion of the position of the architectural profession in relation
to World War I.

8. Christian Topalov, Scientic Urban Planning and the Ordering of Daily Life: The
First War Housing Experiment in the United States, 19171919, Journal of Urban History
17 (November 1990), p. 15. Also see Roy Lubove, Homes and A Few Well Placed Fruit
Trees: An Object Lesson in Federal Housing, Social Research 27 (1960), pp. 469486.
Kristin M. Szylvian has recently argued that Colonial Revival architecture and planning
provided the EFC and Delaware Valley shipbuilding corporations with a means of con-
cealing the labor problems and tensions that existed in the shipyards; it was used to create
a world apart from the hustle and bustle of the shipyard, where economic and social order
seemingly prevailed and workers might be lulled into believing that labor unions and
efforts to resist scientic management and professional personnel management were not
imperative (Industrial Housing Reform and the Emergency Fleet Corporation, Journal
of Urban History 25 [July 1999], p. 669).
Notes to Pages 78 81 310

9. Portions of this report dealing with the employment and services of architects were
published in the supplement to the Journal of the American Institute of Architects (January
1920), pp. 18. For other aspects of the relation between war housing and the Congress,
see Szylvian, Industrial Housing Reform and the Emergency Fleet Corporation,
pp. 673677.

10. Richard W. Tudor, The Architectural Profession in the Present Day, Journal of the
American Institute of Architects 8 (March 1920), pp. 125127.

11. For an extensive discussion of the reforms of the AIA during the late teens, see chap-
ter 2, Redening and Instituting the Conventions of Professional Service, 19191925, in
Bentel, Modernism and Professionalism, pp. 93156.

12. Post-War Committee on Architectural Practice: Announcement of Preliminary

Program for the Inquiry into the Status of the Architect, Journal of the American Institute
of Architects 7 (1919), p. 7.

13. Frederick Ackerman, Post-War Committee Program on Education, Proceedings of

the 52nd Annual Convention of the AIA (1919), pp. 8081.

14. Report of the Post-War Committee on Architectural Practice, Journal of the

American Institute of Architects 8 (July 1920), pp. 2023.

15. Quoted from Henry Saylors account of R. G. Hatelds response to Calvert Vauxs
proposal in 1864 that the AIA discuss the propriety of introducing a new order of mem-
bership that should include painters, carvers, carpenters and others whose pursuits are
connected with the art of architecture. See The AIAs First Hundred Years (Washington,
DC: Octagon, 1956), p. 32.

16. William Haber, Industrial Relations in the Building Industry (Cambridge, MA:
Harvard University Press, 1930), p. 532n.

17. The Organization and Aims of the Producers Council, Incorporated, in Annuary
of the Producers Council (19291930), p. 2. For more detail on the Structural Service
Department, see Bentel, Modernism and Professionalism, pp. 143147.

18. Thomas Holden, Outside Business Factors as Competitors of the Architect: The
Architects Small House Bureau as an Answer, Journal of the American Institute of
Architects 13 (August 1925), p. 310.
Notes to Pages 8184 311

19. The ASHSB can be understood as part of the movement for individual homeowner-
ship that began during these years. In addition to the endorsement of the AIA, it received
the support of Herbert Hoovers Department of Commerce in 1921. For a brief history of
the ASHSB, see Thomas Harvey, Mail Order Architecture in the Twenties, Landscape
25, no. 3 (1981), and also Bentel, Modernism and Professionalism, pp. 252253.

20. Brockway, Results Justify Afliation of Bureau with AIA, p. 85.

21. Architects Small House Service Bureau, introduction to Your Future Home (St. Paul,
MN: Weyerhauser Forest Products, 1923), p. 7.

22. Quoted in Harvey, Mail Order Architecture in the Twenties, p. 5. In another article,
Robert T. Jones wrote, The Bureau has endeavored also to eliminate from its service all
those types which the architect looks upon as ephemeral. The Bureau could no doubt sell
a vastly larger number of working drawings if they were designed to meet popular taste,
but there is no tendency on its part to waste its opportunity to advance the cause of the
architect for the sake of making money. The houses are intended to be sound from every
architectural point of view (The Architects Small House Service Bureau, Architectural
Forum 44 [March 1926], p. 204).

23. The referendum was submitted to 11,500 architects, of whom 2,512 answered. Of these,
2,009 voted against and 503 for continued AIA endorsement. The results were published
with commentary in American Architect 141 (June 1932), pp. 1819.

24. Bentel, Modernism and Professionalism, p. 156.

25. Talbot Hamlin, The Architect and the Depression, Nation 137 (August 1933), p. 153.

26. Post-War CommitteeSome Opinions, Journal of the American Institute of Architects

7 (October 1919), p. 458, quoted in Bentel, Modernism and Professionalism, p. 115.

27. Ibid., p. 114.

28. The Brickbuilder, based in Boston, had been in publication since 1892. As its title indi-
cates, it had the specic editorial policy of showing what [had] been done in past ages
with clay as a building material, by publishing measured drawings and sketches of old
work; articles of a historical nature, and essays, letters, etc. (Brickbuilder 1 [January 1892],
p. 1). The editors of Forum felt that the previous title did not reect its broader concerns
of progress made in plan, design, construction, materials, and business administration
Notes to Pages 8485 312

(Editorial Comment and Notes for the Month, Architectural Forum 26 [January 1917],
p. 26). The July 1917 issue featured a reduced 9-by-12-inch page size, approximat[ing] the
limits recommended for the standardizing of all class publications (Editorial Comment,
Architectural Forum 27 [July 1917], p. 30).

29. In 1918, Forum ran a series of responses from architects to the question In What
Manner and by What Means Can the Practice of Architecture Be Developed in Order to
Win a Larger Recognition? They were followed a year later by commentaries on the
issues that had been raised by the Post-War Committee on Architectural Practice. Replies
to the questionnaire were published in Architectural Forum 28 (March and May 1918). Also
see Architectural Forum 31 (July and October 1919) for letters on the Post-War Committee.

30. The Post-War Committee on Architectural Practice, Architectural Forum 31 (July

1919), p. 17.

31. The Department of Architectural and Building Economics was to be devoted to

the determination of factors of efciency and economy in building construction and civic
development as affected by architectural design (C. Stanley Taylor, Architectural and
Building Economics, Architectural Forum 30 [June 1919], p. 181).

32. The list of subjects considered under the committee were nance, cooperative nanc-
ing, building automotive buildings, re protection engineering, farm science, and legal

33. Taylor, Architectural and Building Economics, p. 181.

34. The Ballinger Company, Buildings for Commerce and Industry (Philadelphia, 1924), p. 3
(my emphasis). The Ballinger Company was a large architectural and engineering rm
based in Philadelphia and New York specializing in commercial and industrial buildings.

35. See Samuel Haber, Efciency and Uplift: Scientic Management in the Progressive Era,
18901920 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1964). Haber points out that engineers
were the rst people in industry to systematically apply the intellectual methods of science
and engineering to questions of business management (pp. 830). My reading of scientic
management has relied heavily on Habers study, still one of the best general accounts of
the movement.

36. [The engineer] has applied the laws of physics to produce efcient machines. He
must now step in not as a welfare worker, not as a sociologist, but as an engineer to help
Notes to Pages 8687 313

labor nd its place in the production scheme. Cannot scientic analysis resolve the causes
of maladjustment which threaten the life of our institutions? Cannot the engineering
mind reorganize the human elements of production as it has already done with mechanical
and material elements to secure efciency? (Henry D. Hammond, Americanization as a
Problem in Human Engineering, Engineering News-Record [1918], p. 1116.)

37. Frederick Winslow Taylor, Shop Management, Transactions of the ASME

(19021903), pp. 13861406, and Principles of Scientic Management (New York: Harper
and Row, 1911). See also Haber, Efciency and Uplift, p. 24.

