Research

My research shows how architecture mediates processes of modernization by forming civil society, shaping social relationships, and regulating consumption. I focus on the ways that buildings manifest broader forces in political economy and in so doing realize, shape, and condition those forces, giving them their specific character and quality. I show how architecture is not simply generated by economics and politics but reciprocally conditions them as design instantiates power.

My book Crystal and Arabesque: Claude Bragdon, Ornament, and Modern Architecture (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009) reconstructed the techniques through which American modernist architects engaged new media, audiences and problems of mass society. My essays have analyzed topics ranging from organicism in modern architecture to the role of mortgage finance in shaping our houses and the ways we live in them. Several essays on Buckminster Fuller show how his designs navigated the politics of what we now call sustainability.

I have published in many journals and essay collections, including Governing by Design: Architecture, Economy, and Politics in the 20th Century (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012), a book I co-edited with colleagues in the Aggregate Architectural History Collaborative. I am an editor of Aggregate’s new website for publication, workshopping and discussion of advanced research in architectural history and theory.

Many of my articles, book chapters, lectures, and reviews are available at my Academia.edu profile. One current project is a research initiative using mapping, metadata analysis, and data visualization of the Marcel Breuer Digital Archive to ask and answer new questions about the work of this Bauhaus-trained architect. Another is a book-length study of architecture and risk management that combines aggregate analysis of large-scale patterns with close reading of key buildings and designs.