random thoughts on architecture history theory and criticism

“collecting the nation” at sah 2015

fellow archinerds, i’m discussing pleistocene bones, iron structures, and the first inhabitants of the americas, all in twenty minutes or so! come hear about the geopolitics of the 19th century extermination of the 14,500 BCE tehuelche and its links to railroad networks, glyptodon skeletons, the pampas, charles darwin, and the natural history museum of la plata. it’s all brand new research so it’s pretty scattered, but i’m hoping to make a good pitch for it (with some pretty serious arguments, despite my tone here). and it *may* include more images like this one here. i’m on friday morning in the manifest panel, bigger than big: american matter out of scale, you can find my abstract here.


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feminism and architecture part 2: women, architecture, and academia

Very happy to be presenting a collaborative project done with Olga Touloumi, Tessa Paneth-Pollak, and Martina Tanga, or as we decided to call ourselves, FAAC (the Feminist Art and Architecture Collaborative). We’ve been working on a syllabus for an art and architecture survey that “unpacks spaces of contestation and encourages students to think critically about how specific sites and objects have participated in the construction of class, race, and gender.” Olga and I will present it, pecha kucha style, at this great-looking conference at Parsons.

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the housing question

aml image

i’m very happy to be participating in “the housing question: nomad seminar in historiography” next march 12-13, 2005 at the university of san diego! the roster is great, with good friends and colleagues, and let’s face it: boston is buried under several feet of snow right now, so san diego sounds wonderful. here’s an abstract of my paper, which deals with the same film as the paper i presented at caa, here with more emphasis on the discourse of housing. i have to admit i love my paper’s title and i love this image, which is a still from the film and wonderfully creepy and evocative at the same time. also in the paper, fake psychoanalysts! surrealist photomontage! peronist propaganda! and all sorts of great material–i hope i’m doing it justice.

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Filming the Modern Unconscious at CAA 2015

I’m very happy to be presenting at CAA 2015 in the panel “Anemic Cinema: Dada/Surrealism and Film in the Americas” chaired by Samantha Kavky and Jonathan P. Eburne. My paper is titled “Filming the Modern Unconscious: La Ciudad Frente Al Río, Buenos Aires 1949.” Here’s a short abstract:

La Ciudad Frente al Río (The City in Front of the River) was a ten-minute film produced in Buenos Aires in 1949 to instruct Porteños on the ills of their city: under attack from pollution, traffic, and excess building. Through the hand of the modern architect, the film promised, the city could be transformed from irrational chaos into pastoral dream. Produced under the regime of populist president Juan Perón, the film was part of a broader strategy to gain public support for a modern plan. Director Enrico Gras mobilized Surrealist tactics and the language of popular psychoanalysis to shock, captivate, and seduce the public, turning avant-garde resources into Peronist political propaganda. I argue that by rendering visible the nightmares and dreams of modernity, La Ciudad Frente al Río reveals modern architecture’s unconscious: its nostalgic yearning for a dream-like, unreachable past.

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air nationalism


I wrote a review of Norman Foster and Fernando Romero’s Mexico City Airport in The Avery Review, a periodical of critical essays in architecture edited by the Office of Publications at Columbia GSAPP.

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eahn 2014


I’m excited about presenting my work at EAHN 2014. I’m in the panel titled “Southern Crossings: Iberia and Latin America in Architectural Translation,” chaired by Marta Caldeira and María González Pendás. My presentation is titled “Reentry: Antonio Bonet’s return to Spain.”

I examine Antonio Bonet’s return to Spain in the context of the failure of the Barrio Sur urban development project in Buenos Aires (1956), commissioned by the short-lived, de facto government of Pedro Aramburu (who led the military coup that deposed populist president Juan Perón). I explain how Barrio Sur ’s failure was turned into success, providing the perfect narrative for Bonet’s return to Spain in the context of the “Spanish Miracle” and the liberalization of the Spanish economy in the late period of the Franco dictatorship. This episode, I argue, points to modern architecture’s turn from revolution to nostalgia.

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la escuelita and fau-usp at radical pedagogies


i’m happy to be part of the radical pedagogies exhibition at monditalia in the venice biennale. i contributed with two entries, la escuelita in buenos aires, argentina, and fau usp in são paulo, brazil. i’m proud to be part of the group of scholars that have participated in this project, which has been honored with a special mention at the venice biennale. an interview with beatriz colomina highlights my research on rossi here. i wish i could have foregrounded the founders of the school, tony díaz, ernesto katzenstein, and jujo solsona, a bit more. i’ve uploaded my research on the translation of rossi in buenos aires and new york to my academia page here (ensayo publicado en español en la revista plot 8).

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SAH 2014


very happy to be presenting some of my research at SAH 2014 in Austin, TX. i’m part of the panel “Beyond Slab and Subdivision: Housing Alternatives after 1945,” chaired by Kenny Cupers and Alison Fisher. my paper is titled “Conflicted Modernities: Antonio Bonet’s Barrio Sur, 1957.”

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Una carta para el alcalde de Guayaquil, escrita entre todos. A pedido del Storefront for Art and Architecture, estoy elaborando una carta al alcalde de Guayaquil, Ab. Jaime Nebot. He creado un hashtag, #CartaNebot y lo difundí en colaboración con los amigos de Ahora estoy en el proceso de recoger los tuits y editar la carta. Pueden leer una descripción completa del pedido aquí y ver la curadoría en proceso acá. Acaban de publicar una nota en el diario Hoy!!