38. Lillian Gilbreth, The Psychology of Management (New York: Sturgis and Walton, 1914),
p. 192.

39. For example, Frederick A. Cleveland, the technical director of the Bureau of
Municipal Research in New York, claimed in one of the rst conferences on scientic
management that the full meaning of Scientic Management is comprehended in the
word planning and in the phrase the execution of plans (Addresses and Discussion at the
Conference on Scientic Management, Dartmouth College, 1912, quoted in Haber, Efciency
and Uplift, p. 167).

40. Winthrop Talbot, A Study in Human Engineering, Human Engineering 1 (January

1911), p. 4.

41. The list was taken from an introduction to courses in industrial engineering published
in Douglas Fryer, Vocational Self-Guidance (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1925), p. 300.

42. Arthur G. Anderson, Industrial Engineering and Factory Management (New York:
Ronald Press, 1928), p. 93. Also see Lindy Biggs, The Rational Factory: Architecture,
Technology and Work in Americas Age of Mass Production (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins
University Press, 1996), which draws a picture of the modern factory designed and planned
primarily by engineers.

43. Examples of such manuals and journals are so numerous that they cannot all be listed.
For example, manuals published in the late teens and early twenties concerned with ratio-
nalizing the organization of ofce and clerical work include Mary Cahill and Agnes
Ruggeri, Ofce Practice (New York: Macmillan, 1917); William H. Lefngwell, Scientic
Ofce Management (Chicago: A. W. Shaw, 1917); C. C. Parsons, Ofce Organization and
Management (La Salle Extension University, 1917); Lee Galloway, Ofce Management: Its
Principles and Practice (New York: Ronald Press, 1918); Geoffrey S. Childs et al., Ofce
Notes to Pages 8789 314

Management (New York: Alexander Hamilton Institute, 1919); J. W. Schultz, Ofce

Administration (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1919); and William H. Lefngwell, Ofce
Management: Principles and Practice (Chicago: A. W. Shaw, 1925).

44. C. Stanley Taylor and Vincent R. Bliss, eds., Hotel Planning and Outtting (Chicago:
Albert Pick-Barth, 1928). I attribute the term functional plan to C. Stanley Taylor be-
cause in an editorial for the January 1928 number of Architectural Forum, he had already
expounded its principles. According to Taylor, the plan had two components: the rst was
an exact determination of space requirements carried out in detailed space units, and the
second, a nancial and operational schedule. See C. Stanley Taylor, Architectural Service
from the Business Point of View, Architectural Forum 48 (January 1928), p. 113.

45. Taylor and Bliss, eds., Hotel Planning and Outtting, pp. 1323.

46. Ibid., p. 26.

47. Much more research into actual projects would be needed to have a more denitive
understanding of the way programs for commercial buildings were written during the late
nineteenth century and early decades of the twentieth. An example of the relatively simple
formulation of requirements in general practice can be found in a program for the Larkin
Building, written in December 1902, published in full as an appendix in Jack Quinan,
Frank Lloyd Wrights Larkin Building (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1987), p. 129.

48. Taylor and Bliss, eds., Hotel Planning and Outtting, p. 23.

49. Sydney Wagner, The Statler Idea in Hotel Planning and Equipment, Architectural
Forum 27 (November 1917), p. 118. The article, by an architect in the ofce of George B.
Post and Sons, carefully describes the idea of planning for service attributed to Ellsworth
Statler, owner of a chain of major hotels.

50. Taylor and Bliss, eds., Hotel Planning and Outtting, p. 23.

51. George R. Wadsworth, Planning Methods for Large Institutions, Pencil Points 8
(March 1927), p. 155.

52. Taylor, Architectural and Building Economics, p. 181.

53. Wagner, The Statler Idea, p. 118.

Notes to Pages 9095 315

54. Philip Sawyer, The Planning of Banks, Architectural Forum 38 (June 1923),
pp. 263264.

55. See Laurence V. Coleman, Museum Buildings (Washington, DC: American

Association of Museums, 1950), p. 3.

56. Benjamin Ives Gilman, Museum Ideals of Purpose and Method (Cambridge, MA:
Riverside Press, 1918).

57. Wadsworth, Planning Methods for Large Institutions, p. 155. This series was the
rst instance in which Pencil Points, a Beaux-Arts-oriented journal, had published articles
concerned with functional planning. It was presented as a description of the methods used
by the ofce of Sullivan W. Jones, New York State Architect, for the design of state hos-
pitals for the insane. The author was the director of the Division of Operating and
Planning Research for the New York State Department of Architecture.

58. Ibid.

4 The Fragmentation of the Academic Discipline

1. Academic textbooks that may be included in this category are John Haneman,
A Manual of Architectural Compositions: 70 Plates with 1,880 Examples (New York:
Architectural Book Publishing, 1923); Arthur Stratton, Elements of Form and Design in
Classic Architecture, Shown in Exterior and Interior Motives Collated from Fine Buildings of
all Time on One Hundred Plates (New York: Scribners, 1925); and to some degree David
Varons second book, Architectural Composition (New York: William Helburn, 1923).

2. John Harbeson, The Study of Architectural Design: With Special Reference to the Program
of the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design (New York: Pencil Points Press, 1926). Harbeson stud-
ied under Paul Philippe Cret at the University of Pennsylvania and was assistant professor
at his alma mater when the book was published.

3. Howard Robertson, Robert Atkinson, and Hope Bagenal were all associated with
Londons Architectural Association School. Though their books were published in rela-
tion to their teaching at the school, they were also widely read in America. Other notable
publications include William Wirt Turner, Fundamentals of Architectural Design: A
Textbook for Beginning College Students and Ready Reference for Architects (New York:
McGraw-Hill, 1930); Frank Brown et al., Study of the Orders: A Comprehensive Treatise on
Notes to Pages 9597 316

the Five Classic Orders of Architecture (Chicago: American Technical Society, 1928), the
republication of a 1906 and 1913 text for the American School of Correspondence; and
A. Benton Greene, Elements of Architecture (New York: Harmo Press, 1931). Texts that
emphasized drawing techniques include the second and third printings of the original 1904
edition of Henry McGoodwin, Architectural Shades and Shadows (Boston: Bates and Guild,
1922 and 1926); H. Van Buren Magonigle, Architectural Rendering in Wash (New York:
Scribners, 1921); Wooster B. Field and Thomas E. French, Architectural Drawing (New
York: McGraw-Hill, 1922); and Edgar G. Shelton, Architectural Shades and Shadows (New
York: D. Van Nostrand, 1931). Beginning in January 1929, Pencil Points also ran a series by
Ernest I. Freese on perspective drawing and drafting techniques of classical details.

4. Beginning with Pencil Points 7 (November 1926), in a series titled The Ricker
Manuscript Translations, Thomas E. ODonnell, professor at the University of Illinois,
provided summaries of both Guadets and Viollet-le-Ducs key texts. The Vocabulary
series took the form of an alphabetical dictionary and ran between April and October in
Pencil Points 3 (1922). By 1923, the circulation of Pencil Points reached 9,731, second only to
Architectural Record, which had a circulation of just over 10,000 (N. W. Ayer & Sons
Newspaper Annual and Directory, 1923). One reason for its immediate success could be
attributed to the fact that, while most American journals focused on architects as their
readers, Pencil Points was intended for a wider audience of draftsmen, designers and spec-
ication writers in the architectural ofce (Introductory, Pencil Points 1 [ June 1920],
p. 5). Though its most important section was the portfolio, it did not neglect the practical
problems of drafting and specication. Pencil Points also dealt with translations of impor-
tant theoretical texts and instructional articles concerning the design methods of the cole
des Beaux-Arts, all of which were in demand during the resurgence of eclecticism during
the 1920s. Pencil Points thus catered to the direct concerns of the architectural ofce and,
from its inception, was more practical than a literary journal such as Architectural Record.

