Buildings, Texts, and Contexts

The atomic bomb, spring break, jet travel, existentialism, the polio vaccine, India and Pakistan, abstract expressionism, ISO containers, the transistor radio, LSD, the United Nations, Pop Art, nylon, structuralism -these are some of the inventions that exemplify the extremity of political, economic, aesthetic, and cultural change that took place during the three decades following World War Two. This module explores their repercussions in architecture by following the broad transformations, extensions, and reorientations of architectural modernism. The lectures will examine instances in which the erosion of modernism\’s prewar claims provoked varied attempts to reestablish the legitimacy of architectural practice. Several prominent themes of postwar architectural discourse will be presented, bound together by the conceit that postwar architecture was fundamentally a serial (and perhaps hopeless) attempt to recuperate a lost ground of architectural authenticity.