From the moment Karl Benz perfected the modern automobile, architecture has contended with this most ubiquitous of machines.
This session is dedicated to the historical, cultural, and artistic intertwining of cars and buildings over a century. Modernist interest in the car is well known, from Le Corbusier’s juxtaposition of car and temple to car factory designs by Albert Kahn and Matte Trucco that served as modernist typologies. Wright, Neutra, and Archigram embraced the car as a technology that would radically transform architecture, the Smithsons drew inspiration from the Jeep, Citroën and Cadillac, and GM turned to Saarinen to affirm brand identity. The Chevy “Suburban” meanwhile hailed an architecturally-determined lifestyle. The car was equally relevant to post-modernism: Venturi and Scott-Brown’s Learning from Las Vegas and Koolhaas’s team in Lagos relied on observations from moving vehicles, the latter example reminding us of the centrality of the car to the documentation of architecture in Asia, Latin America and Africa. Yet the historical consideration of the relationship between cars and architecture is largely isolated (for instance, in the scholarship of Reyner Banham) and anecdotal (by regarding the car as a pop phenomenon). This session instead posits that the car is an inextricable part of architectural history that necessitates a reconsideration of the methodological distinction between architectural history and design history, environmental studies, and cultural studies. We seek papers that examine or reveal the ways cars have shaped architecture and the ways architecture has shaped cars—not accidentally, but intentionally, in all countries and time periods of the automotive era. Papers may also examine how history has explored or occluded an automotive dimension to architecture.
Members and friends of the Society of Architectural Historians are invited to submit abstracts by 14 August 2010. Abstracts of no more than 300 words should be sent directly to the appropriate session chair; abstracts are to be headed with the applicant’s name, professional affiliation [graduate students in brackets], and title of paper. Submit with the abstract a short curriculum vitae, home and work addresses, email addresses, and telephone and fax numbers. Abstracts should define the subject and summarize the argument to be presented in the proposed paper. The content of that paper should be the product of well-documented original research that is primarily analytical and interpretative rather than descriptive in nature.
Papers cannot have been previously published, nor presented in public except to a small, local audience. Only one submission per author will be accepted. All abstracts will be held in confidence during the selection process.
Gabrielle Esperdy, Associate Professor of Architectural History, NJIT School of Architecture, University Heights, Newark, NJ 07102; 973-596-3026; email@example.com
Simon Sadler, Professor of Architectural and Urban History, University of California, Davis, Art Building, 1 Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616; 530-304-5722; firstname.lastname@example.org Email: email@example.com
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