5. For a similar assessment, see Peter Samuel Kaufman, American Architectural Writing,
Beaux Arts Style: The Lives and Works of Alfred Dwight Foster Hamlin and Talbot
Faulkner Hamlin (Ph.D. dissertation, Cornell University, 1986), pp. 133135.

6. The changing conditions of the building industry and real estate market during the
1920s are examined in Paul Bentel, Modernism and Professionalism in American Modern
Architecture, 19191933 (Ph.D. dissertation, MIT, 1992), pp. 191208.

7. The most notable were the University of Minnesota (1912), Yale (1913), Princeton (1920),
and University of Cincinnati (1922). See Arthur C. Weatherhead, The History of Collegiate
Education in Architecture in the United States (Ph.D. dissertation, Columbia University,
Notes to Pages 97100 317

1941); Frank H. Bosworth and Roy C. Jones, A Study of Architectural Schools (New York:
Charles Scribners Sons, 1932); and James P. Noffsinger, The Inuence of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts
on the Architects of the United States (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America, 1955).

8. Harbeson, The Study of Architectural Design, p. 299.

9. Geoffrey Scott, The Architecture of Humanism (1914; reprinted, New York: W. W.

Norton, 1974), p. 153.

10. Ibid., pp. 157183.

11. Howard Robertson (18881963) was trained at the Architectural Association (AA)
School and the cole des Beaux-Arts. At the time of the publication of The Principles, he
was principal of the AA School, a post he held between 1920 and 1929. Robertson was
extremely interested in the modern architecture of the continent and was a key gure in
introducing it to the Anglo-American audience. For his activities during the late 1920s,
see Travels in Modern Architecture, 19251930 (London: AA Publications, 1989). There is
also a short biographical article on Robertson by Reyner Banham in Architectural Review
114 (1953), pp. 160168. Robertson specically acknowledged Trystan Edwardss Things
Which Are Seen and Claude Bragdons Beautiful Necessity as his sources. Other expositions
of compositional principles include William R. Greeley, The Essence of Architecture (New
York: D. Van Nostrand, 1927) and Varons Architectural Composition (1923).

12. Colin Rowe, Character and Composition; or Some Vicissitudes of Architectural

Vocabulary in the Nineteenth Century, Oppositions 2 (1974), reprinted in his The
Mathematics of the Ideal Villa and Other Essays (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1976), p. 60.

13. Robert Atkinson, foreword to Howard Robertson, The Principles of Architectural

Composition (Westminster: Architectural Press, 1924), pp. vvi. Atkinson was director of
education during Robertsons tenure as principal of the AA School. Colin Rowe, in his
Character and Composition, has also used this quotation as a proposition typical of the
composition books.

14. Robertson, The Principles of Architectural Composition, pp. 102105.

15. Ibid., p. 155. The composition books of the twenties, though inspired by Guadet, were
aligned more with the postWorld War I teachings of Georges Gromort. Gromort taught
at the cole during the interwar years, and his lectures were published in 1941 as Essai sur
la thorie de larchitecture. See Lawrence B. Anderson, Rereading Gromort, Journal of
Notes to Pages 100103 318

Architectural Education 33 (November 1979). Richard Becherer, in his study of Csar Daly,
has noted that Guadets lments represented the last moments of an ideology of architec-
tural design as a synthetic process. He argues that almost as soon as Guadet made his cul-
minating statement, the formal and ideological synthesis began to falter. The products of
the Guadet/Laloux atelier increasingly sought to separate rather than interweave the ideo-
logical inuences present in the coles ofcial doctrine. See Science Plus Sentiment: Csar
Dalys Formula for Modern Architecture (Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Press, 1984), p. 251.

16. Robertson, The Principles of Architectural Composition, p. 1.

17. Ibid.

18. Trystan Edwards, Architectural Style (London: Faber and Gwyer, 1926), p. 17.

19. Alan Colquhoun, Composition versus the Project, Casabella 50 (JanuaryFebruary

1986), reprinted in Modernity and the Classical Tradition (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press,
1989), pp. 3945. Colquhoun accurately observes that the basic message of Robertsons
Principles of Architectural Composition was that the fundamental rules of composition were
independent of architectural style: Styles have relative value: they depend on the revolu-
tion of taste. The values of architecture, on the contrary, are permanent. However, the
main concern of Colquhouns article, that of understanding the relation between the
European avant-garde and the composition books, is somewhat unclear. While arguing
that the idea of composition was directly inherited by the twentieth-century avant-garde,
he simultaneously views the composition books as examples of how avant-garde ideas and
attitudes ltered down to the more conservative ranks of the profession. If Colquhoun is
implying a dialectic between academism and the avant-garde, this otherwise interesting
proposition is left unexplicated (pp. 3945).

20. Edwards, Architectural Style, p. 20.

21. Edward F. Stevens, foreword to The American Hospital of the Twentieth Century, 2nd
ed. (New York: F. W. Dodge, 1928), p. iv.

22. Robertson, The Principles of Architectural Composition, p. viii.

23. Paul Philippe Cret, preface to Masterpieces of Architecture in the United States (New
York: Scribners, 1930), p. 1. The drawings were prepared by Edward Warren Hoak and
Willis Humphrey Church. This portfolio has recently been republished together with
another portfolio, Oliver Reagans American Architecture of the Twentieth Century (New
Notes to Pages 103105 319

York: Architectural Book Publishing, 1927 and 1929), as American Architectural Masterpieces
(New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1992).

24. Cret, preface to Masterpieces of Architecture in the United States, p. 3.

25. Rexford Newcomb, foreword to Ernest Pickering, Architectural Design (New York:
John Wiley and Sons, 1933), p. ix.

26. Lloyd Warren, foreword to John Harbeson, The Study of Architectural Design, p. 5.

27. John Van Pelt, Architectural Detail: Part I, Pencil Points 2 (May 1921), p. 21.

28. Bosworth and Jones, A Study of Architectural Schools, p. 41.

29. Ibid., p. 45 (my emphasis). The authors named Princeton, Yale, Cornell, Southern
California, and the University of Kansas as schools in which the beginner was immediately
started with the design of a building. At Cincinnati and Florida, students began with
exercises in abstract design, thereby coming to understand design before they applied it
to architecture. Within the limits of this book, it would be impossible to delve into the
specic changes in each individual school. Unfortunately, most studies of architectural
education in America have been so general that the complex changes of the pedagogical
system in the 1930s have not been fully brought out. The best studies are Richard Oliver,
ed., The Making of an Architect, 18811981: Columbia University in the City of New York
(New York: Rizzoli, 1981), and Jill Pearlman, Joseph Hudnuts Other Modernism at the
Harvard Bauhaus, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 56 (December 1997). An
interesting episode in Columbias history, pertinent to my present argument, is a list of
student grievances that were presented to William Boring in 1923. The central complaint
was that they needed more time for design work, and in order to secure this time the
students made the following suggestions: (a) condense the history of ancient ornament;
(b) eliminate the requirement for ornamental plates; (c) eliminate the requirement for
plates in the decorative arts; (d) eliminate historical research as a course and make it an
elective; (e) drop stereotomy; (f ) condense work covered in shades and shadows, descrip-
tive geometry, and stereotomy to one course; (g) condense graphics.
These suggestions indicate the separation of design from the discursive practice of the
portfolio, central to the early stages of architectural training. This abstract conception of
design seems to have been introduced by Boring, who was appointed director of the
School of Architecture in 1919. Boring believed that architecture was pure invention,
advocating that the biggest way of attempting to solve a problem is to solve it in masses.
William Borings lecture notes are in the Central Files and the Graduate School of
Notes to Pages 106107 320

Architecture and Planning Archives, Columbia University. The list of student grievances
was recorded in a letter from William Henry Carpenter to Nicholas Butler, dated
February 13, 1923, William Henry Carpenter Papers, Butler Library, Columbia University.
I am indebted to Susan M. Strauss, History III, 19121933, in Oliver, ed., The Making of
an Architect, which led me to these sources.

