CFP Jun 11, 2001

55th Ann Meeting SAH (9/2001)

Victoria M. Young

Following please find a call for papers for the 55th Annual Meeting of the
Society of Architectural Historians to be held in Richmond, Virginia on
April 17-22, 2002. Paper calls are due on September 1, 2001. For information
on proposal format and other sessions in the conference please visit the
Society's website at and click on Annual Meetings, then Future

"The Rebirth of Solids": Redefining Mid-Century Modern Architecture

In his 1963 lecture, "Matter and Intrinsic Form," Marcel Breuer detailed his
observations on the state of contemporary architecture. Architects, he
recognized, had broken away from the spare formalism of the International
Style and embraced building shapes and materials which set "solid elements
next to transparency, and a new plasticity next to lineal purity." Breuer
heralded this return of "vivid contrasts" and sculptural "three-dimensional
architecture" as a resounding "rebirth of solids." In their quest for
diversity of expression, architects of the 1950s and 1960s challenged the
underlying principles of early Modernism and developed their own distinctive
idiom. Yet modern architecture of this period-overshadowed by the towering
legacy of the International Style and the flamboyant gestures of Post
Modernism-remains subject to public dislike and political disdain born of
misinterpretation and misunderstanding. Today, prominent battles to save and
re-use buildings from the mid-century, including Edward Durell Stone's 1964
Gallery of Modern Art on Columbus Circle in New York City and Richard Neutra's
Gettysburg Cyclorama Building in Pennsylvania, have inspired
academics to reexamine this distinct period of design, outlining the broad
contours of what is often referred to as "Mid-Century Modern." As scholars
prepare to celebrate the centenary anniversary of Breuer's birth in 2002, we
invite papers that use his idea, "the rebirth of solids," as a springboard
for revisiting modern architecture of the mid-twentieth century. The goal of
this session is to uncover not what went wrong in mid-century design but
what went right. The session chairs encourage papers that present new
interpretations of world architecture designed and built (or unbuilt) in the
mid-century. Presentations may focus on exemplary buildings, such as
late-period works by master architects, as well as the designs of architects
not frequently addressed in academic scholarship. An analysis of
technological advances and their effect on architectural expression would
provide another useful component of this session. In revisiting the
architecture and design philosophies of Mid-Century Modern, we seek to renew
a scholarly discussion of the period with an eye toward educating the
public, as well as shaping future preservation policy. Co-chaired by Prof.
Victoria M. Young and Christine Madrid.

Send proposals to: Prof. Victoria M. Young, Department of Art History,
University of St. Thomas, Mail # LOR302, 2115 Summit Avenue, St. Paul, MN
55105-1096; tel: 612/220-1191; fax: 603/907-0350; e-mail:

Victoria M. Young
University of St. Thomas

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