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the other hulks: aml’s a-z of latin american concrete

i was very annoyed this morning to find “the incredible hulks: jonathan meades’ a-z of brutalism’ in my feed. the post links to an article promoting a new tv series about brutalism which, disclaimer, i haven’t seen. what annoyed me is admittedly a minor point. of course, mr. meades is writing about english brutalism, and it is fine that it should take center stage. his a-z includes several other english-speaking countries (the usa, canada, australia), as well as several other european countries and as far as i can find, one asian example by little-known architect kenzo tange /irony in japan. perhaps this might have been well enough, if not for meades’ zapotec (see, for z). i understand he must have needed a z to complete his alphabet, but i couldn’t help but read it as the only gesture towards latin america. and as an architecture historian that works on twentieth century latin america, this hurts. apologies in advance to africa and asia (i don’t think one japanese building is enough, no), but i’m going to step up for my area of study and offer an alternative a-z of latin american brutalism (or, as i’d rather title it, of concrete. reyner banham did his best, but the term covers a broad range and i like to be precise). here, without much research and basically done in a couple of hours of procrastination, is my own gimmicky alphabet (yes, i’ve cheated a lot with the names and last names, but you get the point: there are many wonderful examples. now you can go google them). i’ll try to add some links in the coming days, but for now i’ve tried to point to some specific works.


Arquitetura nova, students of vilanova artigas that contested his collaboration with the military dictatorship. works combined brazilian return to vernacular rough materials with paulista school affinity for concrete.


lina Bo Bardi. italian architect relocated to brazil. see masp, sesc pompeia.


eduardo Catalano. argentinian architect, works include the school of architecture in buenos aires and the student center at mit.


emilio Duhart, chilean architect, work includes the cepal (santiago, 1960-66).


Eladio dieste. preferred brick but was a master of concrete shells and vaults also.


sergio Ferro, of architetura nova. challenged the work of niemeyer and artigas as implicitly (and sometimes explicitly) complicit with the economic politicies of the military dictatorship.


carlos Gómez Gavazzo. uruguayan architect and urban planner, professor and historian.

H, see parque cultural valparaíso (valparaíso, 2011).


flávio Império, paulista architect part of arquitetura nova.


Julio vilamajó. uruguayan architect, a modernist that transitioned from loosian-style house to the early brutalism of his school of engineering (designed 1936, built 1945-53).


juscelino Kubitschek. brazilian politician, mayor of pampulha and president of brazil that promoted the building of brasilia, full of brutalist and other modern works.


rino Levi, paulista architect. see edificio da fiesp (completed after his death, são paulo, 1979)

rodrigo Lefèvre, paulista architect part of arquitetura nova.


MMM roberto, the firm of brothers mauricio, marcelo, and milton roberto. modernists, really, but i couldn’t resist the triple m.

paulo Mendes da rocha, brazilian architect, several projects. i like the mube and the st. peter chapel, both in são paulo.


Nelson bayardo. see urnario no. 2 (montevideo, 1961).


ruy Ohtake, brazilian architect. see hotel unique, são paulo.


mario Payssé reyes, uruguayan architect. see edificio de la cancillería uruguaya with perla estable, carlos peluffo, nayla laxalde, and marcelo payssé (buenos aires, 1978)

mario Pani, mexican architect. see unam (1950-53) and housing at tlatelolco (1964).


antonio Quintana, cuban architect. see edificio girón (habana, 1967).


affoso eduardo Reidy, architect of pedregulho (1947) and the mam (1954-1967) at rio.

pedro Ramírez vásquez, mexican architect. see museo de antropología and museo del caracol (mexico city, 1961).


Sepra, partners with clorindo testa in the bank of london. stands for sánchez elía, federico peralta ramos and agostini.


clorindo Testa. argentinian architect, designed the bank of london and the national library, both in buenos aires.


Unctad III y centro cultural metropolitano, original building by covacevic, gaggero, echenique, medina, and gonzález (santiago, 1972) in the government of salvador allende. repurposed by the pinochet dictatorship into edificio diego portales, repurposed again in the government of michelle bachelet as the gam (centro cultural gabriela mistral) by architect christian fernández.


Vilanova artigas, são paulo architect and pedagogue of the paulista school.


amancio Williams. see casa del puente, 1943-45.


enrique Xavier de anda alanís, mexican architect and historian of twentieth century architecture in mexico! (i needed an x—unfair though because I could start a whole new category of latin american architecture historians).


Y extra chromosome most latin american architects seem to have, due to historiographic problems having to do with secondary position women were often relegated to. latin american female architects do exist though, they are behind several of the main architects named here but their names are often relegated to secondary positions and difficult to find.

enrique Yáñez de la Fuente, mexican architect, see hospital adolfo lópez mateos (mexico city 1968) [ht Luis Carranza!]


abraham Zabludovsky and teodoro gonZález de león, mexican architects. see museo tamayo de arte contemporáneo (mexico city, 1979-1981).

ps. you will note there are other centers here: argentina, brazil, mexico, uruguay. this list reproduces these tendencies more than i would like, but this is a blog post. these are the things i’ll try to correct in my career as a historian.

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