30. Pickering, Architectural Design, p. 170.

31. During the 1920s, the commercially successful Beaux-Arts architects of New York,
and in particular those of the Architectural League of New York, became the most power-
ful gures of the professionso much so that Hood, Kahn, and Walker were referred to
as the three little Napoleons of architecture. See Walter H. Kilham, Jr., Raymond Hood,
Architect (New York: Architectural Book Publishing, 1973), p. 81. For a general discussion
of Kahn, Hood, and Walker, see the chapter Three Modern Masters in Robert A. M.
Stern et al., New York 1930 (New York: Rizzoli, 1987). For a more wide-ranging discussion
of the modernism debate, see Susanne R. Lichtenstein, Editing Architecture: Architectural
Record and the Growth of Modern Architecture, 19281938 (Ph.D. dissertation, Cornell
University, 1990), pp. 140186.

32. Harvey Wiley Corbett, The American Radiator Building, New York City: Raymond
Hood, Architect, Architectural Record 55 (May 1924), pp. 473477.

33. Louise La Beaume, Crabbed Age and Youth, Journal of the American Institute of
Architects 16 (November 1928), p. 417.

34. Leslie W. Devereux, The Condition of Modern Architecture, Architecture 45

(February 1922), p. 42. See also David Gebhard, The American Colonial Revival in the
1930s, Winterthur Portfolio 22 (Summer/Autumn 1987), p. 110, for a similar interpretation.

35. Henry-Russell Hitchcock, Architectural Education Again, Architectural Record 67

(May 1930), p. 445.

36. Edwards, Architectural Style, p. 172.

37. In order that a sense of composition may be developed, it is advisable to practice the
production of satisfactory arrangements of simple shapes, either light and dark geometrical
gures, or architectural masses shaded in different depths of tone (Robertson, The
Principles of Architectural Composition, pp. 2325). Robertson eventually emerged as a key
gure who would introduce continental modern architecture to both England and
Notes to Pages 107 109 321

America. In 1932, Robertson published Modern Architectural Design (London: Architectural

Press), which complemented his earlier book on composition. He also coauthored several
pictorial reviews of modern architecture with Frank Yerbury that will be discussed in
chapter 9.

38. Anyone who accepts the Grammar of Design will be able to dene very clearly his
attitude towards the disputants who take part in the controversy concerning the respective
claims of tradition and modernity. To those who have an undue reverence for the archi-
tecture of the past, he will say that this architecture only possesses merit in so far as it
complies with the formal canons. As the Grammar provides logical justication for the
respect accorded to many famous buildings of the past, he will do his utmost to preserve
these masterpieces, protecting them from that ignorant deprecation of works of art which
always precedes acts of vandalism. But the Grammar also relieves him from the necessity
of paying uncritical homage to buildings simply because they are old. And his attitude
towards the architecture of his own day will be determined in the same manner. New
buildings will not be praised for their beauty just because they express a reaction to the
past, but only if they exemplify the principles of Number, Punctuation and Inection. An
illimitable range of new forms can be created subject to this condition. (Edwards,
Architectural Style, pp. 171172.)

39. Raymond Hood, The Spirit of Modern Art, Architectural Forum 51 (November
1929), pp. 445448. For a similar argument, see Ely Jacques Kahn, On What Is Modern,
in Ely Jacques Kahn (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1931).

40. Dwight James Baum used the term modern traditionalism to characterize the fol-
lowing position: Our buildings are modern of necessity, modern that they may meet pres-
ent day practical requirements and may be built by the methods and of the materials that
are most suitable and economical. But this does not mean that they need to be devoid
of everything that recalls the past, and be factory-like or ornamented with zig-zags.
(Modern Traditionalism, T-Square Club Journal 1 [April 1931], p. 14.)

41. Jens Frederick Larson and Archie MacInnes Palmer, Architectural Planning of the
American College (New York: McGraw-Hill for the Association of American Colleges,
1933), p. 27.

42. Karl Popper, On the Sources of Knowledge and of Ignorance, in Conjectures and
Refutations (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1963), p. 6. I am indebted to Stanford
Anderson, Architecture and Tradition That Isnt Trad, Dad, in Marcus Whiffen, ed.,
Notes to Pages 109111 322

The History, Theory and Criticism of Architecture (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1970),
which called my attention to Poppers insight.

43. For example, George Edgell, a historian-critic in the traditionalist camp, offered the
following assessment in his The American Architecture of To-day (New York: Scribners,
1928): Greater familiarity with steel construction means less necessity for expressing it in
design. If a wall were an envelope, incapable even of supporting its weight, such a fact
should be advertised on the exterior of the building. As we become more accustomed to
the construction, however, we realize that the very mass and height of the building pro-
claims its construction. Little thought is required to convince us that a masonry wall
thirty-ve to fty stories high is not self-supporting. Familiar with the fact, we become
less insistent in design upon the proclamation of the obvious. The problem is much
broader than that of a mere expression of structure (pp. 7576).

44. Fiske Kimball, American Architecture (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1928), pp. 147168.
I am indebted to Deborah Pokinskis discussion of Kimball and George Edgell in her The
Development of the American Modern Style (Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Press, 1984) for bringing
my attention to Kimballs formalist approach.

45. Kimball, American Architecture, p. 163. For a similar interpretation of Kimball, see
Lauren Weiss Bricker, The Writings of Fiske Kimball: A Synthesis of Architectural
History and Practice, in Elisabeth Blair MacDougall, ed., The Architectural Historian in
America (Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art, 1990); and David Brownlee, Building
the City Beautiful: The Benjamin Franklin Parkway and the Philadelphia Museum of Art
(exhibition catalogue, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1989). Brownlee points out that
Kimball, using Roger Frys formalist language, equated the classical designs of McKim,
Mead and White with the paintings of Czanne by arguing that they both constituted an
abstract art of form and color.

46. Fiske Kimball to Paul Cret, dated May 8, 1925, published in Architectural Record 65
(May 1929), p. 431.

47. Letter from Fiske Kimball to Walter Pach, dated May 8, 1925, published in
Architectural Record 65 (May 1929), p. 433. The quotation is also used by Kimball in
American Architecture, p. 205.

48. Talbot Hamlin, Architecture, International Yearbook (1926), p. 59.

49. Pickering, Architectural Design, pp. 130132.

Notes to Pages 111113 323

50. Robertson, The Principles of Architectural Composition, p. 24.

51. Ferrisss sketches were rst published in Corbetts article Zoning and the Envelope of
the Building, Pencil Points 4 (April 1923). They were later republished with his utopian
plans in Metropolis of Tomorrow (New York: Ives Washburn, 1929). See Carol Willis,
Zoning and Zeitgeist: The Skyscraper City in the 1920s, Journal of the Society of
Architectural Historians 45 (March 1986), for a discussion of Corbetts ideas.

52. Corbett, The Coming City of Setback Skyscrapers, New York Times, April 29, 1923,
quoted in Carol Willis, Zoning and Zeitgeist, p. 55.

53. Rayne Adams, Thoughts on Modern, and Other Ornament, Pencil Points 9 (January
1929), p. 7.

54. As Terence Riley has shown in The International Style: Exhibition 15 and the Museum of
Modern Art (New York: Rizzoli, 1992), the formulation of the principles of the International
Style can be attributed primarily to Hitchcock. The direct source of this assessment is a
letter from Alfred Barr to Lewis Mumford, dated February 27, 1948, in which Barr wrote
that though he was responsible for applying the term International Style to architec-
ture, it was not his formula but one arrived at by Hitchcock and Johnson, principally
Hitchcock who, although he now seems evasive about it, was teacher and theorist for both
Johnson and I (Lewis Mumford Papers, Van Pelt Library, University of Pennsylvania,
published in What Is Happening to Modern Architecture, Museum of Modern Art
Bulletin 15 [Spring 1948], p. 21). Another indication to this effect is that Johnsons early
proposals for the exhibition show none of the essentially formalist conception of the
International Style.

