The social, political, and cultural ramifications of architecture, and vice versa, have always intrigued me. I find myself compulsively seeking out relationships that can join the two realms. And perhaps it is the reason that I also find myself in awe of the American modern movement. For me, this is the most recent period in US architecture that saw not only a generation of new homes and buildings in large numbers, but also an overall enthusiasm, both in the profession and from the public, concerning the quality and kind of architecture that was being produced. This is not to say that every building that was erected during this time was incredible, or even noteworthy, but moreover that architects had high hopes for improving the human condition and doing it in a way that was radically different than anything that had come before.
The goals of my research are fourfold:
- Study the modern movement in the US; the architects, the buildings, the cities, the new materials, the ambitions.
- Understand the social, political, and cultural contexts in which all of this is unfolding.
- Travel and document the buildings of the period, seeking out the most influential projects as well as numerous other exemplary works.
- Explore and define the relationships between the American modern movement and the American landscape (which in this case is not purely a physical idea).
Simply seeking out and cataloging all that remains from the modern movement was not enough, history books and monographs have exhausted this aspect for me. My interest piques in the resolution that there is a better way to understand the buildings and the period. To define and map them based on more factors than the architect and the site. I sought to use new methods of mapping to depict the correlations, as well as to highlight the pluralities in American modernism that serve to set the American modern movement apart from that which had happened in Europe.
My tools include my camera, my camera equipment, a Garmin, a GPS tracker, laptop, external hard drives, a ream of paper, and a box of pens. The camera is my chief means of expression and documentation, I can’t stop taking pictures. I find myself wanting to spend days with each building, but I have several to see each day. I visited 461 buildings and accumulated just under 6,000 photos. All of the equipment and materials I have brought along to steer the research fill up more of the car than two months’ worth of clothes and toiletries.