55. Hitchcock, Architectural Education Again, p. 445.

56. An interesting aspect of Hitchcock and Johnsons formulation of functionalism is their

distinction between European and American functionalists. They identied the latter with
the successful Beaux-Arts-trained commercial architects. Hitchcock and Johnson did not
specify them in The International Style, but they clearly targeted these architects of the
New York skyscrapers during the 1920s: a group that Johnson called the Skyscraper
School of Modern Architecture a year before the exhibition. (See The Skyscraper School
of Modern Architecture, Arts 17 [May 1931], pp. 569575.) The problem with the Ameri-
cans was that they relegated the legitimate province of the architect to the aesthetic desires
of the client. American functionalistslater renamed commercial functionalists by
Alfred Barr thus relinquished their disciplinary autonomy. Alfred Barr claimed in the
Notes to Pages 114117 324

Museum of Modern Art symposium in 1948 that we felt that the cynical parody of func-
tionalism which we found among certain American architects was equally debasing. I refer
to the theory that architecture is not an art, but a business or an industry in which design
is simply a commodity to be furnished as a supercial afterthought. (What Is Happening
to Modern Architecture, p. 6.)

57. Henry-Russell Hitchcock, The Decline of Architecture, Hound and Horn 1

(September 1927), p. 34.

58. Henry-Russell Hitchcock and Philip Johnson, The International Style (1932; reprint,
New York: Norton 1966), p. 37. Two years later, in the Machine Art exhibition, Barr
repeated Hitchcocks formulation of the architects function within the technical condi-
tions of production: The role of the artist in machine art is to choose, from a variety of
possible forms each of which may be functionally adequate, that one form which is aes-
thetically most satisfactory. He does not embellish or elaborate, but renes, simplies and
perfects. (Alfred Barr, foreword, to Machine Art [New York: Museum of Modern Art,
1934], unpaged.)

59. Manfredo Tafuri, Architecture and Utopia: Design and Capitalist Development (1973;
translation, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1976), p. 1.

5 Frederick Ackerman, Lewis Mumford, and the Predicament of Form

1. The most representative study in this vein is Roy Lubove, Community Planning in the
1920s: The Contribution of the Regional Planning Association of America (Pittsburgh:
University of Pittsburgh Press, 1963). The term social architect is Luboves, who states
that the kernel of the RPAAs program was the cooperation of the social architect and
planner in the design of large-scale group and community housing, nanced in some mea-
sure by low-interest government loans, and directed toward the creation of a regional city
(p. 47). The architects of the RPAA included Clarence Stein, Henry Wright, Charles
Harris Whitaker, Robert D. Kohn, and Frederick Ackerman. Along with Lewis Mumford
and Catherine Bauer, they constituted what may very loosely be called the architectural
wing of this informal group formed in 1924.

2. Ibid., pp. 4243. See also Francesco Dal Co, From Parks to the Region: Progressive
Ideology and the Reform of the American City, in Giorgio Ciucci et al., The American
City: From the Civil War to the New Deal (1973; translation, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press,
1979), p. 236.
Notes to Page 118 325

3. The most that commentators of the RPAA generally mention of Frederick Ackerman
(18781950) is that he was a collaborator of Stein and Wright in the design of Sunnyside
and Radburn, and that he was a disciple of Thorstein Veblen. In 1906 Ackerman began
his partnership with Alexander Trowbridge, also a graduate of the cole. Trowbridge was
a prominent architect and professor who had served as dean of the College of Architecture
at Cornell and would later become the president of the Architectural League of New
York. Though his tenure seems to have been limited, Susan M. Strauss reports that
Ackerman was appointed lecturer in the Principles of Architecture at Columbia in 1915.
See Susan M. Strauss, History III: 19121933, in Richard Oliver, ed., The Making of an
Architect, 18811981: Columbia University in the City of New York (New York: Rizzoli, 1981),
p. 91.

4. Ackerman, Kohn, and Whitaker were active in the AIA reforms of the late teens. All
three were members of the executive council of the Post-War Committee, and Ackerman
served as chairman of its Committee on Education. Kohn, Ackerman, Stein, and Wright
were also key participants in war housing, while Charles Whitaker, as editor of the Journal
of the AIA, was inuential in formulating its design and planning principles. The housing
department of the U.S. Shipping Boards Emergency Fleet Corporation (EFC) was of-
cially called the Department of Passenger Transportation and Housing, with A. Merritt
Taylor as its director and Robert D. Kohn as chief of the production division. Ackerman
was chief of the design branch of the department, while Wright worked primarily as a
planner in the EFC. It was Kohn, already professionally associated with Stein, who
brought Wright and Stein together. Though Stein and Whitaker did not participate
directly in the design of war villages, their intellectual input was clearly present. In partic-
ular, the Journal of the AIA, under Whitakers editorship, provided a forum for an intense
debate on housing and urban issues during the late teens and early twenties. Under the
auspices of the journal, Ackerman conducted a study in England of its war housing, which
resulted in a series of articles in the journal that was later published under the title The
Housing Problem in War and Peace (Washington, DC, 1918).

5. Lubove, Community Planning in the 1920s, pp. 3839.

6. Ibid., p. 44. The most important document of the CCP was the Report of the
Committee on Community Planning, Proceedings of the 58th Annual Convention of the AIA
(1925), which combined the reports of the previous year and was reprinted as a pamphlet.
See also the committees report for 1927 at the 60th convention.

7. Frederick Ackerman, Where Goes the City Planning Movement? V. Drifting,

Journal of the American Institute of Architects 8 (October 1920), p. 353.
Notes to Pages 118120 326

8. Donald Stabile, Prophets of Order: The Rise of the New Class, Technocracy and Socialism in
America (Boston: Southend Press, 1984), p. 89. See Kristin M. Szylvian, Industrial Housing
Reform and the Emergency Fleet Corporation, Journal of Urban History 25 (July 1999),
pp. 647648, for Ackermans progressive and optimistic outlook immediately after the war.

9. Frederick Ackerman, The Architects Part in the Worlds Work, Architectural Record 37
(February 1915), p. 150. The article was taken from a talk given to the students and faculty
of his alma mater, Cornell, and is lled with exhortations to civic service and democratic
ideals. The phrase the Worlds Work was in all likelihood adopted from the reformist
magazine of the same title, edited by Walter Hines Page.

10. Ackerman, The Relation of Art to Education, II: Architectural Schools, Journal of
the American Institute of Architects 4 (June 1916), p. 235.

11. Ibid., p. 237.

12. Ackerman, The Battle with Chaos, Journal of the American Institute of Architects 3
(October 1915), p. 446.

13. Just before arriving at the New School of Social Research, Veblen outlined his views
in a series of essays in the Diallaunched in April 1919 under the title Contemporary
Problems in Reconstructionthat was later published in 1921 as The Engineers and the
Price System. The basic outline of Veblens program was, rst, the voluntary abdication of
all absentee owners of business (the Guardians of Vested Interests) and their replace-
ment by technicians and workers; and secondly, the creation of a national directorate that
would supervise the allocation of resources on a scientic basis. By liberating the machine
and Americas industry from an irrational and wasteful system, Veblen believed that the
nation would increase its industrial output three to twelve times.

14. Thorstein Veblen, The Instinct of Workmanship (New York: Macmillan, 1914), p. 328.

15. Other members of the RPAA who also participated in the Technical Alliance were
Benton MacKaye and the economist Stuart Chase. In addition, Ackerman and Whitaker
served on its executive committee. There is, however, very little information on the activi-
ties of this short-lived organization. See Henry Elsner, Jr., The Technocrats: Prophets of
Automation (Syracuse: Syracuse University, 1967), and William E. Akin, Technocracy and
the American Dream: The Technocrat Movement, 19001941 (Berkeley: University of
California Press, 1977).
Notes to Pages 120122 327

16. The passage is from a letter by Guido Marx, professor of mechanical engineering at
Stanford and close associate of Veblen, quoted in Joseph Dorfman, New Light on
Veblen, in Thorstein Veblen: Essays, Reviews and Reports (Clifton, NJ: Augustus M.
Kelley, 1973), p. 84. The conference was held in Detroit and attended by members of four-
teen professions. The architectural contingent was organized by the Committee on
Professional Relations of the Post-War Committee, chaired by Thomas R. Kimball.

17. Denitions of the instinct of workmanship are scattered in Veblens many writings
as well as in the 1914 book of the same title. It was, however, a concept that was already
well dened in The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899; reprint, New York: Mentor, 1953): As
a matter of selective necessity, man is an agent. He is an agent seeking in every act the
accomplishment of some concrete, objective, impersonal end. By force of his being such
an agent he is possessed of a taste for effective work, and a distaste for futile effort. He has
a sense of merit of serviceability or efciency and of the demerit of futility, waste or inca-
pacity. This aptitude or propensity may be called the instinct of workmanship (p. 29). In
contrast to the substantial literature on Veblens economic thought, there has been rela-
tively little critical writing on Veblens cultural theories, of which Adornos short essay
Veblens Attack on Culture, Studies in Philosophy and Social Science 9 (1941), and John
Patrick Digginss Thorstein Veblen: Theorist of the Leisure Class (Princeton: Princeton
University Press, 1999) stand out. For biographical information on Veblen, I have relied
on Elizabeth W. Jorgensen, Thorstein Veblen: Victorian Firebrand (Armonk, NY: M. E.
Sharpe, 1999), and Joseph Dorfman, Thorstein Veblen and His America (New York: Viking
Press, 1934), and by the same author, New Light on Veblen, 1973.

18. Wesley C. Mitchell, Types of Economic Theory: From Mercantilism to Institutionalism,

ed. Joseph Dorfman (New York: Augustus M. Kelley, 1969), pp. 603623.

19. Thorstein Veblen, The Theory of Business Enterprise (New York: Scribners, 1904),
pp. 910.

20. David Riesman, Thorstein Veblen: A Critical Interpretation (New York: Scribners, 1953),
p. 59.

21. Frederick Ackerman, review of Sticks and Stones, by Lewis Mumford, Journal of the
American Institute of Architects 12 (December 1924), pp. 538539.

22. Theodor Adorno, Veblens Attack on Culture, reprinted in Prisms (Cambridge,

MA: MIT Press, 1981), p. 75.
Notes to Pages 122126 328

23. Diggins, Thorstein Veblen, p. 68.

24. Frederick Ackerman, Georgian Architecture, Tuileries Brochures (March 1930), p. 115.

25. Ackerman, Dissertations in Aesthetics, IV, Journal of the American Institute of

Architects 14 (February 1926), p. 49.

26. Ackerman, Architecture, in Douglas Fryer, ed., Vocational Self-Guidance (New York:
J. B. Lippincott, 1925), p. 303.

27. Ackerman, Modern Architecture, Journal of the American Institute of Architects 16

(November 1928), p. 414 (my emphasis).

28. Ibid., p. 414.

29. Ibid., pp. 414415.

30. Ackerman, The Function of Architectural Criticism, Journal of the American Institute
of Architects 16 (April 1928), p. 145.

31. Though Ackerman did not name the individuals in the modernist camp, the brunt of
his criticism was aimed at the Beaux-Arts architects discussed in chapter 4. It is interest-
ing to note that though there would have been just a few months in which their stay over-
lapped, both Ackerman and Raymond Hood were at the cole des Beaux-Arts during the
latter months of 1905. It is well known that Ely Jacques Kahn was close friends with
Clarence Stein. In addition to being classmates at Columbia, both attended the cole a
few years later.

32. Ackerman, Modern Architecture, p. 415.

33. Ackerman, Forces That Inuence the Professions Future, American Architect 141
(May 1932), p. 31.

34. Ackerman, The Modern Movement, I: A Point of Theory, Journal of the American
Institute of Architects 16 (December 1928), p. 465.

35. Letter from Ackerman to Lewis Mumford, dated March 10, 1931, Van Pelt Library,
University of Pennsylvania Special Collections.

36. Ackerman, The Function of Architectural Criticism, p. 144.

Notes to Pages 126129 329

37. See Robert L. Davison, Problems of Country House Design and Construction,
Architectural Record 66 (November 1929); Gymnasium Planning, Architectural Record 69
(January 1931); and a special issue on university planning, Architectural Forum 54 (June

38. Frederick Ackerman and William Ballard, A Note on the Problems of Site and Unit
Planning (New York Housing Authority, 1937), p. 7.

39. Ibid., p. 8.

40. Ackerman, Dissertations in Aesthetics, IV, p. 49.

41. Ibid., p. 51.

42. Ackermans strategy of regressionthe return to workmanship and the excavation of

uncontaminated factswas also the operative principle in what may be characterized as
his politico-technical activities of the thirties. With the economic crisis of the depression
came a revival of the technocratic movement. In the spring of 1932, Ackermanalong
with Walter Rautenstrauch, Howard Scott, and Bassett Jones, the electrical engineer who
was also a member of the RPAAformed a group called the Committee on Technocracy.
Ackerman was very active in the group, writing numerous articles on the theories of tech-
nocracy. Using his inuence in the AIA, he persuaded the Architects Emergency Relief
Committee of New York to provide funds and manpower for research. The technocracy
groups, however, were far from the Soviet of Technicians that Veblen had envisioned in
1919. Despite the renewed hope for realizing a technocratic society after the depression,
the Committee on Technocracy never claimed to have a revolutionary aim, presenting its
function as a research organization. In fact, a specic program of action to bring about
the needed change was never proposed by the technocrats. This may be viewed, on the
one hand, as a fundamental naivet on the part of technocratic thinking, and on the other
as a reection of their genuine belief in the long durations involved in historical changes.
William E. Akin in his Technocracy and the American Dream provides the following analy-
sis: As [the technocrats] inability to grapple successfully with the problem of political
theory indicated, their primary concerns were to dene the nature of technocratic society
and the means of maintaining the new order. This emphasis on ultimate goals, rather than
on method of actuating social change, left the movement without any sense of immediate
direction (p. 117). Ackerman was not an exception to this kind of appraisal, as his writings
reveal a distrust of politics: How to shift the control over industry from the eld of nan-
cial business to that of technology is a matter which will be decided when a sufcient
number of people shall have discovered that our system of loan credit and banking . . .
inevitably results in waste, curtailment and constant ination. . . . This is not a matter to
Notes to Pages 129130 330

be disposed of by political action; forces arising out of a conviction that a change is due
will take care of the matter. Again so runs history (Frederick Ackerman et al., Housing
Famine [New York: Dutton, 1920], pp. 242243).

43. Ackerman, The Planning of Colleges and Universities, Architectural Forum 54 ( June
1931), p. 692.

44. Lewis Mumford, Machinery and the Modern Style, New Republic (August 3, 1921),
reprinted in Roots of Contemporary American Architecture (New York: Dover, 1952),
pp. 197198.

45. Mumford, Form in Modern Architecture, Architecture 60 (September 1929),

pp. 125126.

46. Though the literature on Mumford is vast, his relation with Veblen has not been
closely examined. For example, Robert Wojtowicz has noted that through The Theory of
the Leisure Class, Veblen essentially provided Mumford with the intellectual lens by which
he could distance himself from his upbringing, a source that would later mesh with
Patrick Geddess views to remain an essential inuence (Lewis Mumford and American
Modernism: Eutopian Theories for Architecture and Urban Planning [Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1996], p. 31). Yet despite this assessment, Wojtowicz does not provide an
analysis of how Veblen enters Mumfords work. On the other hand, John Patrick Diggins,
in his Thorstein Veblen, has gone so far as to claim that Mumford was Veblens greatest
scholarly disciple (p. 68) and greatest anthropological disciple (p. 91). Though Diggins
notes that many of Veblens concepts were involved in Technics and Civilization, he does
not actually analyze the text. Veblens absence in studies of Mumford may be attributed to
his own disavowal of Veblen in his later writings. For instance, in Technics and Human
Development, he lumped together modern social theorists such as Carlyle, Marx, and
Veblen in their overemphasis of the machine in the development of culture. Mumford
concluded that they had inadvertently become apologists of the repressive force of the
modern megamachine (The Myth of the Machine I: Technics and Human Development [New
York: Harcourt, Brace, and World, 1967], pp. 263294). For Mumfords more forgiving
apology of his own earlier writings on the machine, see Lewis Mumford, An Appraisal of
Lewis Mumfords Technics and Civilization (1934), Daedalus 88 (Summer 1959).

47. The key to our difculties in the industrial and decorative arts was furnished a whole
generation ago by Thorstein Veblen, in that neglected classic, The Theory of the Leisure
Class (Mumford, The Economics of Contemporary Decoration, Creative Art 4 [January
1929] p. xix).
Notes to Pages 130133 331

48. Mumford, Technics and Civilization (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1934), p. 12.

49. Catherine Bauer, Modern Housing (Boston: Houghton Mifin, 1934), p. 212.

50. Ibid., quoting Thorstein Veblen, The Theory of the Leisure Class, pp. 109111. There is
a curious inversion of sequence in Bauers quotation. The last paragraph, which appears on
page 109 of The Theory of the Leisure Class, actually comes before the rst two paragraphs,
which appear on pages 110111 of Veblens book.

51. Bauer, Modern Housing, p. 213.

52. Bauer, Exhibition of Modern Architecture, Museum of Modern Art, Creative Art 10
(March 1932), p. 201. After this passage, Bauer continues: It predicates common beliefs
and common purposes in a large number of contemporary people. But more than that, it
denes architecture, rst and last, as the social art, the expression of those forces which
keep people together and not those which separate and individualize. Architecture is not a
medium for expressing individual personality.

53. Mumford, The Economics of Contemporary Decoration, p. xx. The socializing

effect of the machine was reiterated and became an essential thesis of Technics and
Civilization. The provocative phrase the machine is a communist was in fact repeated
word for word on page 354 of the latter text.

54. Mumford, Technics and Civilization, p. 352. Mumford extended his thesis of the prin-
ciple of economy specically to architecture in The Culture of Cities (New York: Harcourt,
Brace, 1938), p. 416.

55. Mumford, Technics and Civilization, pp. 353355.

56. Veblen, The Theory of Business Enterprise, p. 170.

57. David W. Noble, The Paradox of Progressive Thought (Minneapolis: University of

Minnesota Press, 1958), p. 223.

58. Mumford, The Economics of Contemporary Decoration, pp. xixxxii.

59. Letter from Ackerman to Mumford, dated February 19, 1929, Van Pelt Library,
University of Pennsylvania Special Collections.

60. Veblen, The Theory of Business Enterprise, pp. 178179.

Notes to Pages 133138 332

61. Mumford, Frederick Lee Ackerman, FAIA, 18751950, Journal of the American
Institute of Architects (December 1950), p. 249.

62. Mumford, Sticks and Stones: A Study of American Architecture and Civilization (1924;
reprint, New York: Dover, 1955), p. 9.

63. Ibid., p. 14.

64. Frank Lloyd Wright, Art and Craft of the Machine (1901), in Edgar Kaufman and
Ben Raeburn, eds., Frank Lloyd Wright: Writings and Buildings (New York: Meridian,
1960), p. 57.

65. Mumford, Sticks and Stones, p. 15.

66. Mumford, The Brown Decades: A Study of the Arts in America, 18651895 (1931; reprint,
New York: Dover, 1971), p. 82.

67. Ibid., p. 62.

68. Ibid.

69. Mumford, Housing, in Modern Architecture: International Exhibition (New York:

Museum of Modern Art, 1932), p. 183.

70. Mumford, Acknowledgement, in Sticks and Stones (New York: W. W. Norton,

1924), unpaged. Photographs were added in his second edition of 1955 without any men-
tion of their absence in the rst edition.

71. Mumford, Steel Chimneys and Beet-top Cupolas, Creative Art 4 (May 1929), p. xliv.

72. Mumford, Technics and Civilization, p. 338.

73. Stanislaus von Moos, The Visualized Machine Age: Or, Mumford and the European
Avant-Garde, in Thomas P. Hughes and Agatha Hughes, eds., Lewis Mumford: Public
Intellectual (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), p. 228.

74. This brief assessment was inspired by von Mooss article (ibid.) and Beatriz
Colominas incisive comment that in Le Corbusiers books, images are not used to illus-
trate the written text; rather they construct the text (Beatriz Colomina, Privacy and
Notes to Pages 138143 333

Publicity: Modern Architecture as Mass Media [Cambridge, MA; MIT Press, 1994], p. 119).
As von Moos notes, Mumfords images are approached purely as an illustration of the text.
Though much of von Mooss analysis of Mumford is incisive, I do not agree with some of
his views as they relate to his comparison with Giedion. I will make this point clearer in
chapter 9, where I deal with Giedions use of photographic images.

75. Mumford, The Culture of Cities, p. 421. This passage was brought to my attention by Colin
Rowes quotation in The Architecture of Good Intentions (London: Academy, 1994), p. 45.

76. Mumford, The Culture of Cities, p. 414.

77. Mumford, Preface: 1970, in The Conduct of Life (1951; reprint, New York: Harcourt
Brace Jovanovich, 1970), p. v.

78. Mumford, The Modern City, in Talbot Hamlin, ed., Forms and Functions of
Twentieth-Century Architecture, vol. 4 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1952),
p. 797, quoted in Leo Marx, Lewis Mumford: Prophet of Organicism, in Hughes and
Hughes, eds., Lewis Mumford, p. 179.

79. Adorno, Veblens Attack on Culture, p. 85.

80. In a similar vein, Rosalind Williams has characterized Mumfords dilemma as his
lifelong quest to articulate the distinction between good machines and bad ones, and to
explain how both the liberating and repressive ones have emerged in history (Mumford
as a Historian of Technology, in Hughes and Hughes, eds., Lewis Mumford, p. 47).

81. Adorno, Veblens Attack on Culture, p. 84.

6 The Cognitive Project of the Architectural Journals

1. The exceptions were Architecture and Pencil Points, which were journals strongly inu-
enced by academism. Architecture remained relatively faithful to academic design until it
was absorbed by Architectural Record in 1938. Changes in Pencil Points came about more
subtly; only in the mid-thirties did it begin to embrace new elements into its pages. With
the exception of those of Architectural Record, the new editorial policies announced in the
late twenties have surprisingly gone unnoticed by historians. The earliest mention of the
transformations of Record was a brief note by Robert A. M. Stern, in Relevance of the
Decade, a talk given in 1964 to the Modern Architecture Symposium: The Decade
19291939 and published in the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 24 (March
Notes to Pages 143144 334

1965), p. 9. The changes in Record are discussed in Robert Benson, Douglas Putnam
Haskell (18991979): The Early Critical Writings (Ph.D. dissertation, University of
Michigan, 1987); Susanne R. Lichtenstein, Editing Architecture: Architectural Record and
the Growth of Modern Architecture, 19281938 (Ph.D. dissertation, Cornell University,
1987); and William Braham, The Heart of Whiteness: The Discussion of Color and
Material Qualities in American Architectural Journals around 1930 (Ph.D. dissertation,
University of Pennsylvania, 1995).

2. Parker Morse Hooper, The Editors Announcement, Architectural Forum 48 (January


3. Kenneth K. Stowell (18941969) received his architectural training at Harvard and in

1927 joined the editorial staff of the Forum, where he remained until he became editor of
the American Architect in 1935. Between 1939 and 1942, Stowell served as editor for House
Beautiful, also owned by International Publications. Though I have not been able to
research Stowells activities as Forums editor, he seems to have had a signicant role in
opening the journal to European modernism, much as Lawrence Kocher had done at
Architectural Record.

4. The purchase of American Architect can be seen in the context of the increasing monop-
olization of business during the 1920s. The small scale of architectural publishing made it
particularly vulnerable to corporate mergers. Even in the early decades of this century
when the profession had been rmly established, it was nancially difcult for architec-
tural journals to stay aoat. It was thus not uncommon that a prominent journal would
absorb other journals in nancial trouble, or become part of a larger publishing company.
American Architect absorbed Inland Architect in 1909 and Architectural Review in 1921.
Architecture was published by Scribners; and the F. W. Dodge Company, which owned
Architectural Record and several other magazines related to the building industry, was
incorporated in 1923. It would seem, however, that no other journal was so directly inu-
enced by its merger into a large conglomerate as was American Architect in 1929.

5. American Architect, however, could never completely attain the character or distribution
of the popular magazines in Hearsts lineup and was eventually merged under Architectural
Record in 1937. Even its peak circulation of 8,913 in 1923 was less than half that of Town
and Country or Motor Boating, which had the next smallest circulation among the Hearst
magazines. That same year, Good Housekeeping and Pictorial Review recorded respective
circulations of 1,915,676 and 2,061,736. These gures are from Oliver Carlson and Ernest S.
Bates, Hearst: Lord of San Simeon (New York: Viking Press, 1936), pp. 302303. See also
Fremont Older, William Randolph Hearst, American (New York: D. Appleton, 1936).
Notes to Pages 144147 335

6. The New Architecture and the New American Architect, American Architect 136
(November 1929), p. 20.

7. Ray W. Sherman, More Than a Designer, American Architect 137 (June 1930), p. 19.

8. The public accepted this criterion, that an architect was one who made pretty pictures
of buildings, but added a corollary that he was not practical. With what result? That the
services of an architect were a luxury? That buildings could be built without the services an
architect was supposed to render? That an architect sold drawings on a commission basis,
instead of performing professional services for a professional fee? (W. R. B. Wilcox,
Draftsmanship Is Not Architecture, Architectural Record 77 [April 1935], pp. 255257.) See
also Henry S. Churchill, Are We Architects or Merely Pencils?, American Architect 137
(February 1930), for a similar position.

9. American Architect 137 (September 1930), p. 112.

10. Elmer Roswell Coburn, EconomicsThe New Basis of Architectural Practice,

American Architect 143 (September 1933), p. 53. Other articles along this line include
Arthur T. North, Architects Must Study Building Economics, American Architect 136
(November 1929), and E. D. Pierre, We Must Become Part of the Building Industry,
American Architect 139 (May 1931). After the depression, similar articles began to appear in
the Record. See Lionel M. Lebhar, Architect or Building Economist?, Architectural
Record 72 (December 1932), and a special section of Architectural Record 73 (May 1933),
titled How Can Architects Develop Business?

11. Coburn, EconomicsThe New Basis of Architectural Practice, p. 53.

12. The AIA in its ofcial Circular of Advice Relative to the Principles of Professional
Practice had clearly stated that advertising tends to lower the dignity of the profession,
and is therefore condemned. See Ofcial Notices to Members, Journal of the American
Institute of Architects 11 (December 1923), pp. 489490. There were numerous articles and
editorials in American Architect that endorsed architectural advertising, but its position was
most succinctly expressed in Benjamin F. Betts, Every Architect Can Advertise
Architecture, American Architect 137 (January 1930), p. 19.

13. Benjamin F. Betts, The Stock Plan House Can Never Have a Soul, American
Architect 136 (October 1929), p. 19.

14. Benjamin F. Betts, Can We Sell Architecture to the Small House Buyer?, American
Architect 139 (March 1931), p. 21.
Notes to Pages 147148 336

15. See the section on Modernism, Professionalism and the Denition of Service:
Thomas Kimball and the Post-War Committee in Paul Bentel, Modernism and
Profesionalism in American Modern Architecture, 19191933 (Ph.D. dissertation, MIT,
1992), pp. 105114.

16. The Architect, the Draftsman and 1930!, Pencil Points 11 ( January 1930), p. 1. As did
most businesses during the early months of the depression, the architectural profession
and the building industry perceived the economic crisis as a temporary downward cycle in
business, a nancial disturbance that would be exactly reversed within a year (ibid.).

17. The Value of the Architects Service, Pencil Points 11 ( July 1930), p. 569. The passage
came under a section titled What Is an Architect?

18. Ibid., p. 571. The pamphlet is itself a document that reveals the complexity and ambi-
guity of the discursive transformations of American architecture during the interwar years.
In a section that listed the services rendered by the profession, the architects ability as a
planner came rst and was described in the following manner:

In the architects training great stress is laid on the matter of planning efciently.
By studying the needs of all types of buildings and considering the ways in which
they are used by the people occupying them, he gains specialized knowledge on
this subject beyond that possessed by any other group of men. The architect
knows how best to apportion the available space in a building between different
parts so that each division or room will be adequate in size and convenient in
shape. He knows how to arrange the different parts so that they can be used
most easily and effectively and so that each occupies the most advantageous part
of the entire scheme in relation to the others. The building he designs is easy to
get around in and those who use it do so with a minimum of wasted effort. . . .
Looking at it from the point of economy, this matter of planning is of the
utmost importance. In the architects plan every square foot of oor area is used
to greatest advantage. His plan, prepared to solve your particular problem, will
give you the maximum accommodation in a given total oor space, or, express-
ing it in another way, he can provide the required accommodations in a mini-
mum of total oor space. Since every square foot unnecessarily added to a plan
costs you money for which you get no return, is it not protable for you to
employ this man who is of all men most likely to know how to eliminate waste
space? (p. 571, my emphases)

This passage is notable for the fact that the conservative journal presented efciency and
planning as the primary pursuits of the architect. Yet at the same time, it still retains the
Notes to Page 148 337

notion of planning as a manipulation of physical elements, i.e., as disposition and distribu-

tion, as arranging and apportioning. The ability to make beautiful designs was considered
the key difference between the architect and the engineer or the builder. Beauty, however,
was justied as a commercial value: there is no question but that the element of beauty in
buildings has a commercial value over and above that of the more tangible so-called prac-
tical factors of convenience and structural integrity (p. 574).

19. Harry W. Desmond, By Way of Introduction, Architectural Record 1 ( July

September 1891), p. 6. Architectural Record was founded by the clothing manufacturer
Clinton Sweet with the aid of the journalist David Croly, father of Herbert Croly. Sweet
had begun his publishing career in 1868 with the weekly Real Estate Record and Builders
Guide. Harry W. Desmond (18631913), who had been a staff writer for Real Estate Record,
was the rst editor for Architectural Record. Desmond brought a literary thrust to the jour-
nal that would remain for several decades. In fact, one of his own novels, Raymond Lee,
appeared in several installments in Record. With Records association with prominent writ-
ers such as Montgomery Schuyler, Russell Sturgis, A. D. F. Hamlin, and Herbert Croly,
the journal was instru